• Tourists are mailing Hawaiian souvenirs back to the island

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    HONOLULU, Hawaii - "China, Canada, the United States, Australia, Japan, Korea,..." said Kalani Kaanaana, describing where the packages his office receives come from. 

    Kaanaana is the Hawaii Tourism Authority's Director of Hawaiian Cultural Affairs.  He says the agency receives packages containing the illegal souvenirs from all over the world.

    "People decide to take parts of our Hawaii home, and that's not OK. We have a belief and kinship with the land and we have a relationship as native Hawaiians to this place. And for us, you're taking part of who we are," said Kaanaana.


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    They're shipped in boxes and envelopes of all sizes, which also creates lots of unwanted trash.

    "Shipping them back in bubble wrap and Styrofoam is not good for our environment as well," said Kaanaana. 

    Most packages come with letters of apology and many with stories of unexpected bad luck.

    Practitioner of the Hawaiian culture and scientist, Sam Ohu Gon, says it could be pure coincidence... or karma.

    "Hawaii is indeed a place full of mana. Every object -- the rain, the wind, the stones, the plants and animals, the people who are there -- so when you do frivolous things with that kind of power, you're bound to pay for it," said Gon.

    When returning the objects back to nature, each organization has its own protocol.

    "The pohaku and sand and stones and different things will be blessed on our time.  We'll try to return it back to that place as best as we can. And others we'll take to a place that we've designated for this purpose. It does take up time of staff to have to deal with these things," said Kaanaana. 

    Gon says these items can also come back contaminated, putting Hawaii's natural resources at risk.

    "They don't even have to be visible. They could be things like soil pathogens or plant diseases that could come back in on whatever is sent back to the islands," said Gon.



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