Sunday, May 22, 2022 |
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• Beach alignment is pono
• Why are we not listening?
Beach alignment is pono
I am a practitioner of hula and student of Hawaiian language with a 50-year history of use of Wailua beach. My 30-year career in public health focused on Kaua‘i’s rising rates of physical inactivity and traffic-related injury, which cause sickness and death among our people.
For health and safety, and for the benefit of all people, alignment of the multi-use path along Wailua beach is the least intrusive, most efficient and the safest and most pono (appropriate) route.
The Wailua river valley and surrounding ridges constitute one of the most significant cultural sites in Hawai‘i and has consistently supported large populations. Commerce, agriculture and recreation, along with associated political and religious practice have occurred here for more than 800 years.
Over these years, political leaders built various heiau, cultivated and distributed food, fished, surfed, traveled and went about daily activities while making full use of all aspects of the coast. The large valley floor and abundant water supply provided food for thousands, which was distributed via canoe and on foot.
Maka‘ainana (common people) from districts outside Wailua crossed the river and the rest of the ahupua‘a on foot along the beach. ‘Ohana from Hanama‘ulu traveled to Kapa‘a to visit and trade. There has been a transportation route along this beach for hundreds of years. Now there’s one huge difference. Today everyone travels by motor vehicle, not by foot.
Commerce in Wailua today is as vibrant as in the past. Agriculture has been replaced by tourism. Instead of growing taro and/or rice and fishing, today Wailua residents pilot Smith’s Boats, serve at Marina Restaurant or maintain Aloha Beach Resort. They all drive to work.
Hanama‘ulu people drive to Kapa‘a. Until recent years, risk of injury and death while traveling the Wailua makai route was minimal, even though there was a large population going about their daily activities in and through the ahupua‘a. Just because you don’t see the existing route doesn’t mean it is not there!
Not only is it pono, it is imperative that the existing transportation route along the beach be made safe for walking. Now is the time to provide a safe route so keiki from the new rental units near Kintaro can ride bikes to sports fields at Lydgate.
Most importantly, today we can plan for the future residents of the proposed Hawaiian Homes development adjacent to Malae Heiau to safely walk to Wailua Beach and beyond. Here is the opportunity to enable visitors from Aloha Beach Resort to leave their cars at the hotel and walk to Brick Oven Pizza for dinner.
Wailua is indeed sacred. The beach sands are no more or less sacred than the rest of the valley. Presently, water sports, tour boating, volleyball, vacationing, eating, toileting, a pala wale aku are occurring.
How is walking on a safe, dedicated pathway different from what is already happening? The difference is that the path is for everyone. Support this established path alignment now or lose the opportunity to re-establish the ancestral use of safe travel through Wailua.
Sally Jo Manea, Kapa‘a
Why are we not listening?
As we stand on the sands and bank of the Wailua River, we hear the tumbling sounds of the waves. We watch the calming sense of an eternal ongoing motion that the rolling waves provide. We stand in awe of nature’s wonder knowing that man or woman cannot build a more powerful mechanism.
Yet, we all are only visitors, fleeting guests that are privileged to share what those who have experienced before us. We do not own the sand and sand dunes that embrace our oceans. We have been told that the sands and sand dunes of the Wailua River were sacred. How are they less sacred today? Why are we ignoring the incredible history and presence of revered Hawaiian cultural resources?
As a teacher, I teach future teachers to be skillful, knowledgeable, caring and above all to listen: to listen to our students, our parents, our leaders, ourselves. To effectively teach, we must listen, be respectful, and not be so arrogant as to ignore what has come before us. There are others who have come before us here in Hawai‘i, which have provided us with the Hawaiian culture we hold dear. Why are we not acknowledging this history?
Kupuna and kumu are speaking loudly today. They stand and chant and receive power from the thunder and lightning around them. They plead for us to listen. Could an alternative bike path be planned so as to allow the sacredness of the burial sites of iwi kupuna ancestors to be honored? Where is our respect? Why are we so arrogant? Why are we not listening?
Ka‘ani Blackwell, Kapa‘a
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