1970s

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Photo: Ed Greevy

The First Sunshine Festival

January 1, 1970

Kamaaina of a certain age might remember rocking out to their favorite bands at the free crater concerts, held inside Diamond Head Crater. Few might remember that 12,000 attended the first of what were then called the Sunshine Festivals. Promoter Tom Moffatt, who put on the first five festivals with radio station KPOI-FM, says, “Sunshine Festivals were for people to enjoy music in a great venue.” At their height, the festivals welcomed 75,000 people and such national stars as Santana and Buddy Miles and the soon-to-be big local act Cecilio & Kapono. But the festival’s free-spirited vibe eventually turned sour. “All of a sudden, it became a money event,” says Moffatt. The Department of Land and Natural Resources shut them down in 1979, but their legacy carries on. “They had a huge impact on the local music scene,” says Moffatt.
   
Cecilio, aka David Rodriguez, who performed at the festivals, agrees. “I miss the crater celebrations!” he says.

 

The University of Hawaii Begins Teaching Hawaiian Studies

Spring, 1970

As writer Will Durant once said, education is the transmission of civilization. The creation of the Center for Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa would prove that point, becoming an incubator for new generations of educated and politically active Hawaiians. The language, culture and history taught at UH became valuable tools not only in battles over land use and sovereignty, but in the deeper process of revitalizing the Hawaiian culture itself.

 

The End of the Boat Days

June 19, 1970

Ah, the boat days. Reaching Hawaii from the West Coast used to be a five-day journey, with passengers pampered along the way with gourmet food, drinks and services. Matson’s SS Lurline luxury liner epitomized the era, although five identical ships actually served one after another, starting in 1933. “It was a rich and colorful era,” says Matson spokesperson Jeff Hull. “We continue to use the travel posters and menu covers from the boat days today.”
   
Romance or no, the 1959 advent of jet airliners—faster, cheaper, more modern—signaled the beginning of the end for the Lurline; its last voyage took place on June 19, 1970. “Passenger ships just weren’t profitable anymore,” says Hull.

 

Hawaii Dedicates the First Telescope on Mauna Kea

June 26, 1970

Dry, high and cloud-free, the summit of Mauna Kea is a natural setting for telescopes. From here, the UH Institute for Astronomy does nothing less then peer out into the furthest reaches of space and time to understand the deepest mysteries of the universe, capturing images no one has ever before seen or imagined.
   
If only it were that simple. The first large telescope opened 1970, built by the University of Hawaii. The summit now hosts 13 telescopes and astronomers from 11 nations, the newest being the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Submillimeter Array, completed in 2002. As the telescopes have multiplied, the frozen summit has become a political, cultural and environmental battleground.
   
For some Native Hawaiian groups, the telescopes deface sacred land and amount to theft. (See, for example, the 2005 documentary, Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege, which aired on PBS and argues that the mountain itself is the most significant temple in the Islands.) For environmentalists, the human activity around the telescopes threatens such rare species such as the wekiu bug. This year, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources approved a new management plan for Mauna Kea that attempts to address all these tensions, so temples and telescopes can coexist.