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September 2008

Hawai`i News

Kīlauea Still Going Strong After 25 Years

Lava Destroys Homes; Vog Endangers Health and Plant Life

Recent activity near Pu`u Kahauale`a at Kīlauea; lava point atop one of the rootless shields.
Lava wells up in a dome fountain and cascades into a drain on the far side of the pond.
Photo from U.S. Dept. of Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov//

By Rochelle delaCruz

Kīlauea used to be called “the Friendly Volcano” because visitors could walk up to the rim of its craters and watch eruptions in relative safety. But no one uses that Disney nickname much any more, ever since the eruption of Pu`u O`o that began in 1983 and continues today in the eastern rift zone that extends through Puna. Since then, lava has consumed over 190 structures, many of them in the old Hawaiian settlement of Kalapana and a new development called Royal Gardens. Kalapana and most of the houses in Royal Gardens went down in 1991 when lava flowed through on its way to the ocean, also destroying the ancient Waha`ula heiau and the famed black sand beach at Kaimu. The few houses that remained were lost this summer with a new outbreak of lava.

In addition to Pu`u O`o, Halema`uma`u crater has also been emitting signals of volcanic activity by sending out plumes of ash and elevated amounts of sulfur dioxide gas. Combined with the smoke and gas from Pu`u O`o, the island of Hawai`i has experienced continuous air quality issues with vog, Hawai`i own version of smog. On some days, the vog reaches Maui and even Honolulu.

Recently a team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) visited the island to assess the danger that vog poses, but they were somewhat stumped. Their usual studies of air pollution do not include the amounts of sulfur chemicals created by Kīlauea. To complicate the issue, vog may be thick in one area and non-existent a mile away.

While breathing difficulties have been reported, no one yet knows the effect of repeated, long-term exposure to vog. However, some in the agriculture business such as protea farmers in downwind Ka`ū are reporting that their plants are dying.

The public – some of them newcomers to the island unaccustomed to living with an active volcano - has been pressing for action, even offering desperate suggestions such as: “bomb it!” or “build a dome over it” or “fill it with concrete.” But others with more experience dealing with vog, suggest to those suffering from asthma or other respiratory ailments, to simply get in the car and go to a place where there isn’t so much of it.

Living with a volcano requires a different mindset.

Hawaiians Take Cheyenne!

By Keawe Vredenburg

Five working Hawaiian Paniolo from Hawai`i Island ranches led the Waiomina Centennial group to Cheyenne, Wyoming this summer: Sonny Keakealani (Rocking K Ranch), Alvin Kawamoto, Kimo Hoopai (Kehena Ranch), Isaac Kawamoto (Parker Ranch), and Tony Manantan. The last three are well-known musicians and provided music for the group in Cheyenne (and at LA airport during their 4-hour extended layover). Sonny stays active working part-time at several ranches after a successful career at Parker Ranch. Alvin is a retired teacher, noted saddlemaker and leather artisan.

Ho`okupu: the first Hawaiian-Arapahoe/Shoshone protocol at the Rodeo's Indian Village.
Photo by Keawe Vredenburg

Artisans with the group were Auhea Puhi, feather-lei maker and teacher at Kanu o Ka ‘Aina school in Waimea, and Kealii Lilly, lauhala weaver, also a teacher at Kanu. Rounding out the group were four teachers from Waimea Middle school led by Pua Case, kumu hula. The others were Ellen Cordeiro, technology teacher; Kuulei Keakealani and Emalani Case, Hawaiian Studies teachers. Kuulei works on the family ranch and competes in rodeos.

The spouses of the attendees were as well qualified: Lucky Puhi manages Waikii Ranch, plays guitar and was a spokesperson for radio and TV interviews in Cheyenne; Fern White is state champion in several rodeo events and a school teacher in Kohala; Lehua Hoopai is a pa’u rider and retired rodeo competitor; Margo Kawamoto is a horsewoman and pa’u rider.

The mission of the Waimea Waiomina Centennial traveling team was simple – promote the “Hawaiians Take Cheyenne!” exhibit at the Old West Museum. In 2007, the Old West Museum offered to build an exhibit celebrating the 1908 world championship steer roping title won by Hawaii’s Ikua Purdy. Waimea’s Paniolo Preservation Society agreed to provide artifacts from its museum, as well as photographs, translations of Hawaiian newspaper articles and chants, and audio recordings of the translations. Teachers at Waimea Middle and Kanu o Ka ‘Aina schools provided research support, image enhancement, audio recordings, and documentary film strips from classroom projects on ranching and paniolo culture. The Old West Museum undertook its most ambitious exhibit to date and created a masterpiece that opened to excellent reviews and will be kept up till November of 2009.

During the five day stay, the Waiomina Centennial group entered pa’u riders and horsemen in two Grand Parades and Rodeo Grand Entries, put a dozen riders in a green VIP freight wagon for the parades and entries, and held a first-ever Hawaiian-Arapaho/Shoshone protocol at the Rodeo’s Indian Village. On their first visit to the Museum, kumu hula Pua Case, with Kuulei Keakealani and Emalani Case, chanted 1908 paeans to Ikua Purdy gleaned from the Ku’oko’a Hawaiian language newspaper.

Artisan and saddlemaker Alvin Kawamoto, with his good friend and fellow saddlemaker, Sonny Keakealani, built a Hawaiian tree saddle starting with four wooden pieces and a few yards of rawhide. Dozens of cowboys and mainland saddlemakers stopped by to watch and comment.

The teachers in the group – Pua, Kuulei, Ellen and Emalani from Waimea Middle; Auhea and Kealii from Kanu o Ka ‘Aina; Fern White from Kohala HS – put on demonstrations at the Laramie County Library on lei-making and lauhala weaving and led discussions on the Hawaiian “sense of place and identity.”

On the last night – Wednesday – the Waimea group was invited as guests to a special reception for VIP supporters of the Museum. True to their heritage, Kimo, Tony and Isaac brought their guitars, the dancers, aided by Penny Vredenburg and Pat Bergin, danced; and Cayenne Clarke sang a capella “They Call the Wind Maria.” By the end of the reception, the Hawaiians and their new-found museum friends were all in tears, vowing to meet again next year.

Keawe Vredenburg is a retired system engineer, serving as program manager for the Waiomina Centennial, and a director of the Paniolo Preservation Society based in Waimea on Hawai`i Island.


Letter from Beijing

By Ed Ching

“Wo ai Beijing” is being chanted by many athletes here at the Beijing Olympics. It means “I love Beijing” and I agree. This is my 5th Olympic games as a coach for the Guam swim team, and I bear witness to China’s efforts to show the world what it can do. The cost, beauty and the unique architecture of the new buildings, such as the main stadium (the “Bird Nest”), and the national aquatics center (the “Water Cube”), is incomparable world wide. But you have already heard about the buildings and China’s extravagance; so I want to share with you some bits and pieces of information, from me as an “insider”, which make this Olympics unique:

• The gold medals are made of real gold! On the back side, is a circular jade band, about 2 inches in diameter, embedded in the medal. According to Guam’s “Chef de Mission”, it is 24 karat gold; but I am thinking “that’s excessive...maybe 18 karat, but not 24?” The silver and bronze medal is of similar construction - - pure silver and bronze, with an imbedded jade band. (“Chef de Mission”, is used in international sports for “chief of the mission”. He is in charge of a country’s entire sports delegation or team, and meets with other chefs every morning to discuss various matters of the games).

• Prior to the opening ceremony, rockets were sent up to disburse the clouds to prevent rain from ruining the ceremony.

• Anti-missiles rockets were placed strategically outside of Beijing to stop any possible attack on the games.

• To feed 16,000 athletes, coaches and staff, the cafeteria style of service is the norm for all Olympics. Here in Beijing, I found the steaks to be over-cooked and dry. One of the cooks told me that it is a requirement by the International Olympic Committee that all meats must be thoroughly cooked to prevent any one getting sick. I stopped having steaks, and switched to eating peking duck every day.

• The Guam team went to a place in the city called the “night market”. We tried some exotic foods such as grilled lamb gonads, scorpions, and silk worms. Thank goodness the Village cafeteria is open 24/7 and has a McDonalds - - I had to wash down the taste of gonads and silk worms out of my mouth with a big mac and fries, with lots of ketchup.

• As usual, every Olympic game provides dental, medical facilities, doctors and eye glasses free of charge. But this is the first Olympics I have been to that provided acupuncture treatments. I received five acupuncture treatments for a nagging neck and shoulder pain, and pills for my cold and high blood pressure. All free.

• The apartments provided to the athletes and officials were built as condominiums to be sold after the games. Each apartment is spacious, simple and without a kitchen. The kitchen and other amenities will be put in after the games. The grounds surrounding each condominium building are beautiful - - with gardens, fountains, ponds, and covered seating areas. There are no parking spaces around the buildings because they are all underground. I understand that 100% of the units are already sold at about $300-$500 ( U.S.) per square foot.

• Over 100,000 volunteers assisted in providing services required by the countries and their athletes, such as: car drivers, translators, guides, information centers, etc. Our rooms were cleaned and beds made daily, and we received fresh towels every other day. Volunteers were always at the main entrances of buildings (including our apartment complex) opening the doors, saying “Ni Hao” (hello) and handing us protective gear when it rained. We had more help and services than any other games.

The Olympic Team from Guam marches in the Bird Nest in Beijing during the Opening Ceremonies.
Ed Ching is 6th from the left.

Overall, Beijing has been a heck of an experience. It is not the stereotyped communist city which we were told about in our earlier years, with dull old buildings and workers wearing clothes of the same color and style. Instead, Beijing is a well developed, colorful, and exciting city filled with culture and history. It looks and feels like a very wealthy capitalist city with fast growing financial centers, buildings and manufacturing outlets. Because of Beijing, we can no longer say to our keiki “eat all your food. . . think about all the starving kids in China!”

Ed Ching graduated from `Iolani HS and UH-Mānoa where he swam under Olympic Coach Soichi Sakamoto. He practices law in Guam and coaches their Olympic Swim Team.

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