Letter to DLNR / Helbert, Haster, and Fee

Kīhei de Silva, June 2014

Dear HHF Planners.
Kawainui-Hāmākua Complex Draft Master Plan, dated May 2014.

I have written earlier and at length in support of the HHF-DLNR Kawainui-Hāmākua Complex master planning process, and I wish to confirm here my endorsement of the Master Plan in its current draft iteration. I have read this draft from cover to cover several times over, have made extensive notes, and will offer a list of corrections and suggestions later in this letter. I know this plan to be a vehicle of hope; it gives the Hawaiian people of Kailua the opportunity, at long last, to reclaim stewardship of the pond we love and to exercise our traditional and unextinguished right to teach, house, practice, grow, and defend our culture there in a manner that we ourselves have the kuleana to define.

While I am not, in the depths of my na‘au, a believer in the legitimacy of the State or Federal government in our islands, I will point to the State’s own affirmation of my rights as an “ahupua‘a tenant” of Kailua and a “descendant of native Hawaiians who inhabited the Hawaiian Islands before 1778.” Article 12, Section 7 of the State Constitution tells us that:

  1. The State reaffirms and shall protect all rights, customarily and traditionally exercised for subsistence, cultural and religious purposes and possessed by ahupua‘a tenants who are descendants of native Hawaiians who inhabited the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1778, subject to the right of the State to regulate such rights.

I am well aware that my claim to these rights has been further qualified in 89 H. 177, 970 P.2d 485:

  1. To establish the existence of a traditional or customary native Hawaiian practice, there must be an adequate foundation in the record connecting the claimed right to a firmly rooted traditional or customary native Hawaiian practice.

So I offer, in response, the following description of Pāmoa, a “hale aupuni” (government house, house of chiefly affairs) that was built in the 16th century by Kākuhihewa on ‘Alele plain in Kailua, O‘ahu. This description was written by the Hawaiian historian Samuel M. Kamakau and published in the Hawaiian language newspaper Kuokoa in 1865.

  1. Alele i Kailua; kukulu iho la oia i hale Aupuni nona. He kanaha anana ka loa, he umikumalima anana ka laula, o Pamoa ka inoa o ua hale la. O ka hana nui maloko o keia hale, o ke kakaolelo, o kalaiaina, o ka haikupuna, o ke kuauhau, o ke kaa kaua, o ke kaa laau, o ka oo-ihe, o ke kilokolo [kilokilo], o ke kuhikuhi puuone, o ka Aohoku, o ke konane, o ke ao mele kupuna Alii a mele Alii, o ke kukini, o ka lelepali, o ka maika, o ka pahee, o ke kui, o ka uma, o ka honuhonu, o ka pinao, o ka mokomoko. O na hana hooikaika kino a pau, o ka mahiai, a me ka lawaia.

  2. ‘Alele in Kailua, [Kākuhihewa] built for himself a house of chiefly affairs. It was 40 anana long and 15 anana wide, and the name of this hale was Pāmoa. The main activities of this house were: oratory, politics, history, genealogy, battle strategy, club wielding, spear thrusting, forecasting, architecture, astronomy, kōnane, instruction in ancestral and chiefly songs, foot-racing, cliff-leaping, ‘ulumaika rolling and pahe‘e sliding, boxing, hand wrestling, unseating, long jumping, and hand-to-hand combat. All the body strengthening activities, as well as the work of farming and fishing.

  3. (“Noho Aupuni o Kakuihewa” in “Ka Moolelo o Hawaii Nei,” by Samuel Kamakau, Kuokoa, September 23, 1865. English translation here and in all other excerpts: Kīhei de Silva.)

An anana is the fingertip-to-fingertip “wingspan” of a grown man, approximately six feet. By this reckoning, Pāmoa measured 240 feet by 90 feet, or 21,600 square feet. Its height, though not given by Kamakau, is described in the 1888 “Moolelo no Lonoikamakahiki” as tall enough to block the sun; it misled a visiting chief into thinking that night had suddenly arrived:

  1. ...i aku la o Lonoikamakahiki i na hoe waa, “O ka po no paha nei o kakou?” Hoole mai la na hoe waa, aole, o kaupaku kela o ka hale o Kakuihewa, alai ia ae la ka la paa.

  2. Lonoikamakahiki said to his paddlers, “Could this be the night now coming over us?” His paddlers denied this, saying, “No, that is the ridgepole of the house of Kākuhihewa; the sunlight is completely blocked by it.”

The same mo‘olelo provides us with a more specific account of Pāmoa’s location: it is a short distance from Wai‘auia on the border of Kawainui pond. Lonoikamakahiki bathes at Wai‘auia and walks to Pāmoa where he is fed, entertained, and given guest-quarters by Kākuhihewa. When their dinner conversation leads to riddling over the edible mud of Kawainui:

  1. I mai la o Kakuhihewa, eia ia loko [Kawainui] ma ke kua o ko‘u halealii...aia kela loko o Kaelepulu ma ka aoao, he ai ia no ka lepo o ia wahi e ke kanaka, wahi a ka pane a Kakuhihewa ia Lonoikamakihiki

  2. Kākuhihewa said “Kawainui pond is here at the back of my royal house...and Ka‘elepulu is on the side, the lepo of this place is eaten by the people,” thus did Kākuhihewa respond to Lonoikamakahiki.

  3. (“He Moolelo no Lonoikamakahiki,” Kuokoa, January 14, 1888; emphasis mine.)

Pāmoa, then, was an ancient learning center of considerable size, height, and significance: it was a place for the transmission, practice, demonstration, display, and excellence in Hawaiian culture; it had a footprint of 21,000-plus square feet, nearly half an acre; and it was built in close proximity to Kawainui Fishpond. There is also reason to believe that this same hale was occupied for the same purpose by Kūali‘i, the great-great grandson of Kākuhihewa, and then by Peleiōhōlani, the son of Kūali‘i. In Kūali‘i’s time, it was referred to as Kalanihale (“Moolelo no Kualii,” Ke Alakai o Hawaii, July 2, 1936), and in Peleiōhōlani’s time it was particularly well known for its hula (“Ka Papa Kuhikuhi Makahiki o Na Mea Kaulana o Hawaii Nei,” Kuokoa, July 22, 1865). If true, this magnificent structure, this center of learning and culture, stood with Kawainui at its back for as many as six generations and more than two centuries.

I stand firmly with my wife, our daughters, our hālau, and the native Kailua organizations ‘Ahahui Mālama i ka Lōkahi, Kailua Hawaiian Civic Club, ‘Alele, Hika‘alani, and Kini Kailua in proposing that four Hawaiian culture centers (whose total square footage is roughly that of Pāmoa) be constructed as a lei of protection and education on the perimeter of Kawainui. In doing so, we affirm, without apology, our right to the traditional practice of teaching our culture. We do so on the basis of a more than “adequate foundation in the record connecting the claimed right to a firmly rooted traditional or customary native Hawaiian practice.” We have Kākuhihewa and Pāmoa. We have strong precedent that stands in stark contrast to our opponents’ contention that permanent Hawaiian learning centers are inappropriate to the marsh and inconsistent with its function. We know what we are talking about; we do our homework.

Me ka ha’aha’a,

Kīhei C. de Silva