By Wendy Osher
The group Na Kupuna O Maui is issuing a community call to action in memory of West Maui resident, William Kalanikai “Uncle Billy” Gonzales, who was fatally injured late last year after being struck by a private boat in waters off of Hanakaoo Beach.
“The purpose of the call to action is to make the state aware of its responsibility to protect the people in the ocean,” said event organizer Aunty Patty Nishiyama.
The “March of Awareness” will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, February 18, 2012, beginning at Papalaua Street, and continuing down Front Street to Lahaina Harbor.
The group is asking that buoys and floaters be anchored to denote the division between ocean users at Hanakaoo, Wahikuli, Puamana, Kahekili and Launiupoko beach parks.
“We want our visitors, boat captains, and the government authorities to know that incidents like this should never happen again in our waters,” said Nishiyama.
The accident occurred on December 29, as Gonzales was preparing regatta lanes in Lahaina for high school paddling crews to practice on.
“He dedicated his life to the culture, community, and the keiki,” said Nishiyama. “We need to honor his legacy,” she said.