by Shad Kane and Sierra Gould
This article is the result of a request by a University of Hawaii West Oahu Student Sierra Gould. She participated in a UHWO Work ‘n Learn Botany Project facilitated by Dr. Bruce Koebele at the Kalaeloa Heritage Park on Saturday, February 11. It was a day that those of us who participated in it will not soon forget. For it was a day of rain under a flood alert. However, it did not deter Sierra and her fellow friends and fellow students.
Following is a transcript of her electronic interview:
Thank you so much for getting back to me. I am so interested on the cultural aspects of this site. I listed a few questions below but if there are more cultural and ritual aspects I should know about this site and is not answered in my questions, I would love to know! Thank you very much for your time, I really appreciate it.
- (Sierra) Is Kualaka’i a representation of a Tahitian site or Hawaiian site?
(Shad) It is both. It is Tahitian in origin with elements of Hawaiian subsequently added on. It is not as obvious in site 1753 as it is in other areas of the park. Tahitian architecture is manifested by the integration of upright stones on the outer and inner walls and filling the middle with rubble.
Hawaiian dry stacking is the taking of stones and laying them flat and locking them on subsequent rows. One could look at it in more modern terms when a child inheriting the home of their parents and subsequently adding on an addition. It may not be identical to the original architecture of their former home. Anthropologist and Writer Marion Kelley refers to ‘Ewa as the Celebrated lands of our Ancestors. She is referring to our Tahitian ancestors.
- (Sierra) Were there important rituals that occurred back then in the Kalaeloa Heritage park?
(Shad) There is a distinction that needs to be made clear before one speaks to rituals and protocols. Rituals makes reference to religious aspects of cultural prayer. Protocols makes reference to all manner of interactions. It is rooted in a subsistence lifestyle of families living in isolation along the path of water. It was a relationship between people living along the path of water supported by different resources due to the elevation and nutrient level at that elevation. Anciently people living at different elevations could only grow different food resources and la’au dependent on the nutrient level at that elevation and the mingling and concentration of salt(Kanaloa) and fresh (Kane) water. This manner of subsistence mandated bartering in exchange of food resources. The people of the mountains brought their banana to barter in exchange for salt fish from those who lived along the ocean. This required a relationship and manner of interaction between these people living in isolation apart of other families along the path of water. This is the origin of the oli or kahea or where one would announce one’s presence, who they were and where they were from and would want permission to either pass by safely or come and sit as friends.
Rituals makes reference to the manner in which prayer was asserted and the implements of those prayers. Ti leaf was used as a means of protection. To keep evil at a distance especially in times of prayer. Pa’akai was used to sanctify, to make clean, remove evil from an occasion, celebration, place of prayer and strengthen relationships between all people and all aspect of the real world. Rituals however did vary depending on whether it was subsistence such as the world of the farmer, fisherman and gather to that of one of governance. The world governance was the world of the chiefs and heiau. The Kalaeloa Heritage Park was a place of subsistence. The world of the farmer, the fisherman and the gather. Prayers and rituals were facilitated in the manner of subsistence by the most elder person within the family or Ohana structure. Not by a Kahuna or Chief.
Rituals and protocol defined all aspects of our ancestors’ world as well as within the area we refer to today as the Kalaeloa Heritage Park.
- (Sierra) Are there rituals that your workers still follow to this day?
(Shad) Yes. Generally, we do just an opening pule or oli and leave a closing to the individual as volunteers leave at different times after volunteer work. We did not do it on the day your group was at the park and just gathered in the kauhale because of the rain.
- (Sierra) What are some Hawaiian culture activities that occur in your work?
(Shad) Those of us at the park see ourselves as practitioners of the culture. Some of us are feather workers, some are hale builders, some la’au or plant gathers, others woodworkers and stone workers, kalai pohaku and other practices. On occasions we have workshops for those who have an interest. We in addition organize makahiki in other places on the island of O’ahu.
- (Sierra) What is the merit of this field site as a locality for ethnographic inquiry?
(Shad) If my understanding of your question is correct I think I have already made references to ethnographic and anthropology value associated with the Kalaeloa Heritage Park in terms of Tahitian migrations and the unique cultural value of the park in terms of a learning center.
- (Sierra) Lastly, I know you explained some of the history that is incorporated into this site but is there any other history or anything cultural that is important for Kalaeloa Heritage Park.
(Shad) What makes the Kalaeloa Heritage Park unique in other aspects is it is not just a Hawaiian history of early settlement on an island but many histories. It is a military history in the manner our country was expecting an amphibious landing by Japan after December 7, 1941 at the area we are referring to as the Kalaeloa Heritage Park. Concrete machine gun bunkers and trenches built in the same manner as World War I trench warfare in eastern Europe can be found within the park. There are walls constructed by the military within the park to drive an amphibious assault in the direction of machine gun fire. Prior to that history is a history associated with the cattle era by the presence of barb wire post and barb wire throughout the park. Prior to cattle was Sisal farming within the park to support the demand of ropes for ships passing through these islands to support a growing market in China for sandalwood which also came from the Waianae Mountains. Salt production is also reference during monarchy period to supply salt for the numerous ships passing through these waters to preserve beef for shipboard consumption.