KHP Volunteer Docents: Seann “Tommy“ Scott

The Kalaeloa Heritage and Legacy Foundation want our friends and partners to get to know our volunteer docents. We want to introduce them and their stories to you over the next several issues of this newsletter. Amongst these people who give much of themselves in sharing the history of the heritage park is Seann “Tommy” Scott.

Tommy grew up in Waipahu and is currently in his 50s. He is a retired Army Combat Veteran and also a volunteer at the Kapolei Vet Center. His father served 10 years in the Air Force and during those years while his dad was stationed at Hickam their family spent many wonderful times camping at the Nimitz Officers Beach cottages at the former Barbers Point Naval Air Station. Little did Tommy know that 40 years later he would be traveling that same road visiting a little known ancient village lost in time beneath the kiawe on a former military base.

It was many years later while volunteering at the Kapolei Vets Center when a friend asked if he wanted to go on a site tour of the Kalaeloa Heritage Park in Kalaeloa. On the day of the tour he was greeted at the park by a volunteer docent he later came to call “Uncle Shad”. After the routine introductions and traditional chants everyone found their way to a traditional kauhale which served as a gathering place for visitors. Expecting a recitation on only Hawaiian culture he found myself traveling through time and an evolution of many histories. Of travel and challenges experienced by these early visitors to this place. Of how they eventually saw themselves other than their place of origin. How they lived a unique subsistence lifestyle unlike anywhere else in the whole world. Where water traveled underground. Farming was underground and in some cases people lived underground.

He learned that it was not just a Hawaiian history but a Tahitian past. It was a story of travel and migrations. No different than today. In recent times cattle ranching where old western cowboy barbed wire can still found secured to fence post, of sisal farming, of sugar, of trains and lastly a military base. Where subsequent to December 7 an amphibious landing was expected at this very location. Evidence of that can be found in the manner of military defense construction in effort to direct an advancing amphibious assault into areas of fire.

What especially captivated Tommy was the strong spiritual presence associated with the park and it was this aspect that brought him back many times when he finally made the big decision to become a part of it. Tommy is now a part of all of us. Because of Tommy we now have a strong military veterans presence which is only fitting in keeping with its military past. Today many of our volunteers and visitors at the Kalaeloa Heritage Park are Combat Veterans. One of our partners is the Kapolei Vets Center. In closing this is who he is. Our friend and volunteer docent Seann “Tommy” Scott. You may one day have the privilege of hearing him and these stories of the ancient past of a place once known as Kualaka’i.


Moving STEM Education Forward: Cultivating Culture & Building Community Connections

By Hope Malulani Espinda (CKCA K-12 STEM Resource Teacher)

STEM education integrates the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by using scientific inquiry and engineering design as unifying processes. STEM also emphasizes innovation and the development of problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration skills. The 17 Campbell Kapolei Complex Area (CKCA) schools are moving STEM education forward via Project Lead the Way, a national non-profit organization that is the leading provider of STEM programs. PLTW implementation began in most of the CKCA elementary schools last school year, 2014-2015. The 5 secondary schools (ʻEwa Makai Middle, ʻIlima Intermediate, Kapolei Middle, Kapolei High, and Campbell High) started PLTW this school year and will continue to add more courses into the various pathways: Engineering, Biomedical Science and Computer Science. All 17 CKCA schools will be implementing PLTW next school year.

The Learning Coalition has provided a grant that will fund collaboration among Pacific American Foundations’ Hawaii Institute of Knowledge and Innovation (HIKI), Project Lead the Way (PLTW), and the CKCA schools. The project will cultivate a culture-based context and inspire innovative practices that meet the evolving needs of students and teachers. The PLTW/HIKI Project will be lead by Herb Lee Jr. (PAF Executive Director), Kapono Ciotti (HIKI Director), Project Director Lynn Fujioka (HI FusionED), and Cheryl Lupenui (The Leader Project). The project will focus on creating resources to supplement the PLTW curriculum so that our 21st century students can connect to the ‘āina and build relationships with the communities and places in which they live as they work on their PLTW activities and projects.

I am very excited about the PLTW/HIKI project and look forward to our partnership with Shad Kane. I visited Kalaeloa Heritage Park three times so far and there is always something new to see, to hear and to learn. Look at the image below on the left: what do you see? What story is behind and within those ti leaves? I would have thought that it was just another bunch of ti leaves if I didn’t listen to Shad’s telling of its significance. Look at the image below on the right: What do I see? Thatʻs me with Shad Kane after my first tour of the area on September 16, 2015 ~ words can not adequately describe just how excited and connected I felt or how proud I was to stand amongst the remaining sites of the ancient Hawaiians and to know that I was with someone who knows and is sharing the moʻolelo.


I’m looking forward to learning more about Kalaeloa Heritage Park and other historic places in the community that are so rich in culture and full of moʻolelo waiting to be told. Mahalo nui, Shad, for all the work you’re doing to connect us to the past, present and future of Hawaiʻi by preserving the historical sites of Kalaeloa Heritage Park and the moʻolelo of Hawaiʻi.

ʻAʻohe pau ka ‘ike i ka hālau ho‘okahi.
All knowledge is not learned in just one school.
[One can learn from many sources.]

Please feel free to contact me at (808) 689-9808 or if you have any questions about the HIKI/PLTW Project or STEM. Go to HIDOE STEM to learn more about STEM in our public schools in Hawaiʻi.


Pu‘uokapolei Hula Mound & Bill 9

On Wednesday, February 17 Kumu Hula Mikiala Lidstone and halau member Makanani Anuhealii of Halau ‘O Kaululauae and Lance C. Holden, President of the ‘Ahahui Siwila Hawai‘i O Kapolei and ‘Ahahui member Shad Kane were recognized at a Honolulu City Council meeting at Kapolei Hale for their extraordinary work in the construction, care and maintenance of the Pu’uokapolei Heiau site and Hula Mound within the Kapolei Regional Park.

The resolution for recognition was submitted by City Council Member Kymberly Pine. In addition, Council Member Pine introduced Bill 9 to establish an ordinance relating to cultural sites in Public Parks throughout the City and County of Honolulu. The purpose of this ordinance is to establish a program within the Department of Parks and Recreation for the designation of sites of cultural value located in city parks. ‘Ahahui Siwila Hawai‘i O Kapolei won support as part of the former Mayor Jeremy Harris Vision Team Project to construct a hula mound in the Kapolei Regional Park.

In 2002 plans were prepared for the construction of the hula mound under the supervision of the City Department of Design and Construction. The civil work was done by RM Towill Corporation, landscaping by Hawaii Design Associates, Inc, architectural drawings by Architects Pacific, Inc, and all the electrical work by Leung and Pang Associates, Inc. Architects Pacific designed the hula mound in consultation with Ahahui members, Kumu Hula John Kaimikaua and Shad Kane.

The coral used in the construction for the hula mound was donated by the Navy and came from Kalaeloa. This secures the mauka-makai relationship along the lines of the passing of water and that of the relationship between Kane and Kapo at the western gate of the setting sun. It was designed in keeping with the hula traditions of the goddess of hula, Kapo, who is referred to in traditions as the “lady in the faded garment standing at Pu’uokapolei”. It is designed with 2 mounds, one for hula and one for general public use. It is also designed and aligned with the setting sun at the time of the summer solstice when the “sun sets over Pu’uokapolei in the mahinaona when observed from the Opunaha Kuahu” in Waikiki.

This recognition by the City Council and Council Member Kymberly Pine culturally represents the passing of the kuleana of the Pu’uokapolei Hula Mound to Kumu Hula Mikiala Lidstone and Halau ‘O Kaululauae with future assistance by the ‘Ahahui Siwila Hawai‘i ‘O Kapolei.



Kapolei Middle & High School – Hawaiian Studies Site Tour

On December 7, 2015 Kapolei Middle and High School students from Kumu Hula and teacher Mikiala Lidstone’s Hawaiian Studies Class visited the Kalaeloa Heritage Park. KHLF Director and docent Shad Kane shared with them the history of the closure of the Barbers Point Naval Air Station and the cultural history of the park. They were given a site tour of a complex of cultural structures that include house sites, agricultural, water and burial sinkhole features. Perhaps one of the interesting features was the Kualaka’i Trail that once extended from the shoreline community of Kualaka’i for 4 miles to Palehua and West Loch known anciently as Kaihuopala’ai. It is an ancient trail paved in coral with upright stones every 8 to 10 feet. Although the trail at one time extended a distance today all that is left is approximately 300 yards within the park. At the end of the day the students extended their appreciation in the performance of several hula as makana.


West O‘ahu Vet Center

The West Oahu Vet Center is part of the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system. They provide free and confidential readjustment counseling services to veterans, active duty members, and family members. Check them out in Kapolei. West Oahu Vet Center has partnered with the Kalaeloa Heritage Park to provide cultural education and volunteer opportunities for veterans. Keep posted for upcoming events and workdays. The Vet Center will be bringing various groups of veterans to explore the park.


We would like to acknowledge the volunteer work of veterans Tommy Scott, Gary Cera and Travis Schmidt. They have been volunteering their time into helping out with basic functions of the park. One thing they have been doing is providing educational tours to clients and community partners of the West Oahu Vet Center. This gives local residents and veterans a chance to learn about this historical site and reflect on the story of the land. They also have been watering the native/ indigenous plants and animals of the park. Other work they have done are controlling weeds, and providing security checks to keep the park safe and secure. Tommy often says doing these duties are “therapeutic and calming.”


Article Contributor,

Travis Schmidt, Case Manager

West Oahu Vet Center


Native Plants at KHP: Wiliwili

Name: Wiliwili

Latin: Erythrina sandwicensis

Description: An endemic dry forest tree that grows up to 45 feet in height, and is found on all the main Hawaiian Islands (Wagner et al. 1999). The tree flowers during the late summer to early fall. Flowers develop into pods containing orange, red or yellow beanlike seeds (Culliney & Koebele 1999).

Best Growing Conditions: Full sun; water once a week until established, and then only during drought (Lilleeng-Rosenberger 2005).

Interesting Facts: Hawaiians used the light wood to make surfboards, fishnet floats and canoe parts. The seeds are often collected and strung into lei (Abbott 1992). Several introduced non-Hawaiian relatives with similarly-shaped (but different colored) seeds are often incorrectly called wiliwili (Neal 1965). There is an old Hawaiian proverb, “When the wiliwili tree blooms, the sharks bite” (Pukui 1983). More information about wiliwili can be found at:


Text & photograph by Bruce P Koebele

Kalaeloa Heritage Park & Townscape, Inc.

By: Gabrielle Sham, Staff Planner

Townscape, Inc.


Kalaeloa Heritage Park

In 2014, our company Townscape, Inc., a local community and environmental planning company, had the privilege to work with members of the Kalaeloa Heritage and Legacy Foundation (KHLF) and the Hawaii Community Development Authority to develop a conceptual plan for a 77-acre living historical park—now being restored and managed as the Kalaeloa Heritage Park. The heritage park contains significant cultural and natural resources unique to the Ewa plain, including the majority of undisturbed cultural sites remaining within Kalaeloa.

I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit such a special place, so rich in cultural history. While working with members of the KHLF to develop this conceptual plan, one of the experiences that I will always remember is when someone shared how the moʻolelo they learned from dancing hula as a child finally made sense after visiting the heritage park—“they were no longer myths, but stories supported by evidence seen at the heritage park.” I have been fortunate enough to have visited the heritage park several times with Uncle Shad and listen to him as he shares moʻolelo associated with this place. And just as the community has shared, I have been extremely fascinated to hear those stories and to then see the physical evidence of it at the heritage park. I learn something new every time at the heritage park. It is something that you cannot experience or learn by sitting inside a classroom.

Of the 77 acres, only five acres was proposed for the development of facilities to support the heritage park, as the layout focused on minimizing disturbance of the site and building on previously disturbed areas. The conceptual plan features a cultural center that will serve as the gathering place prior to visitors entering into the interpretative park area where the existing kauhale, agricultural sinkholes, temporary and permanent habitation structures and an ancient trail are located. The cultural center would provide space for a ticketing area, cultural demonstrations and entertainment, workshop rooms to support cultural and educational activities, a kitchen and dining area, and an education center for future partnerships with schools and college programs. The conceptual plan also includes a caretaker home to provide for live-in surveillance to protect the park’s resources; a greenhouse to provide space for an aquaponics system that would contribute to the proposed weekly, onsite farmers’ market; and maintenance shed with a fence-secured area to store and secure equipment used to maintain the park.

Many volunteers have contributed endless hours to help restore and maintain the interpretative park area. In the long-term, future projects at the heritage park are anticipated to generate enough revenue to sustain operating costs. While some of the smaller improvements, such as the rest shelters and trail maintenance, can be completed with donated supplies, larger grants and fundraising will be needed to carry out the vision for this special place. Considering the many educational opportunities regarding stewardship and preservation of native Hawaiian cultural sites, and cultural traditions and practices that this heritage park has to offer and can provide to our youth, there is no doubt that it is worth the investment. I truly believe there is value in what this heritage park is trying to accomplish and I hope that others have the opportunity to experience this unique and special place.

KHP Concept Visitor Cntr

Kua’ana Students – University of Hawaii

The Kua’ana Student Services Program of the University of Hawaii, whose Director is Ms. Ku’umealoha Gomes, was established on October of 1988 on recommendation of the Hawaiian Studies Task Force in the Ka’u Report of 1986. It was to address the under representation of students of Native Hawaiian ancestry. Since 1988, Kuaʻana has served thousands of Hawaiian students with academic support student services that include need-based tuition waivers, malama aina activites, an annual financial aid fair to allow students to interact face to face with financial aid, tuition waiver and scholarship resources on and off the Manoa campus.  In addition, students may visit the Kuaʻana office to speak with staff about academic related concerns. Kuaʻana also forwards to the Hawaiian students information on the availability of jobs, internship, and scholarships.

One example of Kua’ana’s malama aina activities was a recent visit by Kua’ana students to the Kalaeloa Heritage Park within the former Barbers Point Naval Air Station.  They were provided with a history of how the park came to be as part of the closure of the Barbers Point NAS, conveyance to the State of Hawaii Community Development Authority and lease to the private non-profit Kalaeloa Heritage and Legacy Foundation. They were shared the cultural history of the heritage park and a place once known as Kualaka’i. The students were provided with a guided site tour of the park and its many archaeological sites of Tahitian/Hawaiian origin. They finished the day by re-mulching the interpretive trail. Mahalo to Kua’ana.


Kapolei Ancient Place Names Workshop

I find it interesting that today many of us still think of ‘Ewa and the Kapolei area in terms of its plantation history. However prior to sugar, prior to cattle, before there was a military presence in ‘Ewa,, before an industrial park, a resort and the new city of Kapolei there once existed a cultural landscape that extended from above the top of Makakilo to the shoreline of what was once the Barbers Point Naval Air Station.

Perhaps we should dwell on what life was once like in this new city named after the “Lei of Kapo”. Its name comes from a little known hill as inconspicuous as one might think of it. Few of us even see it in our daily drives to and from work. It becomes even more extraordinary when we come to realize how significant a role it played in the history of these islands.

When Kuali`i took control of Oahu in the 18nth century he had a mele inoa written for him which described Oahu`s ancient place names. Pu`uokapolei was the first name mentioned in the mele inoa and identified as the place where games were played and champions were crowned.

In 1930, Bishop Museum Archaeologist J. Gilbert McAllister acknowledged several reasons why Pu`uokapolei is the most sacred and important place in the Ahupua`a of Honouliuli: it was the location of the region`s largest heiau; it was a primary marker on the journey to Waianae; it was a place of solar observation and believed by some as one of Oahu`s leaping places into the spiritual afterlife. It was also the home of Kamaunuaniho who was the grandmother of Kamapua`a and the mother of Hina.

Pu`u o Kapolei was also used to determine the seasons: the sun setting over it when viewed from the Opunaha Kuahu near what is now the Waikiki Aquarium marked the end of the rainy, planting season (Ho`oilo) and the beginning of the hot, dry season (Makali`i). Every year, the Waikiki Aquarium celebrates the changing of the seasons with the setting of the sun over Pu`u o Kapolei.

Kapo is the sister of Hawaii`s famed Volcano Goddess, Pele, and former UH Professor Rubelite Kawena Johnson shares with us that perhaps Kapo`s lei was the wreath created by the sun over Pu`uokapolei at the time of the winter solstice. The light refracted creating a wreath of gold, yellow, orange and red, resembles the flowers or feathers of a finely crafted lei. This is perhaps the lei of Kapo – the place now known as Kapolei.

We extend an invitation to a free “Place Names Workshop” to be held at the Kalaeloa Heritage Park on Saturday, April 9 at 10 am. These are the ancient place names of those places today more commonly referred to as Makakilo, Honokai Hale, Ko Olina, Kalaeloa and ‘Ewa Beach.


Community Workdays

The last Saturday of every month will be a community workday at the Kalaeloa Heritage Park.  These workdays will be prior announced in our newsletter and will be highlighted periodically in an article.

January Community Workday

We had 15 people on this workday.  We mulched the back portion of the interpretive trail.  Amongst the volonteers were Rocky Naeole and Walter Kelekelio of the Royal Order Kapuaiwa Chapter, Tavia and Elray Santiago and some of their club members from the Kamaha’o Canoe Club and Boardmember Richard Storaasli.  (Not included in the photo is Joseph Ortiz and his son who left before we got everyone together for the photo.) Next week Saturday we have students from the University of Hawaii Kua’ana Student Services (tuition waiver Native Hawaiian students) and the Botany students from Leeward Community College and UHWO working in the park…..SK


Photo Credits: Tavia Santiago and Shad Kane