Hawaii Kai heiau target of attempted theft

Hawaii Kai heiau target of attempted theft
Published: Jun. 3, 2016 at 8:17 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 3, 2016 at 9:05 PM HST
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Just inside the fence of the Hawea heiau and Keawawa wetland in Hawaii Kai, 50 coconuts are strewn on the ground.

Caretaker and Livable Hawaii Kai Hui board member Sam Camp said when he saw the mess, he was shocked.

"I just felt violated. I felt the place was violated," he said.

Camp was one of the first people to find out about an attempted theft of the coconuts Thursday evening. A man jumped the chain link fence to get into the cultural site, then cut down scores of coconuts.

"The security guard had seen a man throwing coconuts over the fence. When he confronted him, the person ran away," Camp said.

The trees are intentionally left unpruned; that's the way they would have been by ancient Hawaiians who lived at the site.

"The first western mapping of Mauna lua was done in the 1800s. That coconut grove is in that map, so those trees you see there are the keiki of those who have fallen before," said Ann Marie Kirk, member of the cultural and natural resource committee for the Livable Hawaii Kai Hui.

The hui saved the land from development a few years ago.

"This is an area that's over 1,000 years old. There's been worship, and people actually living there too. There's a village site below.  When you look at that heiau, and you walk those grounds, you're walking on grounds people have walked on for 1,000 years," Kirk said.

Police say coconuts are often sold on the windward side for $5 each. Kirk and Camp are hoping a greater understanding and appreciation of the land can help prevent such petty crime.

"This is where I live, this is the community where I live. And you invest yourself into that, you invest your spirit into that site. And the more that happens, the more I think you will have communities stepping forward," Kirk said.

If you'd like to visit the complex, it's open to the public every second Saturday of the month for a community work day, from 8:30 a.m. to noon

HAWAII KAI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Copyright 2016 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.