Visitor apologizes for peeing on Mauna Kea and posts video


A Hawaiian man has apologized for posting a video of himself urinating on Mauna Kea, which many native Hawaiians consider sacred.

Associated Press File

A Hawaiian man has apologized for posting a video of himself urinating on Mauna Kea, which many native Hawaiians consider sacred.

“I was so arrogant,” Travis Upright apologized for the incident in one of several posts on his Instagram account. “I disregarded your country.”

In the video, which appears to have since been removed, Upright urinates near the summit and then raises his middle finger at the camera, KITV reported.

Upright wrote on Instagram that he had to use the bathroom after an 11-hour hike.

“How many did. I (thought) it looked cool with the clouds below me so I had a video made,” he wrote. “And the last-minute flip-off was just me being silly.”

But Upright said he now understands his actions were disrespectful and regrets them after an outcry over the video.

“It was traumatic to watch,” Hawaiian activist Healani Sonoda-Pale told HawaiiNewsNow about the video.

“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,'” Hawaiian activist Alfonso Kekuku told KITTV.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said the video “could certainly be considered culturally disrespectful” but did not violate any laws, HawaiiNewsNow reported.

It’s not clear when the first video was posted, but Upright posted his first apology on Instagram on November 15.

“I will do everything I can to be more aware of the land and the people who worked it every day,” he wrote. “Not just here, but everywhere.”

In later posts, Upright says he hopes to be able to pass on what he has learned to others.

But not everyone accepted his apology. Numerous comments on his Instagram posts accuse Upright of letting the incident sink in through repeated apologies.

“All of this keeps you inflated,” reads one reply. “Just shut up.”

“True humility isn’t so loud,” reads another post.

Mauna Kea, on the island of Hawaii and also known as “Maunakea”, is the tallest mountain in the Hawaiian chain at 13,795 feet. The name means “white mountain” and refers to “the snow that covers its broad slopes for parts of the year,” according to the Hawai’i Tourism Authority.

The volcano is a “profoundly sacred place” and “regarded as a shrine of worship, home of the gods and the peak of the island of Hawaii,” the Office of Hawaiian Affairs said on its website. “Piko” is a Hawaiian word meaning the navel, where life begins, the National Park Service said.

Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.