WAIMEA — Maureen Fodale, secretary of the Friends of King Kaumuali‘i, said Tuesday that Kaumuali‘i is already home.
“While we wait for the site to be completed, he is sequestered at Po‘oku Hei‘au,” Fodale said following her turn at huli ka lepo, or the groundbreaking for the site where the statue created by sculptor Siam Caglayan will sit on the grounds of Pa‘ula‘ula, the site of Russian Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park near Waimea.
King Kaumuali‘i, born in Wailua to Kamakahelei and Ke‘ao, was raised in Waimea, said Aletha Kawelukawahinehololio‘olimaloa Goodwin Kaohi, whose ancestry can be traced back to Kaumuali‘i sixth generation.
The piko ceremony was attended by the contractors, Kikiaola Construction, Friends of Kumuali‘i board members, and special guests including state Rep. Dee Morikawa and state Senate President Ron Kouchi.
During his life, King Kaumuali‘i was kidnapped while dining on the Ha‘aheo Hawai‘i in 1821. He was taken away to Honolulu, where he was forced into an arranged marriage with Ka‘ahumanu, one of the Kamehameha wives.
The couple visited Kaua‘i once for an extended visit before Kaumuali‘i’s death in 1824, and the planned placing of a statue from a foundry near Los Angeles, 199 years later, marks “the permanent return of our ‘ali‘i whose peaceful and sustainable vision for his people and island will once again inspire us from his ancestral home at Pa‘ula‘ula,” states a Friends of Kumuali‘i newsletter.
Mike Faye of the Kikiaola Construction, the contractor for the pa, or statue base, said he became interested in the area following a school project when he mapped out the fort. Since that time, he’s gotten the West Kaua‘i Business and Professional Association involved in maintaining the park to the point where he knows that “the second Saturday of the month” is reserved for doing work at Pa‘ula‘ula.
“Pa‘ula‘ula is the preferred reference,” said Martha Yent, representing the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources as the archeologist and speaking of the brief Russian occupation of Fort Elizabeth before the fort was disassembled by the Hawaiian government.
Funding for the project was secured from the state Legislature to advance the piece of land to beyond “just a pile of rocks” following a visit by the state Senate Ways and Means Committee, which got an opportunity to view the mountains-to-the-sea location enhanced by the profile of Ni‘ihau.
Peleke Flores, selected to set ahu and create the rock wall and designated by Kaohi as the next generation of caretakers, helped with Kaohi’s protocol that included a cleansing, the ceremonial ho‘ohuli lepo, a commitment for the continuation of support at Kaumuali‘i piko that was set at the center of where the statue base will occupy, and a ho‘okupu to the land.
Fodale said construction of the base will start immediately, with the rock wall getting started some time in January.
The statue is expected to be installed during the solstice weekend in March, 2021.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.