VOICES: Support builds for cultural site at Coco Palms

In a statement released yesterday and published statewide in the Honolulu Star Advertiser, Kaua‘i residents Pua Rossi-Fukino, Makana Reilly and Fern Anuenue Holland, speaking on behalf of the I Ola Wailuanui Working Group, released a statement: “The place formerly known as the Coco Palms Hotel will never ever be developed again as a hotel or resort property. Of this, we are sure. Elvis has indeed left the building.”

The statement went on to say, “There will be no hotel, no resort, no timeshare and no high-end real-estate development. On these points the people on Kaua‘i are united. In personal conversations with people from all walks of life, from businesswoman to politician to canoe-paddler, we have yet to find anyone who either believes a resort development is feasible or wanted.”

The I Ola Wailuanui Working Group is composed of a cross-section of Kaua‘i residents who care deeply about preserving and perpetuating the deep and sacred history of Wailuanuiaho‘ano. The working group has been working on this vision and a proposal for the restoration of the site for the last year. The working group believes that the rich cultural features on this site and its important history has much to provide the community, and requires protection and healing.

The vision of the I Ola Wailuanui Working Group is that Wailuanuiaho‘ano is to be owned by the community, developed by the community and managed by the community — based first and foremost on a community vision honoring the deep history and culture of this sacred spot. They further are committed to a model that those who will ultimately lead the discussion and shape the vision for this place are those with ancestral roots in this ‘aina.

A growing segment of the Kaua‘i community seems to have grabbed hold of the vision and are imagining the potential.

Both the stars and the sentiment of local residents seemed aligned, with community momentum growing daily. At last count, over 8,000 residents had signed a petition supporting the I Ola Wailuanui Working Groups plan and in opposition of a hotel development at this site — see bit.ly/wailuanui.

The conversation now among supporters is not if the property will be converted to a higher community use, but rather when it will happen and who will be the funding partners that will ultimately step forward to make this dream a reality for the community?

According to the I Ola Wailuanui Working Group statement, “There is too much at stake and far too many now have the resolve to stay the course and will refuse to stand down — regardless of the challenges and adversity that might attempt to stand in the way.”

This site includes important agricultural lands and wetland ecosystems that need restoration to their original purpose. This would result in increased food production, the return of a critical community resource, the establishment of native coastal habitat and provide better drainage for the entire Wailua coastal area to better manage flooding.

Wailuanuiaho‘ano is the birthplace of kings and queens. These are historic crown lands and once hosted royal compounds, stately temple sites, a royal birthing site and other religious locales. The eminent residences for the ali‘i were here, and it was the primary domain and seat of government for the reigning chiefs in old Hawai‘i.

The property has two ancient loko i‘a (fishponds), both loko pu‘uone (dune-banked inland fishponds), named Weuweu and Kaiwii‘ki or Kawai‘iki. They are estimated to be at least 600-to-800-plus years old. The remains of iwi kupuna buried in these sacred lands must be preserved and the ancestors known to be here and those yet to be discovered need to be honored.

The working group statement expands on their vision of this collaborative community effort: “The legacy of Queen Deborah Kapule (the last queen of Kaua‘i) and Wailua will be nurtured and restored via the generosity of many. Some will give of their knowledge and experience. Some will contribute the sweat of their brow and the labor of their backs. Others will contribute the funds needed to make this dream a reality. All will come together in mutual respect, valuing each other’s contributions, to honor the past and make this dream a reality for the future.”

“Achieving this dream might seem a heavy lift to some, but then again, there is no stopping a community that is determined, focused and committed to working together to make a dream a reality.”

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Pua Rossi-Fukino, Makana Reilly and Fern Anuenue Holland submitted this on behalf of I Ola Wailuanui Working Group, which is helping to drive this conversation and initiative. For more information, see wailuanui.org and bit.ly/wailuanui.

4 Comments
  1. Mailman Mike July 21, 2021 8:34 am Reply

    I’m all for Coco Palms being made into a cultural site as long as I don’t have to pay for it.


    1. RGLadder37 July 21, 2021 5:22 pm Reply

      Something like Polynesian cultural center? Public invited. It would be taxed to the public.

      Luau’s? Definitely taxed.


    2. Guy July 22, 2021 4:32 pm Reply

      So don’t send you the $6mil bill. Got it.


  2. Doug July 21, 2021 7:59 pm Reply

    Just don’t turn it into a tourist trap. We have enough of those already, and traffic is already bad in that area.


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