Big Island man apologizes for urinating on Mauna Kea

By A’ali’i Dukelow

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HAWAII COUNTY, Hawaii (KITV) — After days of public internet outrage, Hawaii Islander Travis Upright has apologized for a viral video of him urinating on top of Mauna Kea — a mountain sacred to Native Hawaiians.

Upright posted three apologies on his Instagram page, one with a caption that read, in part, “I’m so sorry for y’all. I was so arrogant and just didn’t get it. I begin, and I humbly ask your forgiveness…”

Alfonso Kekuku, a Hawaii Island resident and Native Hawaiian activist, recalled seeing the video and thinking, “This is very disrespectful to ‘aina, the land, and the cultural practices of the Native Hawaiians here, myself included.”

The video shows Upright relieving himself high on the summit and then gesturing an obscenity after he’s done.

“It was just the feeling of entitlement and privilege, it’s almost like, ‘I don’t care about my decisions or my actions here,’ and ‘I’m going to do whatever I’m going to do. I’ll do whatever I want,’” Kekuku yelled.

Dozens of others commented on Upright’s posts, and many agreed the incident was another example of non-locals not knowing their place. However, Kekuku confirmed Upright’s apology.

“I am very grateful that he is able to admit his ignorance and that he was able to come forward to talk about how he screwed up,” Kekuku added.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) has worked to educate visitors prior to their arrival and throughout their stay through ads and videos on how to respect Hawaii and its residents.

A representative from HTA sent a statement to KITV4 that read, in part, “We will continue to do our part to encourage better behavior on our islands, in our communities and especially in sacred places.”

Still, Kekuku believes tourists and transplants should be more proactive.

“A lot of people moving here, tourists, current residents, they really should educate themselves about cultural sensitivities,” Kekuku argued.

There are no real prohibitions in state administrative regulations against Upright’s conduct, so he may not face a penalty.

Upright’s online apology continued, “I’m so sorry I hurt so many people. I want to understand what it means to hold life and the country so precious and sacred that I would protect it with my life. But not for me. But so I can teach it to the next generation after me. To end the pain for me. No longer.”

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