The Garden Island
NUKOLII — Logan Ripley, the sous chef at the Aqua Kauai Beach Resort, joined more than a hundred of the resort’s staff, including General Manager Grant James, Ben Dookchitra, the Association of Apartment Owners board president, Susan Cowan, the Aqua-Aston Hospitality vice president of operations, and community dignitaries and resort guests Friday morning at the resort’s porte-cochere.
“I have a good feeling about this,” said Ripley, a Kauai native who had only recently returned after being hired into the culinary department. “We need this.”
Dr. Keao NeSmith, the resort’s cultural coordinator, officiated hoomanalu, or the commencement of the development of Lei Makua, the grassy lawn area fronting the porte-cochere, toward its vision of becoming a spiritual and cultural center, a gathering area for guests, employees, and community members for activities, presentations and for cultural educational purposes.
“This is just the start,” James said. “This project started more than three years ago, and will be highlighted by three hale, or thatched structures modeled after those typical of communities around Kauai in Kawelo’s era. No other resort in Hawaii has anything like this. We at the Kauai Beach Resort are working to develop a sense of place where the story of Kawelo can be told and experienced as an authentic aspect of the property, and a reflection of Kauai’s uniqueness among the islands of Hawaii.”
James said the resort also has a stewardship agreement with the county with an eye toward the development of a cultural site in the area south of the dirt parking lot, currently under the auspices of the Department of Parks and Recreation.
“This is our aloha,” NeSmith said. “There was talk of this from time to time. This is physical, like a piko, where people can come to and have a feeling of belonging.”
Kawelo-lei-makua was born in a heiau at the base of a mount on Kalepa Ridge in the ahupuaa Hanamaulu in the moku of Puna during the late 1600s.
“The mountain with the pine trees is where he was born,” NeSmith said. “This is significant of Lei Makua as a name for the piko (the porte-cochere resembles a lei) of the Kauai Beach Resort which includes the entire porte-cochere lawn and its water feature.”
NeSmith said Kawelo was known for his great feats, including the creation of the hole in the Anahola mountains when his spear pierced the mount after being thrown from Wailua. He was also raised on Oahu, where he learned about farming.
“The County of Kauai is committed to the perpetuation of Kauai’s history and centuries-old culture through renaissance projects that have a positive impact on the culture, happiness and well-being of Kauai’s communities,” said Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., who offered a mele offering accompanied by hula from Nalani Brun and Melissia Sugai of the Office of Economic Development. “The county believes that its unique cultural identity is the basis of its economy, its way of life, and one of its most notable contributions to the world.”
Work on the project was led by Aha Kane, a hui whose mission is to strengthen the Native Hawaiian community through nurturing and perpetuating the traditional male roles and responsibilities to the family and community. Its Kauai affiliate Ka Pa o Manokalanipo has already started with NeSmith working with elementary schools in teaching the technique of weaving the coconut fronds which will be an integral part of the three hale representing Kawelo and his two cousins, Ai Kanaka and Ka Uahoa, all three of whom were born on the same date.