Sending a message

Photo by Monique Rowan

Kai’ulani Mahuka, Laura Schoenfeld and Marylee Pangman display signs of caution to drivers in Haena nearby Hanalei Colony Resort on Monday. Schoenfeld is taking a tally of the numbers of cars passing by to get a head count of the number of people traveling through the area.

HAENA — It was the moment that many had been waiting for — or dreading — the reopening of Kuhio Highway and reintroducing Wainiha and Haena to the rest of the island.

Since 7 a.m. Laura Schoenfeld and Marylee Pangman were ready near the Hanalei Colony Resort, as they held signs with messages: “Try slow. Be respectful. Sacred. Mahalo.”

Ka’iulani Mahuka held up signs, too, and played Tahitian drum music in her truck as she danced, a great way to grab people’s attention.

“People have been flying through the bridge,” Schoenfeld said.

The limited visibility due to a bend in the road, combined with the narrow width of the bridge near the Hanalei Colony Resort, can be a recipe for disaster, she said.

“It’s not safe, that’s the bottom line. There needs to be signs,” she added.

Schoenfeld and Pangman own a unit at Hanalei Colony Resort in Haena. When it comes to who she thinks should have access to Wainiha and Haena, Schoenfeld adds, “If I had my preference I would want all the visitors to come out on a shuttle. But that’s not realistic.”

Pangman shares, “It’s very bittersweet, but we’ve also missed the people. My concern from what I understand, that they’re monitoring the shuttle and cars, they’re monitoring the 900 people.”

“But there used to be 3,000, so the remaining cars will still be coming out looking for parking.”

Schoenfeld sat in a lawn chair holding an “aloha” sign counting the number of vehicles that passed her. By about 9:30 a.m., she had counted 132 cars and trucks she said were carrying visitors; 60 carrying residents, and 24 driven by workers of one kind or another. And one taxi.

“We just want people not to think that this is the North Shore versus them,” she said.

Mahuka’s amiable message urging drivers to go slow was non-confrontational.

“We’re happy to see the road open, but at the same time, we’re worried” about what may happen next as more and more tourists find out that the highway is open again, she said. “I still think we’re not ready” for the road to be fully open, she said, because repair and replacement of three one-lane bridges remains incomplete.

The opening, she opined, was “soft for the tourists and hard for the residents.”

As if to underscore her sentiment, at the nearby Waikoko Bridge repair site, a line of nearly 15 vehicles backed up awaiting a flagger’s order to proceed. Work on the bridge is nowhere near finished.

Pangman brings up a solution that many residents seem to support: Put a cap on the vehicles coming in.

“There should be someone monitoring at the entry,” she said.

Their sign-waving campaign was effective. Vehicles passed by continuously, many of which were speeding until they spotted the signs and hit the brakes.

Down the road, Damian Handisides from San Carlos, Calif., took a dip with his family and commented on the changes to Wainiha and Haena.

“I think it’s great, mostly due to environmental reasons. That’s how it should be,” he said.

Regarding the parking reservation system, he said it’s worked elsewhere. Parking in the right place is important when it comes to being respectful and watching out for the environment, he said.

“Now we know where we will be able to get a spot, it’s nice to have a designated parking spot,” he said.


Allan Parachini contributed to this report.

  1. Da Shadow June 18, 2019 4:05 am Reply

    What strikes me as curious was the explosion in “Slow Down” signs that appeared during the road closure. It seems that visitors aren’t the only ones who should heed the Try Slow advice…

  2. Gail Mason June 18, 2019 4:44 am Reply

    I, for one, will be driving very slowly, to enjoy the view!! I am always afraid of upsetting the locals by driving too slow…our town’s speed limit is 25, I got used to that! I promise, when I visit, I will be a respectful tourist. I am just so darned happy to be able to see Ke’e beach again, I already bought my shuttle tickets.

  3. Amused June 18, 2019 4:52 am Reply

    So now Kaiulani is speaking for the North Shore? lol She’s not even from there.

  4. Lawaibob June 18, 2019 7:40 am Reply

    Don’t these people have anything better to do? Sorry guys, Haena ain’t private property

  5. paulot June 18, 2019 12:22 pm Reply

    I think it is reasonable to have out of state visitors come only by shuttle. Why can’t all parking be for Hawaii state residents only?

    Off island HI state residents could have their HI driver license on the dash of their rental car or something. Why not? The Kauai residents enter in our Kauai registered vehicles. Give Haena residents a break and give HI state residents full access.

    Where is our update on today’s protests and car blocking? This should posted by now.

    1. kpd June 18, 2019 6:11 pm Reply

      block the road? get a life this isn’t the superferry. anyone blockin the road should be arrested .

  6. give it a break June 18, 2019 6:06 pm Reply

    so dramatic, get off your pedestals …

  7. STARSTRUCK June 18, 2019 7:28 pm Reply

    LMAO isnt that the auntie who got booted from the radio for broadcasting misinformation and racial stereotypes ?

  8. Patrick June 18, 2019 8:06 pm Reply

    It’s amazing that folks such as you are narcissistic enough to believe that you can actually sit by road with sign that says sacred. Sacred to native Hawaiians .. Not to you two. Wannabes . Stop appropriating a culture that is not yours

  9. Kuli kouwaha June 18, 2019 10:39 pm Reply

    Again people flapping their lips but don’t know what they flapping about. Let 2,000-3,000 cars/tourists come speeding through your neighborhood where your kids play. Leave their rubbish on the beach and ignore all the no parking signs. I would feel stupid if I was talking like you talk but not really having a clue about what’s going on

  10. Ilima June 22, 2019 4:12 pm Reply

    At least the writer isn’t asking folks to sign the pledge written and promoted by Paulina Barsotti, the woman whose dog mauled the nene…barsotti is one arrogant wahine…trying to get out of trouble with DLNR, by co-opting “aloha”.

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