Friday, January 20, 2012

Battle for Hawaii

A L O H A !
Island Style by John Cruz on Grooveshark

Isn't this just the Hawaii you imagine?

courtesy, Hawaii State Archives
This is Hawaii to the workers
who came here in the 19th & 20th Centuries: 
The plantation.

courtesy, Hawaii State Archives
They were hardy people from many lands
who found not a paradise
but back breaking work
in hot sun.

Our blog Friend Kay of MUSINGS 
is fortunate to have
her mother, a former plantation lady,
still living in the family home here.

They were more than workers,
they lived in the camp:
Japanese camp, Chinese camp, 
Filipino Camp.
They worked, lived, ate,
and aged

Their plantation kids
were born, schooled, 
and grew up together.

They shared food and stories
and folkways.
The most important thing they did
was to invent modern Hawaii.

courtesy: Hawaii State Archives
Japanese contract workers
arriving at Honolulu Harbor, 1880s

When we moved to Kona on the Big Island (Hawaii)
back in the 1980’s it was a very different place
than it is today.
The old folks still remembered Territorial days,
and many of them had grown up on, and/or worked the sugar plantations. 

Obituaries in the daily paper routinely listed
places of birth as Japan or China,
perhaps Hamakua Plantation, 
or a tiny Hawaiian fishing village
that was only
a fading place name 
that fewer and fewer Kupuna (seniors)

I remember getting stuck behind
"slow moving cane trucks" 
like the one below.
They represented job security 
and a proud way of life
to lots of families.

courtesy: Hawaii State Archives
Lots of ambitious folks moved to town, and started stores
and businesses.
Plantation kids went to university, to Honolulu Town,
to war. 
 Some went to the legislature,
or launched iconic 
Hawaii brands.

Courtesy; Hawaii State Archives

Our generation witnessed the passing
of the plantation.
Some of the sugar mills have been
converted to little shopping malls, 
office parks and community centers.

There are still little "plantation houses"
but fewer and fewer.

Unfortunately, the few that remain
along with their aging residents
are today in the hands of
Wall Street types.

Plantations were paternalistic,
they discriminated by color 
and race,
fought worker rights for YEARS

Courtesy; Hawaii State Archives

and all that bad stuff,
but they also cared for the workers 
after a fashion, and felt a responsibility
to workers, their families and retirees.
The Plantation doctor was beloved and
NOT rich.

Once these properties got transferred
as part of modern "deals."
They ended up in the hands
of bean counters who know nothing of the
cultural legacy that lies in the path 
of their new housing developments.

have lived their entire lives in
plantation housing at Koloa Camp (Kauai).
the little houses on Camp Road.
From 32 houses,
there are now 8 here
still in use.

Now the residents, 
mostly seniors on fixed incomes, 
have been given
120-Day eviction notices.
Owner Grove Farm is building homes
in the $260,000 - $485,000 USD range.
Calling themselves a "Kama`aina Company" They
should KNOW better and DO better!

( Kama`aina is  powerful word in Hawaii
that means rooted in
the land, people and culture 
of this place, these unique islands. )

Grove Farm has rejected suggestions 
that they build on more accessible, less
flood-prone land in the parcel,
or wait for the very last
of the Plantation Generation
to pass at home
in dignity.

This is the last living link
to a bygone era.
An era when
every man was "Uncle"
every woman "Auntie."

I would say that, like Iolani Palace,
the peaks, valleys and Royal Tombs
of these islands,
Camp Road is where
Hawaii's soul lives.

Like in the film The Descendants, 
these were Royal Hawaiian lands
granted by the Ali`i (Chiefs) 
with certain understandings attached.
Caring for the land and it's people
was EVER the Kuleana
(responsibility) of chiefs.

 Grove Farm
Senior Vice President 
Mike Tresler.
is not, incidentally, 
living on a senior citizens fixed income,
or related to any of those seniors
he is evicting. 

Sorry he has to feel bad.
You can console him at:

Street Address:
3-1850 Kaumualii Highway
Lihue, Hawaii 96766-7069
Phone Number: 808.245.3678 
Fax Number:  808.246.9470

The logo below
has appeared on T-shirts
and on trucks:

Dr. King said that Riots are the voice of
the unheard.
No one advocates rioting or gun play;
but more and more of us,
all over the islands,
all over the world,
want our voices
and our values
heard and respected!

Thank You for visiting & listening.
Share your thoughts in "Comments"
              Warmly, cloudia

Paved Paradise by Joni Mitchell on Grooveshark