Kaua‘i Museum new exhibit hall dedicated to Maryanne Kusaka

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Former mayor Maryanne Kusaka gets help from Noelani Pomroy in securing the haku head lei, Wednesday after the Kaua‘i Museum’s new exhibit hall was dedicated in her honor through an announcement made by the arrival of a banner being carried by Dickie Chang, Beth Tokioka, and Gini Kapali with the help of Kaua‘i Museum Executive Director Chucky Boy Chock at the Board of Trustees meeting held under the exhibit area of Waimakua.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Former mayor Maryanne Kusaka, also the head of the Kaua‘i Museum Board of Trustees, is humble in accepting the congratulatory lei presented in honor of the Kaua‘i Museum new exhibit hall being named Waimakua in her honor.

LIHU‘E — The first words uttered by former mayor Maryanne Kusaka Wednesday were: “I have never had anything being named after me.”

In a surprise move by the Kaua‘i Museum Board of Trustees, the museum’s new exhibit hall was dedicated Waimakua in honor of Kusaka, who is the current head of the Trustees.

“The big party comes after we get through this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dickie Chang, one of the group of banner carriers arranged by Kaua‘i Museum Executive Director Chucky Boy Chock for the naming of the new hall that is currently hosting the Pa‘u riders exhbit that was unveiled in lieu of the traditional Kamehameha Day pomp. “Chucky Boy said the Board meeting is today, and we’re (Beth Tokioka, Gini Kapali, and Sue Kanoho) going to crash the meeting.”

Dr. Richard Goodale of the Kaua‘i Museum Board said the whole thing was the idea of the board for the years of service Kusaka put forth for the museum and the community.

Born in Kamuela on the Big Island, Kusaka is described as an “American politician, educator, and former Mayor of Kaua‘i from 1994 to 2002.”

Following her political career that ended with a failed race for state Senate, Kusaka joined the Kaua‘i Museum board with one of her projects being the start of the new exhibit hall Waimakua during the time when current Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami was still at the state legislature.

She secured funding of $775,000 from the legislature.

“Once you start, people don’t mind helping if they see things happening,” Kusaka said. “You have to hold hands and plead in the Hawaiian way.”

Significant contributions from the Smithsonian and a private individual, Flora Fujii, spurred the Kaua‘i Museum onward.

“I feel that we have done so much with the current museum leadership,” Kusaka said. “Flora Fujii — she never came to the museum — started everything.”

Waimakua currently houses the Pa‘u riders exhibit created through the efforts of Tim Dela Vega and reliving the pomp and glory of Pa‘u riders that took part in the major Hawaiian cultural events like the recent Kamehameha Day Celebration that featured parades and ho‘olaule‘a.

The Kaua‘i Museum is currently listed on its website as being open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and closed on Sunday.

  1. kauaiboy June 25, 2021 7:16 am Reply

    THIS is the woman who the Museum Board of Trustees chooses to honor? Maryanne Kusaka?

    Maryanne Kusaka was the mayor of Kauai in 1997, the year Jimmy Pflueger allegedly illegally graded around the KaLoko dam and reservoir and covered the spillway.

    Seven people, and an unborn infant, were killed in the dam breach on March 14, 2006.

    Public records show Kauai County received an anonymous complaint about Pflueger’s extensive illegal grading around reservoir in 1997.

    A county engineering inspector, John Buist Jr., who worked for Kusaka’s administration, checked the site from afar, cited Pflueger for a grading violation, and issued a notice to Pflueger to “stop work immediately.”

    But Pflueger didn’t stop. Instead, the inspector was called into a meeting by Kusaka and told to stay away from Pflueger. Specifically, he was told to “stop all actions involving Mr. Pflueger.”

    A reporter obtained a copy of Buist’s internal memo – a document the county in 2006 told the reporter did not exist – which detailed the meeting with Kusaka.

    Pflueger told Hawaii Reporter in an exclusive follow up interview that he gave a large contribution to the mayor. He said that he handed Kusaka $9,000 in cash hoping he would get the harassing inspectors off his back.

    After some prodding, Pflueger confirmed the contribution in a follow up interview with “ABC 20/20″’s Jim Avila saying he hid it in the names of eight of his employees, but he claimed there was no deal.

    As Avila reported: “Pflueger confirmed the donation to “20/20” … “But Pflueger says he gave the mayor the money because he thought she needed help, and says there was no deal involved.”

    According to state campaign law, Pflueger cannot donate more than $4,000 to Kusaka in an election cycle.

    Kusaka did not report the contribution.

    When confronted by both Hawaii Reporter and an ABC 20/20 crew in January 2007 on Kauai, Kusaka covered her face with a piece of paper and fled.

    She told 20/20’s Avila that she would not talk about the case because it’s under investigation.

    She did, however, respond to the $9,000 contribution allegation, Avila reports, telling him it was an ‘absolutely ludicrous’ allegation.

    When asked again if Pflueger paid any political contributions, she said, “Absolutely not, not that I’m aware of,” Avila reports.

    In follow up calls, Kusaka refused to answer questions about the dam breach or Pflueger’s statements and she retained a personal lawyer.

    Kusaka did get called to testify before the Kauai Grand Jury in Nov. 2008. It is highly presumed within Hawaii legal circles that she was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying against Pflueger.

    Any work Kusaka has done for the Kauai Museum should be considered “community service” in penance for her involvement with Jimmy Pflueger’s crimes. It should NOT be the justification for receiving “naming” honors.

    The Kilauea, and Kauai, communities will never forget…

  2. I saw a Vampire once June 25, 2021 7:25 am Reply

    Knock…and the door shall be opened. Ask…and ye shall receive. Seek…and ye shall find.

    I don’t know if any resident cares about politics. That was awhile back. New owners and new layout of the land.

    1. kauaiboy June 26, 2021 6:06 am Reply

      I have knocked on the door of of the “honor” provided to the former Mayor, with no answer.

      I have asked for some contrition on the part of former Mayor Kusaka, and received none.

      I have sought justice for the actions of former Mayor Kusaka, and found none.

      You are a fool if you think that Kauai residents do not care about politics and corruption. The Ka Loko dam breach occurred just 14 years ago. All those who lived here at that time remember the heartache for those who died and their families.

      You may choose to try and forget, ISAVO, but the rest of us WILL NEVER FORGET.

  3. hutch June 25, 2021 11:18 pm Reply

    This is an absolute disgrace. Kusaka has blood on her hands that no amount of payoffs can ever absorb. Let her spend the rest of her days like Lady MacBeth. “Out, out damn spot.” Not a chance.

  4. WHOkauai June 26, 2021 7:56 am Reply

    That’s the pilikia—wrongs committed by ‘outstanding citizens’ and then considered the ‘past’ by the well-intentioned or their family and friends. These folks who do intentional bad actions in leadership roles act righteous & are called ‘pillars of the community’. The real pillars of the community are true, hardworking, honest, dedicated leaders and the many nameless folks who do for others silently. There are so many of those in this community.

  5. LTEreader June 26, 2021 5:37 pm Reply

    The first words uttered by former mayor Maryanne Kusaka, Wednesday were: “I have never had anything being named after me.”

    As it should be. What a slap in the face to the Fehring, Dingwall, Rotstein, MacNees, Arroyo, Noonan families, and their friends. Pflueger and Kusaka’s blatant disregard for the unpermitted work at Ka Loko dam ultimately evolved into a catastrophic tragedy that killed 6 adults, 1 toddler, and Christina’s unborn baby. This should NEVER be forgotten!
    It’s really disappointing the Kaua‘i Museum Board granted her this honor because any respect some of us may have had for Maryanne Kusaka washed down the mountain and into the ocean with the deceased March 14, 2006.

  6. Vigilauntie June 26, 2021 9:14 pm Reply

    This is so shameful!! Kusaka is responsible for seven deaths. Seven.

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