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Woman apologizes for posting photos of rock-throwing at Mauna Kea’s Lake Waiau

COURTESY DLNR
                                After a rock-throwing incident earlier this month at Lake Waiau, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources reminded the public that the lake is a sacred site.
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COURTESY DLNR

After a rock-throwing incident earlier this month at Lake Waiau, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources reminded the public that the lake is a sacred site.

A woman who posted photos on social media earlier this month of large rocks being thrown into Lake Waiau — a culturally significant lake located on Mauna Kea — has apologized for her actions, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The woman, who DLNR has not publicly identified, contacted officials to apologize, saying, “I removed the video as soon as someone told me it was disrespectful. I filmed someone else throwing the rock in.”

According to a DLNR news release issued on Wednesday, the woman said she didn’t know the person who threw the rocks, and although she saw signs about what is prohibited at the lake, she was not aware that throwing rocks is considered disrespectful.

The release said the woman also issued an apology on Instagram but has disabled her account after receiving death threats.

After becoming aware of the photos, DLNR on Tuesday warned the public against throwing rocks into the lake, which is located 13,000 feet above sea level and is currently surrounded by snow.

“She came up here and decided it was a good idea to throw rocks into the lake. There are several obvious reasons this is upsetting, both to the ecological community that lives here and to the Native Hawaiian community. It can be seen as pretty disrespectful tossing large rocks into a place that Hawaiian culture reveres and holds in such high regard,” Jordan “Kama” Lee-Loy, a specialist with the DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife Natural Area Reserve system, said in the Tuesday news release.

In Hawaiian mythology, three deities inhabit the area. Signs near the lake trailhead identify it as a sacred site and ask the public to help maintain the area’s natural state.

Lee-Loy said it’s possible the woman was not intentionally being disrespectful.

“Though she may not have meant any ill will, whenever you visit anyplace and are unfamiliar with the cultural practices, the best idea is to understand the connection to the people and how you can respectfully visit a place without causing a disturbance or disrespectful action,” he said in the release.

Lee-Loy also reminded the public not to leave random offerings at the lake, noting that an orange had been left behind.

“We don’t want to limit traditional and customary practices, but I’m pretty sure an orange left as an offering is not culturally significant. We ask for everyone to be mindful not to inadvertently introduce invasive species like ants or non-native plants by leaving them as offerings,” he said.

Lake Waiau is one of the highest-elevation lakes in the country. Its size fluctuates considerably depending on the amount of rain and snow the area receives.

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