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Fraudulent Ahupua'a -- The Use of Cultural and Environmental Restoration as a Political Front for Hawaiian Sovereignty -- The Ahupua’a Restoration Council of He’eia (ARCH)



(c) Copyright 2001 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved


What follows is the story of a project in Kane'ohe/Kahalu'u that started out looking like a grass-roots community effort to restore the environment in keeping with Hawaiian cultural values, but gradually revealed itself to be a Hawaiian sovereignty front organization. The project organization has gone through various names in two years of its history, but as of May 2001 it is officially named: The Ahupua’a Restoration Council of He’e’ia (acronym ARCH)

At first it seemed people would be asked to combine their efforts to restore the land to flourishing productivity and beauty. But in the end it turned into an organization to promote taro farming and fish-farming as vehicles for likely future filing of lawsuits for water rights and gathering rights for so-called Native Hawaiians.

Early in the project "sustainable agriculture" was the buzzword. But when it was pointed out that rice had been successfully grown in this area and would be as sustainable as taro and more appealing as a food to most modern residents, the group leaders made it clear that they had no interest in rice (or fruit or flowers) -- the only two crops to receive serious attention were taro and fish. That’s because taro and fish were the primary foods of Native Hawaiians and had great cultural significance to them, whereas rice was a foreign import of concern primarily to people of Asian ancestry. It is also because one of the group leaders has been the caretaker of the He’eia fishpond for about ten years, while the other group leader has taro patches in a traditional land kuleana. The project is inclusive in the sense that people of all races will be asked to contribute time, money, and lots of hard work. The project is also inclusive in the sense that there might be some token non-Hawaiian members of the 17-member Board of Directors, although any such non-Hawaiian Directors will be required under the by-laws to be strong supporters of Hawaiian sovereignty who will be constantly scrutinized for loyalty.

In recent years the Hawaiian sovereignty movement and various environmental activist groups have found areas of common interest, where they work together on projects of mutual concern. One example is opposition to the Army's use of Makua valley for training. Environmental activists demand an EIS because of concern for toxic waste and destruction of endangered species. Sovereignty activists demand an environmental impact statement as a way of protecting sacred sites but mostly as a way of harrassing the Army because they want to see the U.S. military pull out of Hawai'i as a prelude to ripping the 50th star off the flag. For details about the abuse of cultural and environmental claims primarily as a vehicle to assert political power by Hawaiian sovereignty activists regarding Makua, see:
http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/makua.html

Collaboration on environmental issues seems very natural, because one of the fundamental commitments of Hawaiian culture is "malama 'aina" -- caring for the land (and sea and entire environment). Indeed, an 'olelo no'eau (clever saying, or proverb) is: "He ali'i ka 'aina, he kauwa ke kanaka" (the land is chief; people are its servants). The idea is that the land is like a parent and people are its children. People owe loyalty and caretaking to the land; and in return the land will take care of and feed the people. This relationship is seen in the word itself: "'aina" means "that which feeds." Gods are present in the land and in all of its components and processes, both animate and inanimate. Before the arrival of Christianity, prayers were offered and rituals were followed at every stage of planting, cultivating, harvesting, consuming. Modern-day Hawaiians who try to reinvent themselves as "traditional practitioners" study the prayers and chants written down during the 1800s, or invent new ones.

The problem with collaboration between sovereignty activists and environmentalists is: Who is in charge? And of course since sovereignty is all about political control, the answer must always be that sovereignty activists must be in charge of any collaborative efforts. Money, land, and power are the main goals of the sovereignty activists.

This webpage will describe one attempted collaboration, and will show key provisions from the by-laws of the resulting tax-exempt organization that make it clear who is in charge. It is not democratic, does not represent the community, but claims to speak on behalf of the community on environmental issues. The organization envisions itself as the overarching authority to coordinate all other governmental and private organizations within the ahupua'a regarding any environmental impacts, and especially regarding allocation of water.

In pre-contact times, ruling chiefs and konohiki (their land agents) had absolute power to allocate resources, to give land to families or take it away, and to command the unpaid labor of the tenants. But in a modern democracy, it is much more difficult to coordinate everything -- the informed consent of free individuals must be obtained. Hawaiian sovereignty activists think Hawaiians should control the coordination of resources, through an autocratic process that looks democratic because it appears to make decisions by consensus (i.e., group pressure).

The traditional unit of Hawaiian land management is the ahupua'a. Islands are characterized by having mountains in the middle and valleys radiating out from a central point or ridge. Thus a natural way to divide land among people is the ahupua'a: a wedge-shaped piece of land that begins at the mountain, and contains all the land from the mountain to the sea in a valley between two ridgelines (plus the ocean out to the reef). Ahupua'a means "pig altar" and derives from the fact that at the boundary between two ahupua'a there was an altar on which pigs (and perhaps other food) sacrificed to the gods would be placed at the beginning of the harvest season, so that a high-chief or king could make a tour around the island and collect tribute from each ahupua'a. Each ahupua'a contains at least one major stream and its tributaries. Thus, the ahupua'a is the Hawaiian version of the watershed district. But it is much more than that.

Prior to the arrival of Captain Cook, the ahupua'a was a complete self-contained system of integrated resource management including water, plants, animals, people, and gods. The ruling chief would divide an ahupua'a into slivers of land from mountain to sea, or into parcels. Each sliver or parcel would be awarded to a favored sub-chief or commoner, who might then further subdivide it. Sometimes an award of land to a particular individual or family would consist of two or more parcels, one in the uplands and one in the lowlands (different food crops and cultural resources were available at different altitudes). As the stream flowed from mountain to sea, small channels of water would be dug to divert the water into taro patches arranged in terraces, so there was a constant flow of cool water which picked up nutrients on the way to the ocean. Then at the shore there would be a fishpond, constructed with rocks arranged to wall-off a portion of the ocean to contain fish. The nutrient-rich water would attract small fish and make them grow fat, so they could no longer escape through the lattice-work gates and could be caught as needed.

In modern times the integrated system of land management has broken down, partly because of individual fee-simple ownership of land, democratic decision-making, and loss of awareness of spirituality. Those who feel a special bond with the land would like to restore the ahupua'a system, but very few people are confident of their ability to hear the land speaking. The question is: How can we be sure we are doing the right thing when we make decisions? The answer advocated by sovereignty activists: consult the people who have lived in close contact with the land for many generations. Someone born in the ahupua'a, whose grandparents and great-great-great grandparents were also born and raised in the ahupua'a, can hear the land speaking. Since land is primary and people are secondary, we must ask permission from the land before beginning any major environmental projects. And since most people today do not regularly speak and listen to the land, we must rely upon "indigenous" people whose families have lived on the land for many generations, to listen to the land and to seek its approval for our projects. That's why Native Hawaiians, in consultation with their kupuna (elders), claim they are entitled to make the decisions in environmental projects.

However, this theory has major difficulties which the sovereignty activists are unwilling to acknowledge.

The most fundamental problem on the spiritual side is that the ability to communicate with the land is not physical, but spiritual. Thus, it has nothing to do with genetics, race, or length of a family's residence. The land has been here for millions of years but people have been here for less than two thousand years. The land speaks, whether or not people can hear. The land is primary, and people are secondary. It doesn't matter whether someone is young or old, male or female, Hawaiian or Filipino, or how long he and his family have been present here. All that matters is whether he can hear the spirits of the land. All humans are indigenous people of Earth. Some are better at hearing the spirits than others, but that is not determined by race.

The most fundamental problem on the practical side is that today we have a democratic political system based on equal rights. Even if someone believes that only ethnic Hawaiians whose families have lived in an ahupua'a for 6 generations can hear the land speak, such a belief cannot determine public policy without the consent of a majority of community members. It would be unacceptable to set up a decision-making system which automatically awards power to people based on race (or ancestry or geneology or multi-generation residence or any other synonym). Consultation with kupa 'aina (Native Hawaiian or 6-generation residents) can certainly be made a requirement within a democratic process, but final decisions must be made democratically by a group that is freely elected by secret ballot offered to all the people who will be affected by the outcome. Kupa’aina can be advisors, but must not be decision-makers unless freely elected.

Decisions by consensus may make it easier to keep things moving, but when there is an important decision it must be made by secret ballot vote to avoid the intimidation that some people feel about speaking out in public in a group where there are longstanding on-going relationships (some of which may be grossly unequal in power differential). It is interesting that sovereignty activists often assert that decision by consensus is "the Hawaiian way." But the contrary is true. Prior to Captain Cook's arrival, the local King was all-powerful, the ali'i (chiefs) under him had different levels of authority rigidly prescribed by custom and geneology or by the King; and the maka'ainana (commoners) had very little power. There were no elections. Chiefs from neighboring ahupua'a or different islands would constantly make war because they could not reach consensus. Sometimes a chief would ask subordinates for advice, and prolonged discussions might ensue, but it was always clearly understood that the decision would be made by the chief whether or not the subordinates agreed. Even after Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III proclaimed the Kingdom's first Constitution in 1840, the monarch continued to hold nearly absolute power. Subsequent Kings simply proclaimed a new Constitution when they wanted to. Even in 1893, Queen Lili'uokalani announced she would unilateraly proclaim a new Constitution, which is one of the main reasons she was overthrown. The level of violence in today's ethnic Hawaiian families (cited by Hawaiians themselves as a corroboration of their victimhood status) suggests that family decisions are often made by force or intimidation rather than truly voluntary consensus. The Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and also the Trustees of Bishop Estate, have been the focus of public ridicule for many years because of their inability to be civil toward each other, let alone reach consensus. Nevertheless, Article VI Section 1 of the ARCH by-laws says, "The preferred method for decision-making in this organization shall be that of Consensus, a process that is in keeping with the traditional values of the ancient people of the Ahupua'a of He'e'ia, and one that must be attempted in good faith by all members to reach a successful outcome."

Here is one very minor illustration of how consensus actually operated in practice at an ARCH meeting. The name of this particular ahupua'a for centuries has been Heeia. Before the arrival of the missionaries there was no written language, and even when a written language was created, it did not usually make use of the modern-day 'okina (glottal-stop marker). People knew how to pronounce words without needing diacritical marks for clues. In modern times, when people learn Hawaiian primarily through reading rather than through hearing the language spoken while growing up, it was necessary to invent the glottal-stop marker to help people unfamiliar with a word pronounce it correctly. Thus, the name of this ahupua'a has come to be known as He'eia. The name has never been spelled with two 'okina until the two leaders of the restoration project decided to start writing it as "He'e'ia." The issue was discussed briefly at one "community" monthly meeting attended by about 10 people, and several people present said they felt uncomfortable re-naming the ahupua'a. But the two leaders explained that they decided to use the second 'okina for two reasons: (1) it corresponds with the use of the "'ia" suffix as a particle which marks passive voice for an action which has taken place (slipped or slid away; perhaps a significant landslide took place here); (2) it stresses that the purpose the organization is to respond to the sliding away of Hawaiian culture and sovereignty. The issue was never put to a vote, and the discussion moved on to another topic. Changing the name of an ahupua'a should not be taken lightly, and shows disrespect for a thousand years of tradition and for the oral history pronunciation of living kupuna. The "consensus" on this spelling was reached by two group leaders who explained their theory, listened to a few timid objections, and then moved on to further items in a crowded agenda.

The name of the organization is Ahupua'a Restoration Council of He'e'ia (ARCH) chosen in a few minutes after two years of using other names, because of the acronym's implication of a rainbow, and of the organization's intention to be the over-arching decision-maker in the ahupua'a on issues of land and water management. The decision was precipitated by an urgent need to have a formal name for the purpose of writing by-laws to create a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt non-profit corporation. Failure to produce a permanent name and set of by-laws would result in the inability of the group to obtain continued funding; most notably, money to pay the two group leaders.

One reason for forming the corporation is to lend legitimacy to its work. Another reason is to have a means of accepting donations and providing liability insurance. Another reason is to be constituted as a legally recognized entity which will have standing to file lawsuits over water and gathering rights.

What follows are verbatim portions of the by-laws as proposed in early May, 2001, with comments. Then an article by Honolulu Advertiser writer Bob Krauss will be provided, as an example of what a beautiful concept is being offered to the public in the ARCH project.

Article II, Section 1: The name of this Corporation shall be "The Ahupua'a Restoration Council of Hawai'i" (d.b.a. "The Ahupua'a Restoration Council of He'eia")

Comment: There is a Hawaiian sovereignty front organization known as the Ahupua'a Action Alliance which has been active on environmental issues for several years, including opposing the Army's training in Makua, opposing the building of a visitor's center at Hanauma, and helping with political and practical activity related to taro-patch and fishpond restoration in Kahana. The official name above suggests that the local dba name is subordinate to a statewide organization. The organization ARCH (Ahupua'a Restoration Council of He'e'ia) has had the active participation over a two year period of such sovereignty notables as Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa, David Stannard, Haunani-Kay Trask, Keali'i Gora, Marion Kelly, Steve Kubota, Lono Correa. The first 4 people rarely attend meetings now but were active at the beginning and are residents of He'eia; the last three people are not residents of He'eia but come regularly to nearly all meetings to shape the decision-making process. Kubota and Correa wrote the bylaws (see below) on advice of consultants with the Ahupua'a Action Aliance and other sovereignty organizations. The extensive control and direction of ARCH policy by activist non-residents of the ahupua'a shows that ARCH is seen as a "demonstration project" and is a sovereignty front organization serving a larger agenda controlled by outsiders. The racially-exclusionary Kamehameha Schools (Bishop Estate) owns one of the most important parcels of land in any restoration effort (the He'eia fishpond), and the University of Hawai'i Center for Hawaiian Studies, dominated by sovereignty activists, has been using the fishpond to teach a course under the guidance of Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa on historical, cultural, practical, and political issues in fishpond management.

Article I: Purpose: Section 1. Mission. We, the people of the Ahupua'a of He'e'ia, and the people of na Moku o Hawai'i who have aloha for He'e'ia, have gathered together to organize and to form this community corporation for the following purpose: Our mission is to preserve, protect, and restore the natural, cultural, ecological and spiritual integrity of the Ahupua'a of He'e'ia for present and future generations of human beings, and for all other indigenous life forms

Article I Section 2: Kino Lau: In carrying out our mission of restoration we recognize the great importance of the Hawaiian concept of Kino Lau. For the purpose of these bylaws, Kino Lau is defined as the Hawaiian concept and belief that spiritual forces may take many different forms, and are present in all things.

Comment: Section 1 might be interpreted to mean that only "indigenous" people are important, in view of the word "other" in the final clause. However, a later “corrected” version of the by-laws removed the word “indigenous.” Section 2 imposes the Hawaiian concept of Kino Lau as a religious belief which must be endorsed by every member of this organization; thus, secular humanists or fundamentalist Christians who are environmental activists might feel like "second class citizens" of this group. The words “are present” were replaced by the words “may be present” in a later draft of the by-laws, possibly in response to the exposure of the by-laws language on this website.

Article V: Membership: Section 3. Regular Membership/Duties/Member in Good Standing: Subsection (d) Cause no harm: A Regular or Associate member must not cause harm to this organization by participating in actions or by engaging in the spread of misinformation that brings ill-repute to this organization; and a member shall not engage in any action or activity that impedes this organization in the fullfilment of its mission as stated in Article I of these Bylaws. Section 4. Associate Membership .....[dues and limitations listed] ... (6) notwithstanding any of the above, all Associate members shall be obligated by Section 3, Subsection (d) of this Article.

Comment: This is a gag rule, plain and simple. Its purpose is to prevent members from speaking or writing in opposition to the official actions or views of this organization. Most members of this organization are political liberals or even radicals, who jealously guard their right to free speech and protest. Elderly members in bygone years fought against loyalty oaths required of teachers or university professors. They oppose the Asian Development Bank and feel the police should not have the right to stop them from carrying picket signs, giving speeches, or harrassing ADB participants on the way to meetings. They think it was OK for Jane Fonda to go to North Vietnam to oppose U.S. policy, even while American soldiers were dying on the battlefield. But these same "liberals" cannot tolerate dissent against their own policies when they are in charge. If I were a member of this group in good standing before writing this webpage, I would no longer be allowed to remain. Also, a later portion of the bylaws makes it clear that the only people with an automatic right to speak at "open" meetings are Regular members in good standing.

Article VIII Section 1: Trusteeship: The Board shall act as trustees for the beneficiaries of the vested public trusts of the Ahupua'a of He'e'ia and shall be bound in all matters by the purposes of this organization as set forth in Article 1, Sections 1 and 2.

Comment: Delusion of grandeur! ARCH sees itself as trustees for all the people of He'eia regarding all the public trusts (including ceded lands and water supply). ARCH is asserting that it represents all the people of He'eia and that it has supremacy over the way all other public trusts operate in He'eia.

Article IX Board of Directors -- Composition

Section 1: Representation and Membership Categories: The Board of Directors shall be constituted in the following manner: Of the 17 voting members, 7 positions shall be filled by skilled traditional practitioners or by kupa'aina of the Ahupua'a of He'e'ia because, by the inclusion of skilled traditional practitioners and the kupa'aina of the ahupua'a, the ability of this organization to fulfilll its mission will be greatly enhanced. 7 positions shall be filled by residents of the ili (districts) of He'e'ia. 3 positions shall be filled at-large by members elected from among the Regular membership of the Council.

Comment: 10 out of 17 Directors can live outside He'eia; indeed, 10 out of 17 could theoretically live outside the island of O'ahu. Furthermore, as will be seen below, at least 7 of the Directors are guaranteed to be racially-defined Hawaiians (and of course all 17 might be Hawaiians). Also, the 7 ili residents must each be residents of the ili they represent, but are elected by the entire membership. Thus, the one Director who actually lives in the ili he represents might have views favored by other ili but detrimental to his own ili. This system of ili representatives being residents of their ili but voted on by the entire membership is exactly like the voting scheme in OHA (Office of Hawaiian Affairs) where the Trustee representing a small island like Kaua'i or Moloka'i must be a resident of his island but is elected by all citizens of Hawai'i, including the vast majority who do not live on that island.

Section 3: 'Ili Representation: Each ili shall be represented on the Board by two members. One seat shall be reserved for a person who is a skilled traditional practitioner in the Ahupua'a of He'e'ia of the traditional arts, crafts and sciences of pre-western contact He'e'ia, or by a person who is kupa'aina of He'e'ia. The second seat shall be reserved for a person who is a current resident of the ili that person will represent.

Comment: The definitions of skilled traditional practitioner and kupa'aina are provided in subsections a and b below. The net effect is that 10 out of 17 Directors could live outside He'eia or even outside O'ahu; at least 7 out of 17 Directors must be racially Hawaiian and all 17 might be; and for any particular one of the 7 ili, only one out of 17 Directors must actually live in that ili but even that one Director is elected by the vote of the entire population, most of whom live outside that ili. Thus, there is virtually zero democratic accountability.

Section 3 Subsection (a): Skilled Traditional Practitioner: For the purposes of these Bylaws a skilled traditional practitioner is defined as a person who has a deep commitment to and a demonstrated history of practicing the traditional arts, crafts, sciences, and/or the cultural and spiritual values of the ancient people of the Ahupua'a of He'e'ia, who is acknowledged by their peers in the community as highly skilled in their field or fields, and who is willing to share their knowledge and skills to assist this organization in the fulfillment of its mission.

Section 3 Subsection (b) Kupa 'Aina: For the purposes of these Bylaws a kupa 'aina is defined as a person of indigenous ancestry who was born in the Ahupua'a of He'e'ia and is, therefore, a "native of the land"; or, a person of indigenous ancestry who, although born and/or living elsewhere, is connected to the ahu[ua'a by many generations of ohana living on the land, as evidenced by the location of ancestral na iwi (bones) within the ahupua'a, and who identifies the Ahupua'a of He'e'ia as the location of that person's na'au (feelings) and pu'uwai (heart).

Further comment: Not only are 7 of the 17 Directors absolutely required to be racially Hawaiian, but the 7 Directors who represent the 7 ili and are actually required to be residents of the ili they represent, are required to do "affirmative action" outreach to invite and solicit the active participation in ili meetings by racially-defined Hawaiians who can live anywhere in He'eia, O'ahu, or indeed anywhere in Hawai'i. Thus, even the one Director who actually resides in an ili is separated from accountability to his ili residents not only by being elected by all ARCH members from throughout all of Hawai'i, but also by being forced to reach "consensus" with the racially-defined Hawaiian "traditional practitioners" and "kupa'aina" from throughout Hawai'i whom he is obligated to invite to ili meetings. The following language of Article XII, Section 3 makes this clear (bearing in mind the definition previously given): "It shall be the responsibility of a Board member who represents an ili to facilitate and sustain an ili Committee consisting of residents within an ili, including, as much as possible, the support of the skilled traditional practitioners and kupa'aina of the ahupua'a. [remember that kupa'aina of He'eia must be racially Hawaiians and can include anyone living anywhere in Hawai'i who feels a special connection to He'eia]. .... The Chairperson of an ili Committee shall be the Board member who is the resident representative of a respective ili.

It should be noted that there is nothing inherently wrong with this organization as a private club. The Elks Club can set the requirements for its members, establish its own election procedures, and throw people out of the club for publicly disagreeing with club policy (although in recent years there are restrictions on even a private club's ability to exclude people based on race or gender). But such a private club must not be allowed to pose as being democratically representative of all the people. Under no circumstances should democratically elected neighborhood boards or homeowners' associations give permission to ARCH to speak on their behalf. Furthermore, it seems clear that this organization is primarily interested in asserting Hawaiian sovereignty claims to land, water, and power. It is using statements about malama 'aina (caring for the land) and spirituality as merely a political ploy rather than as its true primary focus.

An article by Honolulu Advertiser writer Bob Krauss very favorable to ARCH will be shown below. But first, a legal disclaimer: The word "fraud" is being used here not in any formal legal or financial sense, but in the customary informal political and moral meaning of "a deception deliberately practiced in order to secure unfair gain; a piece of trickery; a sham." In the case of the community organization ARCH, no allegations of financial or legal fraud are being made (although it might be seen as questionable that nearly all the money provided in a startup grant was used for salaries for the two group leaders, but this was made clear in a budget document briefly circulated at a public meeting and presumably given to the donor of the grant). Rather, the accusation concerns political and moral fraud, where well-meaning members and the community at large are led to believe the organization is focused on environmental restoration when in fact it is primarily seeking to stake claims for political power to use for hidden political purposes related to Hawaiian sovereignty.

Following is an article about ARCH written by Bob Krauss, published in the Honolulu Advertiser of April 18, 2001. Mr. Krauss is well known as a long-time staff writer for the Advertiser who writes "good news." His articles are almost always up-beat, celebratory, affirming the richness of our culture and multi-ethnic society. Thus it was a wise choice for the leaders of ARCH to ask him to write this puff-piece at a critical time when the leaders needed to show community support in order to obtain continued funding of their salaries. At the same time this article was published, the ARCH leaders were busily scurrying to meetings of neighborhood boards and homeowners associations to solicit letters of support. It was a well-orchestrated PR campaign.

Mr Krauss' article is reprinted here in its entirety, because it represents the extremely positive attitude toward ARCH that the project leaders hope to nurture throughout the community. By contrast, the analysis above seems scrooge-like: negative, critical, bah-humbug, perhaps angry. That's the way a fraud works: make people feel confident, cheerful, and even altruistic and magnanimous while manipulating the situation against the victims’ best interest in ways the victims are unaware of or are made to believe are unimportant. The innocent wealthy girl being taken for a ride by a skillful gigolo doesn’t want to know the truth, and lashes out at friends who try to warn her.

Mr. Krauss’ article describes an ideal sort of project, and he is to be praised for capturing how wonderful it could be. What prevents it from truly being that way are the race-based requirements for who has power in ARCH, and the use of ARCH as a front organization for Hawaiian sovereignty. Please read the article below, and then re-read the entire analysis above.

http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2001/Apr/18/ln/ln39abob.html

Posted on: Wednesday, April 18, 2001

Restoring a He'eia ahupua'a

By Bob Krauss

Advertiser Staff Writer

It's no accident that the Heeia Historical Society, a family affair, dreams big because families over in He'eia are expandable.

The society is not just one family but a whole community of them that started with a family reunion of the entire ahupua'a, the valley that stretches from mountains to the sea.

Now the dream has expanded to become a lesson for everybody in Hawai'i, and an invitation to be part of the family.

It's a powerful dream to reinvent an old Hawaiian ahupua'a in modern terms, like building an ancient voyaging canoe with modern materials.

Quite a few idealists, Hawaiian and otherwise, have dreamed this dream.

What adds tantalizing reality to this one is that by a long chain of circumstances the essential elements are still in place.

Only a fraction of the land is developed. He'eia stream still flows from the mountains to the sea. In the mountains, taro terraces remain, the irrigation system and the broad wetlands below. In the ocean, a fish pond is still there, enriched by the stream and the offshore reef.

People are the biggest concern of the chief dreamers: Donna Ono, president of the society, and Mary Brook, a marine biologist who operates the fish pond.

They agreed that "our biggest challenge is getting people in today's challenging times to see the value of working together on something bigger than themselves that has no immediate benefit to them personally but will increase the quality of the community."

Ono lives up the valley on the family plot where the late kahuna Sam Lono inspired his acolytes. She operates a janitorial service for a living and has planted several acres of taro on the old lo'i. She has taken over for her mother, Anita Kahanu Paoa Gouveia Heen, who launched the society.

Brook has lived at the fish pond for 12 years. She sells limu to subsist. Their dream of restoring the ahupua'a was born about two years ago when they met and realized that the mountains and the sea are incomplete without each other.

Brook's Ahupua'a Restoration Council of Heeia, open to all, joined forces with the Heeia Historical Society, a family affair. A wide assortment of people from government, education, business and the local community sit on the board.

Their first goal for the ahupua'a is a community-driven restoration plan with professional input, something that works and that people want. They see this as a life's work.

In the short term, they're appealing for volunteers to clean He'eia Stream. The number to call is 247-3027.

Said Brook: "When you go out on the pond at night and open up the gate, the mullet rush in, still responding to the tide as they did for the ancestors."

Ono added, "When you go up into the mountains and you chant, asking permission to enter, you speak to your 'aumakua and kupuna, and they answer."


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(c) Copyright 2001 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved


Email: ken_conklin@yahoo.com