Roll #8: Patterns

Why you are doing this assignment

Like literature and music, visual images communicate through repetition. If a song repeats a certain musical phrase or a beat, a visual image repeats key shapes. Repetition is a major component of the visual language used by artists to communicate with their audience. Composing an image to create this repetition is a skill that needs practice.

How to do this assignment

This is the opposite of roll #7. Look for a series of shots that have absolutely no center of interest. This is hard, because when there is no center of interest, the shot can become — that’s right — boring. In order to avoid this embarrassing situation, you need to look for images that show repetition — but not too much repetition. Look for images that walk the fine line between repetition and variety.  A good image has both. Avoid turning in work that is the equivalent to a childrensʻ song like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

What to shoot

The subject matter for this assignment is wide open. Think of

  • the patterns formed by railings and their shadows late in the day on the stairway down to ʻAkahi
  • the patterns formed by a crowd of feet and ankles walking down Konia hallway
  • repeated shapes of leaves on the ground, or of the shadows of leaves (or people) created by the sun late in the day.

What to turn in

  •  an analysis (fill out both sides!)
  • two 5X7 prints from the two best negatives
  • a contact sheet with the two images circled.

What your assignment should look like

Pay attention to the quality of your two prints. Aim for prints

  • that are sharp
  • that contain a wide range of tones, from solid black to small areas pure white
  • but that do not contain large areas (sky, white shirts, etc.)  that are pure white
  • that have even 1/8th inch borders

Aim for a contact sheet that contains

  • At least 20 visible images that show repetition
  • At least 7 different subjects

Roll #7: The Rule of Thirds

Why you are doing this assignment

When people make photos, they have a natural urge place the most important object right in the center. If it is a portrait, the most important point is the eye or eyes. If it is a more distant  shot of, say, a surfer, then of course the person is the most important point. We call this point the “center of interest.” However, it is usually a bad idea to put the center of interest in the center of the photo. Instead, we place it near (but not in) one of the four corners.

When we make a landscape shot, the tendency is also to split the frame with the horizon running right through the center of the image. It is usually a better idea to place the horizon at the 2/3 line above the center, or at the 1/3 line below the center.

How to do this assignment

Try out the rule of thirds. (Actually itʻs not a rule, but just a guideline, a suggestion that photographers ignore under some circumstances.) Decide what is the most important point in your image (the center of interest), and place that point near the upper or lower right corner, or near the upper or lower left corner. In other words, DO NOT place it in the center OR on the horizontal or vertical lines that cross the center of the frame.

What to shoot

Go to one or two places and make images that capture their “feeling.”  We talk about this kind of image as capturing a “sense of place,” something of what people experience when they are there. This sense of place could be a positive emotion, like our feelings about a certain stretch of beach, but it could also be a negative emotion. Think of going into an abandoned house covered with graffiti, or a place where people throw out household goods on the sidewalk before they get picked up by bulk pickup trucks.

What to place in your folder

  • an analysis of one of your images, the best one.
  • two 8X10 prints of your two best images.
  • a contact sheet with the two prints circled

What your assignment should look like

Aim for a contact sheet that contains

  • At least 20 visible images
  • At least 7 different subjects – no portraits
  • images evenly exposed (with the same levels of dark and light tones)
  • Apply what you have learned so far. This means
    • Shots that are sometimes vertical
    • Shots that contain only deliberate silhouettes
    • Shots taken in ideal “cloudy bright” conditions

Aim for prints that

  • contain no large white areas. We need to see faint details in the upper tones
  • contain some areas that are absolute, completely black – to anchor your tones to the lowest part of the tone range.
  • make use of the entire rectangle, with a clear center of interest in one of the four possible areas.


Roll #6: Kūpuna Portraits

Why you are doing this assignment

People who were well off used to pay artists to paint their portraits. However, within a few decades after the 1826 invention of the photographic process, many less affluent people could suddenly afford to have portraits made. Photographers even began to put painters out of work. We all still take portraits, but like oil painting, creating a powerful portrait is an art, a skill that must be mastered.

How to do this assignment

Standing fairly close to your subjects, take a roll of upper-body portraits that include the face and hands. You might need to give instructions to your subjects, to ask them to face in a certain direction, or to hold their hands in a certain way. As always, apply what you have learned in previous assignments.

  • Use the vertical format for portraits
  • Wait for the ideal cloudy-bright lighting situation. Remember that you still need soft highlights and soft shadows.
  • Take about three shots of each person, and aim for about seven different people or at least seven different poses. In other words, do not just take the same shot 25 times.
  • In some shots have your subjects looking at you, and in some others, looking elsewhere. Think of shooting in profile rather than head-on.
  • Vary your shooting angle. In some shots, squat down and shoot up, and in others, shoot from a higher position.
  • Make sure that light is striking the front of the face, not the back of the head.

What to shoot

You have already had many opportunities to photograph your friends. For this assignment, photograph somebody over 60. Ideally, photograph several people over 60.

Photograph single individuals, unless there is an obvious reason to put two people together in the same shot. (mother/daughter, husband/wife, etc.)

What should be in your folder

As always, put the most recent roll on the top. In your folder:

  • An analysis sheet of your one best image. The analysis sheet should always be the first page of the folder, so that I know what assignment I am looking at.
  • A contact sheet with at least 20 visible images related to the assignment, and with the two best images circled. Use a non-black sharpie.
  • Two 5X7 prints* of your two best images. Mount the prints with tape loops on plain white paper so that the tape does not show. Punch holes in the paper, not the prints.

*NOTE: Beginning with the second quarter of each semester, turn in two prints that are a full sheet, 8X10 inches. Depending on where the semester breaks, you might be asked to turn in full-sized prints on this assignment. Iʻll announce it but if you are unsure, be sure to ask.

What your assignment should look like

Aim for a contact sheet that contains

  • At least 20 visible images, with the best two images circled
  • At least 7 different subjects, all portraits of older folks

Try to create images that

  • Look as sharp as possible, with no camera shake. Be sure to shoot at 1/125th sec. and above.
  • Do not always show someone grinning with a generic “camera face” smile.
  • Have simple backgrounds that do not compete with the main subject
  • With subjects sharp and the backgrounds out of focus. (hint: Take this roll with as wide-open an aperture as you can. We’ll go over in class why this is a good idea.)
  • Show a sense of timing, show that you have thought about your subject. There needs to be that special twinkle in the eye that draws the viewer into your image. You need to take the image at just the right split second to capture that twinkle.


Roll #5: Focus

Why you are doing this assignment

A photograph reproduces a three-dimensional world on a two-dimensional piece of paper. It does this by creating the illusion of depth, that some objects are closer than others. Photographers work to create a sense of depth in each image, to help draw the viewer in to the imaginary world inside that image, and to direct the viewer towards the most important parts of that image.

How to do this assignment

Do roll #2 over again, but this time, make two exposures for each image.  Remember that roll #2 asked you to help create a sense of depth in your photo by including something close and something far away in each shot? This time do the same thing, but for each subject, take one shot focused on the close object and then take a second one focused on the far object. If you are shooting the city through a railing, first focus on the railing and then on the far-off buildings.

What to shoot

Your last assignment, roll #4, asked you to photograph industrial subjects. For contrast, photograph natural ones this time: leaves, branches, mountains and clouds.

What your folder should contain

Always put the most recent assignment on top of the previous assignments.

  • An analysis sheet of your one best image. The analysis sheet should always be the first page of the folder, so that I know what assignment I am looking at.
  • A contact sheet with at least 20 visible images related to the assignment, and with the two best images circled. Use a non-black sharpie.
  • Two 5X7 prints of your two best images. Mount the prints with tape loops on plain white paper so that the tape does not show. Punch holes in the paper, not the prints.

What your assignment should look like

Aim for a contact sheet that contains

  • At least 20 visible images
  • At least 7 different subjects
  • For this assignment I will be looking for PAIRS of images, with the only difference between each pair the point of sharp focus.

Roll #4: Cloudy Bright Light

Why you are doing this assignment

This assignment will help you notice lighting conditions that will result in attractive images. Photographers usually avoid shots under mid-day direct sunlight because this results in deep black shadows with no shadow details, totally white highlights with no details, and fewer middle gray tones. Those images usually come out looking harsh and unattractive.

How to do this assignment

Take a roll of film under cloudy conditions. But wait — it is possible for natural light to be too gray and flat. That’s not good either.  Don’t just look for any old cloudy conditions, but look for what is called “bright cloudy” conditions. That means that when you hold out your arm, it throws a faint, diffused shadow on the ground. If it is sunny, wait for a cloud to come to cover the sun, and then try to determine the best moment for a photo.

What to shoot

Get industrial with this assignment and search for an object or group of objects that (as always) form interesting visual patterns. Think of trash bins, propane tanks, piles of lumber, pipes on a wall. Whatever, you pick, it needs to be outside, not in the shade of a building.

What your folder should contain

From now on, turn in the same things you turned in for Roll #3. As always, put the most recent assignment on top. Include

  • An analysis sheet of your one best image. The analysis sheet should always be the first page of the folder, so that I know what assignment I am looking at.
  • A contact sheet with at least 20 visible images related to the assignment, and with the two best images circled. Use a non-black sharpie.
  • Two 5X7 prints of your two best images. Mount the prints with tape loops on plain white paper so that the tape does not show. Punch holes in the paper, not the prints.

What your assignment should look like

Shoot about seven different subjects and vary the shooting angle (vertical, horizontal, high, low, etc.). The requirement for this assignment is that the objects need to be ones that show the “cloudy bright” lighting conditions with soft shadow areas and beautiful highlights.

Roll #3: Silhouettes

Why you are doing this assignment

This is the point in the semester when you should start to become aware of how your cameraʻs light meter measures light, and what it is telling you when it suggests a certain combination of shutter speed and aperture. In this case, you are looking for a specific lighting situation that will cause your light meter to suggest a setting that will result in a silhouette. The point of this assignment is to learn to recognize such lighting situations, so that you know ahead of time what kind of negatives and prints will result from it. Sometimes you want to create a silhouette and sometimes not; this assignment should give you the ability to control the look of your final prints.

How to do this assignment

Point your camera at the sky, or at something just as bright, such as the side of a white building. Position yourself so that between you and the sky are some objects that form an interesting pattern.

What to shoot

Branches, the railings along a stairway, a wire fence – any object that allows your camera to see through to the sky and that creates an interesting pattern.

For this assignment, avoid photographing people. Shoot through interesting objects, either man-made or natural.

CAUTION: never allow sunlight to directly hit the front of your lens when you take a photo. It’s bad for your light meter and it ruins your shots. Shoot with the sun behind you or off to one side.

What to turn in

Turn in your folder with the most recent project on top. For this week, turn in the following, in this order:

  • An analysis sheet of your one best image. The analysis sheet should always be the first page of the folder, so that I know what assignment I am looking at.
  • A contact sheet with at least 20 visible images related to the assignment, and with the two best images circled. Use a non-black sharpie.
  • Two 5X7 prints of your two best images. Mount the prints with tape loops on plain white paper so that the tape does not show. Punch holes in the paper, not the prints.

What your assignment should look like

If there is a lot of bright sky in your image, the light meter will measure that and will give you a reading that will produce a beautiful image of the sky, showing all the details of the clouds. If some (relatively) darker objects are in front of the sky — like a railing or some branches — they will come out completely black, like they have been cut out of black paper. They will be silhouettes! This assignment is asking you to create an interesting (black) pattern against something very light (probably the sky).

CHALLENGE: See if you can create such an interesting pattern that people at first cannot tell what you have photographed. A good work of art often contains ambiguity, or sometimes a puzzle for the viewer to solve.

By the way, we call dark areas in a print the shadows and we call the bright areas the highlights.

Sites of North Kohala




Sites of North Kohala


Article in Ke Ola magazine


North Kohala: A Cultural Landscape

The modern landscape is full of boundaries. Individual parcels of land are defined by ownership, signified by lines on maps and physically built up by walls, fences, and signage on the ground. Archaeological sites have inherited this boundary system in recent centuries, with borders inevitably drawn around or through important places of the past, effectively declaring where they begin and where they end. A cultural landscape, however, rarely begins and ends so abruptly. Instead, it flows outward from centers of knowledge and practice across the land, affecting individuals and communities almost as invisibly (yet persistently) as the wind.

The body of photographic work exhibited here has been shaped by these ideas of land, culture and boundaries. Sparked by archaeological fieldwork that has identified, documented and studied earthen and stone features related to ancient agricultural production, these photographic recordings of structures across North Kohala have inevitably led to the exhibition of something more ephemeral – and ultimately perhaps less knowable – than straightforward identification and documentation. With both archaeological research and photography  encompassing sites built for agricultural, habitation and ceremonial purposes (as well those with mixed and changing functions), these photographs collectively present an invitation not only to view individual architectural features but also glimpse the cumulative cultural significance of their presence on the landscape, even centuries after their initial construction and use.

These images suggest the subtle, complex interaction between culture and land. However, a cultural landscape is made up of far more than carefully placed stone structures. Moʻolelo (stories, histories), language, place names, cultural practices, indigenous plants — all define a cultural landscape. This deeper layer of significance should be for residents of Kohala to communicate. The land under these structures has shifted in ways both subtle and dramatic, as has the culture that gave rise to them. The archaeological sites of North Kohala, nonetheless, endure to remind us of what yet stands upon and colors the region. Of course, such remnants persist not simply as reminders of the past but also as foundations for contemporary culture. While a continuing cultural presence varies across the places pictured in this work, from the extensive rites of Hoʻokuʻikahi held at Puʻukoholā heiau each year to the lonely presence of a simple mauka shelter, they all hold a cumulative power both now and for the future. They carry cultural significance for Hawaiians, and also possess an aesthetic beauty that is capable of transcending cultural boundaries.

The greatest challenge facing Kohala’s remarkable landscape may be the inherent nature of modern boundaries to divide places, often along lines unknown in the past. While the land development that already encroaches upon many of these sites is near certain to continue, not only the individual structures are at risk. There are more than stones to be protected. The integrity of each place is in constant flux and thus depends nearly as heavily on what happens nearby as on the material preservation of the structure itself.
Long known for the sheer variety and uniqueness of its winds, North Kohala and its deep history is a cultural treasure to all residents of Hawaiʻi, Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike. In light of this broader perspective we hope that the numerous cultural landscapes of North Kohala – indivisible from the archaeological sites presented here – can endure. Ultimately all of us who call Hawaiʻi home are obligated to ensure that they do.

Jan Becket and Jesse Stephen
fall, 2013

Dr. Michael Graves, for help with the text and for encouragement throughout this project
The UH North Kohala Summer Field School, for help with access
Jeff Alexander, for 4-wheel drive help in getting to some sites


Ritual Sites in Windward Kohala

If ritual sites are relatively well preserved in the mauka areas of Kohala and relatively well known from the leeward coasts, the windward sites are neither well known or preserved. Yet, when surveyed in the early 20th century, there were 9 named named heiau along the windward coast, although even then several had been apparently destroyed, usually by road building or sugar cane cultivation.

When surveyed in the early 20th century, all of the named heiau in windward Kohala were located along or relatively close to the coast, generally on cliff lines or edges, but often along side or at the coastal front of streams. Based on earlier accounts coastal heiau were regularly spaced, often located at or near community boundaries, with view planes of the coastline and ocean, or of surrounding agricultural areas.

Among the best and still preserved heiau are three found on cliff lines between Hālawa and Niuli‘i Gulches. Just east of Hālawa, on the cliff overlooking the ocean and gulch is the site known as Hale o Kā‘ili, associated with Kamehameha I and said to have been where he kept the image of Kūkailimoku, the war god  with which he had been entrusted upon the death of his uncle. Kapālama near Kapania Bay is one of the largest heiau, based on area, nearly 110,000 square feet although over much of its area it consists of a paving of water worn rock on the surface. Finally, Kupalaha‘a heiau is located on the cliff above Kēōkea Bay near the boundary of Makapala and Niulii. This site sits on the cliff edge and now has a large opening to the ocean below in its center courtyard. It was built of multiple terraces, with walls around the perimeters and considerable paving with water worn cobbles. It has walls and alignments that extend down slope to a large lo‘i complex that fronts Kēōkea Bay.

Windward Kohala heiau are noted for the great variety of forms they encompass, including walled enclosures, forms with multiple, steep retaining walls, platforms or rock pavings on surfaces, and at least two that were excavated below grade or out of surrounding basalt bedrock.  Many of these heiau, like Kupalaha‘a, were associated with l‘oi complexes or streams highlighting again the close relationship between farming, in this of the irrigated variety, and ritual in Kohala.


Monumental structures and coastal complexes
The leeward makai (coastal) sites

The leeward makai sites extend from the southwestern corner of North Kohala up to the tip of the peninsula, encompassing the northernmost extent of Hawai‘i Island.  Many of these sites look across the Alenuihaha Channel to the shoreline of Maui beyond.  This passageway has long been a crossroads connecting the Big Island to the rest of the archipelago and the broader region of Oceania.  Although these photographs principally juxtapose architectural remnants with species of trees and grasses that have been recently introduced, the sheltered bays and rocky shores upon which they lie nevertheless retain a timeless quality.

Two important places bookend this particular stretch of coastline.  Known to be luakini heiau, Pu‘ukoholā and Mo‘okini are each examples of a class of ceremonial structure that were built by Hawaiians from the 14th century until the end of the 18th century.  Pu‘ukoholā was completed in 1791 by Kamehameha I after the arrival of the first Europeans but before the abolishment of the kapu system in 1819.  Ethnohistoric sources recount its construction as part of Kamehameha’s quest to subjugate his rivals.  Capping the top of a small hill (as referenced by its name, which translates literally as “hill of the whale”), its high backing wall and elevated terrace dominate the bay of Kawaihae.  Less is known about Mo‘okini, which may have been built many centuries before Pu‘ukoholā. Like Pu‘ukoholā, this heiau would have been central to the ruling powers of Kohala of its time.  Constructed on relatively level ground, Mo‘okini features high walls around its perimeter, with limited access into its interior space.  Alongside oral and written histories as well as contemporary practices of Hawaiian culture relating these sites to the ancient high chiefs, the large format prints of this exhibition study how architecture and landscape can be combined to form a powerful presence.

While certain sites are highly visible today due to their size, location, or known historical significance, the leeward coastline is populated by an abundance of less obvious archaeological ruins.  It was in this area that a focus on settlement patterns was pioneered in Hawai‘i as an archaeological approach.  Archaeologists realized that examining entire regions, rather than individual sites, can be more effective for addressing certain types of questions.   This strategy was successful at better understanding the distribution and development of the archaeological record within the ancient Hawaiian territorial divisions that partition the coast.  The structures featured in this portion of the exhibition are thus often components within architectural complexes.  They are frequently situated near a variety of other buildings that each served a distinct purpose and were firmly set within an ahupua‘a.

Although architecture linked to ceremonial activities is the primary subject pictured here, each site invariably manifests unique aspects that do not necessarily fit with the entire group.  For example, unlike every other structure featured, the site of Kukuipahu contains a great number of hewn (quarried and dressed) basalt slabs which are thoroughly incorporated into its foundation and walls.  Perhaps what we are seeing is a preference for something particular, perhaps not.  Regardless, it is the case that for as long as these structures stand along Kohala’s leeward coast – as many of them have for centuries – the opportunity for learning and living with them remains.


Farming and Ritual in Mauka Kohala
The mauka (upland) sites

The sites pictured here vary in many respects but they share a common theme: the ancient organization of dry land farming in Kohala.  From broad views over a long abandoned agricultural  field system to renderings of modest small stone structures, these images offer a sense of what can still be seen of a long and productive past in the upper reaches of leeward Kohala. .As a peninsula with a number of bays and relatively undeveloped coastline, it is possible to overlook the lands that comprise the district’s interior.  Indeed, an early 20th century account of ancient Hawaiian ritual sites (or heiau) describes only those on or near both the windward and leeward coasts. It mentions nothing of the uplands.  However, the upper slopes of Kohala were developed over several centuries on this, the Big Island’s oldest mountain, to become finest example of an integral component of ancient Hawaiian society: dryland farming.

All of the architectural remnants featured in this portion of the exhibition once played a role in dryland farming, or the cultivation of crops in the absence of irrigation.  Completely reliant on rainfall, this was nevertheless an intensive form of agriculture, and one that provided Hawaiian chiefdoms with quantities of uʻala (sweet potato; Ipomoea batatas) and dryland kalo (taro; Colocasia esculenta) as well as other cultigens (e.g., sugarcane, ti, gourds, yams).  Estimates of the area developed for this purpose exceed twenty-three square miles, or more than 11,000 football fields!  Two hallmarks of the Kohala Dryland Field System are linear agricultural alignments (generally appearing as long field borders on the land) oriented perpendicular to the slope and the prevailing trade winds, and a series of trails and alignments that segment the field borders into various sized plots of land.  Situated alongside and sometimes integrated into these features, are other types of structures – ranging from simple C-shaped  terraces used for housing,  drylaid masonry exclosures to keep out livestock, and to monumental platforms, terraces.  These myriad features of upland Kohala had many different functional purposes—for farming, for herding, for living and for rituals and ceremonies, and it is not surprising that these stone foundations also take on a wide variety of forms.

It is the architectural features consistent with ceremonial or ritual use that are perhaps the most intriguing, and which are primarily pictured here.  They are abundant in the area, with more than 30 identified as shrines or heiau. With the celebration of the Makahiki season and the  gathering of offerings, including various cultivated foods, on an annual basis, such sites would have been integral parts of the social as well as the physical landscape.  In the context of the Kohala  Field System, such structures appear to have been built in styles and scales beyond those of other architecture, displaying unique construction attributes such as courtyards, notched (or inverted) corners and the incorporation of upright stones into walls.  They were often placed in prominent places on or near community boundaries with vistas that included cinder cones (pu’u), the ocean (kai), land and seascapes,  fields as well as other ritual sites  Many of these characteristics may be observed in these photographs, as if to remind us that what may appear today as quiet and solitary places have not necessarily always have been so in the past.



The exhibit consists of 50 black-and-white images by Jan Becket and 11 color images by Jesse Stephen. Most images are 16X20, but several are diptych 32X40 inches, and several others are linear panoramas.  The exhibit includes eight maps of individual sites.

The black-and-white images are printed with Eboni 6 carbon pigment ink on Epson Cold Press Natural paper with profiles made by Jan Becket.


 The 2007 Star-Bulletin review



Mākua is actually three valleys. The largest and deepest is Mākua, but to its east lies Ko‘iahi, and to its west, Kahanahāiki. Together they open up to form the broad plain at the shore. Driving past on the way to Keawa‘ula, past the chain link fence and military observation tower, past acres of grassland enclosed by steep cliffs and ridges, we admire its beauty. Like everywhere else in Hawai‘i, though, the surface both reveals and conceals multiple realities.

In ancient times, Mākua used to be a large fishing and farming community; we are just beginning to realize how large. Beneath the grass even now are remnants of a vast dry land field system, interrupted by small family or craft ahu (shrines), heiau (temples) and other structures. At the beach was a fishing heiau. Cattle ranching earlier this century trampled the agricultural terraces and grazed away much of the remaining native forest on the valley floor, opening the valley to colonization by the same foreign grasses that in the rainy season now look so green from the road. Goats probably destroyed much of the famed maile lauli‘i (small-leafed maile vine) of Ko‘iahi. The Kanaka Maoli (Hawaiian) community remained, though, working on the McCandless Ranch, fishing, farming, gathering on Sundays at the church near the ocean, bringing ho‘okupu (offerings) to the heiau at the beach and to at least one inland heiau and also bringing piko (afterbirth, umbilical cord) to a small ahu in the middle of the valley.

The Army took over the valley in 1942, evicting those who lived there and using their church for target practice. Live fire training is more controlled now, but in those early years, pilots dropped hundreds, perhaps thousands of 500 lb. bombs at will, keeping no records of locations or unexploded duds. Artillery rounds and mortars fired throughout the entire valley now work their way to the surface after heavy rains. Cluster bombs were exploded above ground, scattering hundreds of shiny little bomblets that can explode decades later if slightly moved. To make the valley safe for training, the Army conducts “controlled burns” of the vegetation on the floor, so that it is possible to see unexploded ordnance before stepping on it. The burns, however, regularly escape control, killing off precious remnants of indigenous vegetation on the valley walls, just as one did in 2003. Marion Kelly tells of hiking to an area decades ago after such a burn and seeing hundreds of endangered Hawaiian tree snail shells on the ground below a blackened native forest. Once gone, the native forest, its snails and its birds never return.

Fortunately, kūpuna (elders) whose genealogy connects them with the valley have passed on cultural knowledge to their descendants, even after the diaspora. Because of them, we know that Mākua is the parent, a place where Papahānaumoku and Wakea, the sky father and the earth mother, mate to give birth to the Hawaiian people. Kamapua‘a still meets people there at night, according to local hunters, in the form of a huge pig that leaves no hoof prints. Hi‘iaka passed by there on her way back to Hawai‘i island, bringing back to life a young girl who had just died and destroying the evil creature that had killed her. Nearby, she opened a new water source for the local people. The rich tapestry of land and sky and ocean is reflected in the mo‘olelo (stories) of those whose ‘ohana (family) lived there for so many generations and who now assert their kinship with Mākua. As for the rest of us, those same mo’olelo serve as markers on the journey towards our own kinship with this place, towards a less exploitative relationship with Mākua, with Hawai’i and with the rest of the Earth. Given the impending environmental crisis, it is a journey we must all sooner or later make.

Now, we pass by on the highway, seeing what is and what was: a double vision of past and present. It is the same wherever we look below the surface in Hawai‘i, but at Mākua, the contrast is sharper, the present reality more full of pain and of hope.

Mākua: Photoquai 2009, Paris

Land and Literature: teaching about the Hawaiian forest

This essay, along with an image of Mākua Valley, appeared in the 2003 book Wao Akua, published by the Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Department of Land and Natural Resources, State of Hawaiʻi.

Loina, or traditional practice, helps you connect with the land in a very intimate way, as the ancient natives did. The winds, the trees, everything becomes living, personified.

— Sam Gon, Director of Science, The Nature Conservancy, Hawaii, in “Nature Conservancy,” Spring 2003, p. 26

Environmentalist and author Barry Lopez agrees with Sam Gon in his celebrated environmental manifesto, The Rediscovery of North America (Vintage Books: New York, 1990), which proposes a new ethic for human tenure on the land: “ It is by looking upon the land not as its possessor but as a companion. To achieve this, one must I think cultivate intimacy, as one would with a human being.”(32)

I teach a high school senior elective called Land and Literature. We begin the semester reading Lopez, who describes the 1492 European “incursion” into North America as a series of greedy raids that set the tone for what followed, a “profound abuse of place,” that continues today. Ultimately, though, his is a message of hope; the ethic that he advances redefines our relationship with the land as communion with a place that we accept, finally, as home, with all of the obligations that implies.

The true wealth that America offered, wealth that could turn exploitation into residency, greed into harmony, was to come from one thing — the cultivation and achievement of local knowledge. (23)

The course Land and Literature asks students to further that acquisition of “local knowledge,” of the places they live in and care about. We begin first with direct observation and description of places not far from the classroom, during the 40-minute period. Despite distractions, most connect:

I walk up a steep hill on stairs made of rocks, and I am continuing to be bitten by the abundance of pesky bugs and scraped by the sharp thorns of those ridiculous thorn trees. Mosquitoes constantly swarm around and suck out my life, little by little as I try to complete this assignment. It is a very arduous task to carry out as I am constantly being distracted by these annoying things. But through the thickest of the bugs and trees I see a large rock in the middle of all these things; I stare at it in awe. (Tupu Laufou, 3/14)

Wherever they go to describe their surroundings, students are encouraged to focus on the details, the small stuff. Just going to a place and describing what is there proves surprisingly demanding because it requires one’s full attention:

I noticed a couple of dried-up cactus plants turning a brownish ugly color and I mistook it for a tree trunk; that’s how deformed it was. I also noticed on the ledge above the cave, in the rocks, two baby cacti and a couple of tall grasses or, really, weeds. (Ka‘onohi Segovia, 3/6/03)

The places we go sometimes have cultural significance. Those who know volunteer to make an entrance chant, Kunihi i ka mauna, and then the class respectfully enters, looks around carefully and then goes a little distance away to describe and sketch. Again, the small details bring the place to life again on the page:

I saw three different levels of platforms up on the hill. On the top left corner there is a formation of medium sized stones. Below it there is a stone standing upright known as the Kü stone and below that is a flatter big stone known as Hina, the male and female stones. To the right of those are the other two platforms. The higher one consists of smaller stones while the lower one is made up of larger stones for the foundation. This separation shows it was carefully planned and built. (Jason Laeha, 2/7/03)

We continue to visit nearby places throughout the semester, especially on hot days, with just the right amount of breeze to push away mosquitoes. Students by then have favorite places and ask to go to those for the period. In addition, though, they keep a land journal, a kind of record of their interaction with a place they have chosen. Lopez calls this a querencia, a place from which one draws strength. In local terms, though, it is their ahupua‘a, and their strength is mana. Some choose the uplands, the waonahele and kuahiwi:

A calm breeze blows through the trees making the branches rustle like the crashing of waves on the sand. The air is light on the tongue. … The ground is covered with pine needles dried from years of untouched growth. The silence is peaceful. Moss covers the ground, creating a carpet-like texture, roots travel in and out of the ground, intertwining with earth, creating a sense of untouched beauty. Much of the pathway consists of narrow walkways atop towering steep cliffs. The summit is a large open area encircled by trees. The opening gives a sense of jubilance; one will often dwell in the moment before wanting to leave the euphoric experience. (Adam Mendez-Ancheta, 2/24/03)

Some choose ke kai, the seashore:

The setting sun casts a flattering shadow against Pu‘u o Hulu Kai, magnifying itself over Ma‘ili Point. Pink, purple, and orange colors spray themselves across the evening sky: a sunset. It’s evident that Ulehawa is calming down. That gracious sun, which provides life for all, loses strength and settles into the ocean.

The ocean moves slower than before with fewer waves crashing against the shoreline. All life knows evening is upon us. The shy moon illuminates itself against the dark Nānākuli sky, causing the rocks to cast miniscule shadows against the sand along Ulehawa’s shoreline. Fewer people comb the beach; some look for an area to call their own, others gather fish to feed their families. The sand crabs race along the water, ducking into their holes at the approach of anyone. Luckily a slight wind gathers strength, bringing the sand up in a whirlwind, carrying itself out into the sea, with all the little crabs fleeing as well. (Jamie Kutara, 2/20/03)

We also do an exercise called “modeling” in which students put their own words and meanings into a form created by someone else, just another way to bring them into contact with others who have the same feelings for the landscape. Some of their models are sensitive reactions to a place, with awareness in time as well as space.


— by Haunani-Kay Trask

light in the crevice

never seen mosses

palai kåla‘au


crescent moon


fragrant clack clack

from the shadows

hunehune rain

aloft on the wind

steamy rocks

falls of crustaceans

blue caves far

away choked

with grasses wet

fully winged

high ‘iwa floating

many chambered

heavens still

and singing


— by Shelly Smith

night in the room

never been noises

pigs cats


full moon


trees sway lightly

from the breeze

cold rain

drips on the roof

ancient stones

days of old

small platforms far

away crowded

with grasses weeds

fully grown

small kōlea pecking

for worms

Alaska bound

and flying

Clearly, some students come to the course with “local knowledge” of their own ahupua‘a. For those, the course merely confirms something they already possess. Similarly, the literature we read together confirms something already embedded in the ka‘ao and mo‘olelo of this place, Hawai‘i. We read the portion of the journey of Hi‘iakaikapoliopele and Wahineoma‘o around the windward coast of O‘ahu, on the way to pick up Lohi‘au on Kaua‘i. The story of their journey is not merely a tale of passion, intrigue and conquest but a relating of the acquisition of mana through intimacy with places in the landscape. The lover adored by Hi‘iaka on her travels through Kailua, Kanahau, is not just a handsome ali‘i but an upright stone at the heiau bearing his name. A large stone still at that heiau appears to be the same one identified in the 1930s as Kanahau. Pōhaku o Kaua‘i is not just a stone at Ka‘ena Point, but the grandfather of Pele, a stone to be addressed with the respect due a kupuna.

If Hi‘iakaikapoliopele is a like a “chick flick,” with the two women throughout their journey attracting and sometimes destroying men, who cannot help but fall under their erotic power, then Kamapua‘a is the opposite, a tale for guys. As a counterpoint to the former, we read, sometimes out loud, the story of the battle between Kamapua‘a and Pele, just a small portion of the epic. The fire goddess almost defeats him, burning his bristles, but the clever little pig narrowly escapes by assuming his fish form, the humuhumunukunukuapua‘a. Renewed, he returns, seduces a willing Pele and quickly triumphs by pinning her down in an embarrassing position for days on end, repeatedly impregnating her. Like all Hawaiian tales, the story contains multiple levels of meaning, one of which is the observation of the contest between vegetation and lava; first one wins and then the other. Neither will completely triumph. Thus, Hawaiian literature is not just “literature” in the Western sense, but a way of knowing this place, based on centuries of direct observation, based on the “local knowledge” mentioned by Lopez. As Kamapua‘a repeatedly asserts, “I am of this place.”

Ultimately both tales affirm kinship with the land, what Lopez refers to as “indigenous systems of natural philosophy.”(19) Wayne Westlake repeats the same idea in the poem Hawaiians Eat Fish. However, if this system of ancient knowledge is now submerged beneath freeways and condominiums here, as elsewhere, Lopez decries its fragmentation:

We lost in this manner whole communities of people, plants, and animals, because a handful of men wanted gold and silver, title to land, the privileges of aristocracy, slaves, stables of little boys. We lost languages, epistemologies, books, ceremonies, systems of logic and metaphysics — a long, hideous carnage. (15)

Lopez asks the reader to look to those whose lives model hope for an alternate future: Bartolomé de las Casas, Oscar Romero, Thomas Merton, the Amish and Mennonite communities. In a similar vein, speakers come to address the class who in their own ways model alternate ways of knowing Hawai‘i, who have helped to redefine mere real estate as land and place and kinship: Haunani-Kay Trask, who writes poems about culture and place; Chuck Burrows, who works to restore Kawainui Marsh; Lance LaPierre, who combines Hawaiian and Western ways of knowing in his work for the Nature Conservancy; Mahealani Cypher, whose life-long fight against the H-3 Freeway has made her intimate with the land all along its corridor; WilliamAila, who works for the return of Mākua Valley; and Kapua Sproat, Kyle Kajihiro, Henry Curtis and Kat Brady, whose work helps protect land from “the hideous carnage.” There are many more.

Thus, the course looks at what is and then at what was, perhaps with a suggestion of what might have been. In response to a looming global environmental crisis that has profound local implications, it looks at environmental issues through traditional Hawaiian values embedded in traditional orature. At the end, it returns to the present, with students encouraged to write a paper on a contemporary land issue. One such paper looks closely at the windward Waiahole water controversy:

Eventually, contact with Westerners and their ideas of economics and politics brought a new era to the Hawaiian islands, an era that led to the loss of the Hawaiian identity, culture and land. Many are still trying to recover these today. Westerners began taking over much of the land in the islands for profit. Sugar plantations became the next big investment for foreigners after the California Gold Rush. Twelve prosperous sugar plantations were actively running in the islands by 1860 (Kekiai: A Publication of the native Advisory Council, Vol. 7, No. 4, winter 1996). The price of sugar began to increase and plantations started looking for more water to grow their crops, especially since it takes 800 pounds of water to produce one pound of sugar. (Kekai)

The digging of the ditch was done by the newly-formed Waiahole Water Company, Ltd., now known as the Waiahole Irrigation Company. The company did not complete the drilling of these developmental tunnels until 1963 (“Chronology of Waiahole Ditch,” Environment Hawai‘I). The combined punps and ditches of this system pumped 27 million gallons of water per day (mgd) to Leeward O‘ahu.

This [the Waiahole Ditch] resulted in a big loss for much of the Kåne‘ohe Bay area. This bay used to be one of the state’s most fruitful estuaries, but it has lost up to 70 million gallons per day due to the ditch and other uses. Thus, much of the Bay’s aquatic life has declined (Commission on Water Resource Management, “Waiahole Ditch Information packet”) The ahupua‘a of Waiahole and Waikåne, the poi bowls of O‘ahu, were hit hard with the depletion of water supplies. Many kalo farmers were unable to continue growing their crops and were forced to change their ways of life, and to walk away from cultural traditions. (Haia, Moses, Hawaiian Water: Waiahole Ditch Controversy, Native Hawaiian Advisory Council, Vol. 7, No. 1, spring 1996)

— Sara Nagatani, fall 2002

As Sam Gon points out, the most intimate connection of all is between the land and the language. “That all these animals and plants could be described in Hawaiian overwhelmed me — there was obviously a long-term connection between the land and the language, which I began learning.” (26) Here, once again, the students teach me far more than I could possibly offer them.

— Jan Becket, 3/03

Oneʻula / Hau Bush / ʻEwa Marina


OUT TO DRY At ‘EWA MARINA: ancient sites are being bulldozed to make way for a Hawai‘i Kai-like development

[Note: this was published as the Honolulu Weekly cover story on 6/17/98]

by Jan Becket

Along one of the few remaining undeveloped stretches of O‘ahu shoreline, cadences of an ancient chant reverberated one morning at sunrise. Several dozen Hawaiians gathered at One‘ula Beach Park March 4 and again on April 4 for what organizers described as a celebration of shrines at One‘ula. But the gathering was also a memorial service for those that were recently bulldozed.

Participants immersed themselves in the ocean in a hi‘u wai, a purification ceremony, and then chanted to the rising sun. After a short break, they gathered for a ceremonial procession to present ho‘okupu, offerings, at coral structures they regard as ahu, or shrines, in a nearby kiawe forest.

Preservationists gathered again at the site on Memorial Day for a rally at sunset. Not far from the shrines, dozens of fishing poles sprout each weekend from the coral ledge, where at low tide, people gather he‘e, octopus, or special varieties of limu for which the area is famous. A reef submerged a few feet below the water stretches out 50 yards in spots. Farther out, a second reef keeps large swells at bay and helps create ideal surf breaks.

Along the shore, growing out of an exposed ancient reef, are strands of hau, kou, milo and naio. At one spot a few yards inland from the ocean is an ancient puna wai — a spring, its sides lined with bricks placed there earlier in the century. It offers testimony to generations of fishermen and gatherers stretching back to antiquity.

A quarter-mile inland, however, bulldozers push each day into the fringe of kiawe forest between the shore and abandoned cane fields, destroying the shrines, pushing the rocks aside and leveling the land.

Haseko, a large Japan-owned multinational development firm, plans to transform this quiet spot into a place strikingly similar to Hawai‘i Kai, complete with a marina dredged a quarter-mile inland, fringed by a golf course and upscale homes.

Grading permits are in place, allowing the bulldozing that topples the once-revered coral structures. Still to be resolved is a court case over a permit that would allow Haseko to dredge through the reef, into caprock that protects the ‘Ewa fresh water aquifer. Recently, the state Supreme Court halted the permitting process over a technicality — Hawaiian gathering rights — but Haseko is reapplying for the permit. And the leveling continues.

The 1995 City & County ‘Ewa Development Plan Report describes the project in glowing terms: “The master-planned ‘Ewa Marina project includes a mix of uses taking advantage of the open space vistas and recreational opportunities offered by an extensive small boat marina and a golf course … In its entirety, the ‘Ewa Marina will occupy approximately 1,100 acres located between ‘Ewa Beach and Barbers Point Naval Air Station. The project will be centered around a 100-acre marina, which will serve as a major recreational resource and visual amenity.”

The ‘Ewa Development Plan Report acknowledges this area’s rich concentration of Hawaiian sites by identifying the Haseko Marina project area as the “One‘ula Archaeological District.” Fifty-three sites, containing 334 identified features, cover the project area. But the report does not comment on the sites there, or explain the transition from archaeological district to Marina.

Concerns raised by some native Hawaiian groups temporarily halted bulldozing this spring around one small complex of 44 features right in the middle of the proposed waterway, designated as section “3215” in the project’s archaeological report. Here, a forest of grass and kiawe sheltered a group of sites that included platforms, mounds, c-shaped structures, cleared areas, and some upright unique stones, all classified in the archaeological report as a “temporary habitation – agricultural complex.”

Haseko ended the moratorium on bulldozing during the week of May 11-15. Most of these structures are now gone, although some Hawaiians continued to visit and honor the handful of stones that remain, just yards from the vast areas now stripped of vegetation and of any evidence that ancient Hawaiians lived there.

“Among those sites were shrines of tremendous cultural value to all Hawaiians,” commented Rev. Kaleo Patterson, director of the Hawai‘i Ecumenical Coalition.

Differences between archaeologists and native Hawaiians have given rise to the controversy, causing some to recall Kukuiokåne Heiau, and numerous sites in Hålawa Valley, all destroyed by the H-3 freeway.

Having gone through a lengthy process of soliciting community input and holding numerous hearings, however, Haseko expresses alarm at the work stoppage.

Haseko Spokesperson Perry White commented, “No one could have chosen an area to become concerned about more sure to derail the marina project. There is no way to work around this area.”

Patterson acknowledges that Haseko has “jumped through all the right legal hoops.” But he and others in the Coalition are taking on the uphill battle against the Marina, and in the process questioning a “culturally-insensitive historic review process that seems designed to carefully filter Hawaiian input.”

Patterson wants the planning process opened up to the Hawaiian community. In this case, he wants the Marina halted if there is a conflict between saving the shrines and dredging for the marina.

“Haseko and the State Office of Historic Preservation are using a set of ground rules that treats Hawaiian sites and Hawaiian culture as expendable,” Patterson said. “We see a much bigger picture.”

In support of his position, Patterson refers to Public Law 101-275, a federal statute known as the “Hate Crimes Statistics Act.” The Act applies to prejudice based on race or religion that manifests itself in the “destruction, damage or vandalism of property.”

The Hawai‘i Ecumenical Coalition sent a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno on April 17, noting that her office used the Act to investigate the burning of Black churches in the South and the vandalism of Punchbowl Cemetery. “Yet for generations many religious shrines and the burial places of our ancestors have not only been vandalized but have been destroyed by developers with little or no attention given by the U.S. Department of Justice,” the letter states. “The destruction of religious shrines at One‘ula for the commercial development of the ‘Ewa Marina Community Project’ … is but the latest manifestation of these ongoing crimes.”

At the center of the controversy were a half dozen stones, each two to six feet tall, and until recently, each still standing centuries after it was placed. Each appears to have been selected with some care, perhaps for an unusual shape. These uprights often stand on or near a small area paved with ‘ili‘ili (small coral stones).

Because no lava stones are available in the region, these stones, the small platforms or paving next to them and all the other stones in the complex are made of coral, the same coral that stretches inland for up to five miles on the ‘Ewa plain, which was under 25 feet of water 130,000 years ago. The fact that the sites are made of coral adds to their value: The Kumolipo, the Hawaiian creation chant, identifies coral as the first form of life.

In fact, no extensive emerged seabeds exist on any of the other Hawaiian islands; on O‘ahu itself, vast complexes of Hawaiian coral sites have already been destroyed in recent times by the construction of the Barbers Point Deep Draft Harbor, Ko‘olina Resort and Campbell Industrial Park.

Scattered complexes remain on Barber’s Point itself, but none lie along the seashore as they do at One‘ula, and few of them incorporate upright coral stones. The sites at One‘ula, with their numerous standing stones, were among the very last Hawaiian coral seashore structures left anywhere, on any island.

This particular place may have even more significance: The name “One‘ula,” which can mean “red sand” in a literal translation, also means “sacred sands” because of the association of the color red with the chiefs and the gods in traditional Hawaiian culture.

Cultural Anthropologist and historian Marion Kelly has had 40 years of field experience, and worked closely at the Bishop Museum with some of the founders of modern Hawaiian archaeology: E.S. Craighill Handy, Mary Kawena Pukui, Catherine Summers and Kenneh Emory. Kelly comments, “I have been to many, many places over the decades, but have never seen such a dense concentration of shrines as exists at One‘ula. Each one appears slightly different. Some uprights may have been selected to represent the god of fishermen, Kü‘ula, some may have served as pōhakuokāne, or family shrines, some may have been to encourage gourd or sweet potato cultivation, and others may have been for experts in the various crafts or professionals who appealed for guidance.”

Marion Kelly at Oneʻula in 1994. Next to her is a structure in area 3215 with an upright stone – probably a fishing shrine. Like almost all other such structures at Oneʻula, it was identified as a “temporary habitation” in the archaeological report submitted prior to the bulldozing.

Archaeologist Rowland Reeve, who has worked extensively on Kaho‘olawe, agrees: “During my relatively brief visit to the area I saw at least one upright stone set atop a small platform of coral. On Kaho’olawe, we would consider a structure like that to be a ko’a (fishing shrine).”

The archaeological report prepared for Haseko by Paul Rosendahl and Associates asserts that this was merely a temporary habitation site, and suggests that Hawaiians using the area must have come to the seashore only at certain seasons, and then returned to permanent homes in the Ko‘olau mountains. Kelly disagrees, pointing to the extensive complex of sites, the availability of water and the abundant marine resources nearby as evidence of permanent habitation. She also points out that by dismissing the sites as “temporary habitations,” the archaeologist’s report minimizes their significance and thus aids their ultimate destruction.

“This is not a neutral, objective piece of culturally-sensitive research,” Kelly comments. “It is a classic example of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ archaeology.”

A strongly-worded letter sent in late February to the State Office of Historic Preservation resulted in a temporary agreement with Haseko to halt the bulldozing of sites in area 3215. “We … decry this desecration of Hawaiian history, culture and religion and call for the protection of religious and historical sites at One‘ula, so that future generations may rekindle their connections to this land and learn from the works of their ancestors,” wrote the Association of Hawaiian Evangelical Churches, representing 18 Hawaiian churches, and Hawai‘i Ecumenical Coalition.

Marion Kelly asked that all new clearing be halted until the sites could be assessed. In a March 3 letter sent to the State Historic Preservation Division, Kelly and four others asserted that the area contained significant cultural features not acknowledged in the initial report.

The State Historic Preservation Office revisited the same features, however, and came to different conclusions. Preservation Office employees Muffet Jordaine and Sara Collins stated, “These sites contain no archaeological traits of religious activity that we could determine.”

Days after this letter was sent, Haseko bulldozers destroyed six standing stones in areas near 3215, prompting some to accuse the developer of practicing damage control. “Nobody specifically asked for a moratorium limited to area 3215,” commented Kelly. “We wanted all bulldozing halted until the entire project area could be reexamined for religious structures. Some of the structures Haseko destroyed were certainly shrines, just as some of the few remaining structures are shrines.”

The archaeological report lists 53 complexes in the project area. Out of the 53, just six are recommended for preservation. These include a mound of coral which the report acknowledges may be a heiau or large shrine. The other 47 complexes are judged as “significant solely for information content,” a phrase that means they can be excavated and then destroyed, as most have been already.

Aside from the one possible heiau, no other features among the hundreds located throughout the 1,100 acres affected are identified in the report as religious, and none, including the heiau itself, are placed in the category “having cultural significance.” However, Haseko spokesperson Perry White said “cultural context was a principal consideration in assigning the site functions.”

Federal guidelines acknowledge that cultural sites “are often hard to recognize … [and that they] may not necessarily come to light through the conduct of archaeological … surveys.” The National Register-of Historic Places Bulletin 38, which directs compliance with federal guidelines, mentions that it is not uncommon for culturally-sensitive properties to come to light late in the development process, especially because sacred places are often kept secret.

The Bulletin goes on to caution that “individuals who have economic interests in the potential development of an area may be strongly motivated to deny its cultural significance … Where one individual or group asserts that a property has traditional cultural significance, and another asserts that it does not, or where there is disagreement about the nature or extent of a property’s significance, the motives and values … of the parties must be carefully analyzed.”

Bulletin 38 states that cultural experts must be brought into the property to help identify significant features. In this instance, the report prepared by Paul Rosendahl and Associates relied for its cultural background on the recollections of two elderly community members, who did not claim to have particular knowledge of ancient life in the area.

Rosendahl and Associates did conduct community tours of the project area about five years ago, but only took people to one of the six areas slated for preservation and to another small group of structures near the ocean.

Patterson, however, located a man who remembers visiting One‘ula as a child of eight or nine with his grandfather and uncles, to fish with nets for kala, ʻāweoweo, manini and ‘u‘u. “My grandpa knew the right time of year and of the month to go,” says Raymond Kauhola, who now lives in ‘Åina Haina. “While we were getting ready to lay the net, he used to go into the shrines in the bushes to pule (pray) and give ho‘okupu. After that we would go and lay the net. Of course, we would catch fish, and then my grandpa would take a fish, wrap it in ti and take it into the bushes to pule again. It is really too bad that they have to go and develop that place, and destroy everything that I remember.”

Kauhola’s grandfather lived in Nånåkuli. Haseko only asked those living in ‘Ewa about family connections to the area.

Rev. Patterson asks, “Why was it so easy for us to locate someone who knows of the shrines, and so hard for them to locate anyone?”

If Haseko suspects Hawaiians of “manufacturing” sacred sites in order to stop excavation of the land to create a marina, those who are objecting to the destruction of the sites note the absence of acknowledged sacred sites among the hundreds of features identified, and the convenient placement of areas recommended for preservation along the edges of the planned marina project where they will not interfere with construction. They also note the lack of acknowledgment of the cultural significance of single upright stones with platforms. “Some ahu have low platforms for receiving ho‘okupu and a unique, upright coral slab to represent the god being propitiated,” Kelly points out. “These are indeed rare!”

Paul Rosendahl defends his company’s archaeological interpretation of the upright stones by maintaining that they are “architectural features.” He contends that the stones set upright were parts of larger structures, which were dismantled by his workers when they originally worked on the sites. However, Rosendahl has not yet produced photographs of these earlier structures.

“The problem is a much greater one than the interpretation of a dozen upright stones. The problem involves the deliberate marginalization of Hawaiians in the interpretation of their own sacred places, as though Hawaiian culture is a dead culture, only to be interpreted by Western archaeologists,” comments Patterson. “We want to see cultural oversight committees set up, similar to the burial councils, that involve the Hawaiian community in every step of the process, beginning right now.”

Patterson emphasizes that this cultural oversight needs to be built into every stage of every project involving Hawaiian sites, including the critical point when a purpose or function is assigned to each feature.

Rowland Reeve, who has worked with the Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana to preserve the cultural sites on that island, expresses similar concerns. “It is not simply a question of whether there are shrines at One‘ula. It is a question of whether the entire process that exists to protect these and other cultural sites is adequate.”

In the politically-charged atmosphere since the H-3 construction, some Hawaiian activists complain that contract archaeologists avoid mentioning the “H” (heiau) word at all costs, and that they assign anything but religious significance to features they uncover, especially those that might prove inconvenient to the developers that have hired them to write the reports. Comments Reeve, “The primary question is whether we are willing to continue to let economic forces determine what parts of the past are worth preserving and which are to be destroyed.”

Patterson promises that the issue will not disappear, even if Haseko bulldozes all the shrines. “The ‘Ewa coast should be a eco-cultural reserve, a protected coastal ecosystem for the perpetuation of traditions and customs such as limu gathering, fishing, surfing, and canoe paddling. We want to plant the seeds of a united campaign that will extend further than the shrines at One’ula. … We’ve already contacted fishermen and limu gatherers in Wai‘anae and Waimānalo. … This is an issue that will come up again and again on this island.”

Jan Becket, a writer and photographer who has participated in events at the ‘Ewa Marina site, is working on a book of photographs documenting Hawaiian religious sites remaining on O‘ahu.


What Is A Shrine?

To further complicate a politically-charged issue, the archaeological community does not agree on the definition of a Hawaiian traditional shrine. The best way for a shrine or heiau to be preserved, Kukuiokāne Heiau aside, is for it to have been included in a survey of O‘ahu done in 1930-1932 by the Bishop Museum archaeologist J. Gilbert McAllister. Without that recognition, however, identification becomes more subjective, and much more open to political and economic pressure.

Marion Kelly points out that a shrine can consist of no more than a single stone, but in most cases consists of a small structure built to emphasize a prominent stone. In traditional Hawaiian cosmology, the upright stone is regarded as a home which a god can be induced to enter if worshippers conduct the proper ceremonies.

The Rosendahl report on the ‘Ewa Marina site, however uses different criteria to define a religious feature: It may have taken a “great deal of time and effort to construct,” may contain ceremonial artifacts and may not have dense concentrations of food remains. The first definition underscores the importance of upright stones, and allows for family shrines, while the second appears to recognize only larger structures used by an entire community or by the ali‘i.

Kelly comments that the Rosendahl definition is not culturally accurate, or culturally sensitive. “How about the pōhakuokāne?” she asks, pointing to the 19th century Hawaiian historian Samuel Kamakau. His book, Ka Po‘e Kahiko, relates that there were “very many” stones of Kāne in every ahupua‘a (district), and that these were stones indicated by a god “perhaps in a dream, or in a vision, or by leading someone to the spot.” Interestingly, his description of the ceremony at a stone of Kāne includes the fact that a feast was eaten near the stone and that “the remains of the feast were buried in front of the stone.”

Kelly also disputes Rosendahl’s taking the presence of food remains as evidence that a structure is not a shrine. “How about the halemua?” she asks. The halemua was the men’s eating house, but was also a place where religious ceremonies were conduced, and it was considered a kind of heiau. “It is a very economically advantageous definition for a developer,” comments Kelly. “I can certainly see how Rosendahl and the SHPD employees saw no shrines at One‘ula when they applied such a limited definition.”