Native Hawaiians called on the ocean sciences community to recognize the valuable knowledge indigenous peoples can bring to their research.

During OceanObs, a global ocean observation conference held at the Hawai'i Convention Center this week, indigenous delegates presented the Aha Honua Coastal Indigenous Peoples' Declaration to ask scientists and policymakers to establish meaningful partnerships with Indigenous communities to share knowledge and resources.

"There's a whole system of knowledge that is ignored primarily by the scientific community. That is important," said Charles Kaaiai, one of the indigenous delegates from the Pacific Islands. "It's detailed, it's site specific, it's comprehensive, it's cohesive, and it contributed to the survival of indigenous cultures of the world."

More than 1,400 delegates from 63 countries met to discuss and set priorities for the next 10 years of oceanographic research. 

"Part of that priority is to include native people in the research," Kaaiai said. "We have 10 years to do that and we still have to fight to get that knowledge into that research."

For IP attendees, helping scientists to understand their ancestral, cultural and spiritual connections to natural resources and governance systems is key.

When asked if attendees discussed the Thirty Meter Telescope protests on Mauna Kea, Kaaiai said there was resistance to bringing the issue up.

"The conflict isn't science versus native people. The conflict is that how has that science been serving us," he said.