Pohaku kohala unearthed during recent rains

WAILUA — The recent rains unleashed a lot of rocks, but who would’ve thought a whale would be among them?

Ilima Rivera said when she first realized what was beneath a rock, she was screaming and jumping up and down with excitement.

Rivera, who spends Mondays through Fridays at the Kamokila Hawaiian Village, said after being closed for several days because of the inclement weather, the rock, or as she puts it, “the whale’s head,” was the first thing she saw when she went back to the village in Wailua.

“It’s funny, because during the storm, there were some unusual things happening in Wailua,” she said. “Then, to find the whale’s head.”

Rivera said everything started when she was driving down Kuamo‘o Road and saw a funnel cloud over Opaeka‘a Falls at 7 in the morning.

“That was the first time in my life I saw a funnel cloud, and I remember pulling off to watch it for about 10 minutes,” Rivera said. “Then, after continuing on to shop, I saw this huge whale outside Wailua Beach just as I reached Coco Palms. But it was not like the usual whale. It appeared to be bobbing its head up and down.”

She did not think much about those two events until she went back to Kamokila earlier this week when the weather improved and the Village re-opened to visitors.

“It was like serendipity,” Rivera said. “I saw the whale during the storm and I sing about the whales in ‘Colors of the Wind.’ Now, I found the whale.”

Rivera said the rock had always been close to where a large boulder came crashing down into the Village during Hurricane Iwa in 1982.

“That rock was left where it was because of how it entered the park,” she said. “It has a petroglyph of a messenger man, a critical role in the ali‘i’s court, on one side. The other side of the rock has a petroglyph of a map.”

During the recent rains, one of the larger rocks ringing the messenger man rock came loose and tumbled off its perch, rolling to close proximity of the messenger man rock, but not disturbing it.

“Look at it,” Rivera said gleefully. “It even has a place I can ‘ride’ the whale while talking to visitors about it.”

Since its discovery, Rivera said there have been lots of visitors who have taken photographs of themselves riding the whale.

“It’s a happy whale,” Rivera said. “This is a pohaku kohala. There is just so much to discover on this Garden Island.”

Rivera, founder of the Kaua‘i Kau Wela Summer Festival held at Kamokila, said she is there Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m., Hawaiian time, until whenever, sharing her mana‘o about Wailua and its people, teaching hula and helping spread knowledge.

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


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