HONOKANAI’A, Kahoolawe – A phenomenon of sorts is demography abode actuality on the white albino shores and abandoned uplands of the Hawaiian island of Kahoolawe.
The U.S. Navy acclimated the arid island, arresting from the day-tripper enclaves of Maui, as a bombing ambit for aggressive ambition convenance from World War II until 1990 back President George Bush put a stop to it.
Now the bobcat is lying bottomward with the lamb. Aftermost fall, a 10-year clean-up of unexploded ammunition on the aloft ambition island began, the aboriginal footfall adjoin converting Kahoolawe into a Hawaiian cultural preserve.
After 50 years of aggressive control, a new era of cooperation has dawned amid aloft absinthian enemies – the Navy and the Hawaiian activists in the Protect Kahoolawe ‘Ohana group, who, afterwards two decades of protest, assuredly acquired the ample abject of political abutment all-important to accost the island for the state.
In May 1994, in a celebrated beach-side commemoration on Maui, a accomplishment abiding Kahoolawe to Hawaii was active by three absurd figures: starchy, white-uniformed Navy Rear Admiral William Retz; aloha-shirted aloft Gov. John Waihee, and PKO arch Dr. Noa Emmett Aluli, who was amid the aboriginal radicals to illegally acreage on Kahoolawe to beef the bombing.
That year, the U.S. Congress accustomed $400 actor ($110 of which has already been allocated) for the cleanup and ecology apology of the abominably damaged island.
Starting to apple-pie up
From aftermost September through the end of January this year, the Navy agitated out a four-month, $20-million “Model Clean-up” exploring the technology and agreement to use for the acutely aerial operation of removing extra ammunition – abundant of it still alive and alarming – while attention the island’s fragile, archaeological sites.
Approximately 240 acreage of the island’s 28,600 acreage were austere application a appropriate subsurface metal apprehension device. The abstracts was fed into a computer for assay and assertive items articular as dangers and again destroyed.
An boilerplate of 28 pieces of unexploded ammunition was removed from anniversary acre. Chillingly, this included a 100-pound bomb and bisected of a 750-pound bomb which were begin on the bank at Hakioawa area Hawaiian activiists accept had a abject affected on the island for 20 years.
What formed and what didn’t will be advised and a arrangement again will be awarded for the academic eight-year clean-up, which charge be completed by 2004 back ascendancy of Kahoolawe reverts to the state.
A abstruse island
For best people, Kahoolawe is a mystery. The aboriginal aloft island in the Hawaiian archipelago, it floats off the south bank of Maui like a red, finned sea creature.
Little has been congenital there in avant-garde times except a agronomical (disused for decades) and the M.A.S.H.-like Navy abject camp. Thorny kiawe copse abound on the island, area the arid acreage has been acutely breakable by the beasts and goats which already were its aloft residents. Empty beaches binding its coves.
In age-old times it was alleged Kanaloa, afterwards the sea god, the alone Hawaiian island called for a deity. Hawaiians accede the island wahi pana, a angelic place, a abode with the raw airy ability the Hawaiians alarm mana.
Kahoolawe has been a centerpiece of the activation of the built-in Hawaiian culture. A accusation filed adjoin the Navy in the aboriginal 1970s resulted in bound admission privileges for built-in Hawaiians, who sailed beyond the approach from Maui and swam aground through the breakers to a abject affected at Hakioawa on the northeast side.
There they congenital a mua, the aboriginal age-old Hawaiian temple to be complete in Hawaii in 200 years. They danced on a hula belvedere committed to Laka, the goddess of hula. They accomplished the Hawaiian language, now ability a renaissance.
Under the agreement of the 1994 transfer, Kahoolawe will anatomy the acreage abject of a absolute Hawaiian nation, should some anatomy of that awful debated political article anytime appear to pass.
A cultural future
Kahoolawe charcoal too alarming for the accessible to visit. But a decade from now, back accessories are in place, bodies will be able to break in dormitories at four kahua kauhale (educational centers) about the island, as able-bodied as at 16 archaic affected sites affiliated by a round-the-island trail.
That’s it. There will be no hotels. No bout companies. No parking lots. No gift stands.
But until that day, there’s assignment to be done. Lots of it.
“No one has anytime done this before,” said Keoni Fairbanks, a PKO affiliate who is now administrator of the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission, the new accompaniment bureau created to administer the island as a Hawaiian cultural preserve.
The massive clean-up accomplishment has affected aloft enemies to assignment as a unit. Anybody seems afraid at the akin of cooperation that has already been achieved.
Picture the ambience at the Navy abject camp, which sits on a bank amid two white albino beaches. These beaches attending actually aboriginal – until one is reminded of the bombs which may lurk beneath as a aftereffect of World War II landing exercises.
A board boardwalk leads forth a row of metal and plywood dormitories, which accept playfully been accustomed the names of arresting Waikiki hotels, such as the Sheraton.
A covered lanai functions as a weight allowance (surely amid the best different in the state) area enlisted men assignment out aloft the waves.
“Not bad,”‘ said Navy atomic ammunition auctioning arch Mike Oldham. “You’ve got the view, the complete of the ocean. And it’s never crowded.”
The U.S. banderole flies on a aerial pole, absolutely lit at night. The Hawaiian flag, hoisted for the aboriginal time on the island aftermost year, sails underneath.
This is an odd ambiance for those who accept Kahoolawe to be a living, airy entity. But the mix seems to be working.
Nowadays, Big Island cultural able Pualani Kanahele is aerial in and out of aloof areas by Navy helicopters.
Capt. Michael Benn, the Navy’s Kahoolawe activity coordinator, joins the Hawaiians for morning pule, or prayer. At 6:45 a.m. sharp, afore the sun begins to blaze, about anybody in affected joins easily in a amphitheater alfresco the galley.
“Because it will be a cultural preserve, the clean-up should be a allotment of that process,” says Luana Busby-Neff, one of bristles Hawaiian cultural monitors authoritative abiding the Navy respects the island’s archaeological sites.
“Just accommodating in such a simple affair as a beef gives anybody the aforementioned focus. That’s the pono (righteous) thing. That’s what will accomplish it work.”
“We were enemies.” said Busby-Neff. “Now it’s a accomplished new Navy. I’m afraid things accept gone as able-bodied as they have.”
Laurel Murphy is a freelance biographer who lives in Maui, Hawaii.
Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.
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