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Hawaii's Most Endangered Historic Sites


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Chalking petroglyphs, as shown in this historical photo, is one of the practices that have damaged these ancient carvings.

Photo: Courtesy of Kepa Maly

Luahiwa Petroglyphs (Kealiakapu ahupuaa, Lanai)

What is it?

Located on a difficult-to-find, 3-acre section of land in central Lanai, Luahiwa is one of Hawaii’s most significant kii pohaku, or petroglyph, complexes, with close to 1,000 ancient stone carvings etched into the sides of boulders scattered across the slope. According to Kepa Maly, the executive director of the Lanai Culture and Heritage Center, 95 percent of the drawings are of pre-Western-contact forms, including canoes, human shapes, animals, dogs, turtles and processions of men. “The other interesting thing about the complex,” says Maly, “is that you can see that it has been used generationally. When one set of images were beginning to fade out due to centuries of exposure to weather, new images were put above them. You can still see the juxtaposing of image over image.”

What threatens it?

There are several environmental factors: A fire in October 2007 burned through the region, cracking the rocks; soil erosion resulting from the removal of vegetation has undermined the stones. Then there’s the human factor. In recent years, one of the ancient dog images was redrawn as a deer with antlers. People have also crudely carved their names into the boulders, while others have used acrylic, chalk or wax to make the carvings more visible for viewing and recording.

What can be done?

Maly would like to establish an area for a boardwalk that leads to a viewing platform outfitted with interpretive signage. This setup would ensure that visitors could still get a glimpse of the ancient stone carvings, and diminish the potential for additional damage. Maly would also like to secure funding for habitat stabilization, including the eradication of non-native guava, California grass and lantana and the slow transition to native clump grasses.

Unfortunately, there are currently no plans to do any of the above. Maly has met with members of the Lanai Archaeological Committee to formulate a plan for stabilization and stewardship, but nothing has been finalized. Should they settle on a solution, their plans need to first be approved by Castle & Cook, which owns the property. And with a tough economy and fewer grant dollars, funding is an issue.

Chapel at Kapiolani Community College (Honolulu, Oahu)

Photo: Rae Huo

What is it?

The white chapel located on the Diamond Head side of the Kapiolani Community College (KCC) campus has always stood out from KCC’s low-lying, 1980s architecture. Built in 1925, the chapel hosted church services for the Fort Ruger military community, Oahu’s earliest U.S. Army coastal defense fortification, established in 1909. “People feel that [the chapel] is an important structure,” says Carol Hoshiko, KCC’s dean for Culinary, Hospitality and College Advancement. “It’s different from the rest of the buildings. It’s an older building, and reminiscent of times before.”

Since KCC took up residence at the base of Diamond Head Crater some 35 years ago, the chapel has served strictly as an educational facility, housing continuing-education classes, such as taiko classes taught by Kenny Endo’s Taiko Center of the Pacific, community service functions and large gatherings. “There is not an overabundance of large areas to meet in [at KCC],” says Hoshiko, “and the chapel offers that.”

What threatens it?

According to Hoshiko, the chapel is structurally sound, but is in need of a little TLC. “It is currently on our repair-and-maintenance list,” she says. “There are 34 projects on this campus for repair and maintenance that we’re hoping will be done at some point. The chapel is No. 9 on that list.”

KCC has invested money in the chapel’s upkeep, most notably in the early to mid-1990s, when KCC conducted $125,000 worth of interior work and $150,000 for paint stripping, repainting and re-roofing. The improvements have made a huge difference in the chapel’s usability, says Kenny Endo, who has been practicing taiko there since 1990. “In the early years, half of the roof leaked so badly that the chapel would fill with two inches of water,” says Endo. “The floor was so messed up we had to wear shoes or protective footwear. One of the first things [KCC] did was fix the roof, and that helped. Then, later, they fixed the floor. [The chapel’s] really a lot more usable now.”

The chapel currently needs approximately $571,000 worth of refurbishment work, including a new paint job, and some roof and interior repairs.

What can be done?

Hoshiko was unable to provide a time frame for when the chapel would be refurbished. “I believe the community members, the Historic Hawaii Foundation and KCC can work together to garner support and resources for the chapel to be repaired and maintained in good condition,” Hoshiko says. She’s also interested in forming a Friends of the Chapel group that would bring together representatives from the community’s public and private sectors to help raise funds and develop a collaborative plan for the chapel’s future. Anyone interested can call 734-9567.


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Honolulu Magazine April 2018
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