Our Islands, Our Future

Clifford Nae’ole, Hawaiian cultural advisor for The Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua, provided the cultural opening at the 8th annual Hawaii Energy Conference (HEC). This year, the HEC explored the theme Energy Transition in Hawaii: Focus on Investments in People and Projects. Presented by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) and supported by the County of Maui Office of Economic Development, the two-day conference featured keynotes, panel discussions, interviews, networking, and exhibits.

Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO, noted, “We began the conference by reflecting on the HEC’s special focus of our responsibilities to the land and its people. “It was elegantly acknowledged and explained by Nae’ole in his pule, spoken and chanted.”

Nae’ole, using visual metaphors, said, “We gather together as one, collectively, for one cause for the betterment of mankind, to find energy sources, and to work toward one goal, sustainable energy. Make sure our energy sources are in order so that our children and grandchildren can live with balance in the world. Consider that we represent a universal canoe and each of us has our own canoe. Make sure to design your canoe towards one sustainable energy goal. Listen to each other. The crew that works together with understanding works through challenges and will get over the highest waves. Look to the future, respect each other, listen, understand, share, decide. The future is ours. We are connected by a single source of energy.”

Nae’ole was recently recognized with a Historic Preservation Award from the Historic Hawaii Foundation. The awards recognize and celebrate excellence in historic preservation throughout the Hawaiian Islands, and Nae’ole’s individual award honored his exemplary achievements in advocacy, education, programming, and preservation efforts. 

Born and raised on Maui, Nae’ole is dedicated to creating bridges between the Hawaiian culture and the contemporary business world. As a pioneer in the development of educational programs, he has educated thousands and is highly respected for his knowledge of Hawaiian culture, language, and history. Nae’ole reflected, “I believe that everyone—past, present and future—needs to learn about our sacred island, and honor it now and forever.”

In accord with Nae’ole’s pule, the 2021 HEC explored energy transition in Hawaii focused on the skills of the people to develop our clean, secure, resilient, and sustainable energy future.

Leslie Wilkins President and CEO, MEDB