(c) Copyright 2003 - 2010
Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.
All rights reserved
ESSAY-LENGTH BOOK REVIEW AND ANALYSIS OF:
Robert H. Stauffer
Kahana: How the Land Was Lost
Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, (c) 2004 (although available in bookstores and library in Fall 2003).
Hawaii Public Library call number H 333.31969 St
SUMMARY OF THE MOST INTERESTING ISSUES (DETAILED ANALYSIS COMES LATER)
Dear readers, I promise not to bore you right away. I'll give you dessert first, and then you may eat your vegetables afterward. But this book is quite a feast, so I hope you'll at least use your fork to push around some of those vegetables on your plate.
Dr. Robert H. Stauffer's book is a detailed study of land transfers in Kahana Valley, focusing on the period between 1850-1900.
BUT WAIT. Don't go to sleep yet. Dr. Stauffer's scholarly study is overlaid with a mind-boggling set of assumptions -- a Procrustean bed on which he strives mightily to stretch the data or chop off reasonable but contrary conclusions. A casual reader, or someone not familiar with Hawaiian sovereignty rhetoric, might get swept away by Dr. Stauffer's story without quite grasping the significance of the way he thinks. A lengthy book review is necessary to fully explain some complex ideas and show how Dr. Stauffer deals with them. But first, let's get the "big picture" and expose the basic absurdities so we can watch them unfold in glorious detail later.
The book is entitled: "Kahana: How the Land Was Lost." But anyone driving from Kane'ohe to La'ie will not see a huge black hole at Kahana. The land has not been lost! It is still there! Some uneducated sovereignty activists merely scream "The Haoles stole our land." Dr. Stauffer more euphemistically says the land was "taken" or "lost." But he has a very peculiar theory of what that means and how it happened. In the end, he screams alongside those activists, albeit through a pillow.
We know right at the start of his book that something is wrong when he says, "In the roughly fifty years prior to the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, 90% of all the land in the islands passed into the control or ownership of non-Hawaiians." (page 5) If we're paying attention, and know some history, we might ask: What the heck do you mean 90%? What about the crown land, the government land, the Bishop estate and all the other Ali'i trusts? Stauffer's answer is shocking. He claims that by 1840 haoles were already starting to control the government of the Kingdom. The Constitution and the Mahele (decreed by the all-powerful sovereign 100% native-blood King Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III) resulted in a legal system controlled by haoles. Soon, says Stauffer, haoles controlled the legislature too (even though they never made up more than 25% of its members). Therefore all land controlled by the King or the government was actually controlled by haoles and should be considered "lost."
Stauffer, being of socialist mentality, also considers that land sold by maka'ainana to any ali'i or anyone not in residence in a particular ahupua'a is "lost," even if the absentee owner has 100% native blood. That's because Stauffer wants to champion the poor, downtrodden maka'ainana and the communal ahupua'a system of land management for a subsistence lifestyle. He even goes so far as to call Mary Foster (who owned 97% of Kahana at one point) a "haole" even though she had 25% native ancestry, was descended from ali'i, and sided with the royalists against the overthrow. (See two footnotes about Mary Foster at the bottom of this book review). He calls her a haole because she did not live in Kahana, she wanted to bring in developers to build tourist amenities, and, worst of all, she used the legal system to foreclose on mortgages made by Hawaiian farmers (although Stauffer doesn't dwell on that story).
A central theme underlying Dr. Stauffer's book is that if there were a law making land inalienable for native Hawaiians, then they would not have lost their land. Well, duh! Of course! If there were a law making it illegal for natives to sell their land, then they could not have sold it! And if the law made it illegal for land to be taken from natives through government condemnation or through mortgage foreclosure, then the land could not have been taken from them. Is that profound or what!
Stauffer seems to propose that inalienability of land should apply only to "indigenous" people. One reason for treating only "indigenous" people this way would be because they are presumed to be stupid or unsophisticated, and are easily taken advantage of by a legal system they can't comprehend. Today's mythology about indigenous people's relationship to the land goes something like this: For people of Western mentality, people own the land and can buy or sell it and treat it like dirt; but for indigenous people, the people belong to the land, and a person can no more own, buy or sell the land than he could own, buy or sell his mother.
Contrary to the usual assumption that Hawaiians were stupid or unsophisticated, Stauffer's book points out that Hawai'i's natives, at least in Kahana valley, understood the law, used it to their advantage, and held onto 100% of their land for more than a generation after the Mahele. So perhaps Stauffer likes the alternative justification for making land inalienable for Hawaiians -- that "indigenous" people are congenitally close to the land and, by golly, we're going to make sure they stay that way even if they don't want to! Noblesse oblige. We know Hawaiians will face temptations to sell their land, or to mortgage it beyond their ability to repay. It's our responsibility to protect them against selling their land, because if they do that they will lose their "indigenous" heart. We know what's good for them. We also want to preserve their indigeneity for our own aesthetic enjoyment, much as we deny our neighbors the right to build a house whose height would interfere with our own viewplane.
Stauffer does not discuss how (native) landowners could raise large amounts of capital quickly to develop their land to make it more productive without using mortgages, nor does he explain why any bank or investor would underwrite a mortgage when the land could not be used as collateral because it would be illegal to foreclose on a (native) mortgage. He never discusses the 203,000 acres of "Hawaiian Homelands" under DHHL where the land is, indeed, unalienable, and where homeowners are unable to obtain home-improvement mortgages except by relying on the generosity of a taxpayer funded federal government guarantee brokered through the state government agency OHA. Remember, Stauffer considers government land to be "lost" since the government is controlled by haoles. Presumably, Stauffer would say the Hawaiian Homelands are "lost" to the haoles.
Stauffer also puts forward the remarkable notion that if there had not been substantial immigration of outsiders into Hawai'i, including Asian laborers, then Hawaiian culture and land ownership would not have changed. Here we have another profound insight that boggles the mind! It's unclear what remedy Stauffer would suggest, either for back then or for now. Perhaps all the ships arriving before 1790 should have been sabotaged and sunk, with the officers and crew being put to work in the taro patches. Maybe the missionaries should have been sent back to New England in 1820, along with the whole idea of written language and laws. Maybe King Kalakaua should have stayed home instead of going to Japan to recruit plantation laborers. And what can be done under present circumstances to stop non-natives from polluting the local culture and geneologies? Indeed, another Christmas 2003 coffee-table book, "Then There Were None," describes how the number of 100% blood natives declined through disease, poverty, and intermarriage until soon they will die out completely. Some Hawaiians apparently agree with Ku Klux Klan wizards that mixing of the races is evil. The increase of ethnic Hawaiians from 40,000 in 1900 to 400,000 in 2000 -- a tenfold increase in the first century of American sovereignty -- does not mitigate the extinction of the full-bloods, according to them.
Another concept underlying Dr. Stauffer's book is that so-called "indigenous" people are the only ones who truly belong to Hawai'i (that's why they are the only people Stauffer believes should be protected with a law to make their land unalienable). This dangerous concept has become more visible recently in the writings and speeches of the sovereignty activists (see detailed analysis later). Stauffer never explicitly raises this issue; but he makes clear that Chinese and Japanese who buy land or hui shares in Kahana to work the land in the style of maka'ainana are malihini and never really can become kama'aina. And haoles can never be full-fledged Hawaiians back in the day (Kingdom) or now, even though they may be native-born, or get naturalized by giving up other citizenship and taking a loyalty oath, or get appointed to the legislature or the cabinet, or get elected to the legislature.
Before starting the detailed analysis of Dr. Stauffer's book, we should look briefly at some positive contributions it has made toward de-mythologizing the Hawaiian grievance industry. Stauffer wants to maintain the fundamental concept that ethnic Hawaiians are the victims of history, dispossessed of their lands by forces outside their control. But Stauffer also sees from his research that some commonly held myths about Hawaiians -- myths that are demeaning to their intelligence -- are not true. His research shows that Hawaiians (and especially maka'ainana) did in fact receive more than a fair share of land in the Mahele; and they did in fact understand the legal system quite well and used it to their advantage to hold onto their land and their communal lifestyle. So, how will Stauffer maintain that Hawaiians were nevertheless victims? Ah, for that you'll need to read the detailed book review (or the book itself). If I give away everything now, I'll lose my audience; so I won't do it unless there's a law to make audiences unalienable!
Just a brief teaser: Stauffer blames the "loss" of land generally on the absence of an unalienability law, but also particularly on a law passed in 1874 that allowed nonjudicial foreclosures of mortgages. But even though that 1874 law is a central focus of his book, and gives him a conspiracy theory to explain how intelligent and hardworking Hawaiians were victimized, Stauffer fails to provide the text of that law for readers to analyze. His book is so detailed and heavily footnoted, one wonders why he fails to provide the text of the law that he blames for creating Hawaiian dispossession. The full text of the law occupies one and a half pages in the session laws of 1874, and is provided in full at the end of this book review. Stauffer shows there were an increasing number of land "losses" starting 8-10 years after enactment of the nonjudicial foreclosure law of 1874. But he fails to provide any sort of count or analysis to show what percentage of (native) land foreclusures were actually processed under that particular law, and whether they would not have happened anyway under other methods of foreclosure. In other words, that 1874 law may be largely irrelevant -- a cloud of dust thrown in the readers' eyes to provide a deep, dark conspiracy theory so that native victimhood can continue to be claimed even though much of the old victimhood mythology is actually disproved by Stauffer's research. Stauffer identifies a law he says is the main reason why Hawaiians lost their land, but he does not provide the text of the law. He shows that the number of foreclosures increases after the law was passed -- ten years after! But he does not show that the increase of foreclosures was due to this law rather than to general economic conditions, or that the natives would not have been foreclosed anyway by means of other laws. He implies that the law was a haole weapon aimed at Hawaiians to dispossess them, but he does not discuss whether non-Hawaiians (including haoles) were also foreclosed by this law. Reading the text of the law itself, and a related law passed only three weeks later, one can see that the intent of the law was not to steal land or unjustly dispossess borrowers who missed an interest payment, but rather was directed against defaulters who may have died or abandoned their property (see text of the laws at the end of this book review).
It's difficult to describe an overall impression or "grade" for Bob Stauffer's book. His research into the details of land transfers in Kahana over a period of many decades seems detailed and thoroughly documented. He clearly had a mass of data in search of a theory. His research clearly showed that that some of the common myths about the effects of the Mahele were false, and he had the courage to say so (see the section immediately next). But then, not knowing how to explain the data and desperately seeking a way to maintain the victimhood of Hawaiians at the hands of haoles, he produced a true-by-definition theory that if there had been a non-alienation law for native lands, then the natives wouldn't have lost their land. And he produced a conspiracy theory about a law whose text he does not provide and whose direct effects he utterly fails to document (except circumstantially). It is as though he did a structural engineering analysis of the moment-to-moment details of how the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed, and based on that he put forward a conspiracy theory that President Bush knew about Osama Bin Laden's plans beforehand.
STAUFFER'S POSITIVE CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE DECONSTRUCTION OF THE HAWAIIAN GRIEVANCE MYTHOLOGY
Old myth: The maka'ainana got screwed, ending up with less than one percent of Hawai'i's lands.
Newly recognized reality: Stauffer's research reveals that although the acreage given to maka'ainana was less than one percent, those particular acres were by far the most valuable. "The people's kuleana homesteads were fully developed and productive ... their aggregate value across the islands came to about $2.7 billion (in 2000 dollars), or almost half of all the land values ... being worth twice as much as the lands of any of the three classes of absentee landlords [king, government, and ali'i]." (page 5)
Old myth: The maka'ainana very quickly lost their land because they sold it for a pittance and squandered the money.
Newly recognized reality: Stauffer's research reveals that, at least in Kahana valley, the maka'ainana held onto their land for more than a generation (mostly until the late 1880s), and then some of them began selling or leasing it for substantial amounts of money. Furthermore, many of the sales to "outsiders" (especially the early ones) were to blood-Hawaiian members of their extended families.
Old myth: The maka'ainana were unsophisticated about Western law and Western concepts of land ownership.
Newly recognized reality: Stauffer says (page 2): "[T]he people were not naive victims, as is popularly assumed. They quickly learned the ropes of the Western legal system and tenaciously used legal maneuvers to hold onto their lands. They resisted strongly in many innovative ways." Stauffer's research shows the maka'ainana were very well aware of the importance of holding onto land. They quickly learned how to use Western law to preserve traditional lifestyle by setting up a hui -- a sort of land owners' ahupua'a-wide condominium association for cooperative land management that allowed them to maintain individual plots of land as well as communal access to water irrigation systems, woodlands, and fishponds. Their hui bylaws prevented sale of land or hui shares to outsiders, much as some "cooperative" apartment buildings today require a vote by the membership to approve a particular buyer before an apartment owner can sell to him. The Kahana hui had an elaborate bookkeeping system to track and distribute hui income from leasing of water rights, fishing rights, gathering of materials, etc. These maka'ainana Hawaiians were even sophisticated to use some of the legal techniques and tax-avoidance strategies used by top-notch lawyers today -- some of the Kahana land sales were to Hawaiian or non-Hawaiian family members to avoid inheritance or probate difficulties or taxes, but reserving exclusive rights to residency and income during the seller's lifetime.
Old myth: The Hawaiian Kingdom had nearly 100% literacy rate.
Newly recognized reality: Stauffer points out several times (and in tones of surprise and regret) that many of the property transfer documents, including the high volume sales period of the 1880s and 1890s, were signed with an X.
Related issue: Hawaiian sovereignty activists often say that the signatures on the anti-annexation petitions in 1897 include virtually 100% of the native population (this is false, of course; the anti-annexation petition contains only a little over 21,000 signatures which would be slightly over 50% of the native population at the time, and only 19% of the total population). Those anti-annexation petitions are now available on the internet.
Counting the number of petition signatures for ALL of Ko'olauloa (which includes the following villages and all the land between them from the mountains to the ocean: Ka'a'awa, Kahana, Punalu'u, Hau'ula, La'ie, Kahuku, Kawela) there are 48 women and 204 men, all of whom are signed with full signatures (no Xs). That raises interesting questions, such as: Why were there so many Xs on property transfer documents but no Xs on the annexation petitions? Did all the natives who signed property transfer documents with an X refuse to sign the anti-annexation petition, or were their signatures forged on the petition? Weren't there more than 252 natives living in all of Ko'olauloa in 1897? (Stauffer's book, on page 117, has a table showing the total population of all of Ko'olauloa in 1896 was 1,835, and it would seem very unlikely that 86% of all the residents of Ko'olauloa had no native ancestry). Why were there four times as many men as women signing the petition? (Were there four times as many native men as native women living in all of Ko'olauloa? What did all those surplus men do on Saturday nights?)
TOPICS TO FOLLOW, IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE:
BACKGROUND OF THE AUTHOR AND BRIEF OVERVIEW OF HIS BOOK
A MORE EXTENDED DESCRIPTION AND ANALYSIS OF THE BOOK
REFERENCES CITED IN THE BODY OF THIS BOOK REVIEW
SOME REFERENCES (published 1997-2003) TO CURRENT USE IN HAWAI'I OF THE 1874 NONJUDICIAL FORECLOSURE LAW
REFERENCES TO OTHER REVIEWS OF THIS BOOK
FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT KAHANA VALLEY
THE NON-JUDICIAL FORECLOSURE LAW OF 1874 -- TEXT AND EXPLANATION
NEWSPAPER REPORT OF SEPTEMBER 22, 2006 DESCRIBING MARY FOSTER’S ROYALIST ACTIVISM AS A FRIEND OF LILI’UOKALANI, AND FOSTER’S ETHNIC HAWAIIAN ANCESTRY, DESCENDED FROM ALI’I.
BACKGROUND OF THE AUTHOR AND BRIEF OVERVIEW OF HIS BOOK
Dr. Stauffer is well known as a strong advocate for ethnic Hawaiian "native rights." He is manager of the Hawaiian Language Legacy Program under Alu Like (a large race-based Hawaiian vocational training project funded by federal grants).
The book is a summary of his Ph.D. dissertation "Land Tenure in Kahana, Hawai'i, 1846-1920," University of Hawai'i, Dept. of American Studies, 1990. It is also based on his M.A. thesis in American Studies at UH in 1980, entitled "Holy Quest: The Antifeudal Hawaiian Revolution 1839-1850: The Puritan Americanization of Hawaiii." The master's thesis shows that for at least 25 years Mr. Stauffer has proclaimed the view that the American missionaries and their descendants produced a political "revolution" in Hawai'i from 1820-1855 that turned Hawai'i into an American colony as early as 50 years before the overthrow of the monarchy.
Dr. Stauffer lives in Ka'a'awa, a small town adjacent to Kahana on the Kane'ohe side. In the book's epilogue he writes: "In my boyhood and young manhood, I would visit [Kahana] valley and bay. In the last two decades I have walked, hiked, and camped within it and listened to its voices on the wind. ... I feel confident ... that the vision held by many of us will eventually be brought to fruition -- a living Hawaiian cultural park teaching its lessons to all."
KHTLWL (Kahana: How the Land Was Lost) is well written. It begins with a very readable general overview of the history of land law in Hawai'i from 1839-1855, including the Declaration of the Rights of Man, the Constitution, the several stages of the Mahele process, the Kuleana Act and the Alien Land Ownership Act. Chapter 2 describes how a generation of maka'ainana (commoners) living on royal patent kuleana house and farm lands in the ahupua'a of Kahana organized their local system of self governance and cooperative land management. They figured out how to live within the new Western legal system while preserving their communal lifestyle in a totally integrated ahupua'a ecosystem, and for more than a generation successfully resisted pressures to sell their land to natives living outside Kahana or to haole speculators.
Chapter 3 describes the book's villain -- a law known as the nonjudicial Mortgage Act of 1874. Stauffer claims that this law was passed through a haole-dominated legislature by stealth, and was intended to allow greedy haoles to make loans to natives and then foreclose on their lands. Stauffer provides very detailed information about hundreds of transfers of land in Kahana over a period of several decades, showing that the volume of land transfers increased about ten years after passage of the 1874 law. However, Stauffer does not provide evidence regarding how many of the foreclosures were done under the nonjudicial process, compared with how many were done through other foreclosure procedures. He does not show that the 1874 law was directly to blame for land transfers to outsiders or to haoles disproportionately to non-haoles. He does not show that the same foreclosures would not have taken place under a judicial foreclosure procedure if the faster and less expensive nonjudicial procedure had been unavailable. He makes the logical error of post hoc ergo propter hoc -- the fact that something happened after another thing is evidence that the previous event was the cause of the later event. This logical fallacy is the same as the error made by a rooster who claims that his pre-dawn crowing was responsible for making the sun rise. Stauffer also leads readers to believe that the Hawai'i nonjudicial foreclosure law is somehow unique to Hawai'i, when in fact most other states also have such a law. He also makes the startling assumption that land controlled by the Kingdom government is no longer native land (because, he says, the government was controlled by haoles), and he regards the woman who eventually owned 97% of the entire Kahana Valley as a haole even though she is descended from ali'i, has 25% native blood, and was a royalist defender of the monarchy against the overthrow!
KHTLWL is a mo'olelo (story, or legend) designed to choreograph facts about the history of land tenure in such a way as to bolster Stauffer's theories. Ethnic Hawaiians are portrayed as victims, of course. The whole plethora of over 160 race-based federal and state programs exclusively for ethnic Hawaiians is predicated upon the greatly cherished victimhood status of Hawaiians.
Stauffer as head of an important Alu Like program, and thus an executive in that vast empire of 160+ race-based programs, would never stray far from the victimhood ideology that keeps the money flowing. But according to Stauffer's book, Hawaiians did not behave stupidly by selling their land for a few trinkets as soon as they got their land in the Mahele. That demeaning racial stereotype (often celebrated by the Hawaiian victimhood grievance industry) has now been put to rest.
Stauffer's book tries to show that Hawaiian victimhood was produced by forces far more subtle and powerful than previously understood. Thus Hawaiians can take pride in fighting bravely and intelligently for a long time before finally getting overwhelmed. Stauffer concludes that the only thing that could have rescued Hawaiians from dispossession would be a law that makes it illegal for Hawaiians to sell their land or to have it taken from them (whether by judicial or nonjudicial foreclosure). Thus Stauffer is true to his socialist belief that the government should protect individuals (especially lower-class people) against the losses they may suffer when exercising freedom, and government should protect group solidarity and security by taking away possibly dangerous individual freedoms. But he fails to disclose the enforced poverty and big-brother plantation mentality such a nonalienability law would entail. Furthermore, he favors unalienability of land only for ethnic Hawaiians, apparently because he engages in racial profiling or stereotyping by considering the entire race as poor, downtrodden, and ignorant -- this is despite his own evidence in the book that the maka'ainana of Kahana way back in the mid-1800s were very sophisticated in their legal and economic strategies to adapt to the Mahele.
At the end of this book review, a list is provided of other reviews of this book, including some lengthy excerpts, as published in newspapers available on-line. All those other reviews are more like advertisements or triumphal celebrations; none of them raises any questions about Stauffer's far-fetched claims, including the obviously false or propagandistic assertion (which these book reviews approvingly quote!) that "In the roughly fifty years prior to the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, 90% of all the land in the islands passed into the control or ownership of non-Hawaiians."
A MORE EXTENDED DESCRIPTION AND ANALYSIS OF THE BOOK
The title of the book is "Kahana: How the Land Was Lost." But anyone driving from Kane'ohe to Laie will not see a huge black hole at Kahana. The land has not been lost! It is still there!
The introduction to the book is entitled: "How the Land Was Taken; How the Land Was Lost." Now we're getting a little closer to what the author has in mind. The land was not mysteriously lost, it was taken. Evil forces were at work to alienate Hawaiians from their land.
The author's rhetoric has risen a small notch above the usual Hawaiian sovereignty nonsense that the "land was stolen." But the clear idea is that non-natives somehow ended up in possession of land that was formerly owned by natives, and that the process whereby this happened was unfair. Stauffer's assumption is that "indigenous" people feel such a close bond with their land that they would never voluntarily sell it or give up a subsistence lifestyle to move to the city. And furthermore, laws should be passed to make it illegal for natives to sell their land (even if they wanted to) or for governments to condemn it or lenders to foreclose on it. What we need to consider is, who "took" the land, how did they get away with it; should today's citizens lacking native ancestry feel any guilt that Kahana Valley is a state park; and who owes what (if any) reparations to whom?
Dr. Stauffer is quite honest about the fact that, contrary to the usual victimhood propaganda, native Hawaiian maka'ainana (commoners) actually received a fair distribution of land in the Mahele -- that although they received a very small percentage of the total acreage, the land they received was extremely valuable because it was developed or easily developable. The (imputed) dollar value of all land received by the maka'ainana in the Mahele was nearly equal to the dollar value of the much greater acreage of land given to the ali'i. Furthermore, the maka'ainana did not immediately "lose" their lands after the Mahele, but were generally successful in holding onto them for more than a generation; unlike the ali'i who often sold their large (and non-agricultural) landholdings to non-natives much more quickly in order to support a lavish lifestyle.
Any well informed reader of KHTLWL knows there's something horribly wrong with it as soon as he reads the first three sentences in the introduction: "The Hawaiians lost their land in the nineteenth century. About that there can be no argument. In the roughly fifty years prior to the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, 90% of all the land in the islands passed into the control or ownership of non-Hawaiians."
Say what? BEFORE the overthrow the haoles got 90% ownership or control of all the lands of Hawai'i? But what about the crown lands? What about the government lands? What about Bishop Estate and the other ali'i trusts? Apparently the overthrow and annexation made no difference to Hawaiian control of the land. What's the big fuss over the ceded lands? It's interesting that that third sentence, about 90% of the land being lost before the overthrow, was quoted in several newspaper articles about this book, and nobody raised any question about it. It's clearly nonsense!
Stauffer's absurd statement is made plausible to anyone who accepts his equally absurd belief that the government of the Kingdom of Hawai'i from perhaps 1820 to 1893 was actually controlled by haoles, most of whom were Americans. He points out that there were many haole in the Legislature and the Cabinet. But Stauffer fails to note that (1) all haole appointed to the Legislature, the judgeships, or the cabinet were freely appointed by 100%-blood Hawaiian monarchs in whom resided the sovereignty of the nation; (2) all haole elected to the Legislature were elected from constituencies that were overwhelmingly populated by natives and whose registered voters were overwhelmingly native; and (3) at no time did the haoles in the Legislature ever come close to outnumbering the natives. The same reasoning that Stauffer uses to condemn the Hawaiian Kingdom as being controlled by Americans would also apply to condemn Bishop Estate (Kamehameha Schools) as being non-Hawaiian because some of the trustees and many of the staff have no native ancestry.
Stauffer can get away with saying that even before the overthrow 90% of the land was no longer in Hawaiian hands, only by saying that the government and crown lands of the Kingdom were under American control because, in his view, the government itself was under American control. But if that were true, then the revolution of 1887 (Bayonet Constitution) would hardly have been necessary; and the overthrow and annexation were merely small adjustments in the way American control was exercised. The U.S. apology resolution of 1893 would then be moot.
In the particular case of Kahana Valley, Stauffer shows another absurdity of his thought process. Stauffer portrays Mary Foster as the evil witch who gradually took the land of Kahana from the Hawaiians. On page 182 he ends a chapter saying that "By 1903, 73% of the [Kahana] Hui was controlled by Foster." And on page 210, the last page before the one-page "epilogue," Stauffer bitterly laments "All that was left in Kahana by 1920 was a single landowner with 97% of the land, some minority interests, and the balance of the people there with nothing, living with month-to-month tenancies, or older folks with life interests in their homes but with those homes to cede to Foster upon their deaths. Thus comes the end of our story ... In this way, Hawaiians' lands were taken. In this way, the land was lost." BUT -- earlier in the book Stauffer had mentioned that Foster had a Hawaiian blood quantum of 25%, was descended from ali'i, and that she had also been a supporter of Queen Lili'uokalani against the overthrow. Apparently, Mary Foster just wasn't "Hawaiian" enough to suit Stauffer, who clearly regards her as haole and American! She is the villain who took the lands of Kahana from the Hawaiians. Interestingly, Mary Foster (Hawaiian) used the nonjudicial foreclosure law of 1874 to foreclose againt some Hawaiian small landowners in Kahana in an attempt to develop the valley; and her development plans caused the State of Hawai'i to condemn the entire valley for a state park. Perhaps that's why Dr. Stauffer and the Hawaiian sovereignty activists condemn Mary Foster in the worst possible way by calling her a haole, despite her 25% Hawaiian blood quantum, ali'i lineage, and royalist politics.
Stauffer deserves credit for his in-depth research and detailed description of hundreds of transfers of land ownership or hui shares in Kahana over a period of several decades. But his own work makes it clear that the Kahana land was not "taken" from ethnic Hawaiians. Stauffer himself makes it clear that the Kahana kuleana owners and hui share owners were very intelligent about managing both the farming and the legal aspects of their land ownership, and kept their land for more than a generation following the Mahele. As time went by, some of the land was sold to people who resided outside Kahana, but many of these outsiders were natives who were family members of Kahana residents. One of the outsiders who bought a substantial amount of Kahana land was King Kalakaua. And sometimes local residents bought back land or hui shares that had previously been sold to outsiders. The maka'ainana were closer to the land than the ali'i, spending their days working the land to grow taro or rice or to manage cattle. The ali'i were often eager to sell land in order to get money to purchase luxury goods or maintain a lavish lifestyle. It took more than a generation for the Kahana maka'ainana to begin desiring a more affluent lifestyle for themselves and thus to begin mortgaging or selling their land.
But whether the land was sold or mortgaged by ali'i or by maka'ainana, it was done by free choice and not by force. Individual human beings, exercising their freedom of choice, wanted goods and services that they could afford only by mortgaging or selling their land. Thus the old saying, "How you gonna keep ‘em down on the farm after they've seen the city?" How many ethnic Hawaiians today would like to give up electricity, indoor plumbing, and automobiles in order to enjoy the backbreaking muddy lifestyle of the taro farmer of old Kahana? But Bob Stauffer arrogantly and condescendingly would like to have imposed upon Hawaiians a law prohibiting them from selling or mortgaging their land, because otherwise the land would get "lost" and the Hawaiians would make a better life for themselves in the city.
Stauffer mentions in his book that one of the first breakdowns of local control over the land of Kahana came when Lincoln McCandless built a network of aquaducts to carry water from the windward valleys where it was surplus to the dry leeward areas on the other side of the mountains, for agricultural use (the now-well-known Wai'ahole Ditch was part of that network). As a result, Kahana hui members received large incomes in payment for water rights. They generally squandered the money while McCandless got wealthy. And the Kahana maka'ainana became like the ali'i had been a generation earlier, accustomed to having large incomes without laboring in their taro patches, and thus became less intimately bound to their land and more willing later to mortgage or sell it. The hui members and landowners of Kahana could have gotten enormous wealth, and kept the land for themselves, if they had mortgaged their land to raise capital to build the aquaducts instead of letting McCandless do it. But Dr. Stauffer would not approve of mortgaging the land -- or even if he would allow it, no banks would write such mortgages for land which Dr. Stauffer would require to be unalienable (and therefore unforecloseable by a bank).
The focus of Stauffer's book -- the villain that Stauffer says took the land from the Hawaiians, was a little-known law passed by the Kingdom legislature in 1874, and signed by the King. Stauffer on page 93 describes it as "Act 33 of the Western-dominated 1874 legislature. That was ‘An Act to Provide for the Sale of Mortgaged Property Without Suit and Decree of Sale.' ... (Laws 1874, Act 33:31-32)." But nowhere in his detailed scholarly book does Stauffer provide the text of the law that is the centerpiece of his book (full text of that law is provided at the end of this book review). Nowhere does Stauffer mention that the "Western-dominated 1874 legislature" had about 75% of all its members being blood-natives, including a majority of both the Nobles and the Representatives. Stauffer does mention that the committee to which the bill was referred consisted of two haoles and three Hawaiians. Nowhere does Stauffer mention that King Kalakaua, who signed the law on July 18, 1874, had 100% native blood quantum, and the right to veto any bill he didn't like.
Stauffer says that this nonjudicial mortgage foreclosure law allowed a mortgage lender to foreclose a mortgage with no direct notice to a homeowner and no hearing necessary before a judge (true). Stauffer implies that the only requirement was to publish a brief announcement in the legal notices page of a daily-circulation newspaper (actually, such notice had to be published three consecutive weeks, and other requirements met). Stauffer implies any surplus value obtained at auction, above the balance due on the mortgage, could be kept by the mortgage holder instead of being given to the homeowner (the opposite is true). Apparently the successful forecloser could then get a new property deed and have the old deed somehow marked in the bureau of conveyances as being dishonored, and could get loans against the property, even though an unsuspecting original homeowner might continue living in "his" home for many years with the original royal patent deed still in his desk drawer, unaware there was any problem (extremely unlikely. The law was directed against dead or absent borrowers who had defaulted and who made no objection and who failed to redeem the default for at least a year). But although Stauffer states or implies all these bad things about the 1874 bill (and several book reviews and other articles published in the Hawai'i newspapers also state or imply these things), he does not provide the actual language of the bill that would allow scholars to judge whether those claims are correct and whether the Hawaiian nonjudicial foreclosure law was significantly different from similar laws in many of the United States, or in other Pacific island nations overwhelmingly populated by "indigenous" people. Full text of the law is provided at the end of this book review (it took up only one and a half pages in the session laws of 1874, and Stauffer could easily have included it in his book).
Stauffer's own research, as reported on page 103 of his book, shows that many non-judicial foreclosures were delayed for long periods of time following the enactment of the law or following the default -- sometimes 8 or 10 years would elapse. Stauffer offers no credible explanation for such lengthy delays. Could it be that those "greedy" mortgage lenders were actually very patient, generously hoping that the borrower might cure the default, until finally deciding that the deadbeat simply would never pay? Stauffer does say that non-judicial foreclosures increased in frequency around the time of the revolution of 1887 (Bayonet Constitution), insinuating that the evil haoles might be more bold about taking over the government and foreclosing the mortgages. Yet at the end of his chapter covering the period 1888-1903, he says (page 182): "... unlike the earlier loss of the kuleana, non-judicial ‘mortgages' played a limited role in these [hui] share losses. The dominant problem was alienability. Had the sales-back-to-the-hui rule been enforced or had these shares been legally inalienable, the land would have remained in Hawaiian hands for generations." Stauffer does not even attempt to show that foreclosures under the nonjudicial procedure could not have been done under the judicial procedure. Clearly, mortgage holders desiring to foreclose would prefer the nonjudicial procedure simply because it was much faster and less expensive; and that choice of procedure does not in any way prove that the slower or more expensive procedure would not have been successful or that the whole concept of foreclosure was immoral (Stauffer, as a socialist, hates to see wealthy people foreclosing against poor people under any circumstances).
Readers of this book review who want to verify that nonjudicial foreclosures are standard procedure throughout the United States are referred to the following two brief statements and the webpages from which they are taken:
"Non-Judicial Foreclosure - Most states permit a lender to foreclose without a lawsuit, using what is commonly called a "power of sale." Rather than a mortgage, the borrower gives a deed of trust to a trustee to hold for the lender. Upon default, the lender simply files a notice of default and a notice of sale, which is published in the newspaper. California uses the non-judicial (deed of trust) process. ... Family owned and run since 1919, McGuire Real Estate has long been associated with the San Francisco Bay Area's truly distinguished properties."
"Non-Judicial Foreclosure. Most states permit a lender to foreclose without a lawsuit, using what is commonly called a "power of sale." Rather than a mortgage, the borrower ("grantor") gives a "deed of trust" to a trustee to hold for the lender ("beneficiary"). Upon default, the lender simply files a notice of default and a notice of sale, which is published in the newspaper. The entire process usually takes about 90 days. ...
Best-Selling Author & Attorney William Bronchick
The #1 Legal Resource for Real Estate Investors & Small Business Entrepreneurs"
In the end, Dr. Stauffer's conclusions are: (1) if large numbers of foreigners (including Asians) had not come to Hawai'i, then pressures for lifestyle change and land alienation would not have occurred; and (2) indigenous people would not lose their land if there was a law to make it illegal for them to sell it or for government to condemn it or lenders to foreclose on it. But of course these are tautologies -- trivial statements true by definition, not profound insights. It's sort of like saying that we should solve homelessness by giving homeless people a home to live in. The law of gravity says that when you let go of something, it falls to the ground. In Stauffer's style of thinking, perhaps we could overcome the law of gravity by holding onto things rather than letting go of them.
Discussing the period 1874-1887, Stauffer writes (page 138): "Thus the lure of Western consumption again enters the scene. Additionally we see here another effect of the demographic shift in the islands. Had there not been the procuring of Asian labor, there would not have been this Asian demand for renting land [for rice farming instead of taro farming]. And thus the temptation to live off lease rents (and thus cut some of the bonds to the land) would not have existed. Nor would this have led eventually to the temptation for even greater income by selling land." Stauffer is saying that if history had not unfolded as it did, things would have been different for the Hawaiians. Well, yes! That's a tautology. No big insight there. Should the Asians have been sent packing back to Asia? Was King Kalakaua merely a stupid dupe of the haole sugar planters, and an agent of Hawaiian cultural destruction and dispossession when he traveled to Japan to recruit thousands of plantation workers and to offer his neice Ka'iulani for a political marriage to the future emperor? Hindsight is interesting. But the sovereign King of the independent Kingdom of Hawai'i must exercise self-determination on behalf of his people according to his best judgment and his perceptions at the time; and if sovereignty means anything, those decisions must be respected and not undone by historical revisionism.
Stauffer says non alienability of land for "indigenous" people means the land will not be lost. Well, of course! That's true by definition. But adopting such a policy would mean that the natives must either reconcile themselves to a subsistence lifestyle without modern industrial luxuries like electricity, flush toilets, and cars; or else they must hope to receive permanent welfare payments from productive outsiders. A subsistence lifestyle growing taro simply does not provide enough surplus income for farmers to afford a modern lifestyle. The goods and services provided by modern civilization must either be produced by people themselves or else must be purchased by selling goods and services that outsiders actually are willing to pay for. Would Hawaiians today like to have the lifestyle of Fiji, Tonga, eastern (non-U.S.) Samoa, Belau, or Micronesia? Hawaiians should observe that many people from those countries come to Hawai'i or California to make a living or get healthcare or education; while their governments survive by getting hundreds of millions of dollars from the U.S. in return for hosting military bases and providing tourist services.
One way impoverished third-world economies with non alienable land policies limp along in the modern world is by exporting their most healthy, beautiful, and intelligent people to work abroad in prosperous nations and send money home. Large portions of the gross national product of the Philippines and Mexico come from "remittances" sent home by family members working (often illegally) in America. Is that the sort of future for Hawai'i envisioned by sovereignty activists like Bob Stauffer?
Another way some third-world nations survive is by getting massive infusions of "gifts" from wealthy nations through foreign aid, forgiveness of loans, or financially favorable treaties. Thus, the "independent" pacific island nation of Belau has a compact of free association with the United States under which Belau receives huge amounts of money and the right for its citizens to reside and work in the United States, in return for the U.S. right to have military bases and to direct that nation's foreign policy. In the 2003 U.S. war against Iraq, the government of Turkey was offered huge amounts of money to allow U.S. troops to pass through Turkey on the ground en route to Iraq; and in the end Turkey accepted a lesser amount of money to merely grant permission for the U.S. to use Turkey's airspace for flyovers. If Hawai'i were to become independent, it is doubtful whether the the sovereignty activists would tolerate the presence of the bitterly resented U.S. military. Instead, Hawaiian activists expect to receive trillions of dollars in "reparations" for the "illegal" overthrow, "illegal" annexation, ‘illegal" statehood, and 110 years of "belligerent military occupation" of the homeland.
In Hawai'i today there is actually a substantial amount of land set aside for ethnic Hawaiians of 50% native blood quantum -- land which is unalienable, just as Dr. Stauffer would like. These are the 203,000 acres of "Hawaiian Homelands" created by the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1921 and now administered by the state government Department of Hawaiian Homelands. The land can be leased for 99 years, for homes or businesses or agriculture; but it can never be sold. Why did Dr. Stauffer never mention the Hawaiian Homelands as a fulfillment of his dream of unalienability of land? Perhaps because the Homelands have been such a disastrous failure. Perhaps because many residents of the homelands depend on welfare payments from outsiders who are productive enough to generate surplus wealth.
One problem with the Homelands is that if a Hawaiian with 50% blood quantum is a leaseholder and is married to a non-Hawaiian, and if the leaseholder dies, then the non-Hawaiian spouse cannot continue living there and must sell the house to some stranger who has 50% blood quantum and is near the top of the DHHL-approved waiting list. Another problem is that no bank will lend mortgage money whose collateral is a house sitting on non alienable land. That's why OHA has started a program with federal grants to underwrite bank mortgages for houses on the homelands. Keeping the land inalienable, as Stauffer wants, produces nightmarish distortions in real estate and banking, and severely restricts the freedom of Hawaiians to buy, sell, raise money, and live where they wish. The homelands are also notorious for their bureaucratic and heavy-handed regulation of the lives of the people living there.
Dr. Stauffer's concept of who should be covered by non alienability of the land has at least three components: local (vs. resident of a different ahupua'a), peasant working the land (vs. ali'i or wealthy owner collecting lease rents), and racial (native vs. haole). He clearly admires the early period of the Kahana hui following immediately after the Mahele. Everyone adhered to the bylaws requiring that any sale of hui shares must be made to another hui member residing in Kahana. Thus, to use Stauffer's manner of speaking, the lands of Kahana stayed in Kahana. Later, that rule gradually began to be broken, as hui members sold shares to family members who sometimes lived elsewhere. As time went by some shares were also sold to non family members living far away -- most notably to King kalakaua. But although these sales to outsiders meant that Kahana lands were "lost" outside Kahana, at least they were kept safe inside the Hawaiian race. Occasionally a sale might be made to a Chinese or Japanese who would personally work the land, but at least it wasn't to a (dreaded) haole. Eventually some sales were made to haoles, most notably those involved with Kane'ohe Ranch.
In order for Dr. Stauffer to be able to sustain his claim that by 1920, 97% of the land of Kahana had been "lost" to haoles, he actually makes it clear that he regards Mary Foster as a haole even though she was an ali'i descendant with 25% native blood quantum and a royalist who supported the monarchy against the overthrow. Thus it seems Stauffer actually has a fourth required criterion for who might be eligible to own land that is unalienable: in addition to ahupua'a residency, subsistence lifestyle of personally working the land, and native Hawaiian ancestry, he/she must also have native Hawaiian na'au (mentality or attitude). A subtle undercurrent throughout the book is that anyone lacking even one of those requirements probably should not be recognized as having standing to "belong" or to influence local events. One wonders where Dr. Stauffer himself would fit in.
Finally, it is important to point out that Stauffer's book continues a growing and dangerous but little-noticed trend among scholars who support Hawaiian sovereignty. This trend is what I call: the ethnic cleansing of the history of the Hawaiian Kingdom. The intent of these scholars is to diminish or exclude the fullness of the partnership and equality of people with no native ancestry. The concept of these scholars is that haoles took control of the government and the land, but never truly belonged to the "Lahui" or nation. The whole system of constitutional law and private land ownership unfolding through the Mahele and continuing to today is regarded as an artificial and unwelcome overlay superimposed on the underlying core or "deep culture" of the kanaka maoli, the "true people" of the land. The outsiders came, they colonized and then took over Hawai'i and incorporated it into the United States; but eventually this temporary oppression will pass away and Hawaiians will once again control their own land, culture, and political destiny. Haoles were never really a part of Hawai'i.
Four manifestations of this scholarly attitude of "ethnic cleansing" are already visible.
(1) Stauffer's book asserts that the Constitution and Mahele of 1839-1850 were a revolution whereby haole came to control the government and the land. He says the government land was automatically "lost" when it was given to the government directly at the start of the Mahele, or indirectly given to the government through the commutation tax paid by ali'i and by some maka'ainana. As we have seen in this book review, Stauffer says Government land (and after 1865 also the crown land) was "lost" land because the government was controlled by haoles.
(2) Jon Osorio's recent book "Dismembering Lahui" (University of Hawaii Press, 2002) has numerous lists of all the members of the Kingdom legislature and cabinet, including numerous haoles; but the whole book is an effort to show that there was constant racial struggle in which maka'ainana protested the inclusion of haoles in government and regarded haoles to be separate from the "Lahui." Osorio claims most Hawaiians felt increasingly alienated from the government as the government became increasingly haolefied.
(3) The work of Professor Manulani Aluli Meyer on Hawaiian epistemology, including her Ph.D. dissertation and followup articles and books, claims that ethnic Hawaiians (continue to) have a very different genetically determined way of perceiving the world and of thinking, that requires different school curricula and methods of teaching. This inborn difference of thought and feeling is, at core, an unbridgable gap requiring cultural and political separateness. For more information about Professor Meyer's work, see the bottom quarter of:
(4) When Hawaiian ethnic nationalists get together to celebrate the holidays of the Hawaiian Kingdom, they systematically ignore and exclude the haole heroes of the Kingdom. Gerrit Judd was clearly the most important hero of the events leading to sovereignty restoration day (producing the holiday Ka La Ho'iho'i Ea) -- even more important than King Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III. And William Richards was the most important hero in gaining international recognition of Hawaiian independence (producing the holiday Ka La Ku'oko'a). But both go unmentioned, except that the memory of William Richards is degraded and humiliated by portraying him as merely a secretary to his little-known and obscure traveling companion Timoteo Ha'alilio. For details about the ethnic cleansing of Kingdom holidays, see:
And so the main part of this book review comes to an end (but more information follows). It seems appropriate to paraphrase Dr. Stauffer's closing words from page 210, the last page before the one-page "epilogue," replacing his concepts with my own but retaining his victimhood language. Where Stauffer wrote about the loss of the land, I shall write about the loss of unity, equality, and aloha in Hawai'i if his attitudes were to prevail. Conclusion: All that would be left in Hawai'i if the sovereignty activists are successful would be a single superior racial group controlling the land, some subordinate interests, and 80% of Hawai'i's people having merely guest status. Thus comes the end of our story ... In this way, democracy was destroyed. In this way, unity, equality, and aloha were lost.
REFERENCES CITED IN THE BODY OF THIS BOOK REVIEW (in order of appearance):
The anti-annexation petitions from 1897 are now available on the internet. Counting the number of signatures for ALL of Ko'olauloa (which includes the following villages and all the land between them from the mountains to the ocean: Ka'a'awa, Kahana, Punalu'u, Hau'ula, La'ie, Kahuku, Kawela) there are 48 women and 204 men, all of whom are signed with full signatures (no Xs).
The whole plethora of over 160 race-based federal and state programs exclusively for ethnic Hawaiians is predicated upon the greatly cherished victimhood status of Hawaiians.
Nonjudicial foreclosure is commonly used throughout the United States.
The work of Professor Manulani Aluli Meyer on Hawaiian epistemology: see the bottom quarter of:
For details about the ethnic cleansing of Hawaiian Kingdom holidays, and in particular the exclusion of haole heroes Gerrit Judd and William Richards, see:
REFERENCES TO CURRENT USE IN HAWAI'I OF THE 1874 NONJUDICIAL FORECLOSURE LAW. The law is controversial, and has been modified by the Legislature, but is used against defaulters of all racial groups.
Excerpts from a Pacific Business News article of April 7, 1997. The full article may be seen at:
"A non-judicial foreclosure bill moving through the House of Representatives promises lenders a quicker and less expensive way to foreclose on property without paying court costs and paying reduced attorneys' and commissioners' fees. Senate Bill 1113 establishes new procedures for non-judicial foreclosures, which permit foreclosure under a power of sale. It precludes filing of a lawsuit. The bill provides specifics for a non-judicial law that has been on the books since 1874 -- and its possible widespread use is causing a stir in the community. Under the bill, the lender sends a notice of default to the borrower who is given 60 days to satisfy the default. If the default, is not cured, the lender begins publishing public notices in a newspaper, advertising a public sale. The lender gives the borrower another 60 days. Then it posts a notice on the property. If the mortgage-loan delinquency is still not resolved through the non-judicial process, the property will be sold at a public sale."
Excerpts from a Honolulu Star-Bulletin article of October 21, 2001. The full text may be seen at:
"When a lender sells a Hawaii home at a foreclosure auction, the state requires that the auction be advertised in a general-circulation newspaper where the home is located. ... But a marketing practice used [in Hawai'i] by some mainland lenders until earlier this year has raised questions about whether hundreds of Hawaii homes sold in non-judicial foreclosures got the best prices possible. To fulfill the advertising requirement, the lenders published the required auction notices in the Hawaii Hochi, a mostly Japanese-language daily newspaper with a circulation of only 5,000 to 6,000 -- not even 1 percent of the state's population. Its target audience: People fluent in speaking and reading Japanese. ... when a property falls into foreclosure, the lender makes a business decision on how to get the most for the home at the least expense, one attorney said. Lenders use the non-judicial process, instead of the more stringent judicial one, in certain cases because it is a less costly and less time consuming way to take over a home after the owner has defaulted on the mortgage. ... [One attorney says there are] major flaws in the 1874 state law that lenders use for non-judicial foreclosures. ... the antiquated law is unconstitutional, providing homeowners with little or no protections when facing unjust foreclosures. ... the law is so lacking in standards and is subject to so many abuses that he doesn't believe it can survive scrutiny by the Hawaii Supreme Court. ... Some attorneys say the non-judicial process happens so quickly -- sometimes in less than three months -- that unsophisticated homeowners don't realize they're losing their homes until it's too late. ... Whatever shortcomings there are in the old law, expect to see the system used more frequently in the months ahead. The growth in non-judicial foreclosures in recent years should accelerate as Hawaii's economy worsens in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks."
REFERENCES TO OTHER REVIEWS OF THIS BOOK:
Excerpts from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin of November 16, 2003. Full text available at:
"When historian Robert Stauffer started sifting through thousands of pages of old documents that a trust company clerk had saved from the trash bin, he knew he had come across an information gold mine. ... Based on those documents, many of them written in Hawaiian, Stauffer produced ground-breaking research that is detailed in his new book, "Kahana: How the Land Was Lost." ... The book basically exposes the major role that an obscure but controversial mortgage foreclosure law played in the widespread loss of lands by native Hawaiians in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It's a state law that still is being used today ... which consumer advocates have unsuccessfully tried to get repealed at the Legislature in the past few years. ... Documents involving other large populated parcels in Hawaii exist, but unlike with the 5,000-acre Kahana Valley, those records tend to have big gaps, particularly in the 1800s. Based on the Kahana documents, which included 2,500 transactions that Stauffer analyzed with a computer database, he discovered that Hawaiians started losing their land less than a decade after the nonjudicial foreclosure law was passed by the Hawaiian Legislature in 1874."
Excerpts from the Honolulu Advertiser of November 30, 2003, article by Bob Krauss. Full text available at:
"A new book suggests that the Great Mahele was not the controversial land rip-off of common Hawaiians that many historians have painted it. All things considered, commoners got a fair share. The rip-off came later and historians missed that, too. ... Stauffer's figures show that the 28,000 acres awarded to commoners constituted 43 percent of the total land value distributed in 1848. That's because each parcel was a developed kuleana in full production while the land awarded to landlords was mostly undeveloped acreage of little value. ... [Stauffer] cited examples of how much difference land values make. The Damon Estate recently sold 115,000 Big Island acres to the National Park Service for $22 million. One acre in Kahala sells for the same price. Kamehameha Schools owns 350,000 acres of land. A quarter of its income comes from a few acres in Waikiki. ... [Stauffer] said most families had previously refused to sell their land, taking advice from the king and Judge William Lee at the time of the Mahele. The rip-off was accomplished by means of a law sneaked through the Legislature in 1874 that took mortgage transactions out of the courts and into private hands. The law permitted the owner of a desirable kuleana to hang onto his deed, as the king had advised, when he borrowed money on the land. The kuleana owner didn't realize that the law also permitted the lender to foreclose without notice and rig an auction to buy the land. The deed became worthless. Stauffer said banker Charles Reed Bishop presided over the Legislature that passed the law. Samuel Wilder introduced the bill. Stauffer said he couldn't understand why so many kuleana changed hands at this time until he discovered the little-known law."
A letter to editor published in the Honolulu Advertiser of January 5, 2004 chastises Bob Krauss for being too gullible and believing Bob Stauffer's nonsense:
The Honolulu Advertiser, Monday, January 5, 2004
Letters to the Editor
Charles Bishop didn't cheat the Hawaiians
Bob Krauss' column of Nov. 30 gives us information from the book "Kahana, How the Land Was Lost," by Robert Stauffer, who suggests that bank owner Charles Reed Bishop, husband of Princess Pauahi, cheated the poor Hawaiians out of their land by loaning money to three-acre farms and then passing a law to facilitate foreclosures.
The outrage of this is not what Mr. Stauffer wrote — people write the darnedest things — but that a reporter for The Advertiser for over 50 years would repeat those lies without blinking.
According to Mr. Stauffer, the kuleana lands "constituted 43 percent of the total value of the land distributed in 1848."
The actual value is shown in, among others, the book "Resource Units in Hawaiian Culture," published by the Kamehameha Schools in 1969: "Between 1850 and 1890, pasture land sold for an average of 25 cents an acre, while good taro land (irrigated) brought $5 an acre."
In 1865, James Campbell bought the oceanfront Kahuku ranch for $4 an acre. Therefore, 28,000 acres of kuleana lands, even at $5 an acre, would be valued at $140,000.
The kuleana lands consisted of an average of three acres, each valued at $15.
Can anyone believe that Charles Bishop, a multimillionaire (billionaire in today's value), who was the greatest benefactor of the Hawaiians, would be interested in cheating Hawaiians for a few dollars? Bob Krauss did.
The Honolulu Weekly of November 19, 2003 published lengthy excerpts from the book, plus an interview of Dr. Stauffer by Chad Blair in which Stauffer identifies the main conclusions to be drawn from his book. See:
FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT KAHANA VALLEY:
The Legislative Reference Bureau at the Hawai'i state capitol produced a monograph, Report No. 5, December, 2001, by research attorney Susan Jaworski , entitled: "Kahana: What Was, What Is, What Can Be" The report includes some interesting history of Kahana, including the role of Mary Foster. The report is focused on the concept of making Kahana into a cultural park, and includes year-by-year summaries of planning activities from 1970 through 1999, along with an analysis of the roles of various departments of the federal, state, and county governments involved in Kahana and the status of the valley's current residents. The historical section contains numerous footnotes to Dr. Stauffer's masters and doctoral dissertations. However, it is interesting that he apparently did not participate in the work of researching or preparing this monograph because his name is not included in the extensive list of people being thanked for their participation. The 80-page document (including title page, forewrod, table of contents, etc.) can be downloaded in pdf format from:
Kahana Valley is owned by the State of Hawai'i and is now a state park. For many years a few families have lived there, including descendants of hui members who operated taro patches in Kahana and got their kuleana lands during the Mahele. A few of those families are still living in dilapidated houses near Kamehameha Highway and near the run-down, old, termite-eaten visitor center.
In recent years an effort has been made to formalize the relationship between the state and the tenants by granting the tenants long-term leases at no rent in return for each family contributing a specified number of hours of work each month demonstrating Hawaiian culture, leading tours, or maintaining the park. But some residents feel it is improper for any requirements to be imposed on their tenancy in the ahupua'a where their ancestors lived for many generations, and the sovereignty activists support the tenants' resistance to any work requirement.
A few residents have re-opened old taro patches and are actively cultivating them. For several years a pair of sovereignty activists have conducted monthly bus tours from the University of Hawai'i to Kahana Valley for a day of doing volunteer labor in the taro patches. There have been occasional community workdays with large numbers of outside volunteers for the purpose of opening new taro patches or cleaning ancient auwai (water ditches) to irrigate the patches. These workdays were videotaped to provide footage for televised propaganda films during the Wai'ahole Ditch contested case administrative hearing and court hearings, to support the concept of stopping the taking of Windward water, which was being used to irrigate leeward agricultural fields and to allow development of leeward housing projects. The idea was to provide political support for returning Windward water to the Windward side to restore stream flows to a level that would sustain plant and animal growth, allow irrigation of taro patches, and allow fresh water to circulate into the ocean to reinvigorate the reefs and fishponds.
Any visitor to Kahana Valley who expects to see a bucolic lifestyle of traditional Hawaiian taro farming and casual living is in for a rude awakening.
Kahana Valley, a state park, has now become a suburban-style gated community, with a paved road running past the locked gate deep into the valley, and numerous very large, very fancy, and very new houses directly alongside the road. Apparently the residents on longterm leases were able to get approval to build expensive new houses for themselves and/or their extended families. Apparently some Hawaiians are very wealthy and very politically powerful. So much for the concept of a Hawaiian cultural park, unless it is the culture of the wealthy beneficiaries of the Hawaiian grievance industry.
The saga continues! Honolulu Advertiser published a story on May 21, 2004 regarding the eviction of an ethnic Hawaiian family from the shorline of Kahana, at the edge of Huilua fishpond. The family was evicted for failure to abide by the terms of the long-term lease granted to them as part of the cultural park concept. More evictions seem likely, as ethnic Hawaiians feel they are entitled to live on the land without paying either rent or labor, despite the fact that in ancient times Konohiki demanded substantial amounts of labor plus annual payment of land taxes in the form of products from the land. The day after the article was published, the Advertiser published a second article, apparently as some sort of political correctness correction and expansion of the first article. The second article had the additional by-line of Vicki Viotti, who has become the newspaper's pro-sovereignty advocacy reporter, publishing numerous articles over the past several years covering sovereignty issues from her clearly biased perspective. The purpose of publishing the second article appears clearly to be intended to shift blame for the evictions to state government park management and bungling bureaucracy, and to take blame away from the residents who refuse to abide by terms of their leases. Comparing the two articles it is easy to see that the only reason for the second one was to give Vicki Viotti input for political correctness, much as Communist political commisars formerly were embedded with Soviet military and business institutions to provide political direction. Both articles are copied below, in full.
The Honolulu Advertiser, Friday, May 21, 2004
State evicts family from cultural park
By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer
KAHANA — The state evicted a Hawaiian family from the shores of Kahana Bay yesterday for lease violations in what could be the beginning of an effort to bring all families in the unique cultural park into compliance with their leases.
Stewart and Malama Vierra left their home of 15 years without incident when the state Department of Land and Natural Resources showed up at about 9 a.m. with a bulldozer, dump trucks and a dozen law enforcement officers. Stewart Vierra had grown up on the property.
The state said the couple had serious lease defaults and failed to correct them in the 18 months the state has been working with them on the problem.
Other lessees are in violation of their leases, said state parks administrator Daniel Quinn. He would not say what steps would be taken against them but did say they were given a lot of leeway to comply, "up to now."
"Eventually everyone will have to conform," Quinn said as a crew tore down five buildings at the site that overlooks the picturesque bay and an ancient Hawaiian fishpond. "There are families in full compliance, and there are families who are not."
The state created Ahupua'a O Kahana State Park after purchasing the land in 1969 to prevent development. Families that lived there at the time of the purchase were allowed to stay under a program that created a cultural park in 1972, the only state park with residential leases.
Some 31 Kahana families have leases with the state. In exchange for leases on their plots, the residents are required to contribute 25 hours per month of interpretive service, providing a unique approach to preserving historical, cultural and natural resources in the largely untouched valley.
Lessees were also to complete construction of a house on state-owned residential plots in the valley by 1996, toward the goal of removing homes that remain in the flood plain, like that of the Vierras.
The Vierras have not met either requirement, performing only 14 hours of interpretive service within the 18-month period and failing to secure a loan to build a home in the valley, according to the DLNR.
Malama Vierra, 46, said she tried to comply with the work requirements but the state was not well organized there and she began to feel it was like slave labor. With both her and her husband out of work, they couldn't qualify for a mortgage, Vierra said. Also, she said, she had a home and couldn't understand why she couldn't stay on the property that she said had belonged to her husband's great-grandfather.
"Ten minutes ago I owned my home, and now the state has made us homeless," Vierra said, sitting in her truck in a parking lot on the beach. "We're evicted and all because they wanted us to do a loan that we can't afford."
Five people lived in the home, including two teenagers, she said. Recently she started caring for her adult daughter who suffers from seizures.
The family was self-sufficient and didn't rely on the state for any assistance, Vierra said. "We fish. We make our own electricity. We pump our own water. We don't even get food stamps."
Vierra said at least five other families are in violation of their leases and, as far as she knew, they were not given any notice of eviction.
Vierra vowed to fight back, possibly with legal action.
After the Vierra home was razed yesterday, a handful of houses remained. The area will be opened to public use once it is cleared, Quinn said.
Quinn said there are some problems with the cultural park, but the concept is good — with "great potential."
The Honolulu Advertiser, Saturday, May 22, 2004
Kahana project still falling short
By Vicki Viotti and Eloise Aguiar
Ahupua'a O Kahana State Park, for years deemed an innovative solution to a land-use conflict, is still enduring growing pains more than a decade after residential leases were signed for the "living cultural park."
However, officials and residents, though exasperated by years of delays and the latest clash that culminated in an eviction this week, have hope that the grand experiment in cultural reclamation will ultimately succeed.
Of the 31 lessees who live on the park land, 23 have completed homes and six more are in the building process, said state parks administrator Daniel Quinn.
The state on Thursday evicted Stewart and Malama Vierra for failing to contribute enough volunteer time or make progress toward building their home. There's only one remaining family in similar circumstances, Quinn said. He would not say whether further evictions are imminent.
The state bought the land for the park in 1969, and three years later adopted the concept of a living cultural park where residents would remain and demonstrate cultural practices and work on the restoration of the fishpond, taro fields and other features.
The goal was to preserve a way of life practiced by ancient Hawaiians and to share their practices and values.
But it wasn't until 1993 that the residents signed 65-year leases, in which they promised to build their houses and contribute 25 hours of work toward "interpreting" the park for visitors.
People who live there and are familiar with the experiment say success has eluded the project, blaming a lack of funding, no master plan, poor management and less than full cooperation from some of the lessees.
While the state Department of Land and Natural Resources is working to address the problems, some say the damage done over 30 years may be too great.
"They almost need major surgery on the problem," said Ben Shafer, a lessee and president of Friends of Kahana. The problem stems from past management, Shafer said. "Everyone has taken steps to help the state, to help themselves and every time they were knocked down."
Lessees must be held accountable and the state has to empower residents to fulfill their responsibility, Shafer said. In the past the state would shoot down one family's idea of how to contribute but then turn around and let another family carry out that idea, he said.
The eviction of the Vierra family was a wake-up call to other lessees, Shafer said. At least five homes are incomplete, and the majority of the lessees are not fulfilling their hourly contributions, he said.
Quinn acknowledged that the state still has not developed a master plan to guide the operation of a 5,228-acre park that encompasses the entire Kahana ahupua'a — a Hawaiian mountain-to-sea land division in which resources were managed communally.
"The current effort of the state has been working with the residents to get their new houses built," he said. "We know there has to be a new comprehensive planning effort."
One of the problems, he said, is that most of the residents are working people who are struggling against time and money constraints to finish their homes and work in their interpretive duties.
"When the concept was originally developed, many of the residents were more the kupuna types who had skill and knowledge already," Quinn said. "Some of the subsequent generations don't have that knowledge and have to learn new skills."
One lessee, Sunny Greer, lives with her husband and son in her late father's home where she grew up. She has watched with mounting vexation as the DLNR has attempted to develop the cultural park with limited staff and money and without the assistance of other government agencies.
The water resources of the Waiahole Ditch originate in Kahana, Greer said, adding that some of the revenue from that water could be devoted to completing the park. Instead, she said, the slow progress allows momentum to be lost.
"Kahana is like a rare jewel that has been buried in the sand for many generations," she said, "and from time to time, the tide washes in to reveal it."
Greer also noted that there hasn't been any sustained on-site management since the retirement of Al Rogers two years ago. A replacement was hired early this year but left after only a few months, said Quinn, adding that the recruitment process has begun again.
Pikake Pelekai, a former Kahana resident with family still living in the area, sits on an advisory committee formed to help the state operate the cultural aspects of the park. Among its tasks was the development of a list of ways lessees could fulfill their park obligations, including the demonstration of various crafts and fishing and gathering techniques.
Groups still come to visit the valley, but now it takes more coordination to make sure a resident docent is on hand to assist, she said.
Thoran Evans, 42, a one-time Kahana lessee who still lives there, said the park itself is not inviting to outsiders, and anyone wishing to see anything happening there has to make an appointment or stop at the orientation center where someone will point out the project.
"It's not wide open where you can see a grass shack where you used to pound poi," Evans said.
But there are regular activities there, said Stephen Kubota, program director for the Ahupua'a Action Alliance, which brings groups, including tourists, to Kahana for cultural experiences.
The alliance works with several families that have no problem meeting their interpretive obligations, he said. It also tried to help the Vierra family, as have other lessees, Kubota said.
Despite the most recent conflict, Pelekai said she believes the Kahana experiment already has borne fruit.
"When you look at the development up the Windward Coast, I believe we came out better than we could have," she said. "We still have Kahana, it's still lush and green and pretty, as much as it was before."
"Certainly there will be bumps in the road that we will have to smooth out," he said. "But Kahana is something that has potential for a really great future."
The Honolulu Advertiser, Tuesday, June 1, 2004
Culture experiment requires commitment
There's something undeniably appealing about a cultural park where residents lead (and share) traditional agrarian lifestyles, restoring fishponds and growing taro.
But recent developments at the Ahupua'a O Kahana State Park experiment suggest that it's hard in this day and age to live the old Hawaiian way.
Creating a "living cultural park" was an innovative approach to a land-use conflict. The state bought the land in 1969, and in 1993 some three dozen residents signed 65-year leases in which they promised to build their houses and work 25 hours a week "interpreting" the park for visitors.
But the experiment was beset with problems, from a lack of financial resources to poor participation from some of the lessees. Recently, the state evicted a couple for failing to meet commitments. It's unclear whether more evictions are pending.
For the experiment to succeed, lessees have to hold up their end. But they also need resources and guidance. A master plan has yet to be completed.
Perhaps the greatest hurdle is that living the traditional Hawaiian way is hard work. Residents are having a tough time eking out a living while fulfilling their cultural duties. And we don't doubt that there are some who thought that they'd get a "free lunch." There's no such thing.
For the park to work, the state will have to devote more support resources and lease the land only to those who can realistically devote the needed time, energy and have a true understanding of the old Hawaiian ways.
THE NON-JUDICIAL FORECLOSURE LAW OF 1874 -- TEXT AND EXPLANATION
The session laws of 1874 (the laws passed by the Legislature of the Kingdom of Hawai'i in its session of 1874) were recorded in two printed booklets, one in Hawaiian and the other in English. The Hawaiian booklet was then bound into a thicker book that included session laws from previous years; and the Hawaiian booklet was followed immediately by the English version in that book. All materials can easily be seen at the State of Hawai'i Supreme Court law library in Ali'iolani Hale, the building behind the King Kamehameha statue across King Street from 'Iolani Palace. The librarians there are very helpful.
The Hawaiian booklet had the following cover (remember that back in 1874 the kahako and ‘okina had not yet been invented, because speakers of Hawaiian already knew how to pronounce the words. Thus "pai" would today be written "pa'i"):
KA MOI KALAKAUA,
Ke alii o Ko Hawaii Pae Aina,
I KAUIA E KA HALE AHAOLELO,
iloko o ka ahaolelo o ka makahiki
Ma ke Kauoha.
Black & Auld, mea pai.
The English booklet had the same cover in English:
HIS MAJESTY KALAKAUA,
King of the Hawaiian Islands,
passed by the
at its session, 1874.
Published by Authority.
Black & Auld, Printers.
HERE IS THE JUDICIAL NON-FORECLOSURE LAW OF July 18, 1874 TAKEN FROM THE ENGLISH SESSION LAWS BOOKLET:
[beginning on page 31]
To provide for the sale of mortgaged property without suit and drcree of sale.
Be it Enacted by the King and the Legislative Assembly of the Hawaiian Islands in the Legislature of the Kingdom assembled.
Section 1. When a power of sale is contained in a mortgage, the mortgagee, or any person having his estate therein, or authorized by such power to act in the premises, may, upon a breach of the condition, give notice of his intention to foreclose such mortgage, by publication of such notice in the Hawaiian and English languages for a period of three consecutive weeks, before advertising the mortgaged property for sale; and also give such notices and do all such acts, as are authorized or required by the power contained in the mortgage; and he shall within thirty days after selling the property in pursuance of the power, file a copy of the notice of sale and his affidavit setting forth his acts in the premises fully and particularly in the office of the Registrar of Conveyances, in Honolulu. The affidavit and copy of the notice shall be recorded by the Registrar with a notice of reference thereto in the margin of the record of the mortgage deed if recorded in his office.
Section 2. If it appears by such affidavit that he has in all respects complied with the requisitions of the power of sale, in relation to all things to be done by him before selling
[start page 32]
the property, and has sold the same in the manner required by such power, the affidavit, or a duly certified office copy of the record thereof, shall be admitted as evidence that the power of sale was duly executed.
Section 3. If the mortgage was executed by a man having at the time no lawful wife, or if being married, the wife of the mortgagor joined in the deed in token of her release of dower, the sale of the property in the mode aforesaid shall be effectual to bar all claim and possibility of dower in the property.
Section 4. No sale or transfer by the mortgagor shall impair or annul any right or power of attorney given in the mortgage to the mortgagee to sell or transfer the mortgaged property, as attorney or agent of the mortgagor. And when public sale shall be made of the mortgaged property under this Act, the remainder, if any there be, shall be paid over to the owner of the mortgaged property, after deducting the amount of claim and all expenses attending the same.
Section 5. This Act shall take effect from and after the date of its approval.
Approved this 18th day of July, A.D. 1874.
HERE IS A RELATED LAW PASSED ON AUGUST 7, 1874, just three weeks later, and printed just 15 pages later in the session laws:
[start page 48, occupying exactly the entire page]
Giving Time to Mortgagors to Redeem in Certain Cases.
Be it Enacted by the King and the Legislative Assembly of the Hawaiian Islands in the Legislature of the Kingdom assembled.
Section 1. That after breach of the condition, if the mortgagee or anyone claiming under him is desirous of obtaining possession of the premises for the purposes of foreclosure, he may proceed in either of the following ways, viz.:
First. He may enter into possession and hold the same by consent in writing of the mortgagor or the person holding under him.
Second. He may enter peaceably and openly if not opposed in the presence of two witnesses and take possession of the premises, in which case a certificate of the fact and time of such entry shall be made and signed and sworn to by such witnesses before any Judge of a Court, and such written consent and such certificate shall be recorded in the Registry of Conveyances, and no such entry shall be effectual unless such certificate or consent in writing shall be recorded within thirty days next after such entry is made.
Section 2. The mortgagee in possession is authorized to make such expenditure as is necessary to carry on the estate or to keep the same in good condition, giving credit for the income, and the balance shall be placed in the account for or against the estate as the case may be, if the mortgagor makes a tender for redemption.
Section 3. Such possession obtained in either of the two modes above described being continued for the term of one year shall forever foreclose the right of redemption.
Approved this 7th day of August, A.D. 1874.
SOME OBVIOUS CONCLUSIONS
The non-judicial foreclosure law did indeed allow a lender to foreclose a mortgage against a borrower who was in breach of the terms of the mortgage, such as by failing to pay the interest or principal when due. Foreclosure could take place after publishing a notice for three consecutive weeks, and then advertising the property for sale, and then filing in the Bureau of Conveyances a copy of the notice and an affidavit describing the procedure followed.
However, in addition to those requirements, the lender also had to follow whatever requirements were included in the mortgage agreement. And after selling the property, if the selling price was greater than the principal plus interest plus expenses of sale, then the balance must be paid to the borrower (not to the lender, as claimed by Dr. Stauffer in his book on Kahana).
Furthermore, the law passed just three weeks later clearly allows a period of one year for a borrower whose mortgage has been foreclosed, to redeem the mortgage and take his property back. It also allows the lender to spend money to maintain the property, and to add the upkeep costs into the amount in arrears.
Taking the two laws together, it would seem the purpose was to make it easier for lenders to foreclose against absentee borrowers who had abandoned the property and perhaps had died or left the area. But borrowers were protected for a year after the foreclosure and physical takeover of the property, so they had a year to redeem the mortgage and get their property back. If the law of July 18 was passed by stealth through some sort of conspiracy, as Dr. Stauffer claimed, then it would appear the conspiracy was unmasked and the stealth was unsuccessful, since the law passed three weeks later gives protection to borrowers who have been foreclosed and offers them a full year to redeem their properties.
NEWSPAPER REPORT OF SEPTEMBER 22, 2006 DESCRIBING MARY FOSTER’S ROYALIST ACTIVISM AS A FRIEND OF LILI’UOKALANI, AND FOSTER’S ETHNIC HAWAIIAN ANCESTRY, DESCENDED FROM ALI’I.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, September 22, 2006, Excerpts
Mysterious Mary Foster
Foster Garden celebrates its developer's birthday this weekend
By Nancy Arcayna
Mary Mikahala Robinson Foster was the daughter of a shipwrecked sailor. Her mother was the daughter of Kamakana, a Maui chiefess. Although Foster was a close friend of Queen Liliuokalani, much of her life is shrouded in mystery.
"Mary Foster is a piece of history that is overlooked," said Grace Dixon, a volunteer at Foster Botanical Garden. "Her story is the stuff of novels."
Her full name might not be familiar, but her legacy certainly is. When she died in 1930, she left Foster Botanical Garden to the city. "This first garden bloomed into five distinct gardens," Dixon said. "It became the keystone of Honolulu Botanical Gardens."
The garden celebrates Foster's birthday on Sunday with music, hula, historic exhibits, a Sunday brunch and more. As a co-organizer, Dixon hopes the event will make the community more familiar with Foster.
Foster grew up in royal social circles. Her parents, Rebecca Prever and John James Robinson, were married in the 1800s, and Robinson founded a shipyard that became the basis of the family fortune. Her younger sister was Victoria Ward, and her brother was Mark Robinson, a founder of First National Bank and American Savings Bank. ... at age 16 married Thomas Foster, one of Hawaii's most influential businessmen. They had no children.
Pat Masters, who is writing a novel, "In Search of Mary Foster," to be published in 2007, said Foster was instrumental in establishing Japanese Buddhism in Hawaii.
She helped establish the Honpa Hongwanji Mission and School on Pali Highway, said Masters, a professor at Loyola Marymount University in California. "The book by Ruth Tabrah, 'The History of the Hongwanji Temple,' includes pages and pages about Mary Foster."
Her interest in Buddhism developed after a chance meeting with Ceylonese hero Anagarika Dharmapala, when his ship stopped in Honolulu on the way back from the World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago.
After hearing about Dharmapala's schools and orphanages, Foster donated funds to the Ceylonese Bodhi Society to promote Buddhism's spiritual and charitable causes, and funded the Foster-Robinson Hospital for the Poor -- a free ayurvedic hospital that remains part of Colombo General Hospital in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon).
A prayer service is held every month at the hospital in Foster's honor, Masters said. "In Sri Lanka she is like a saint."
She also gave money during the 1890s to restore the temple at Bodh Gaya in India, after the statues were destroyed and monks and nuns were killed during a Muslim invasion in the 12th century.
"Bodh Gaya is the most holy site for Buddhists around the world. It's like Mecca for the Muslims and Jerusalem for the Christians," said Masters.
It's not clear if Foster actually traveled to these places or just sent money from Hawaii, explained Masters.
But her contributions to the region are memorialized with a plaque at the Ghandi Peace Garden in India, and with the planting of a bo tree in Honolulu. In 1913, Dharmapala brought the tree, propagated from an ancient tree planted in 288 B.C. at the temple in Anuradhapura, Ceylon. Today, the tree stands tall at the entrance of Foster Botanical Garden.
In 1884, Foster purchased the land that became Foster Botanical Garden from William Hillebrand, a German physician and botanist. Hillebrand's garden contained a valuable collection of rare trees and plants which he had imported and collected over 30 years. Those trees are now more than 150 years old. Hillebrand returned to Germany, leaving Foster to nurture and renovate the garden.
NEWSPAPER REPORT OF SEPTEMBER 27, 2010 DESCRIBING MARY FOSTER'S ETHNIC HAWAIIAN HERITAGE AND HER CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH LILI'UOKALANI
Honolulu Star-Advertiser, September 27, 2010
Mary Foster's birthday celebrated among flora
By Heidi Leianuenue Bornhorst
Friends and supporters of Mary Elizabeth Mikahala Robinson Foster, who bequeathed us with Foster Botanical Garden and a whole lot more for Hawaii and the world, celebrated her birthday last week under bicentennial trees, in the gorgeous afternoon light, with music and hula from the tremendously talented Royal Hawaiian Band Glee Club and their amazing hula dancer.
We hope to make this an annual event so more people can enjoy the garden and learn about Foster.
Educator and writer Pat Masters, who had a Fulbright fellowship to learn more about Foster and is working on a book about her life, shared details about Foster and her ohana and friends.
She said many people know of Victoria Robinson Ward and Mark Robinson but are not familiar with their oldest sister, Mary. Their mother was a descendent of Maui alii.
Foster was one of the closest friends of Queen Liliuokalani and was one of only two people allowed to visit the queen during her imprisonment at Iolani Palace. Both women loved plants and gardens, which helped them overcome anger and sorrow. Both also lived long, productive lives and wholeheartedly supported the Hawaiian community.
The birthday paina was held near the hula mound on the main terrace of the 14-acre Foster Botanical Garden, a living museum and oasis in the heart of urban Honolulu. This is near where her house originally stood and where 150-year-old majestic trees still grow on the lush green lawn.
The garden actually traces its beginning to 1853 when Queen Kalama leased a small area of land to William Hillebrand, a young German doctor and noted botanist. After 20 years in Hawaii, he returned to Germany, and the property was later sold to Mary Foster and her husband, Thomas. The Fosters expanded the garden, and upon Mary's death in 1930, she bequeathed the site to the city as a public garden.
A special choral piece, "Beautiful Kahana," made famous with an arrangement by Robert Cazimero, recalls Foster's country home in Kahana Valley. Many people don't know about how she saved 99 percent of Kahana Valley from being burned for grass for cattle and then gifted the land for Hawaiian families to live on and grow food and other crops for health and well-being.
At Tuesday's event we sang "Happy Birthday" to Foster, and then Glee Club members Scot Furushima, Kaipo Asing and Gary Keawe Aiko and hula dancer Kuulei Hazelwood entertained and enlightened us with perfect music from the time of Queen Liliuokalani and Foster.
Karen Miyano made gourmet gingerbread chocolate cupcakes, decorated with white dendrobium orchids, and a delightful punch flavored with tamarind and roselle, a type of nutritious hibiscus rich in vitamin C.
Two large tamarind trees grow in Foster Botanical Garden and in the smaller Liliuokalani Botanical Garden on North Kuakini Street, which is mauka of Foster Garden and separated by the freeway.
Heidi Leianuenue Bornhorst is a Hawaiian horticulturist, arborist, food gardener and sustainable landscape designer. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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