Tuesday, January 19, 2010

“Four Month Holiday for New Year’s Day !!”

We sometimes feel guilty over the holidays for taking too much time off, but the ancient Hawaiians really had it down pat. In ancient times, as the old year drew to a close, the priests associated with certain temples on the western side of each inhabited Hawaiian island would watch for the appearance of Makali`i - the Pleiades- a star cluster which appears in the evening sky in our October. When the priests could finally distinguish Makali`i in the eastern sky shortly after sunset, they announced the next new moon would begin the Makahiki season. http://www.kaahelehawaii.com/

At sunrise, the following day, the Makahiki kapu (taboo) started: For four days no one was allowed to do anything but rest and relax! After those four days, for four moon cycles, the Hawaiian people were allowed no other work than necessary for survival. http://www.coffeetimes.com/


The Makahiki Season was a celebration of abundance of land and sea and the accomplishments of the Hawaiian People. It was the time for healing, new growth, a time of peace and spiritual cleansing of the Hawaiian mind, soul and heart, in celebration of life. It is also, a time when the Makaainana (commoners) would honor Lono, their God of agriculture.http://hawaiiculture.com/

Throughout Makahiki an ironclad kapu forbade war and the god of war (Ku) rested, Lono ruled and softened the lands with rain. To keep their skills honed in a time of peace, warriors vied in the games. Engravings by early European visitors show the throngs that gathered to witness their champions compete in events ranging from Hawaiian boxing,


to foot races, spear throwing; and traditional games like maika, a form of outdoor bowling that aimed a cylindrical stone between two pegs. Events requiring wit, oratory, artistry, and spiritual knowledge played a part, such as nane (riddle contests), hula, and haku mele (composition of chants). http://www.mauimagazine.net/Maui-

Surfing also played part in the annual celebration as thousands gathered to watch the famous tournaments, and these always included surfing. http://www.surfart.com/

After four months, the god Ku rose once again to rule over kau wela, the hot summer season. A canoe with offerings to Lono was set adrift to help return him to his ancestral lands and petition his generosity for the following year, and Makahiki concluded. http://www.mauimagazine.net/Maui-

Next year my wife Devany and I are going to celebrate for four months too! Hau'oli Makahiki Hou! (Happy New Year!)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

“Who’s Your Papa (aloa)?”

The old village of Papaaloa is located along the Hamakua Coastline on the eastern part of the Big Island -- 23 miles north of Hilo. It is one of the many plantation towns that line Highway 19. Papaaloa is near some of Hawaii’s most stunning waterfalls including Akaka Falls and the Kahuna Falls, as well as one of Hawaii’s most beautiful places -- the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens -- as well as close to the Laupahoehoe Train Museum and Laupahoehoe Point.

In 1954 two thousand guests celebrated the eighth birthday of Lani Matsu, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Matsu of Papaaloa. He was chairman of Unit 8, ILWU Local 142 and worked outside as a poison truck driver. This birthday party was significant because it symbolized improved labor relations between the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU) and the Laupahoehoe Sugar Company who had its only remaining mill located in Papaaloa.

“The Filipino union members prepared a nine course dinner of their native dishes while the Japanese friends prepared their native delicacies. Tables were also decked with a full course Hawaiian dinner, “down to raw liver,” as guests commented. Gallons and gallons of delicious opihi and shrimps form the gulches were served. Hula dancers from Hilo in costume waited at tables and did several numbers.” hawaii.edu/Honolulu Record

The Laupahoehoe Sugar Company was established in 1880 and the new plantation employed 70 men, 50 mules and 70 oxen. Plantation fields extended approximately ten miles along the coast and rose to 1850 feet above sea level. Ending in high sea cliffs, 22 gulches divided the company land.

Laupahoehoe Sugar had a unique transportation system to supply the factory with cane. A steam hoist lifted cane-loaded cars up 1,100 feet by cable at Maulu Gulch. At the top, the cane was dumped into flumes and traveled to the mill about a mile distant.

Labor relations were not always what were hoped. In fact, seven years earlier in 1947 a young girl of 16 fell off a truck as she was riding to work in the fields during her summer vacation from school. She was subsequently run over by a company truck and suffered a fractured pelvis and permanent damage to her left leg leaving it one-and-one-half inch shorter than her right leg.

The company wrote to the Bureau of Workmen’s compensation, “On the basis of Dr. Hatt’s (a company hired “expert”) examination, technically there is no defect, but because of the pelvis deformity that exists, which will in future prevent normal childbirth” the company would be agreeable to an award of 10 per cent. Hawaii.edu/HonoluluRecord/

This was after such behavior precipitated the “Hilo Massacre” in August, 1938, in Hilo, Hawaii, when over 70 police officers attempted to disband 200 unarmed protesters. In their attempts to disband the crowd, officers gassed, hosed and finally fired their riot guns, leading to 50 injuries, but no deaths.


These protesters were multi-ethnic, including Chinese, Japanese, Native Hawaiian, Luso (people from countries with Portuguese roots) and Filipino Americans. In addition, the strikers were not from one single union; members of many different unions, including the ILWU participated. The different groups, long at odds, put aside their differences to demand equal wages with workers on the West Coast of the United States.

As a postscript in October 1938, injured protester Kai Uratani filed a lawsuit against the officers responsible for the shooting. He lost, and instead had to pay for the officers' defense costs.

So why was this party in Papaaloa some 18 years later such a big deal? Well, for one thing it was the culmination of a two-day program put on by the ILWU. And, the company’s manager participated (!) leading to the Honolulu Record’s comment, the Papaaloa and Laupahoehoe communities where the local newspapers made anti-ILWU attacks almost daily “are today not the same places any more. The shining proof of the healthy change was the gala celebration of the ILWU by Local 142, Unit 8.”

I guess time really does heal all wounds.

One reason I like selling real estate is the great people I get to meet. Another, is the opportunity it provides to learn more about the vast variety of towns and villages on the Big Island. My company recently listed a property in Papaaloa which led me to this research (www.WesIsland.com).