Taro all torn up

  • Monique Rowan / Special to The Garden Island

    Members of the Konohiki Restoration Project arrive to see what they could do to help repair damage done to a Wainiha property. From left are Cindy Ng, Juan Gomez and Joe Davis.

  • Monique Rowan / Special to The Garden Island

    Kaimi Hermosura stands in front of a torn-up taro field in Wainiha.

WAINIHA — A taro patch along Ananalu Road was destroyed this week by an unidentified man using a backhoe, damaging not only property and a local food supply, but also a water line, affecting water service in the general Wainiha area.

The Kaua‘i Police Department is following up on the incident, but no citations or arrests have been made. Water service has been restored to affected residents.

Witnesses say they saw the man taking down the fence and tearing up dirt and plants on the property, just down Kuhio Highway from the Wainiha Store, using a backhoe on Tuesday around noon. This is the second time that this taro patch in Wainiha has been damaged. The first was about two years ago during a land debate conflict that has since been settled in court.

The property is being managed and cared for by Kaimi Hermosura, who is the steward or konohiki for the land parcel, which he says he inherited through his Native Hawaiian heritage. He has been caretaking the land for years, growing taro and other food plants. Those plants — many native and rare varieties of things like sweet potatoes and bananas, were destroyed.

Hermosura says the property damage is linked to the already-settled land debate.

“Yesterday the area was pillaged, even though this matter has been dismissed,” Hermosura said after the incident. “During these times of need, during this pandemic, our neighborhood and our families and friends were looking forward to harvesting and taking food from the land here, so it’s been a low blow.”

Nancy Chandler, who is also part of the group that helps caretake the lo‘i, said the act was “hewa,” roughly translated from Hawaiian meaning “guilty,” “sinful” and “wicked.”

“I live in Wainiha, and what is going on here today is desecration, without his (Hermosura’s) knowledge. What has happened here is fully disrespectful. This is desecration, fully. And what’s left now is just mud,” Chandler said.

Chandler is most distraught at the possibility of disturbance of Hawaiian artifacts located on site and burial remains which she says are located on the property. Chandler says those remains are of her family members who passed away during a tsunami in that struck the area in 1947.

This is not Chandler’s first time defending this property. She was here during the first incident when the taro patch was damaged.

With the harsh reality of life during the COVID-19 pandemic upon Kaua‘i, a taro patch is a valuable local food source. There also were banana trees and a coconut tree torn down, adding to the amount of food lost during the incident.

Area resident Joe Davis stopped by to help put the fence back up, which was removed during the incident. Davis is with the local organization Konohiki Restoration Project, which advocates for the interests of Native Hawaiian families and watershed management and was started by Hermosura. Davis says the destruction during these trying times is not only disrespectful but unwise.

“In the current state of the world right now, we are in a pandemic, an individual chose to take machinery and impulsively without thought and concern decided to destroy a personal farm on sovereign land,” Davis said.

“The food was to be used for community members. There was a great deal of food on this property that was destroyed. There’s no reason for it, especially for the time we are in right now, especially when there is organic produce. Food is very important right now.”

Davis continued to explain the extent of the damage done, “There’s also rare biological species that inhabited this property, there was cross breeding of species on this property, and numerous plant and biological and botany programs going on here. It’s just an absolute travesty and shame for the individuals and family members that put this much hard work into the property.”

Resident Rob Pa also responded to the event after he got a call from Hermosura to “come down and help us protect his place.”

Pa says now is the time for local families to stand together and protect community interests, like actively participating in local food production.

“I’d just like to note that we need more people out here,” Pa said. “I see some family members here, but we need more people out here. It’s time for you guys to come forward and show that you care, and do something for your culture. You should be walking forward with us, not walking backwards. It’s time to wake up and it’s time for a big change,” Pa said.

•••

Monique Rowan is a lifelong North Shore resident who lives in Wainiha and writes periodically for The Garden Island.

9 Comments
  1. manawai March 28, 2020 7:15 am Reply

    Look up Kaimi Hermosura on the eCourt Kokua website. It will tell you something of who this guy works. He has 12 motor vehicle citations and has not paid any of the fines he’s been assessed. The laws don’t apply to him! All his fines have been referred to collection agencies. This is one of those so-called “sovereignty” issues where a Native Hawaiian will decide that someone else’s land is really theirs and tries to justify their illegal actions by growing food on it without the permission of the true landowner. These activists attempt to justify their hewa actions by saying that all the land (including your house) is owned by the Kingdom of Hawaii and that they are the self-appointed konohiki (caretaker/manager). This is a ruse meant to squeeze the hearts of ill-informed haoles and Hawaiians in an attempt to take control of land that is not theirs and never was…even under Kingdom law. The disappointing thing is that this newspaper has made no attempt to print the other side of the story and you can bet that there is one. If this person had a good claim to ownership of this property, the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation who take his case in a second…for free! But the NHLC won’t touch bogus land claims like this one. Someone needs to get a job and garner some legitimate self-respect.


    1. * March 29, 2020 3:40 pm Reply

      There are many things you do not know. Those citations are caused by someone borrowing (at first) and ended up stealing his car many years ago… they go by the owner of the car not the one driving. Parking tickets and car citations is the NUMBER ONE WAY suppressed people are kept in poverty or in jail. The land he is protecting is a ROYAL PATENT, it is in the courts and it has not been settled. The person who bulldozed the land is a known meth addict and has been in and out of jail. Ka’imi has only been in jail once and was released with out conviction – it was over protecting land. He does not do drugs and he is only giving the shit off his back time and time again only to be seen by someone like you as a criminal? gain some compassion and some insight to what is really going on. Ka’imi holds a federal badge as a Tribal Preservation Officer and was appointed by the Kupuna as Konohiki. Look at our political system with Arthur Burn right now…. do you really wanna point fingers at where the corruption comes from… The head of Parks and Rec for our county was dealing drugs at the exact places he is sworn to protect and represent. This fight that Ka’imi is fighting is a war on drugs and the suppression of native peoples. It makes sense for a corrupt system to pay an ice head to do dirty work. I am sorry you think the way you do i have compassion for your heart and pray that it may see the many hearts who have been broken over this sick form of desecration.


      1. * March 29, 2020 3:42 pm Reply

        There are many things you do not know. Those citations are caused by someone borrowing (at first) and ended up stealing his car many years ago… they go by the owner of the car not the one driving. Parking tickets and car citations is the NUMBER ONE WAY suppressed people are kept in poverty or in jail. The land he is protecting is a ROYAL PATENT, it is in the courts and it has not been settled. The person who bulldozed the land is a known meth addict and has been in and out of jail. Ka’imi has only been in jail once and was released with out conviction – it was over protecting land. He does not do drugs and he is only giving the shirt off his back time and time again only to be seen by someone like you as a criminal? gain some compassion and some insight to what is really going on. Ka’imi holds a federal badge as a Tribal Preservation Officer and was appointed by the Kupuna as Konohiki. Look at our political system with Arthur Burn right now…. do you really wanna point fingers at where the corruption comes from… The head of Parks and Rec for our county was dealing drugs at the exact places he is sworn to protect and represent. This fight that Ka’imi is fighting is a war on drugs and the suppression of native peoples. It makes sense for a corrupt system to pay an ice head to do dirty work. I am sorry you think the way you do i have compassion for your heart and pray that it may see the many hearts who have been broken over this sick form of desecration.


    2. A Go March 30, 2020 6:53 am Reply

      Yes, because unpaid motor vehicle citations that are collected by the very people responsible for tearing up food in the middle of a pandemic are what’s important…how about you talk about the side of the story that was only talked about on the very surface here…is that the other side of the story you’re referring to? The side of the convicted DRUG traffickers that are working in the County of Kauai’s story? That one? I’d love to hear their justification for ruining a local food source…


  2. curious dog March 28, 2020 10:15 am Reply

    This should be considered environmental terrorism & the culprit should be tracked down & locked up for at least a year. or more. Don’t let him eat ANY vegetables while he mulls it over in lockdown & see how HE likes it.

    What a moroon. sheesh


  3. Puna March 28, 2020 11:10 am Reply

    Brah This is unacceptable for anyone to think is okay especially during times like this. Shame on whomever did this


  4. Stephen Frank March 28, 2020 11:21 am Reply

    What’s going on?  If there was any time to be Pono, it would be now. WE as a community need to help and take care of each other. Our government is too busy worrying about the tourist and outside businesses to worry about us locals who are trying to grow food for out families and our community. That doesn’t seem to be important anymore. 

    This is a time when our leaders need to bring in smart people who can think outside the box and do things the right way instead of how it is being  done now.

    At this time a wealthy landowner is looking to displace Kealia Farms by breaking their lease. Kealia Farms is one of the few lo’i kalo producing farms in Hawaii with close to 30 acres of land in Kalo production.  Sending taro to Oahu for Waihole poi factory Pomai poi and others. They also make (In my opinion) some of the best poi in all the islands.  We’ve been facing a kalo shortage in our state for many years. Farming kalo is not easy  and i have a lot of respect for all who put in the hard work and time to do so. Growing Kalo is a Native Hawaiian right . It is an important part of the Hawaiian culture not just as a food source, Haloa (kalo) is believed and has been taught througout the Hawaiian culture in the story of creation that it is our oldest brother. 

    There should be a story about what it is that we in Hawaii put the most value  in now and where does our Hawaiian culture fit in to that?

    We, Hawaiians cannot allow these things to happen anymore. We need to stand up and fight for our aina and our way of life. Together is the ONLY way. 

    A suggestion (out side the box), while we have this time is there some way where we farmers could fully utilize all the heavy equipment, excavators, bulldozers, back hoes you name it to help our farmer take a huge leap forward to create more needed farm areas and start planting to be able to produce and provide for our communities? We need to be looking for better ways to provide food for our communities than ways to get more tourist here.  It is time for our priorities to shift back to what has been proven to sustain our islands.


  5. arbitrary March 28, 2020 5:02 pm Reply

    looks like people in kauai hate each other as much as they hate everyone else


  6. camille fullington March 29, 2020 11:02 am Reply

    Time for several well hidden, solar powered trail cams. Who can donate these either locally, or an online merchant?


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