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May 2007

Hawai`i News

E mālama o Kaho‘olawe
(to care for Kaho‘olawe)

By Roy Alameida

One of the voluntary responsibilities of a teacher is to be active within the school community by serving as advisor to various student organizations. I am one of two advisors for the student organization Hui Mālama ‘Āina o Pauahi at Kamehameha Schools Hawai‘i campus. The mission of the organization is to help care for the land of Pauahi (founder of the Kamehameha Schools) in whatever way possible and to continue learning about Hawaiian history, culture, and language.

The opportunity to visit Kaho‘olawe through the Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana, one of several organizations tasked with the restoration of the island, became a reality for myself and the students. The purpose for the visit was to learn more of the mo‘olelo of Kaho‘olawe, to care for the ‘āina, and to pay respects to the kūpuna (elders) since the ending of military use in 1994. There is a waiting list of groups and individuals wanting access to the island for various reasons and only approximately 60 persons are allowed on the island at any one time for a four-day period throughout the year

The travel to Kaho‘olawe for seventeen students and six chaperones took place during spring break. The mo‘olelo of my experience follows.


Kaho`olawe, located six miles southwest of Maui, is the smallest and only unihabited
of the eight main Hawaiian islands.
This is a view of Maui from Hakioawa on Kaho`olawe.

Photo by Roy Alameida

Kaho‘olawe (literally, the taking away) – the target island with visible scars, an island bleeding from hurt. As the days got closer in anticipation for the “occupation” of the island, I began to wonder why it took me more than thirty years to be able to set foot on this respected island. Perhaps earlier, it wasn’t a place for me. Perhaps it wasn’t my time. But now the island has given me permission to see and reflect on the destruction by man; to see its beauty and prominence; to see it struggling to live again.

I recall back in the 1970s listening to the news about the unauthorized occupation of Kaho‘olawe by Hawaiians whose goal was to return the island to the Hawaiian people. I recall my high school classmates being on the island and eluding the military for days. A journal written and published by those classmates tell their story as temporary residents of Kaho‘olawe. I recall being one of those skeptics thirty years ago who thought that those Hawaiians challenging the military were crazy. The bombing of the island would never stop. The U.S. military would never give up control of the island. But, time has changed the course of history and the U.S. government finally returned Kaho`olawe to Hawaiians in 1993.

There are heroes, George Helm, Kimo Mitchell, who were determined to stop the bombing of Kaho‘olawe. Their lives were lost but their legacy lives on. Here we are today, in the 21st century, working tirelessly to save the island from further destruction while educating others about the importance of its existence.

As the countdown continued for the “occupation,” there were feelings of anxiety. I wasn’t sure what to expect once on the island. I knew there would be no modern conveniences, no tap water, no flushing toilets, and no electricity. No comfortable bed or warm showers. The sky would be the roof over my head. The stars and constellations would clearly point out their position in the night sky. I would be a malihini to the island.

Arriving at Makena Beach, Maui late Friday evening, we could see the silhouette of the island in the distance. It would only be hours before daybreak when I, along with others, would leave Makena which lies seven miles across the Alalakeiki channel from Kaho‘olawe. This is the closest proximity to Kaho‘olawe from the island of Maui. As dawn breaks and the morning sun slowly rises above Haleakalā, a reddish hue blankets the island of Kaho ‘olawe.

He haki nu‘anu‘a nei kai
‘o ‘awa ana i uka
Pehea e hiki aku ai
‘O ka leo
Mai pa‘a i ka leo

Indeed a rough and crashing sea
Echoing into the uplands
How is it that one lands
It is the voice
Please don’t hold back the voice.

We chant a mele komo asking permission to enter; asking permission to touch the island; asking permission to embrace the island. The first line of the chant aptly describes conditions as we near the shore of Hakioawa (site of an ancient fishing village) after challenging large white-capped ocean swells and strong easterly winds on board the fishing boat Pualele owned and operated by Robert Lu‘uwai aka Uncle Bobby, a longtime supporter of the Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana. The low gradual slopes of the encircling ridges above Hakioawa provide the backdrop to welcome the malihini.

The sharing of this author’s personal experience to the island of Kaho ‘olawe will continue in the next issue of NWHIT.

The Return of Kaho`olawe

By Rochelle delaCruz 


Photo by Roy Alameida

Kaho`olawe is a small island – 45 square miles – located 6 miles southwest of Maui. In ancient times, it was called Kanaloa for the god of the ocean. It served as a training ground for kahuna and navigators and was used as a launching site for canoes and a place to study the stars. Over centuries, small groups of people lived periodically on the island, but since the middle of the 20th century, it has remained uninhabited.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the U.S. military took over Kaho`olawe and the Navy began using it for bombing practice. In 1976, a group called Protect Kaho`olawe `Ohana filed suit to stop the bombing of the island that many consider sacred. In 1977, Hawaiian activists George Helm and Kimo Mitchell were lost at sea during an attempt to occupy Kaho`olawe in protest. Finally in 1990, then-President George H.W. Bush ordered an end to the bombing. But the Navy retained access control until either the clearance of ordnance and environmental restoration was completed, or November 11, 2003, whichever came first.

In 1993, Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) sponsored a bill directing the United States to convey Kaho`olawe and its surrounding waters to the State of Hawaii. The bill also required the “clearance or removal of unexploded ordnance” and environmental restoration of the island, to provide “meaningful safe use of the island for appropriate cultural, historical, archaeological, and educational purposes, as determined by the State of Hawaii.” The state legislature then established Kaho`olawe Island Reserve prohibiting commercial uses and decreeing that Kaho`olawe and its waters be used only for Native Hawaiian cultural, spiritual and subsistence purposes; fishing, environmental restoration, historic preservation; and education. The legislature also created the Kaho`olawe Island Reserve Commission to manage and hold the island in trust until it can be transferred to a future Native Hawaiian Sovereignty entity.

On November 11, 2003, Kaho`olawe was transferred to the State of Hawaii even though only 38% of the island had been cleared of ordnance. The Navy says its failure to clean up unexploded ordnance is because they remain deeply buried or have washed down gullies or lie in offshore waters.

Today, visits to Kaho`olawe require escort. Protect Kaho`olawe `Ohana and other Native Hawaiian groups go the island for archaeological surveys, water studies, replanting activities and religious rituals.

And recently, the Kaho`olawe Island Reserve Commission approved a couple’s request and allowed the birth of their child on Kaho`olawe, the first in decades.


New Alert from Volcanoes Nat’l Park:

Please Don’t Leave Food!

By NWHIT Staff

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is trying to stop visitors from leaving various offerings at Halema`uma`u crater at Kīlauea summit. According to park rangers, forty-five pounds of offerings are left each week, including candles, crystals, flowers, money, incense etc., but the most problematic is the food because it rots and attracts cockroaches, ants, flies and rats. Not only is it unhealthy to have food rotting at the edge of the pit, but it presents a hazard to the nene goose, an endangered species found in the park and endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. But some people even burn fake money, a tradition to aid those in the afterlife in some cultures. This is not only illegal, but also presents a fire hazard. There are already enough fire hazards at the Volcanoes National Park.


Mr. Waikiki - Don Ho Dies at 76

By NWHIT Staff

Donald Tai Loy Ho was born on August 13, 1930 on O`ahu and died in Honolulu of heart failure on April 14, 2007. He is arguably the biggest and best-known Hawaiian entertainer in the last 50 years and was loved throughout the world by visitors to Hawai`i who were his biggest fans. His shows in Waikīkī which spanned five decades, first at Duke Kahanamoku’s in the International Market Place and last at the Waikiki Beachcomber, were always packed with tourists who took home warm memories of Ho and Hawai`i.

His most famous song is “Tiny Bubbles” and in 2001, he became the first Hawai`i artist to receive a gold record when one of his albums “Don Ho’s Greatest Hits” sold more than 500,000 copies. While he is often seen as a laid-back, he was a star football player at Kamehameha School, graduated from the University of Hawai`i-Mānoa and a pilot in the U.S. Air Force.

Don Ho was married three times and is survived by his wife Haumea and ten children from his earlier marriages. His ashes will be spread off Waikīkī on May 5th.


Don Ho and I

By Kimo Ahia

Never did I dream I would be on stage performing with Don Ho at a show, but miracles did happen in the fall of 2003. Don did a swing through the Pacific Northwest, performing at various Indian Casino showrooms. The Wildhorse Casino in Pendleton, Oregon was where he had two shows on the same day. I was fortunate to get tickets for the last show and got there early so as to be up front.

James "Kimo" Ahia

While standing in line outside the theatre, Don and his group were coming our way from the restaurant. Taking a chance, I called out “Imua, Kamehemaha, Don!” He took a few more steps then turned around asking, “What year?” “60”, I replied, which brought him back to me so we could talk story. Don is also a graduate of Kamehameha. Did that make me special with the other folks waiting in line that I really did know Don Ho!

Scoring seats in the second row, we sat back to really enjoy the program… quickly drifting back in our memories of Duke Kahanamoku’s in Waikiki. Don’s daughter Hoku was soon brought on stage by her proud papa and quickly demonstrated her abilities. As they started singing “He Ono”, Don stopped, asking “where is that Kam grad in the audience? Stand up, bradda!”

As soon as I was on my feet, he said “come up here, you know these songs by heart, too. Come join us!” Man, did I get up there quickly before he changed his mind! Sitting next to him and singing along was such a great feeling. Being able to share a common heritage and bond in this northeast corner of Oregon, Indian and cowboy country, was stupendous. I left the stage proudly carrying four of his cassettes that he gifted me. Needless to say I was warmly congratulated by those around us.

In less than two weeks, a call came from the Milton-Freewater Elks who had already scheduled a scholarship fundraising luau. They wanted me to do Don Ho’s songs, claiming that folks who had been at the show thought I would be great. The club had already booked an Elvis Impersonator but strongly wanted a more Hawaiian program. I was totally out of my element, not being able to play a guitar or ukulele. Quickly, my co-performer showed me that we could pull it off with a karaoke based program. I would also be able to use a video monitor as a teleprompter, just like Don Ho! The internet quickly provided several CDGs with the music and lyrics so rehearsal was on a fast track to be ready in two weeks.

The common bond of both Elvis and Don Ho through the late Hawaiian composer Kui Lee became the unifying factor for the show and started a new opportunity for me. It didn’t take long before other groups, especially senior centers and homes, were calling to see if I would do a program for them.

I now realize that Don received a lot more energy from his audience than what he expended in performing. I feel blessed in being able to share the special aloha and mana’o of Hawaii as I do his songs along with all the other Hawaiian performers. Unfortunately there is not a great number of Hawaiian karaoke discs on the market but I make do. All of my performances so far are done “mynah bird priced” (free), as the Hilo folks know.

The seniors in our area were the folks who went to Vietnam so seeing Don’s show at Waikiki was a super plus memory while on R&R with their families. This is the strong bond out here. They come out to every show dressed in that aloha shirt or mu’umu’u that has been lovingly stored all these years. They also remember the words well, mouthing along quietly with dreamy smiles on their faces, remembering that special time in their lives.

I hope I can continue to keep their memories of Don Ho and Hawaii alive for a few more years. Anyone out there want to come and join the fun? Sure could use a wahine to do duets with!

James Kaleikaapuni Ahia, Jr. was born at Ola`a (now Kea`au) on Hawai`i island. He was raised on Puna Sugar Plantation, spending most of childhood summers with his grandma at Kaimu, next to Kalapana on the Puna coast. In the 6th grade, he boarded at Kamehameha School on O`ahu, graduated in 1960 and attended the University of Hawai`i-Mānoa. Among his jobs were: seasonal ranger at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Kaua`i island manager for Brewer Chemical. He moved to Walla Walla in 1993 to work for Western Farm Service and has been living in that corner of Washington ever since. Kimo and his wife Kathy have a son James in Texas and daughter Debra on Kaua`i and four mo`opuna.


The Merry Merrie Monarch Hula Festival!

By Leona Lueders


I went to Hilo for the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival and have so much to tell! To begin with, we stayed in the Volcano area where everything is lush and green and to start of your day you can pick lehua in the yard to pin in your hair.

In the Volcano area people live by the water catchment system. At the start of our stay we were indoctrinated as to what this entails. Rainwater is caught and stored in large above-ground tanks. This water is then filtered and sent to the rest of the property for daily baths, refilling of the toilet tanks, used for laundry, washing dishes, and whatever other water task is undertaken. Unfortunately, rain had been scarce, and this facility only had one water tank. Showers were to be taken by the time-tested system of wetting yourself down, turning the water off while scrubbing, and then turning the water back on for quick rinsing. We were fortunate to have two nights of rainfall after our arrival, and therefore, a reprieve from the water rationing!

On our drive down from Volcano, we could feel the change in altitude. It would be chilly, cloudy and rainy at Volcano, but nice and sunny in Hilo! And Hilo is gorgeous. After spending several days on O'ahu in the Honolulu area and visiting Waipahu, where the houses are almost on top of each other with people circling their homes by car looking for a parking space at the end of their workday! By comparison the house lots in the Hilo area looked huge! We noticed large hapu'u ferns, bedecked with orchid plants, forming a beautiful canopy for the anthuriums underneath. Gardenias were in bloom everywhere. Ginger patches grow wild in the ditches on the side of the road, along with wonderful stands of bright yellow bamboo with green markings!

Hilo is such a good HOST for this venue. The Naniloa Hotel had some local entertainment and a craft area. I love handcrafted things, but the cracked seed stuff was a good extra too! The vendor people were so friendly and informative on their products and shared of their family life and life in the Hilo area in general. The cracked seed lady had pickled mango and onions. She told us of how she raised her kids on money earned and now they are helping to keep it up as a family business.

Another craft venue was set up in Hilo town area at the Sangha Hongwanji. I dropped some money at this place where there were a couple of vendors selling Maori style bone carved pendants. Also in attendance was a gal whose family dyes and paints on cotton fabric, turning them into gorgeous clothing. There was gourd jewelry in another booth, some baby stuff in another.

Near to the stadium is a large building and a warehouse area was set up for more crafts. There was Ni'ihau shell jewelry, clothing, jewelry, artists with oil paintings, lei and flower vendors, hair adornments, t-shirts and even a wagon outside selling dry fish and poi!!

The first day of Merrie Monarch – the Ho`ike - was open seating, open to the public. We arrived a couple of hours ahead of time but the lines were already wrapped around the stadium! The parking was insane, but a volunteer group of Harley motorcycle riders tried to keep things organized.

This is where we found out to watch for the Japanese. We heard there are over 60,000 hula halau in Japan, and I thought maybe they meant 60,000 Japanese hula dancers. Whatever the true fact is, those who arrived at Merrie Monarch were a force to be reckoned with. A small faction is sent to the lines, sometimes plowing their way to the front. Once inside they were saving seats all over the stadium! I have several thoughts on this. For one, Japan is a crowded place where people learn to be on top of each other, learn how to shoulder their way through crowds to get to the trains, subways, or wherever. We are no match for this and have had no experience in it.

On the other hand, our hula teachers have been traveling to and from Japan (and other places around the world, Germany and Scandinavia ) promoting hula and bringing business and tourism back to Hawai'i Nei. Our Hawaiian people dwindle at every generation, but others are learning our culture and our hula and keeping the Aloha Spirit alive outside of the island chain!

Maori from Aotearoa (New Zealand) also came to participate in
the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival.

Photo by Leona Lueders

Of course we watched hula at the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, but I would also like to report that a Japanese group performed a Polynesian type revue, including a lot of hula and Tahitian dancing. They were the largest group to participate, in full regalia of costume changes. And there was a Maori group that performed--most members from New Zealand , with their spokesman who lives with his Hawaiian wife and children in the Hilo area who encouraged everyone to keep the culture alive!

This was just the BEGINNING of my first Merrie Monarch experience, and when you see me, ask me about it because I have lots more to report!

Leona Lueders graduated from the Kamehameha Schools and dances with Keala O Kamailelauli`ili`i. She lives with her husband Wes in Federal Way, Washington.


Merrie Monarch 2007 Winners

OVERALL WINNER: Hālau I Ka Wēkiu, Honolulu
WAHINE KAHIKO: Hula Hālau `O Kamuela, Waimānalo, O`ahu
WAHINE `AUANA: Hula Hālau `O Kamuela, Waimānalo, O`ahu
KANE KAHIKO: Hālau I Ka Wēkiu, Honolulu
KANE `AUANA: Hālau I Ka Wēkiu, Honolulu
WAHINE OVERALL: Hula Hālau `O Kamuela, Waimānalo, O`ahu
KANE OVERALL: Hālau I Ka Wēkiu, Honolulu


Sig Zane Re-Opens in Hilo

By Lance Duyao

And you thought that the clothing and accessories were fabulous? The recent grand re-opening of Sig Zane Designs in their former location (and then some) has set higher standards on a couple of levels.  The enlarged flagship store at 122 Kamehameha Avenue  in Hilo brings a breath of fresh air to the clichéd term, 'a sense of place.'  It also sets the tone that a local business can thrive and compete on a global level. 

Lei-bedecked artist Sig Zane
at the grand re-opening.

Photo from www.sigzanedesigns.com

Beautifully defining their own sense of place with flooring of native `ohi`a and accents ranging from koa to antique Oriental cabinetry, the new store blends a perfect mix of cultures here in Hawai`i and showcases it at its finest.  The staffs' Ho'okipa service reinforces the brand image and further transcends Sig Zane Designs from store to retail destination, providing a treat for all of the senses.  The masses that make this store an annual stop on their Merrie Monarch pilgrimage were surely blown away by the transformation.    

Starting off the two-day festivities to mark the opening were Paula Fuga and Lopaka Kanaka'ole.  On the next night were performances by Kainani Kahaunaele, Manu Boyd, Na Palapalai, Nani Lim and of course, Nalani Kanaka'ole and Halau O Kekuhi.  Hilo has not seen a more festive store opening for a number of years and the entertainment rivaled any concert roster at the Waikiki Shell.

The quality and abundance of floral arrangement gifts were testament that Hilo and all of Hawai`i are just in love with Sig Zane Designs.  And, oh yes, the clothing and accessory lines are still grand and promises to get even grand-er.  Just check out the settee poised in their display window and you know that we can always expect new and exciting things from this innovative Hilo-based business that will keep their customers happy and coming back for many years to come. 

Lance Duyao was born and raised in Hilo.  A graduate of Waiakea High School and the University of Hawaii, he currently oversees Marketing, PR and Retail Operations at Big Island Candies and resides in Waiakea Uka, Hawaii.

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