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March 2008

Hawai`i News

"I want to see all the names."

A Memorial for 8,000 at Kalaupapa

By Chris Mahelona

Beginning in 1866 and up until 1969, the isolation policy for Hansen’s disease (leprosy) patients resulted in a major disruption of family life where children were taken from their parents, parents taken from their children, and husbands and wives were separated regardless of their vows “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health”. As a result of this inequitable severance, this disease was called by some, “Ma’i Ho’oka’awale” – The Separating Sickness.

Over 8,000 people with the disease were sent to Kalaupapa, an isolated peninsula on the north shore of Moloka’i. The majority of those 8,000 are buried on the peninsula, but only about 1,300 graves have an identifiable headstone.

“You have to hear the voices to feel the people. You have to know their names. If you don’t say the names, it’s like something has been lost.”
Bernard K. Punikai`a, 76
(sent to Kalaupapa in 1942)

Most of those who were sent to the peninsula before 1900 have no marked graves. Others were buried in places marked with a cross or a bare tombstone, but those markers have seen great deterioration over time. As a result, there are many family members and descendants of these residents who cannot find the graves of their loved ones and are unable to properly honor and pay tribute to them.

The Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa is a nonprofit organization made up of patients, family and friends of past and present Hansen’s disease patients, dedicated to promoting the value and dignity of every individual who was separated from their families and isolated on the Kalaupapa peninsula. It is within this group that the idea was born to build a memorial for the 8,000. The monument would provide a means through which family members can find a sense of closure and a place where they can see their family member’s name included as part of the history of Kalaupapa.

The naming process and the giving of a Hawaiian name is an important and sacred component of traditional Hawaiian culture. It is said, names carry significant mana (spiritual power) and they are actually a part of the person, just like an arm or a leg. In ancient Hawai'i, a person's name was one of his most precious possessions unique to the individual and most times, related to an event, an ancestor, or a personality trait. In every case, the kupuna (elders) were always consulted. It was the responsibility of the bearer of the name to carry its weight. Therefore, it is important to remember these people by their names at their final resting place. Over 90% of those sent to Kalaupapa were Kanaka Maoli.

“I want to see a monument honoring the people of Kalaupapa before I die. I want to see all their names. These people are my friends – even though many of them died before I came here and I didn’t know them personally, in spirit we are all together. I know their hearts and souls.”
Olivia Breitha, 90
(sadly Olivia passed away in September 2007)

The desire for the Monument is summarized by the patients' quotes and from the personal story about Stephen Mahelona Napela.

Because the peninsula lands are primarily administered by the National Park Service, special approval is required to build the memorial. On February 12, 2008, the `Kalaupapa Memorial Act of 2008' sponsored by Representative Hirono (HI), was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives . A senate version (S 2502) has been introduced by Senator Akaka (HI). The main purpose of this legislation is:

My father and I found my great grandfather (my father’s grandfather), Stephen Mahelona Napela in the Hawai’i state archives book: “Persons Apprehended and Examined for Leprosy”. He was listed as Inmate number 487. In the early days, anyone with the disease was treated as a criminal and rounded up for deportation. Stephen is buried on the Kalaupapa peninsula in one of the thousands of unmarked graves.

“To provide for the establishment of a memorial within Kalaupapa National Historical Park located on the island of Molokai, in the State of Hawaii, to honor and perpetuate the memory of those individuals who were forcibly relocated to the Kalaupapa Peninsula from 1866 to 1969, and for other purposes.”

We would like to encourage all of you to support this legislation by contacting your Senators and voicing your support for S 2502. You can also donate to the Memorial or become a member by clicking on the “Support” tab on the ‘Ohana website (http://www.kalaupapaohana.org/). The ‘Ohana will be paying for the Memorial through donations.

It is Important to remember that we as a society learn from our past mistakes in the way we treat our fellow human beings. We don’t always need to treat those that need caring and compassion, as outcasts because of our own fear and misunderstanding. We believe the Kalaupapa Memorial will help us to “ Bring Them Back Home” where they belong, with their ‘Ohana.

(photos are courtesy of Valerie Monson)

Chris and David Mahelona, Spokane, Washington

Chris and David are members of the Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa. Everybody followed Chris to Spokane, WA when he got a job there in 1998. They have identified 38 people, who they think are ‘ohana, who were banished to Kalaupapa. Of the 38, fourteen are known to have died on the Kalaupapa Peninsula. To date, none of their graves have been found.

More information about the Kalaupapa National Park can be found at: http://www.nps.gov/kala/index.htm


Ka Hula Hou: Pride on the Line

By Leona Lueders

Mark Ho`omalu hatched the idea to have a "hula challenge featuring all kane dancers. Each group would challenge each other in bouts where the audience would choose the winner"(from the Ka Hula Hou website). Four award-winning groups were invited to participate in Hayward, California in February:  Halau Na Pua Lehua I Ka Ua Noe, kumu Keoni Chang of Chino Hills, Los Angeles; Halau Hula a Kawika laua `O Leinani, kumu Kawika and Leinani Viloria of Diamond Bar, Los Angeles; Academy of Hawaiian Arts, kumu Mark Keali`i Ho`omalu of Oakland; and Na Kane O Manawaiopuna kumu Kamaile Hamada (Ke`ala O Kamailelauli`ili`i) of Federal Way, Washington.

Each group was to bring three to five male dancers. There were no rules; no requirements of ka'i or ho'i (entrance or exits), no language judge, hula judge or lei judge.

Practicing for Ka Hula Hou. Back to front: Alaka`i, Albert & Justin from Kamaile Hamada's
Na Kane o Manawaiopuna
Photo by Tanya Jose

The event began with emcee Mento Mele announcing that the audience would choose the winner. Numbers 1-4 were placed in a pāpale and each kumu approached and drew a number. Keoni pulled number one, Mark number two, Kawika number three and Kamaile number 4. Round one was announced and teams one and two declared if they would be dancing `auwana or kahiko. Then both teams had 10 minutes to dress in costumes and the dance-off began.

A sumo sized guy named "Naka" dressed in a hau skirt and ladened in bright yellow lei, walked across the stage holding the signs announcing each round.

In round one Keoni danced against Mark. The audience applauded for each of two groups as sound devices situated throughout the audience measured the decibels. Mark was announced as winner of their bout. Kawika danced against Kamaile and the audience chose Kamaile in the second half of the first round.

The second round saw Mark opposing Kawika with Mark winning that bout. Kamaile was challenged by Keoni and Keoni won in the second half of round two.

After performing "Aia La O Pele" in the third round, the audience chose Kamaile over Mark. This left a dilemma for the second half of round 3. If Keoni won, there would be a three way tie for first and a 3-way dance off. If Kawika won, there would be a dance off between Kamaile and Mark for first place. Kawika's guys nailed their kahiko, giving them the win over Keoni Chang and round three was over.

Thus far in the competition Na Kane O Manawaiopuna under Kamaile had danced all kahiko. They chose to do `auwana for the dance off finale. Mark's men danced a kahiko. The audience was thunderous for both groups and in the end; Mark Ho`omalu won the final round!

Interviewing people in the audience, I found many with hoarse voices but the consensus was that it had been an exciting time and they received more than their money's worth of hula and Hawaiian entertainment.

Bring it back next year!!

Leona Lueders grew up in Hawai`i and now lives in Federal Way, Washington, where she also dances for Ke`ala O Kamailelaul`il`i.


American Samoa Gets First Youth Tackle Football League

By Steve Kajihiro

In recent years, you may have noticed that there has been an increase in athletes from American Samoa playing football, either in college or on the professional level.

(Left to right) Danny Langkilde (Senior VP, ASFAF), Lofa Tatupu (Seattle Seahawks), Meki Solomona (President, ASFAF), & Samoa Samoa (American Samoa HS Football Coach) pose for a photo before the USA Football press conference during the Pro Bowl Photo Day/Practice at JW Marriot Ihilani Resort and Spa, Kapolei, Hawai`i.

According to an ESPN report, an athlete from American Samoan is 40 times more likely to make the National Football League than someone growing up in the United States. When you hear of American Samoan players in the NFL like Domata Peko and Jonathan Fanene of Cincinnati, Paul Soliai of Miami, and Isaac Sopoaga of San Francisco, most automatically assume that they all played football in their youth. But what most of us do not know is that some of these athletes from American Samoa did not play in any organized youth tackle football league. It is not because they chose not too; it’s because there was no league in American Samoa to play in, until now.

In February 2008 after the NFC Pro Bowl practice at the J.W. Marriot Ihilani Resort and Spa in Hawai’i, USA Football’s Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck (ASFAF), Seattle Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu who is of Samoan descent, and Meki Solomona announced the establishment of not only the island’s first youth tackle football league, but also of the American Samoa Federation of American Football (ASFAF.) Solomona is the President of the American Samoa Federation of American Football. ASFAF Senior Vice President Danny Langkilde and ASFAF Executive Committee Member Samoa Samoa were also present for the announcement.

According to Meki Solomona, they have raw talent back in Samoa but they do not have facilities like weight rooms. He said, “We’ve not had tackle football programs from the elementary level to junior high. They start in high school.” Stories such as players having to share mouth pieces and other equipment, was one of the reasons why USA Football got involved.

Therefore, in order to help establish American Samoa’s first youth tackle football league, USA Football announced that they will provide the American Samoa Federation of American Football with funding, equipment, uniforms, state-of-the-art coaching and officiating online programs, which will enable the teams on the island to field “national” teams for international competition. 

We can only imagine how much better the next generation of American Samoan athletes will be since they already have that 40% chance of making it to the NFL.


Steve Kajihiro graduated from Aiea High School(’89) and the University of Hawai’i. He is the owner and photographer for JAMK Photography in Everett, WA. Steve also owns www.IslandSportsMedia.com.



By Roy Alameida

Recently, NWHT received a letter from a reader inquiring about the name Keākealaniwahine. Here is Roy Alameida’s reply:

According to several of the published resources, the spelling of Keākealaniwahine has a kahakō (macron) over the first “a”. To determine what a name means is left up to the person who gave the name. However, this name is a powerful one in terms of relationships. Keākealaniwahine was a strong female Ali‘i. She ruled from 1700-1720 on Hawai‘i Island and was a member of the powerful ruling Mahi family of the Kohala side of Hawai‘i Island during that time period. In addition to the Mahi family, there was also the ‘Ī family who ruled the Hilo side. As a result there were many feuds between these families.

There was a time period in Hawaiian History when there were no male heirs; thus, females were in position to rule. Such is the case of Keākealaniwahine and her ancestors. Her mother, Keakamahana, who married Iwikauikaua, ruled from 1680-1720. Without a male heir at the time, Keākealaniwahine was next in line as ruler. Her husbands were her paternal half-brother (Kāneikaiwilani who was raised on O‘ahu) and later Kanaloaikaiwilewa.

Her ancestors are Līloa and ‘Umialīloa, both humble and respected Ali‘i during their time of rule on Hawai‘i Island. Keākealaniwahine is the great-great-grandmother of Kamehameha I. She is the mother of Keaweikekahiali‘iokamoku, great-grandfather of Kamehameha. Keaweikekahiali‘iokamoku, during the time of his rule, was able to unite all the districts of Hawai‘i Island and be the chiefly ruler of the island.

This is a short history of a powerful female Ali‘i. As to her name: ākea means wide, broad, expanse. It is also a shorten form of the name Wākea (Sky father) who with Papa (Earth mother) created the islands of Hawai‘i. Without saying for certain the meaning of Keākealaniwahine (with the kahakō over the first a,) it could mean the “heavenly woman with connections (through marriage) or influence (as a ruler) over a wide area or space, possibly a reference to Hawai‘i Island” if we look at her as a ruler. Given the situation at the time, it is a possible meaning. However, as noted at the beginning, the meaning of the name rest with the person giving the name.


Kamakau, S(amuel). M. (1992). Ruling Chiefs of Hawai‘i. Honolulu: The Kamehameha Schools Press. (p. 62-63, 64, 75, 244)

Kame‘eleihiwa, L. (1992). Native Land and Foreign Desires. Honolulu: The University of Hawaii Press. (p. 80).

McKenzie, E(dith), K. Hawaiian Genealogies, vol. 1. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. (p. xv, xxii, xxv, 5, 11, 27, 87).

-- Hawaiian Genealogies, vol. 2. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. (p. 3, 8, 9, 27, 28, 30, 47, 101, 135).


Hawaii Superferry Woes

By NWHT Staff

Hawaii Superferry is in rough water.

Its late August 2007 inaugural sailing was jump-started a few days earlier than scheduled to avoid a ruling over an environmental impact study (EIS), but was greeted by noisy protesters on Maui and Kaua`i. There were many reasons they opposed the regular sailing from Honolulu of the 349-foot, vehicle-transporting vessel, from concerns about the environment to worries over the plundering of scarce resources such as `opihi and imu rocks, found on neighbor islands.

After its ill-boding inaugural sailing, the Alakai, Superferry’s primary ship, idled off shore in a court-ordered shutdown while the Hawai`i legislature called a special session to mitigate the mess. The company had started laying off its workers when in November, the state legislature passed and Governor Lingle signed a measure that allowed the ferry to operate while an EIS is conducted.

To great fanfare, service resumed in December and the Alakai began sailing again to Maui, only to face reports of seasickness from passengers. Unfortunately, the restart of service took place during the beginning of rough winter seas.

Because of bad weather, the Superferry canceled sailings for more than seven days at the beginning of 2008. Then, routine maintenance in late January and early February uncovered cracks in the auxiliary rudder housing, sending the Alakai into drydock on February 13th.

Superferry originally planned to resume service to Maui on March 3 rd; however, more damage to the Alakai’s aluminum hull occurred during the drydocking process and Superferry has now canceled sailings through March 24 th.

Hawaii Superferry president John Garibaldi blamed the structural damage on Austal, the Australian-based company that built the Alakai at Austal USA in Alabama. Garibaldi said the rudder problem is the result of a design flaw which also showed up in another similar vessel built by Austal. The shipbuilder has sent staff to Honolulu to assist with repairs which are being conducted under Coast Guard supervision.

The Alakai is expected to resume service to Maui in early spring, but service to Kaua`i has not yet been announced. A second boat being built at Austal USA is scheduled to provide service from Honolulu to Hawai`i Island in 2009.

In spite of these problems, Terry O’Halloran, director of business development for Superferry said, “We’re committed to Hawai`i and to the long term for providing this alternative form of interisland travel.”

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