Researchers uncover secrets of mystery island

Kekuewa Kikiloi
Kekuewa Kikiloi

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HAWAII KAI (KHNL) - After spending nearly three weeks on a rugged island in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, two researchers uncover more secrets of this so-called "Mystery Island."

The researchers gathered new information about heiau sites, artifacts and bombing areas. It's the longest archaeological research project on this remote island in 85 years.

Mokumanamana or Necker Island is called the "Mystery Island" because no one lives there, but there is evidence that some have lived there.

It is this mystery that two researchers, including University of Hawaii doctoral student Kekuewa Kikiloi tried to uncover.

"In order to manage resources, you need to understand them first, this is kind of work provides the good baseline for us to understand what people were doing, how many sites are there, what condition are they in, those kind of information helps us to develop a plan for how we are going to manage it," Kikiloi said.

This 46-acre island had major religious importance back then. The researchers discovered considerable differences in the many heiau there, when compared to past research.

"I'd like to see more native hawaiians have the opportunity to go up there to do traditional cultural practices, to pray in the fashion that our ancestors did, to help maintain and restore some of these sites, that's what gives these places real life," Kikiloi said.

And evidence of life is one of the many things they discovered. This includes 30 bomb craters and fragments of shrapnel near the heiau.

But perhaps their most exciting discovery happened at a workshop site, where they found a rare, Necker Island stone image. The researchers say these images were made on the island and that many heiau had images on them.

"It was the most intense experience of my life, just as a native hawaiian being able to go up to this place which had major religious significance for our ancestors, is an awesome experience and a life changing experience," Kikiloi said.

The results of this research will help to create a 20-year long preservation plan for cultural sites on this island.