Putting muscle to words

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Hawaiian flags fly over the salt pans while participants of the pa‘akai (salt) rally clean up following the Sunday gathering where more than a truckload of opala (trash) was taken away.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Pa‘akai (salt) supporters work to undo flags Sunday following the group’s rally at the flooded salt pans near Salt Pond Beach Park in Hanapepe.

HANAPEPE — One of the obvious differences Sunday was the absence of trucks and cars parked on the sand back of the Burns Field runway at the Salt Pond Beach Park.

“We blocked the road,” said Frank Santos, a longtime pa‘akai practitioner (salt-harvester). “That kept a lot of cars out, and it made a difference. See how much whiter the sand is?”

Santos joined about 200 people at a pa‘akai rally decrying the inaction to conditions threatening the tradition and practice that dates back to the ancient Hawaiians. Currently, the salt beds are flooded from recent rains and the King Tides, and salt can’t be produced. The rally brought attention to some of the contemporary problems affecting the traditional salt-making process.

“I wish people would be more responsible,” said Josh Fukino. “See all this glass? They contaminate the pa‘akai. People come to this parking lot to party and break all the glass. It’s alright to party — just be sure to clean up and be responsible.”

In addition to bringing awareness about pa‘akai production at the salt pans, the group put muscle to words, spending more than an hour cleaning and policing the area surrounding the pans.

“This was not bad effort,” said Ku‘ulei Santos. “People spent some time cleaning up the trash that accumulates and contaminates the salt. We had more than a truckload going out after just a short amount of time around the ponds.”

Many of the people turning out and helping with the pa‘akai effort are also supporters of the people fighting the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea on the Big Island.

The Sunday rally also served as a vehicle to update people on the most current status of the Mauna Kea campers.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

  1. Rev Dr. Malama August 12, 2019 7:23 am Reply

    Mahalo for the token effort but one truckload of trash is a mere manini amount of the piles and encampments all throughout the entire peninsula…..
    Let’s see more organization and effort to restore and rehabilitate the Aina and the people who are trashing this once very special place.

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