In his ORISE position as a Climate Adaptation Planner and Research Scientist Fellow, Kamuela will be learning how PI-CASC and the USGS are engaging with communities, other governmental agencies, and climate change, as well as helping to design processes and models for stakeholder coproduction. This work should result in tools and substantiated guidance documents that will inform land use policy adaptation and inter-jurisdictional stewardship, and will be applied at a relevant cultural landscape scale on Hawai‘i Island, with initial investigations focused on riparian areas, amongst other important natural-cultural resources.
Kamuela was raised on Hawaiʻi Island, with a home base in Waimea, South Kohala. After high school, Kamuela moved to Oʻahu for work, first in tourism and then construction, where he could not help but notice how rapidly Hawaiʻi was changing. He often wondered what a balanced path forward would look like given Hawaiʻi’s traditional and colonial history. Complex topics like these encouraged Kamuela to enroll at UH Mānoa, where he earned a B.A. in anthropology, focused on Polynesian migration and archaeology related to traditional food production. While advocating for resource preservation and restoration, Kamuela realized that much of the conflict between communities that concerned sustainable management of cultural-natural resources and development, occurred in the land-use permitting arena. So, for his master’s thesis, Kamuela bridged his cultural resources background with governmental land-use planning to create a Cultural Landscape GIS model that overlays place-based traditional and early historic land uses on the current landscape. In the process, Kamuela developed the methods and policy rationale for spatial resource inventory and baseline land-use comparative analyses and assessments that could help communities and government agencies navigate a balanced approach to update land-use designations and zoning. With this project, Kamuela earned a Master’s in heritage management from UH Hilo, and shortly thereafter was employed as a Hawai‘i County land-use planner. Today, Kamuela is excited to come back into the research and policy coproduction arena through his current ORISE appointment.