MOKUMANAMANA, Northwestern Hawaiian islands (HAWAIIANEWSNOW) - "The most exciting part is just being on the island and then seeing the archaeology," said Kekuewa Kikiloi Mea Hulikoehana.
This past August, Kekuewa spent 18 consecutive days on Mokumanamana, the second of the Northwestern Hawaiian islands.
"There is 34 heiau sites on the island, which makes it probably the highest concentration of heiau anywhere in Hawaii," said Kekuewa.
It's remote and wind-swept landscape may not appeal to most, but for Kekuewa, its mysteries make it irresistible.
"How did people get over there? And when they got there, how did they survive? And then how did they go about investing all this time and energy constructing the island and all the heiau on the island. That to me is incredible. It's a human feat," said Kekuewa.
One reason for the numerous heiau or shrines is the fact that the island lies of what is referred to metaphorically and the path to the afterlife. This is his second research expedition to Mokumanamana. On his last trip, he and his partner found what appeared to be the bottom half of an ancient stone ki'i originally found in 1894. He hopes to use some of the samples to solve the question of where this rock and the people who carved it came from.
"There are new techniques in archaeology now that can fingerprint stone and the movement of stone from one area to another," said Kekuewa.
This was the longest expedition on the island in 85 years, and Kekuewa sees the value in his work.
"Today in order to know how to treat these places with respect, we need to know the history of it. It's important to understand cultural resources in order to better manage them," said Kekuewa.
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