Updated: November 17, 2022
A revered kumu, educator, and much sought-after conservationist, Sabra Kauka, was named DLNR & YOU Citizen Conservationist.
Kauka can be found one or two days, nearly every spring, at Lydgate County Beach Park speaking to keiki about the life of shearwaters, seabirds that, after fledging, leave land and stay out at sea for two years or longer.
Her expertise and delight in sharing the stories of these remarkable, rehabilitated birds and much of the other natural life of Hawai‘i, has earned her recognition from the state for outstanding life-long contributions to the betterment of natural and cultural resources on Kaua‘i and across Hawai‘i.
Currently, Kauka serves as the head of the cultural sub-committee for the Lehua Island Restoration Advisory Committee. It’s the multi-agency group that successfully eradicated Pacific rats from Lehua, which is a State Seabird Sanctuary, and is home to dozens of seabird species and endemic plants. In this role, Kauka is helping develop a more comprehensive cultural and archeological restoration plan to help guide future management actions on Lehua.
She blessed the island once the rats had been exterminated, offering chants and pule for the newly restored island free of the rodents that devoured countless eggs and chicks over many decades.
Sheri S. Mann, the Kaua‘i Branch Manager for the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife said, “Sabra has worked with the State and Kauai’s Save Our Shearwaters program for decades. It’s so meaningful to watch her bless the endangered shearwaters as she and others release them and watch as they embark on their long ocean journey.”
Kaua‘i Mayor Derek Kawakami also proclaimed March 19, “Sabra Kauka Day.” At a luncheon to honor her at Keoki’s Paradise in Poʻipū, the corporate owners of the restaurant also recognized her with its first Ho‘oulu Award. It will be presented annually to someone who “dedicates their energy to keeping things vibrant, to perpetuating traditions that inspire others, and show community engagement in culture, science (sustainability) and biocultural diversity.
“Three honors in one day, is fitting for an individual who has worked tirelessly as an advocate for nature and conservation, and then shares her passion and knowledge with keiki and others on a daily basis,” Mann said.