Thursday, September 04, 2008

Labor Day 1: Punatics

I went from work to the airport on Thursday evening, and from the airport to work Tuesday morning.   By the time I got home I had been gone six days - close enough to feel like a real vacation, even if I worked a good chunk of it.

I spent Thursday night with Dave at Kalani in Puna. It was nicer than I expected - electricity, rooms with walls, a nice pool and some large hot tubs.  I was prepared for yurts and stinky boys with dreds. The whole place had a summer camp for hippies vibe.  I felt like I had landed in one of those Southeast Asian backpacker towns - there was a good mix of people, the eccentricity was there in spades but without all the Rainbow-Child Look at me world I'm alternative! posturing you find in the mainland, and people seemed genuinely low key.

So it was a nice place, I'd willingly stay there again (though not if I had to pay full price) - but I still think the workers are being exploited there, and I still think all that damn 'personal growth' talk is silly.  It's on the website, it's in the logs, it was scrawled on the bulletin board in the dining hall - Thanks Kalani You Changed My Life. Namaste!  I want to tell them, life is change.  Paddling changed my life. Being a state worker changed my life. Getting kittens changed my life. Each year changes all of our lives. There ain't nothing magical there. 

Friday morning Dave and I drove to Opihikao Church to meet with Kale Gumapac of the Kanaka Council. We are getting a lot of development proposals in that area, and he had arranged for me to do an informal walk along the coast with members of the community.  

I was not prepared for how much we saw.  The Senior Kahu of the church, Reverend Makuakane, led us down a trail through some thick brush to the coast ...

... to a site with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of burial mounds. 

This is not on the maps. This is not in the State records. Surveys mention "some" burial platforms in the area.   The surveyors could not have talked to anyone here and missed this - it is a major site. The Kahu thinks that this might have been the burial site for the entire ahupua`a.  

We then walked through a hala grove that had been, based upon the evidence we saw, intensely managed since historical times. The terrain in the area is rough and treachorous - jumbled a`a and pandanus roots covering ankle-breaking holes. The ground in the grove was smooth and even - the a`a had all been removed, and the undergrowth cleared so that the hala could grow large. One of the kupuna with us said that this hala was known for it's soft leaves, and was the best kind for weaving.

The archaeological survey for the area missed the hala grove entirely - all they saw was an "undisturbed forest."  As one of the activists in the group pointed out: archeologists can only see things made out of rock or bone. They don't know how to recognize living sites.

We had a representative from Hawaiian Affairs there, so at least OHA knows about this also. I'll have to arrange an official visit with all the players so we can get this all on record, and start working on protecting these sites.  

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