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Farewell to Kawaihae



Sunset off Kawaihae.


As we depart Kawaihae, we ask our guides to share their final thoughts with us, reflecting on all that has been presented here regarding Kawaihae, and their concerns for the future.



Papa Akau:

“We all have to do something in this life. Not just be born here and just roam around and do nothing. At the end, what do you get? Nothing. But if you do something, at least you know you learned something.

"When I look back, I really appreciate the old timers. They became the best that they could, because that’s the best they knew. And you give them a lot of respect. Their minds are so sharp. They don’t forget."

“Young people today have to know, first, who they really are. Know their families, then their families’ history. And then that history covers a big area.


Hula Practice

Hula practice.



"Look at what we have now: it reminds us that it’s not a story, it’s real. When you look at Pu‘u Kohola, you know that’s real: so many hands handled the rocks and put them in place. Just imagine that—thousands of rock there and how they set them there. Those were people who had a lot of respect; love is why they did things. And so it’s still standing today. So it’s something real. It’s not just a story.

“That’s why I know my parents and grandparents who lived here sacrificed their whole lives to be what they are: to pass on to us that we have that love and respect for them. If we don’t have that, then things are nothing.”



Poi pounding

Pounding breadfruit into poi at the Pekekane Bay cultural festival.


Lani Carvalho:

“They should go back to teaching kids Hawaiian things. The Hawaiian culture. I taught my kids about it. And my youngest son told me, ‘that’s gross.’ I said ‘it’s not gross, it was our life style. My Mom used to go out and catch crabs every morning right on the ocean and the beach. And every day when we came home from school, for lunch we’d have crabs all cooked and ready for us to eat with poi.’ He said, ‘Is that what you always had to eat?’ I said, ‘We ate what was there.’

“Now kids say, ‘I don’t want to eat this, I want to eat something else—hot dogs.’ I said ‘We had fish, we had crabs. For us it was good. We got taro from Waipi‘o, and we made our own poi. We ate a lot of sweet potatoes, what we planted in the ground, we ate a lot of that. It was a good life.’

“There’s a lot of things that kids do today, we couldn’t do before. You know, that’s why we get a lot of problems with the children. We couldn’t do anything like that. If my Mom said, “You can’t do that,’ you can’t do that, that’s all. Nowadays, the parents say, ‘You can’t do that,’ but the kids do it anyway. What can you do? I don’t know myself. It’s a different story from during the old days. When I brought my kids up, they could not say ‘shut up’ to one another, they could not fight. My kids never fought with one another. I said ‘that’s your sister, that’s your brother, you have to love them.’"



Ku‘ulei Nagasawa:

"I look at my kids and sometimes I see it where they’re just running blind. I’m like, ‘Stop, stop, think about what you are doing, think about what you want to do, think about what you want to happen.’ So, for me that’s my answer. I have to stop, look at my children and think, ‘What is it that I want to teach them? Do I want them to know this? How is it going to help you? What is the outcome going to be?’

"Everything is changing so quickly for them. Two years ago we were going out to the breakwater every night. We’d throw the mattress in the back of the truck and go out there and and lie down and read books and watch the sun go down and hang out on the rocks and the kids would go fishing or get flashlights and look for fish.

"Can’t do that anymore. 9/11 killed that for us. Now they give us no access. So I can’t teach them those things anymore. There’s no room for it."


Swimming at Kawaihae harbor.


Baby palms


"But I believe no matter what, I’ll always make my children feel their connection to this place. This place is home. And no matter what, I will teach them that this land will mean something to them.

"This is the place I come from. It’s not just a piece of land. It’s not just dirt in a desert. It’s where I come from. It’s where the blood, sweat and tears of my ancestors remain. They worked and toiled this land and made a life here and the land has been good enough to allow us to do the same.

"I want my children to understand that. And it’s not all the worldly goods that you have, it’s what you have right here. You don’t need any more."



Pua Tavares:

"I was never interested in Hawaiiana, and the only reason why I say that, I felt in my heart that because I’m a Hawaiian, I didn’t need to learn all of this. But that’s not true. I need to learn that.

"You know, if I don’t need to know, then if people ask me questions, how am I going to answer them? ‘Oh, I don’t know’ make me sound like I’m a dumb jerk or something. 'What, you live here all your life, you don’t know? What’s the sense of you living here? Why don’t you move out, move to another island or go to Iraq then.' And they live here all their lives and they don’t know anything."



Weaving a plate for the ceremony's closing dinner.



Ulumaika, an ancient Hawaiian bowling-type game, demonstrated at Pelekane.


Craig White:

"I don’t know if young people today know how important the land was and how the Hawaiians treated it, regarded it—their value systems. They should learn the Hawaiian values of things, because it’s evident today that they don’t care about anything.

"Like the fishing: nobody’s going to remember that lore. Nobody’s going to care. There’s no more of that in Kawaihae. When Lala goes, there’s only going to be one other guy that fishes ‘opelu with a net, and he comes from Kohala. That whole life style is going to be gone.

And kids today, they aren’t interested in that at all. How are you going to instill the values that La‘au has, that his ancestors had, and respect for the land? They just have to respect something. But you can’t make them learn to love the land. I guess the only thing that I could think of that would be perpetual would be to have faith in God."




Ku Kahakalau:

"We feel we have a right to decide and control our own destiny, that includes our own education, but the important part is that we don’t want to do that at the expense of anybody else. But we feel that we have a longer history for sure than the United States, and that needs to be recognized, and we need to be given our own place in the community of nations."



Hannah Springer:

"One of the things that we as Hawai‘i need to be careful of is that we don’t romanticize our ancestors into an unrecognizable condition. There was a time that we were all telling stories of our ancestors and imbuing with them great hyperbole, speaking of people who ‘with two strokes of their paddle could travel from Kawaihae to Kailua.’ So okay, it took him two days. We all have the code. That’s one circumstance.

"But when we are romanticizing the ancestors out of disdain for contemporary society, or out of ignorance, that’s not so good. So I’m always looking for opportunities such as what we are sharing here, to share information, to expand the discussion. We can be good scientists: make observations, draw conclusions and act accordingly, including corrections.

"I believe that the bigger the picture that we have of the culture, of our world, and of our place in it, the better we can our lives."



Double-hulled canoe at Pelekane Bay.


Mel Kalahiki:

"Kamehameha III, he gave one third portion of the rule to his people—the people get a voice in the government. To form that government, our people died, sacrificed in battles, wherever such battles took place. There’s many of us living today can be tied to what happened.

"And to me, our government is in recess, because of the Occupation. When our Queen was dethroned, she gave in to the superior force ‘until such time’ as they would reinstate the government. And we had a government with treaties with other countries around the world. This is why it’s significant to commemorate those events. Because people say ‘Oh, I never knew.’"




"Some day, we need to recall this government-in-recess. All the constitutions and the penal code, and everything else, it’s all there. That government needs to sit down and make this thing work for today. That’s where I see us going. I don’t see things going anywhere when you get involved with the politics of today. We’ll never get there. That’s why I’m calling for coming together at Pu’u Kohola: we need to look with what we have: this government is in recess."



Thank you for visiting Kawaihae.

E malama pono.



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