State pledges July Fourth enforcement at Kaneohe Sandbar to avoid ‘free for all’
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With the Fourth of July weekend coming up, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources is reminding the public about gatherings at Ahu O Laka, also known as the Kaneohe Sandbar.
Alcohol is prohibited at the location on the three-day weekend and so is unpermitted commercial activity.
But many are worried that is not going to stop potential partygoers.
Kumu hula Kawaikapuokalani Hewett, along with lawmakers and East Oahu residents gathered at Heeia Pier on Thursday to express concern over potential illegal activity happening in the area.
“They know nobody going come out here and do nothing,” Hewett explained. “State not going do nothing. Nobody going do nothing. Free for all, go for it and that’s why we’re here today to stop all of this (expletive) from happening. This is too much.”
Large gatherings have become a regular occurrence on three-day holiday weekends and the evidence is visible.
“They trash the place,” said State Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole, who represents Kaneohe and Kailua. “People just leave bottles and cans and popped inflatables and rubbish everywhere. It floats all over the bay.”
That’s why Hewett and longtime residents are making it a point to emphasize the cultural significance of Ahu O Laka.
“There is a history, many histories attached to Ahu a Laka,” Hewett said. “Our kupuna from Heeia said the bones of our ancestors were all taken to Ahu a laka and buried there at Ahu A laka.”
Kahaluu Neighborhood board member Leialoha Rocky Kaluhiwa says her family has lived near the site for centuries.
“When my grandfather was alive, he would never let any kind of desecration done especially in our lois (taro patches),” Kaluhiwa said. “What’s happening today is desecration of the whole bay because it’s free for all.”
DLNR says there will be enforcement crews out on the land and water this weekend, but they did not disclose exactly how many officers will be on patrol. Keohokalole and other lawmakers acknowledge more can be done at the legislative level to increase protections for Ahu O Laka and they’re asking for the community’s help to approach this site with more deference.
“It’s time for everyone to start treating it appropriately,” Keohokalole said. “Now that means visitors. That means the people who are bringing visitors out here need to be accountable and responsible for the guests that they bring out here.’
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