Saturday, December 1, 2007

HI Superferry: Why Respect Kauai?...A Kauai Letter

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Anne Punohu submitted this letter to the editor of the Kaua'i Garden Island for Sat Dec 1, 2007.

An open letter to the people of the State of Hawai'i:

These are indeed strange times in our state. I have never seen so many protests for so many things in the entire course of the brief history of this sacred land as a United States State. I for one am part of the make up of this state, but more so than that I believe that on behalf of my native Hawaiian kanaka maoli born and raised on Kaua'i keiki, I not only have an obligation but a right to speak out, to walk my walk and talk my talk, to move, imua walk forward and let my voice be heard loud and clear on what is happening on my island of Kaua'i. It is a symptom of what is happening worldwide, and is now hitting our tender and fragile shores. The most harm it is doing to our true Kaua'i people, and that is fifth generation haoles, chinese, japanese, fourth, and third generation portuguese, spanish and puerto rican, and third and second generation filipinos, and others, not to mention 20th generation kanakas, or the maka aina, the eyes of the land, is that we are all suffering greatly. Not just physically but emotionally too. Our lives have been cruelly huli'd by those with nothing but corporate greed, and the pursuit of money to the detriment of all those others on whose backs they stand. I'm not perfect, and I have made tons of mistakes in my life, and continue to make them, and probably will go on continuing to make them until the day I lay down for the last time. However, there are mistakes, and then there are outright abominations. Worldwide, people are feeling the pinch and bite of more than just issues like the super-ferry and overdevelopment. Kauai is suffering from a surge of people who do not care about Kauai, its values or its heritage. They do not care about our mana, our aina, our laau, our uluwehiwehi, our ia, our manu or our kinos. All they want is everything we have, and then some. They claim it is theirs, we must bow down and give it to them and how dare we resist. How dare we rise up at the totality of what has been done to a peace-loving Kauai.

A little history lesson, Kauai managed to get around the wars taking place all over the islands for almost 500 years, until Kamehameha. Kamehameha bowed to the expert and fine diplomacy of our beloved Kaumualii, a humble and great ruler who was not much prone to war, and his son even less so, and ironically he died in battle. His wife remarried, and co-founded a church and had another son, on the grounds of what has become to be known as Coco Palms. Queen Deborah Kapule ran the first guest house on Kauai on the shores of the Wailua river, was a staunch Christian, and a generous and kind ruler. A trait our current Governor would do well to attempt to emulate, as a women leader. His mother however was a completely different story. She chanted a powerful chant, passed down from great alii wahine mo'i over and over. This chant was so powerful no one dared step foot on Kaua'i. But she, (Kaua'i, for all islands in the Hawaiian belief concept have genders. Guess which one O'ahu is? Male. Figures.), was coveted and drooled over from a distance especially by those of O'ahu, but they could never completely conquer true Kaua'i. They always wanted to, and tried several times by using boats, several of which sank. The belief was that Kauai's force of nature has its own agenda, and no one can travel her waters without bowing to her superior force. Nature.

I recently went to two funerals in the span of two weeks both of which hit me very hard. These are the true Kauai families. Let me just say that Kauai people, the true old Kaua'i lines speak in a soft melodic tone. They do not bark loudly like angry little lapdogs. They were kind and generous but tough and strong. They could be heard not by loud noise and shouting, but by quiet strength and determination. There has always been a limit to aloha on Kauai. Once you pass it there is no going back. Kauai people, the true old lines of genealogy demand respect because they are the oldest lines in Hawaii, and to many of us, they are the ruling alii class at this time. There are no more survivors of the Kamehameha lines, and it is generally concluded, that here on Kauai, with the Kawananakoa lines lie the true aliis of this generation, the ruling class. True aliis do not subjugate their people, they never could or under the system, they could be immediately deposed. You have to take care of the Makaaina, or you as an alii would not be fed. The aliis had a responsibility to care and protect the aina and ensure that the ahupuaas were safe from invasion, and that proper prayers were said and protocol done so that there would be adequate food supplies to feed the people. This also included proper logistics to make sure that kapus were in place in order to ensure that each type of food source and materials resources had the opportunity to properly propagate themselves. There was a system of justice, and familial hierarchies on Kauai that predates the imposed Kapus of the Tahitians by many generations. The meles, chants and moolelos held a highly intricate and intelligent language full of rich meanings, and interconnecting the entire polynesian, micronesian and melanesian triangle. These are the true people of Kauai's heritage. A heritage that cannot be taken away from us. You cannot rip out our hearts, although you may be able to dampen our spirits, but then a little rain could never stop Kauai, it just makes us stronger. But Kauai people are resilient, and have an innate sense of what is right, and good and pure, and we pursue that to the fullest.

O'ahu people generally have a much different attitude, and always have. They are a little louder, a little brasher. a little more conservative, and this can be heard clearly in the difference in cadence when olelo Hawaiian is spoken by an O'ahuan, it is hard and guttural, like the German language, although no less beautiful or rich in intelligence and meaning. It is very easy to tell someone from O'ahu from someone from Kaua'i. O'ahu people are always amazed that Kaua'i people can guess they are not from here even if they are "local". Yep, Kauai people are smart that way. Many many O'ahu kanakas have intermarried and joined with Kauai's genealogical lines, to mix up the genealogies, particularly from Kamehamehas infamous counselors of 13. But the fact remains, that Kauai blood, the koko that surges through anyones veins that has soaked Kauai into their pores no matter what your race creed or nationality will never standby and let Kauai fall.

We are warriors and proud of it. Whether it is with the pen which is mightier that the sword, the waa nui, the speaking out, the holoholo imua, the walking foreward with pride, dignity and honor, holding our heads high and knowing that what we believe in the deep core of what is Kauai, which cannot be explained, but only truly felt will never ever fall. It will live forever. Our hearts will not be torn and ripped asunder by those whose only goal is greed, superiority and defilement. We stand po'ohiwi to po'ohiwi with each other, unmovable, strong, nui ha'aheo. We do it for our children, the aina, and in a larger sense our own sanity as an island people. The respect due Kauai is absolutely undisputed. We will not be disrespected. We will maintain our island. Period.

This is not a call to battle by the way, but a call out to the heart. Remember who you are. Remember how you were raised. Remember what your kupuna suffered for you on this island to get you to where you are now, regardless of your ancestors race, this is not about race, but a heritage of a great blood mixed in with many others who have become the people of Kauai. This is a call to fight for an ideal, a philosophy, a belief, not a call to violence or conduct that will get anyone hurt. This letter is to appeal to your souls, your deepest tears of joy, of hurt, of pain, of relief, of remembrance of contentment and love, and remember why you live Kauai. Remember, in practicing these ideas of nui waa, of writing, of walking forward, of fine tuning your minds, of negotiating, of learning, understanding, with these tools we are warriors that is what I mean when I say warrior. This is a battle of the mind, the heart the soul, and not a physical one. Use the gifts and talents that you have, that you have been taught, reawaken them and bring them forward.

No one can pass Kauai. No one. Kauai people are unique and blessed people. Show that. Step forward. Speak out. Resist, but stay lawful, don't get hurt, protect your family and your children because family comes first. But remember what you stand on, the land not concrete. This is sacred land. Remember what your ceiling is, the sky and not wood. Remember what your clothing is, and your food, and what nourishes you. Protect that. Preserve that aloha.

Anne Punohu Kalaheo

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Aloha, Brad

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