WAILUA —Kaua‘i community residents have mobilized to protect the land of Coco Palms Resort against development as the property heads to auction later this month.
I Ola Wailuanui is a working group that has been trying to put together resources to preserve the land to protect cultural and natural resources. Recent news of the public auction set for July 26 surprised the group.
“The land, traditionally known as Wailuanuiaho‘ano, is a wahi kapu, or sacred site, to Native Hawaiians and Kaua‘i residents,” Pua Rossi-Fukino said.
And to honor this history, I Ola Wailuanui envisions the creation of a Hawaiian cultural and education center, agricultural park and community resource. To make this happen, the group would like to restore the native wetland habitat.
“This project is not just a want, but it’s a need for our community. This vision came about with our kupuna in mind: How can we best protect the sacredness of Wailuanuiahoano?” Rossi-Fukino said. “And it came about with our keiki in mind: How can we ensure that future generations will know, respect and perpetuate this special place?”
The group has also been reaching out to community members and those with lineal ties to the Wailuanuiahoano area, too.
“The vision can include significant opportunities for the advancement of Hawaiian craft, language, music, hula, cultural practices and traditional games,” I Ola Wailuanui said in a statement. “The site could house a canoe hale, restored native gardens, places for health and healing, gathering, education and environmental restoration.”
I Ola Wailuanui is standing against the commercial development of a hotel on the land. Several attempts to breathe new life into the former Coco Palms that was devastated by Hurricane ‘Iniki in 1992 have failed, and the latest try ended in the upcoming foreclosure auction.
“We firmly believe that a resort development is not suitable at this site, not wanted by our community, and that there is wide and passionate opposition to the establishment of another hotel in this location,” she said.
”The time has come to turn this space into an environment that benefits our community and honors the significant Hawaiian history and archaeological features of this ‘aina.”
An online petition generated over 200 signatures within a day of the group’s announcement.
“We are hopeful that others that share this vision and are capable of making this a reality through foundations, funding programs and donations will step forward to help establish this shared vision for the restoration of this incredibly sacred and culturally significant site,” Fern Anuenue Holland said in a statement.
“Working together, we can ensure that this very special place is returned to the community and that it grows into a place of inspiration, conservation and agricultural abundance that honors the history and culture upon which it is founded.”