Prince Kuhio’s dream lives in Po‘ipu

KUKUI‘ULA — Warren Perry joked about how Ron Iida, ali‘i ai moku for the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, Chapter 3, had increased his “mowing time” at the Prince Kuhio Park.

Iida’s efforts at maintaining the park established near the birthplace of Prince Jonah Kuhio were recognized at the formal ceremonies celebrating Prince Kuhio’s birth Saturday.

Tom Shigemoto of A&B Properties said he also would increase Iida’s mowing time, as A&B Properties officials are progressing with the transfer of an additional 16 acres to the original five acres that enabled the park to be formed.

The park was created on Oct. 27, 1924, during the first territorial convention of the Royal Order of Kamehameha, according to information provided in Saturday’s program. That land was donated by leaders of the McBryde Sugar Co., through Alexander & Baldwin.

All of this fits Iida’s vision of creating an area where native Hawaiian plants will eventually be planted, offering residents and visitors alike an area where they can view native flora.

The Queen Lili‘uokalani Children’s Center leaders had the same vision, as their ho‘okupu consisted of an ‘ohai (Sebastiana tomentosa) plant and a koki‘o ‘ula‘ula, or Hibiscus kahiliensis. Both specimen were guarded by Perry following the ceremonies, and will take their place among the plants that currently grow within Prince Kuhio Park, along Lawa‘i Road in Kukui‘ula.

Moani Low was one of the QLCC presenters, and almost immediately following the ceremony hustled over to the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa in Po‘ipu, where she was joined by Mei Ling Keopuhiwa and Will Shimabukuro in teaching visitors the hula.

Low’s father, the late Warren Kaui Low, was a strong supporter of the Hawaiiana programs taking place at the Grand Hyatt Kauai, and in their own protocol celebrating Prince Kuhio, time was set aside to recognize the contributions of Warren Kaui Low as well.

Victor Ascuena, normally a prominent figure at the resort’s entrance, was absent, as he joined the brotherhood of Ka Pa Kui A Holo o Kaua‘i in presenting a ho‘okupu (offering or gift) at the ceremonies at Prince Kuhio Park.

Stella Burgess, the Hawaiiana coordinator for the resort, said it was the proper thing to do, as Ascuena is on their Hawaiiana committee at the resort. She said that her final parting words as he took the ho‘okupu was to make sure he was the last to present, as that was the proper protocol.

In 1921, Prince Kuhio stirred the emotions of members of the U.S. Congress as he spoke of the decline of the Native Hawaiian people, who in the 1920 census numbered fewer than 24,000. It was his dream to save the declining Native Hawaiian race from extinction.

The Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920 is a result of this, as was the formation of Hawaiian civic clubs formed to perpetuate and rehabilitate Native Hawaiian people and their culture.

The act also authorized the setting aside of lands across Hawai‘i dedicated as homesteads and farm land for Native Hawaiians of at least 50-percent Hawaiian blood.

Along this line, the day-long celebration at the Grand Hyatt Kauai featured prominent demonstrations of Hawaiiana, including kapa-making by Leilani Kaleiohi, and poi-pounding and kalo information shared by Chris Kauwe.

Kekai and Colleen Kapu had an assortment of Hawaiian weapons on display, and provided demonstrations on weaving ‘ie‘ie (Freycineia arborea, an endemic, woody, branching climber).

Anthony Natividad had nose flutes on hand for demonstration and sale, and for those who simply wanted to enjoy the music, a CD recording was playing as well.

Janet Kahalekomo did not miss the ceremonies at the park, but returned to the resort where she resumed the demonstration of lauhala-weaving, and discussion on lauhala. For the young at heart, she also had an assortment of tops created from kukui nuts.

Throughout the Koloa region where Prince Kuhio was born on March 26, 1871, the atmosphere permeated with Hawaiian culture, people, and their aloha to share with grateful visitors, many taking in the Grand Hyatt Kauai celebration following the protocol at the Prince Kuhio Park.

“It’s all about Prince Kuhio today,” said Burgess, who this week is attending a series of seminars where resort leaders discuss incorporating local culture into their operations.

• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com.

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