Some Kahoolawe cultural sites remain untouched

Mike Nahoopii
Mike Nahoopii

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

KAHOOLAWE (KHNL) - Military bombing has destroyed much of the island of Kahoolawe.

But some cultural sites remain untouched.

Those who lived on Kahoolawe are long gone physically, but spiritually, they remain to those who visit.

"We can feel those Hawaiians that were here before us," said Mike Nahoopii, Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission.

And see their work.

Pu mo iwi, once was the state's second largest quarry for tool making and it remains intact.

Shaping stones still sit around slivers of finely chipped rock.

"We're at a place where time stood still, pre-contact Hawaiians that were here, basically stood up and walked away."

There are over 500 archeological sites here, some now used for cultural ceremonies.

Like this rain ahu or shrine, an effort to bring showers to Kahoolawe by forming a cloud bridge between islands.

"There used to be a naulu rain, the rain that came from Maui. It was a soft gentle mist that would cover the island."

Rain is this islands greatest need, allowing plants to grow. But too much of it is also Kahoolawe's greatest threat to those very same plants, cultural resources and even roads.

Erosion not only threatens the hard work of volunteers, but uncontrolled rushing water through here, threatens to send this special stone tumbling down below.

Losing its alignment with the stars, which may have been its purpose hundreds of years ago.

While there is much to learn about Kahoolawe's past, there is hope in the future, schools teaching traditional Hawaiian techniques of stone making or ocean navigation will be set up here.

People will get a chance to experience even more, on this trail being created that will one day circle the island.

Kahoolawe may one day be an island of discovery.

Already, those who have been here, have discovered something very special.

"Kahoolawe for me is where I discovered being Hawaiian and what it means to be Hawaiian."

"Now that I am out here, I feel like my ancestors are looking down on me and smiling, it's a good feeling," said Ricky Kamai of Halau Lokahi.

Daily operations on Kahoolawe are paid by a government trust fund.

The island's caregivers are trying to preserve that fund, by reducing costs, and raising money.