Mosaic depicts importance of Nawiliwili

NAWILIWILI — The spot where a six-foot mosaic sits is “the gateway to Tahiti,” said Randy Wichman, president of the Kauai Historical Society.

“In ancient days, people studying celestial navigation needed to memorize this sky and the stars, which you see from this point as a guide to getting to Tahiti,” Wichman said.

The mosaic acknowledges the culture and history of the Nawiliwili area and depicts a balanced practice of sustainable values applied in a lifestyle which recognizes the “interconnectedness” of life.

It done by more than 55 students under the direction of Kathleen Ho and the Hale Opio Ke Kahua O Ka Malamalama program.

A dedication and unveiling on Thursday was attended by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., state Sen. Ron Kouchi, LaVerne Bishop, the Hale Opio executive director, the Nawiliwili Yacht Club and other members of the public.

“Where we are standing, at one time, was just water before fill was added to create the current harbor,” Ho said.

The mosaic depicts the area before the harbor was built.

Kalo, or taro, was at the heart of the people’s subsistence-based culture and determined the sculpture of the landscape.

Wichman said the area was unique because it is where five ahupuaa — Kipu, Haiku, Niumalu, Nawiliwili, and Kalapakai — come together.

It is also where five streams — the Huleia, Puali, Papalinahoa, Nawiliwili, and Koenaawa — flow into the waters of the bay.

The peaks of Kalanipuu, Keopaweo, Hokunui, Hokulei and Haupu of the Haupu range were key to celestial navigation training, coupled with the appearance of named stars, Wichman said.

Ho said the mosaic was put together with the help of students from the community, and funded through Hale Opio with grants and contributions from the Hawaii Office and Youth Services, the Young Brothers Community Advisory Board, and with support from the Nawiliwili Yacht Club, on whose property the dedicated mural sits.

“A piece of us is in the mural,” said Doug Tiffany, Rear Commodore of the Nawiliwili Yacht Club. “Two of my granddaughters had a hand in creating the mosaic.”

Ho said the mosaic is dedicated to all the people who grow kalo and who will help the children of the future.

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