‘An act of peace’

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    A kupuna places a rock in the right place of the ahu on Sunday at Black Pot Beach Park in Hanalei.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Volunteers work on the ahu at Black Pot Beach Park in Hanalei Sunday.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    People pray before beginning work on an ahu at Black Pot Beach Park in Hanalei Sunday.

To some, the stack of stones in the corner of Black Pot Beach Park might just be a pile of rocks.

To those who helped create it Sunday morning, it’s much more.

Not only is it a sacred ahu, a Hawaiian altar, it symbolizes a way of life — a way of life that some said has been disrespected.

“There’s so much degradation of our culture and natural resources,” said Kamealoha Hanohano Smith, an organizer of the gathering of about 40 people. “And there doesn’t seem to be anyone, at least in the government or local agencies, looking to indigenous or native wisdom as part of the solution.

“So we’re here to say we are part of the solution. We’re here to help and facilitate people’s understanding of these places that we consider not just sacred, but part of our daily life,” he added.

Under sunny skies, men and women from around the island prayed, sang and offered thanks as a Kanaka Maoli flag and a flag of Hawaii fluttered in the wind.

Then, they went to work, moving the big and small stones, some weighing around 50 pounds, which had been gathered from Kapahi, Lumahai and the mountains surrounding Hanalei.

In about 45 minutes, they had neatly arranged the stones, which they see as living things that speak to them, in a square, about 4 feet by 5 feet.

It was hard work. The men were sweating as they lifted, stacked, adjusted, rolled and placed the stones together, almost like puzzle pieces. In the background, a woman softly beat a drum.

In about 90 minutes, the foundation of the ahu was completed. It will be added to in the years to come.

Ohana gathered at the spot near the Hanalei River and Hanalei Pier also “to address certain issues going on with the land, the environment, the people,” said Kaimi Hermosura. “We are constructing this ahu in commemoration of our ancestors, our kupuna, our elderly, also to honor Mauna Kea and our families up there holding it down in peaceful protection.”

“This is concerning our sacred sites, our culture, customs, traditions, to live on with peace so we may share with others. This is an act of peace that we build this altar,” Hermosura added.

He said the site was once home to a fishing shrine.

“So we’re actually rebuilding and restoring something that was originally here,” he said.

For the Hawaiians there, Hermosura said it was also recognizing that there are issues, such as fishing rights and access to natural resources, going on in Hanalei and on other islands that must be addressed.

“A lot of our families are concerned about access to the river and what’s going to happen with these lands here in Hanalei,” he said.

The county provided the group with a special-use permit to accommodate the cultural ceremony.

Michael Sheehan said the ahu is on his family kuleana land. It is near the ocean and fresh water, a place where, historically, Native Hawaiians came and went as they lived and worked.

“This whole valley is an ahu,” he said, looking at the mountains surrounding Hanalei Bay.

He said the idea to place another ahu there came up about 25 years ago.

“This is like a 20-year-old exercise coming to life and fruition today by the descendants of the families that have lived here hundreds of years, maybe longer,” he said.

“This is a cultural statement,” he added, “a positive cultural statement.”

The ahu reconnects Native Hawaiians with their ancestors, in place and spirit, Sheehan said.

“It comes from the heart,” he said.

Hanohano Smith said they hope to have Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami meet them at the ahu “so we can talk peacefully about how we can work together.”

They want to find ways to support each other, and avoid misunderstandings.

Hanohano Smith said they would like to see the county incorporate Native Hawaiian ideas, practices and knowledge into its plans.

“This is what we’re trying to show them, how we can further those things we often talk about,” he said.


Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or bbuley@thegardenisland.com.

  1. jake August 12, 2019 6:11 am Reply

    Whenever you see a group of adults in a circle holding hands, it’s sure sign that absolutely, positively for certain that nothing is going to get accomplished that day.

  2. Makani B. Howard August 12, 2019 9:43 am Reply

    The thing is no Hawaiian is really and truly native. Everyone came from Tahiti or another island. No person was originally from this island to begin with. The Marquesans were the first, but got wiped out by the Tahitians. Think about it.

  3. Kalapakijim August 12, 2019 2:15 pm Reply

    These people live in a racist fantasy land. They should be wearing make Hawaii great again hats. Should we bring back human sacrifice? Also once part of Hawaiian culture. Guess what? everybody has dead ancestors, you are nothing special and have no special rights. To think otherwise is racist. Plus, the menehune were the original inhabitants of Hawaii not your family.

  4. Kamalani Pahukoa August 12, 2019 4:02 pm Reply

    Mahalo nui e na Ohana Kaua’i, for perpetuating our cultural right, mahalo to the kupuna in this moku, mahalo for this beautiful article showcasing the true Laulima in this Hawaiian Community. It is truly hard for some people to recognize unity and aloha ‘Aina when they see it, they are blind to the significance of aloha. Mahalo to all kanaka, no matter race, or color, mahalo for actively exhibiting love for these special lands.

  5. Dt August 12, 2019 6:18 pm Reply

    Put one dead center of all the runways, and a bunch on every highway. It would solve all the tourism problems that everyone complains about.

    1. onebrahda August 13, 2019 1:45 pm Reply

      Wonder how many call themselves Christians………because in Exodus 20:3-5 (King James Version) says:

      3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

      4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

      5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

  6. TMT August 13, 2019 12:40 am Reply


  7. Debra Kekaualua August 13, 2019 2:29 pm Reply

    Wait a galldarn minute!!! The county attorney has yet to receive or produce the cleared blackpot title that he said a couple of months ago, his office was going to be soon receiving. It was at that same council hearing, that same attorney said that even though the document was still being processed, that COK was “good to go”.

    No worries, COK council meeting on Aug 14, Inquiring minds want to know the status of this document, and will continue to inquire, until it is released to the TGI or otherwise for community reviewing.

    Meanwhile tomorrow is a loop road intervention that Dofa/DLNR/KIUC phenomena is actively circumventing with other stolen mailbox sidesteps as in blue hole Water diversion and still trying to ascertain who jacked the concrete 10K reward offer, Or now, the entire cliff collapse into the diversion from last years’ stalled storm, brought straight to us from Ke Akua, who is also actively engaging in these many issues of greed, corruption, money laundering, murder, and other mind boggling activity culminating in this kupuna 50-years observation and paying attention.

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