LIHUE — A plan to honor veterans by designating Kapule Highway as the “Kauai Veterans Memorial Kapule Highway” hit an unexpected snag this week when defenders of the queen’s legacy voiced their objection to the name change.
Because it is a state highway, responsibility for this issue falls on the state Legislature, but Council Chair Mel Rapozo said that state Rep. James “Jimmy” Tokioka asked the Kauai County Council to introduce a resolution in support of the name change so that Kauai residents could have an opportunity to voice their opinion on-island, instead of having to travel to Oahu to testify.
But the resolution did not sail through council Wednesday without debate.
Liberta Albao objected because she wants to preserve Queen Deborah Kapule’s memory.
“I want to express my sincere aloha to all of you to honor our queen by not supporting the resolution,” she said.
Rev. Dr. Barry Mick appeared before the council to read a letter on behalf of Aletha Kaohi.
“As a Hawaiiian kapuna born and reared in Waimea, schooled by the elders, a Hawaiian cultural consultant who worked toward the preservation of Kauai’s history, tradition, and culture of my people, I strongly object to the name change,” Kaohi wrote in her letter. “I respect and have plenty of aloha for all veterans past, present and future, however my objection does not lessen my aloha. By tagging on ‘Kauai Veterans Memorial’ to Kapule highway is disrespectful to an alii.”
Councilman KipuKai Kuali’i sought a compromise and proposed that rather than share the name, the roughly 1-mile section of Kapule Highway that runs from Rice Street to Ahukini Road and passes the veterans center will be named the “Kauai Veterans Memorial Highway.” The rest of the road — about another mile that runs from Ahukini Road to Kuhio Highway in Lihue — would retain the name Kapule Highway, until it merges with Kuhio Highway.
Councilman Ross Kagawa said it might be a “Google Maps nightmare” to have three names for the same road, but said that Kauai is small and, “we know where to go.”
Veterans at the meeting expressed their support for the compromise.
“I’m very happy to hear that the name change is going to be amended,” said Edward Kawamura, who serves as the Kauai Veterans Council commander. “It’s very befitting because now we have a highway in front of the center that will be named Kauai Veterans Highway.”
Mary Kay Hertog, U.S. Air Force retired after almost 34 years of service, voiced her support for both the resolution and the compromise.
“Renaming this roadway would be a daily reminder for everyone that Kauai’s veterans are special and appreciated. And it would be a tribute to the men and women and their families who have so honorably served over the many years, and served this great nation,” Hertog said.
Tokioka said he hadn’t had a chance to see the amended resolution yet, but that he would discuss the change with the veterans council before taking action at the state level.