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August 2006

Hawai`i News

Wild Horses in Hawai`i

By Rochelle DelaCruz

Everyone who grew up on the Big Island has a reverence for Waipi`o, a remote valley on the north windward side without electricity, accessible mainly on foot, a place of old Hawai`i filled with stories of ali`i, night marchers and taro. Even today, without a four wheel drive or ATV, you must walk down to the valley. Occasionally a car falls off the steep road, driven by tourists who ignored the warnings from the car rentals, and we shake our head. It’s Waipi`o Valley! And not a place to be trifled with.

In the old days when getting in and out of the valley was only on foot, pack horses were used to carry the taro and the poi up. But eventually as life became modernized and taro farmers started using jeeps and trucks, the horses were released and allowed to run wild in the valley. The difficulty in getting a head count of the horses is reflected in the current estimation of 30 to 150. But they have been there for generations along with kama`āina families who have been growing taro, or kalo, in the valley for centuries.

Since Hawai`i statehood in 1959, newcomers have been arriving in Waipi`o from the continent. Some come to establish tourist opportunities such as tree house rentals and horse and buggy rides but others are lured by the simple life and remoteness of the valley. One of the newcomers Patty McCarthy said, “I bought my place in Waipi`o five years ago for the wild horses.”

The wild horses in Waipi`o recently made headlines in Big Island newspapers when four of them were found dead, shot by one of the kama`āina taro farmers. The horse killings were then called to the attention of the Humane Society even though they deal mainly with dogs and cats and have no responsibility for horses.

Over the summer of 2006, several meetings were organized by Josi Morgan, Executive Director of the Humane Society for Hawai`i Island to discuss alternatives to the shooting of wild horses in Waipi`o Valley. Hawai`i state law does not prohibit the killing of wild animals to protect property or crops and at one of the meetings, taro farmer Morgan Toledo admitted that he is the one shooting the horses because they were trampling his taro fields. In discussions surrounding the problem, other Waipi`o residents insist that horses will not disturb crops as long as they are fenced properly, and that Toledo has problems with his fence and refuses to shut his gate. His neighbors have offered to help him fix his fence which Toledo says won’t work.

“I’m the guy that shot the horses and here’s why. I’ve approached DLNR (Department of Land and Natural Resources) and the Humane Society. No one responded to stop the horses from coming in. The horses get more rights than people. They are damaging my taro. I don’t like to shoot horses, but who else is taking care of them?”

Humane Society’s Morgan is also skeptical that the issue is as simple as fixing a fence and repeated several times that “we cannot depend on the good will of any one person.” She also reported that there are other complaints about other residents and believes that the horses will not be protected until they are on state land where they can be protected by a law that makes it a felony to kill wild horses or burros on state or federal land. Morgan also supports managing the herd with foaling and regular medical check ups and by rotating them to various paddocks. But Margaret Loo from a kama`āina taro farming family, said that the wild horses eat the lush vegetation that grows in the valley and if they are put into paddocks, who will take care of the vegetation that can get overgrown so quickly?

Bishop Museum has been leasing much of the land to taro farmers, in some cases, for generations. Several of the kama`āina at the meetings attest that the shootings have gone on for years, reporting that Toledo shoots horses as did his father before him. In discussions with the Bishop Museum, Morgan said that while the Museum is reluctant to get involved with the issue, they are willing to temporarily provide land as a paddock for the wild horses. This would not necessarily protect the horses as they would not be on state land, but for the time being, it would prevent them from trampling taro lo`i and getting shot.

When Waipi`o resident Ka`ai Batalona said that this is the last herd of wild horses in Hawai`i, a question was raised: if the horses are corralled onto fenced land and managed, will they still be wild horses? A couple of the newcomers promptly replied: Better alive than wild.

The consensus after several meetings was that the horses should be temporarily contained on Bishop land until all the fences can be fixed, and then the horses should be allowed to run wild and freely roam the valley again. More meetings are scheduled over the rest of the summer.

But this story is not only about the shooting of wild horses. Waipi`o is an ancient valley currently entangled in all of the conflicts in modern day Hawai`i where kama`āina and malihini intersect and interact. When Toledo admitted at the meeting that he was shooting the horses, the gathering quickly separated into local and haole, with locals moving outside ready to fight and haole sitting inside continuing to talk. When Patty McCarthy tried to join the local group to reason with Toledo, an unidentified assailant pushed her down and said, “You don’t belong here.” So the story of the wild horses is also about the changing face and climate of Hawai`i. Below are some comments taken directly from on-line reader feedback to the Hawaii Tribune Herald on the news stories about the horses in Waipi`o Valley:

  • I side with the farmer who works hard in providing for his family, but suffers a financial loss because wild horses kill his crops. To physically attack the farmer for defending his livihood just show some individuals have no sense of justice/pride in themselves as human being.
  • Those pigin speaking uneducated locals who actually support what this man did are just an example of why Hawaii is labeled as backwards and clueless!
  • let’s not forget our history is agrarian – animals are treated with respect, but as resources too – not as family members as many would like. Never to excuse the killing of horses, but tree huggers should not regulate our interactions with animals we do OWN. We’re NOT California !!!
  • Hawaii is really getting a reputation for being a bunch of yahoos. Its nationwide news! Lets change this view and show the country we care about animals and will not tolerate violators!
  • please stop all this nonsense about a national reputation for being backwards, crude, yahoos. Where does this rep come from? Your own mind – nowhere else. The same minds that ask us if we live in grass shacks and wear ti leaves when we go to the mainland
  • find some other terrible tasting food [poi] to suck off your fingers. Build the fences, shoot Toledo, and leave the horses alone.
  • For those that don’t know Morgan Toledo, I encourage a little latitude. My encounters with him have led me to believe that he is a man of integrity, passion and aloha. Just saying, let’s not jump to hasty judgments based on relatively superficial information.
  • I seriously hope this animal killer gets a taste of his own poi! Someone needs to use his okole as a target and see how it feels!
  • we are at a crucial moment in our history. Racial divide grows like bacteria – being nurtured on both sides of the fence. People who have been here for generations are weary of having their lifestyles altered. People who are new tend to see “problems” many locals do not.
  • I don’t believe that culturally insensitive reader feedback (i.e. “terrible tasting food to suck off your fingers”) helps solve either of the problems stated in the article: taro damage and tensions among the Waipio residents.

With the number of immigrants flocking to the islands, the chances are growing that wealthy newcomers will settle near those who must still earn a living, in some cases, taro farmers working long days in the heat and mud. And there will be more stories like the wild horses of Waipi`o Valley.


OHA Moves Ahead with Organization of a Hawaiian Government

By Rochelle DelaCruz

After the failure of the Akaka Bill which would have given Native Hawaiians federal recognition and the right to self-government, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) is continuing to channel its energy into organizing Hawaiians into a political entity. OHA’s proposal is similar to the rejected Akaka Bill but does not need approval from Congress. Trustee John Waihe`e IV said that not only was it within OHA’s authority to guide the establishment of a new government, but that “…we’re legally recognized representatives of the Hawaiian people. In that sense, it is our duty.”

Since June, OHA has been meeting with various Hawaiian groups to discuss self-government and its draft of the “nation-building” plan that includes the following steps:

  • Continuation of Kau Inoa registration in order to sign up at least 118,000 Native Hawaiian voters, two-thirds of the Hawaiian population in Hawai`i. Currently there are approximately 50,000 registered voters.
  • Appointment of an advisory committee to develop a plan for electing delegates to a Native Hawaiian constitution convention that would represent Hawaiians from around the United States.
  • Appointment of an elections committee to oversee the election of delegates.
  • Constitutional convention to draft a constitution and other documents for the new governing entity to “explore the various powers, immunities and rights which will be asserted by Native Hawaiians throughout the United States.”
  • Vote by registered Native Hawaiians to ratify (or not) proposals from the convention.
  • Implementation of ratified, voter-approved documents.
  • Negotiations by officers of the new Native Hawaiian governing entity with OHA and the state to determine its scope of resources and authority
  • Decision by governing entity whether or not to pursue federal recognition.

The OHA timetable calls for the election of representatives to a new government entity by 2008. OHA administrator Clyde Nāmu`o is aware of concerns raised by the timetable but said that the process must move quickly. “The sooner we get this done, the sooner we’ll be able to negotiate with the state.” Said Nāmu`o. Current Hawai`i governor Linda Lingle supports Native Hawaiian causes but is up for re-election this year. Part of OHA’s push is for her support which would be needed for the transfer of some assets from the state to the new government.

Some critics question OHA’s position as a state agency to lead this endeavor, but Nāmu`o says that OHA has the resources to fund the entire process. “If not OHA…then who else? Who would have the money to finance such an effort?” Others continue to oppose a plan based on race and ancestry, but these opponents appear to come from the privileged group whose gains were begotten largely through old racial divides but who are now loathe to see others gain similar privileges.

For those who are cynical of OHA motives, it is possible that the new governing entity will take over the work of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs which manages the Native Hawaiian trust fund and decides which programs are funded.

OHA makes clear that the proposal is not geared toward secession from the United States. Nāmu`o acknowledges that many feel threatened by the word “sovereignty” as well as “Hawaiian nation” which is why OHA now uses the term “governing entity.” He also said, “This government would always have to exist within the framework of the federal government.”


Nā Mana`o Ulu Wale

-Random thoughts, casual observations and other bits of fluff.-
by Roger Close

Is there anything that smells as sweet as a warm trade wind caressing a plumaria tree in full bloom? That fragrance certainly excites all the senses as well as triggers memories of a childhood yard and many special occasions celebrated with lei. Yes, I am in Hawai`i on the gorgeous and complex island of Moloka`i, the “Friendly Isle.” Indeed, when was the last time you were in the grocery store and the checkout clerk told you of a special on the same brand of dish soap you were purchasing…twice as much soap for only 50 cents more…and then went and got the larger bottle off the shelf for you? Maybe that’s why they call it “Friendly Market!”


Staying in Hālawa Valley is as challenging as it is inspiring, as oppressive as it is peaceful, as harsh as it is beautiful. There is no electricity, no phones (and no, there is no cell phone coverage), and no refrigeration. There is running water piped straight from an abandoned county inch and a half pipe lying on top of the ground or an awai …all gravity fed. The water serves a flush toilet (to a crude septic tank), two sinks, and two showers (one indoor and one outdoor). The water is non-potable. Hence, water for drinking needs to be boiled or brought in. That cool shower at the end of the work day is certainly a highlight!

The work is physical, tiring, and rewarding. The first day a failed lo`i wai (the canal carrying water from one taro patch to another) was repaired. The second and third days saw the clearing of a 40x50 foot area of brush, papaya trees, small kukui nut trees, and other unidentifiable tropicalness in preparation for the siting of a new hale. Other work in the first five days included weed eating, mowing, debris burning, and pulling weeds from the lo`i.

Beyond a doubt, the most inspirational times of the day are early in the morning as Hālawa awakens over a cup of instant coffee and in the evenings as day turns to night. Both times are natural for talking story and my host, Lawrence Aki provides plenty stories. Memories of his childhood in Hālawa; history passed down from his grandparents and great grandparents, uncles and great uncles; cultural knowledge, and his hopes and dreams for the Valley. In my short time in Hālawa Valley I have come to the realization that I was drawn back not so much by the unspoiled beauty of this special piece of Hawai`i, this last sanctuary of the Hawai`i of my youth, but by Lawrence’s inspiring hopes and dreams.

I wonder, can one man ensure the taro lands are used for growing taro; that visitors to this valley ask permission to enter private property and when it is granted treat the `āina with respect; and that the entire valley be preserved and used in culturally appropriate ways for and by future generations of kānaka maole? Only time will tell. And I am proud to spend only a fraction of time in helping to make it so.

Until next time, mālama pono.

Click here for more Random thoughts, casual observations and other bits of fluff.

Roger Close is a semi-retired Oregon educator who currently lives in the San Juan Islands. He was born and raised in Kāne`ohe, O`ahu. At eighteen, Roger left the islands to attend Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon . Like so many, he ended up staying on the mainland, returning home for occasional visits.


Do You Remember...?

By Manny and Bettyjean Fernandez

When you could buy one big sack of See Moi for a nickel... and then you ate the whole thing and licked the bag... Gramma said, you go Chinese School , you say "NO!" she said, you go, I buy you see moi, you say OK.

Windward side... taro patches... rice paddies...water buffalo... When you mentioned Kaneohe, everyone knew you were talking about the pupule house... When the tallest building in Honolulu was the Aloha Tower ... Radio personalities like.. J. Aku Head Pupule on KGMB in the mornings saying "OK, all you SLOBS, it's time to GET UP!!!"  Hey, no foget Lucky Luck's "Lucky you come Hawaii !" and remember Don Chamberlin and "Don in the fishbowl" from Fran's Drive Inn.. When you lived in Honolulu, T.H.... Signs on vacant and private property that said KAPU... When the site of AlaMoana Shopping Center was a big swamp.  Waialae-Kahala was mostly pig farms, and the area next to the airport was a neighborhood called Damon Tract...

Kids chanting... Ching Chong Chinaman, Sitting on a fence, Trying to make a dollah, Out of fifteen cents... Red, White and Blue, Stahs ovah you, Mama say, Papa say, you pake... Grade school JPO's... Junior Police Officers in their white shirts, khaki pants, polished black shoes, red helmets and arm bands... 25 cents going Saturday Matinee, Queen's Theater..I remember 9 cents at Varsity Theater and 25 cents could get you movie, soda, and popcorn at Golden Wall Theatre....Wearing Band-Aids and a "limp" to get into the Saturday matinee without shoes... Flipping milk caps on the sidewalk during recess... and deciding who got to go first by playing Jung Ken Po... And when you did something dumb everybody yelled..."Bakatare You!" And when you did something naughty they shook their finger and said..." A hana koko lele!

Moonlight swimming... Bonfires on the beach... Strumming ukuleles, singing and everyone knew the words to all the old Hawaiian songs... You were greeted with.. Ei, bu!... Ei buggah, how you stay?.. or Ei, blah-lah... Going to Maunakea Street to buy ginger leis... The old Pali road with the hairpin turns... and if it was really windy, the hood of the car blew open..

The bestest freshest poi at Ono's on Kapahulu Ave. ..Also bestest Laulau, Kalua Pig, Opihi, sticky rice, Lomi Salmon, Pipikaula, Na'au Puaa, Haupia.. Broke da mout'!  Dollar bills with HAWAII printed across them...I still got some...

Going to high school football games at the ole stadium --- lovingly called the Termite Palace. Guys getting their kicks sparking the wahines from under the stands... soggy bags of boiled peanuts sold by squatting sellers...and Football players smothered with leis and lipstick walking off the field... Harry Bridges, Teamsters Union leader, calling union dock strikes...causing food shortages. . Sad Sam Ichinose... Kau Kau Korner, the meeting place with the "Crossroads of the Pacific" sign out front, the most photographed sign in the world... The waitresses wearing short skirts, soda hats and skates bringing your order to the car on a window tray...How good those hamburgers smelled! Aloha Oe... eat fish and poi"...

When those lucky people who lived in Waikiki sold their lots for $5.00 a square foot and we all thought they were getting rich... Everyone discussing the "Mauka Arterial" and when it was finally completed we all got lost because we didn't know East from West.. All I knew was Ewa side and Diamond Head side... Mauka and Makai. Holding the 49th State Fair year after year.. and finally becoming the 50th state in 1959... Looking at Diamond Head ... when all you could see fromWaikiki was the Natatorium and the Elk's Club... Hey, don't forget the Town & Country Club Riding Stables and the taro patches. Old Chinese ladies with bound feet shuffling along wearing dark grey tunics and trousers... Japanese men in Kimonos carrying a towel and a bar of soap walking to a stream in the evening. Filipino men from Waipahu on the bus with their game cocks in cages.. Elderly Japanese squatting, waiting for the bus... Trying to find the coins wrapped in red paper and pieces of tissue (with holes in them that the evil spirits had to go through)..from Chinese funerals...

Watching Duke Kahanamoku surfing at Waikiki and shaking hands with him  

Beach boys with da kine, ho'omalimali and Hawaiian music under the palm trees at the Royal Hawaiian and the Moana... Surfers with 8 foot boards that weighed a ton... Waikiki sand always washing away and having to be replaced by sand from the windward side... Old Chinese men playing mah-jongg under the hau trees at Kuhio Beach ... Saint Louis boys singing "We get ten tousand men steel yet, we gonna ween dees game you bet... " My friend wen go St. Louis but I no tink he remember this. Rubbing maunaloa seeds on the sidewalk until they got hot enough to burn somebody's arm... The excitement of the Lurline coming in... Lei sellers everywhere... "Carnation lei... fifty cents plumieria.. .three for dollah".. Local boys diving for coins... big beautiful jelly fish... a tangle of streamers from ship to shore.. passengers tossing leis overboard as the ship pulls away... if they floated toward shore, they would return...

When KGMB and KGU were the only radio stations... Lots of Mynah birds on the sidewalks... mongoose living in a neighborhood tree... Going Pali lookout to "spahk da moon"... "I took my wahine holo holo kaa, I took her up the Pali, she say "too muchee faa."  Pull down the shade, try to make the grade... Lei ana ika.. black eye!" Going Diamond Head or Ala Moana to watch the submarine races... Swimming in the streams and whacking each other on the head with shampoo ginger... Never driving over the Pali with pork in your car...you going get stuck... No need test...I wen test for you and the car engine wen maki.  Going to "First Vue" at the Waikiki theater! ...eating crackseed..the palm trees and flowers that looked so real. .the usher who wore a feather cape and helmet and ever smiled...Every Friday night at 10:15 and you had to make reservations. Talking mynah birds...I had one dumb minah bird...never did speak to me. Lights out... clack, clack, clack. what's dat?...turn on lights... one BIG centipede! Alfred Apaka... Kalima Brothers... Gabby Pahinui...slack key...steel guitars... Don' forget Auntie Genoa Keawe.

Surfing at Waikiki and watching the outrigger canoes along side of you full of mainland tourists wearing bathing caps... Surfing Waikiki all day without eating, getting red eyes.. going back again the next day.. because when you caught those waves and rode them all the way in... it was worth it! Underwater... trying to catch a ride on the back of a turtle... Underwater.. trying to look at fish and eels without a mask...


.. .THIS WAS THE OLD HAWAII !!!!!!!!!!!!!!                          

Do You Remember...(part I) was sent in by Manny and Bettyjean Fernandez. Manny K. Fernandez is a well known island musician and won the Best Hawaiian CD 2006 Peoples Choice Award for My Island Paradise. Manny and Bettyjean now live in Aloha, Oregon. Look for Do You Remember...(Part II) in the September issue of the Northwest Hawai`i Times.    


New Inter-Island Carrier go! Making Waves

By NWHIT Staff

go! the new inter-island carrier operated by mainland-based Mesa Air Group began a fare war with Hawaiian and Aloha Airlines when it started flying at the beginning of June with an introductory one-way inter-island airfare of $39. It was the lowest rate that passengers had seen in a long time. Over the past year, Hawaiian and Aloha were charging over $100 one-way inter-island, and some Hawai`i residents were finding it cheaper to fly to the West Coast than to some of the outer islands. Shortly after go! kicked off its $39 ticket sales, it temporarily dropped its fare even lower to $19, which Hawaiian matched and Aloha responded to by giving away 1,000 free round-trip tickets.

Now go! is offering $29 one-way (or $58 round trip) between Honolulu and Hilo, Kailua-Kona, Līhue and Kahului for tickets that must be used by Sept. 30th. Hawaiian and Aloha said they would match the low fare. Even though opportunities to purchase tickets usually have a short time frame, travelers should be aware of the fare wars and call or visit all inter-island carriers’ websites regularly.

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