The Maui Weekly honors the late “Uncle” Ed Lindsey for his many years of dedicated service to Maui.
“His wisdom exceeds his time.”
Sean Lester, contributions by J.M. Buck
“There is more than a verbal tie between the words common, community, and communication… Try the experiment of communicating, with fullness and accuracy, some experience to another, especially if it is somewhat complicated, and you will find your own attitude toward your experience changing.” – John Dewey, philosopher, 1859–1952
These words could have been spoken by our Person of the Year for 2009. For his lifetime of hard work communicating a model of preservation of the Hawaiian culture, education and sustainability; for protecting the lands and sea of Maui, Edwin “Ed” Robert Naleilehua Lindsey Jr., is our nominee.
Uncle Ed, as many called him, was born in Lahaina in 1939, and was an alumni of Kamehameha Schools. During his stint in the U.S. Air Force, he met his wife-to-be, Puanani Doong of Wailuku, and together they shared a lifelong devotion to each other and to Maui.
Realizing his passion for educating, Ed earned teaching credentials at Western State University in Colorado. As a teacher, Ed was assigned to Hāna then ‘Īao Intermediate School in Wailuku, where he retired after 25 years.
During his formative years, the influence of his parents, Rose “Pua” and Ned Lindsey, both activists and visionaries who worked to preserve Hawaiian culture and lands, sharpened Ed’s focus on waking the ancient powers that shaped the Valley Isle.
Today, months after his passing, people speak of how his message continues to guide them.
“It is difficult to sum up the mo’okuauhau of a person like Kupuna Lindsey,” said Councilmember Sol Kaho’ohalahala. “His roots are deep, his life experiences are vast, his passion for the ‘ina is meticulous, his knowledge is tested and honed, his wisdom exceeds his time and his vision bridges multiple horizons. This is the manner of love and commitment Kupuna Lindsey has graced us with. Privileged to be in his presence, we each have the kuleana to onipa‘a, kōkua, mālama—and to do it all in the true spirit of aloha. This is the legacy of Kupuna Lindsey. It is a burden, a challenge and a commitment I gladly accept.”
Ed’s ethic is reflected in son Ekolu Lindsey, now president of Maui Cultural Lands (MCL), a nonprofit Maui-based land trust organization Ed founded. Its mission is to stabilize, protect and restore Hawaiian cultural resources.
“When people run into a problem, they always ask, what would Ed do?” said Ekolu. “The win-win situation he always looked for—how to work together… being aware of [people’s] weaknesses, but always focusing on their strengths….”
Ekolu said MCL especially focuses on educating children about Hawaiian ecology and archeological preservation. “But most importantly, [we teach them] how to behave in society—to do the right thing,” Ekolu added.
Ed’s wife, Puanani, remains passionate about her husband’s legacy. “People remember the things that Ed wants done,” she said. “People are working hard to get these things done. It’s happening around Maui.”
Such work is evident, with volunteers tirelessly working on land and marine preservation. “We feel his presence a lot of times,” she said. “All of us do.”
In 2008, Ed was asked on a local radio show, “How do you see us going into the future?”
“I see us going into the future by stepping back into the past, and by going back to the past, we learn from what was,” he answered. “Then we can take those things which we all value forward into the future.”
A pragmatist and a pioneer of island sustainability, Ed always tried to enable the host culture to have a voice in a changing Maui landscape.
“We are islands of small towns, and moving this up to cities is taking away from the flavor of who we are,” Ed explained. “We need to plan appropriately to maintain our true character… To do anything
less is to do a disservice to the island. For the Hawaiian people, land is a sacred thing—how can you own God?”
On May 15, 2009, the Maui County Council unanimously passed a resolution honoring Ed as E ‘opu ali’i—having the heart of a chief—and as a Maui Treasure. The truth of these words were evident in the heartfelt applause of over 100 people.
Ed even influenced Hawai’i Gov. Linda Lingle. “Edwin Lindsey Jr. was an extraordinary man who championed protecting and preserving Maui’s cultural and natural resources,” Lingle stated. “His lifetime of advocacy was driven by a genuine caring for our islands and a deep sense of responsibility to preserve what makes Hawai’i so special. He left a legacy of gracious aloha and the contributions he made to our community will enrich future generations on Maui and all of Hawai’i.”
On June 24, 2009, at age 70, Uncle Ed Lindsey passed away peacefully at the family home in Lahaina in the presence of his beloved Puanani.
To honor the memory of Uncle Ed, volunteer or donate to Maui Cultural Lands. Visit www.mauiculturallands.org for more information.
Copyright © 2007 The Maui Weekly.
Original article URL: mauiweekly.com/page/content.detail/id/500810/Ed-Lindsey–Person-of-2009.html