Category Archives: Hawaiian History

Flowers for King Kamehameha

The statue of King Kamehameha in Kapaau, Hawaii, is decorated with leis on his birthday
The statue of King Kamehameha in Kapaau, Hawaii, is decorated with leis on his birthday

June 11 was King Kamehameha Day in Hawaii, celebrating the birthday of the king who first united the Hawaiian Islands under one rule. The day is marked by parades and ceremonies in several places, including here in North Kohala, which is where King Kamehameha was born. The past couple of years, the ceremonies didn’t take place because of Covid restrictions, so this year’s event was the first since then.

I was working on the day, but after work I stopped by to see his statue, which was draped in leis during the ceremonies. It seemed like there was even more floral decoration this year than in previous events, making for a colorful spectacle. But even more striking than the color was the wonderful aroma from the profusion of plumeria flowers in the leis.

The leis are left in place for two or three days before they’re removed. Even when I was there on the first day, some of the flowers were starting to wilt.

Camp Tarawa

Signs at the entrance to the former Camp Tarawa in Waimea, Hawaii

Waimea was the site of Camp Tarawa from 1943 to 1945. The camp was built by the 2nd Marine Division which had just fought the battle of Tarawa, hence the name of the camp. Those marines then trained there for their next campaigns before moving on in spring of 1944.

They were replaced by the 5th Marine Division, who used the area to train for the attack on Iwo Jima. After that campaign, those marines returned to the camp for further training, but the war ended before they were called into action again.

The camp was closed in November 1945 and returned to Parker Ranch, which had leased the land to the U.S. government for a nominal fee, with the proviso that it be returned to them in its original condition. This meant that few buildings from that time remain, but the land between Waimea and the South Kohala coast was littered with unexploded ordinance and shrapnel, some of which remains to this day.

Signs at the entrance to the former Camp Tarawa in Waimea, Hawaii

Three views of a Milo flower

A view of a milo flower in Hawaii
A view of a milo flower in Hawaii
A view of a milo flower in Hawaii

I saw this Milo (Thespesia populnea) flower during a walk on the South Kohala coast and liked the different views it afforded. Milo is a canoe plant, brought to Hawaii by Polynesian settlers. It’s similar to another canoe plant, Hau (Hibiscus tiliaceus), but Milo is more of a tree and has different shaped leaves, pointed as opposed to heart-shaped.

Home is where the tube is

A lava tube that used to be home to early Hawaiians
A sign in front of a lava tube that used to be home to early Hawaiians

The public parking area for shoreline access at Mauna Lani is some distance from the ocean. From the parking lot, the trail meanders across some old lava, but off to one side is this interesting little spot.

It’s part of an old lava tube that was used as a shelter by early Hawaiians. Lava tubes are created when lava flows crust over on top, creating an insulated tube that lava continues to flow through. When an eruption ends and the supply of lava disappears, the lava drains out of the tunnel it’s been flowing through and a hollow tube is left.

As the sign at the entrance says, the tube would have been cool during the heat of the day, but would also protect from wind and rain. These days, the floor is strewn with rocks, but when used for habitation, any rocks would have been removed leaving a reasonably smooth floor. In the photos, the ceiling looks low, but I’m over six feet tall and didn’t have to duck. It’s a big area.

The top photo shows the entrance taken from the back of the tube. The bottom photo is taken from the entrance, looking toward the back.

A lava tube that used to be home to early Hawaiians

Urban Honolulu

Traffic reflected in a downtown building in Honolulu, Hawaii
Traffic, which can be brutal, reflected in the glass front of a downtown building.

Yesterday I posted a small town response to this week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme of ‘Urban.’ See more responses here. It wasn’t until after that post went live that it occurred to me I could have used photos from my jaunt to Honolulu a few years back. It’s not the Big Island, but in Hawaii, Honolulu is by far the largest urban area.

When I got home, I had a look to see what photos I could use and came up with these images. The entire population of Hawi could fit comfortably into one of those skyscrapers.

The 1820 Mission Memorial building in Honolulu, Hawaii
The 1820 Mission Memorial building

First visit to Hawaii

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Meaningful Memories.’ See more responses here.

This seemed like an opportune time to revisit my first visit to Hawaii, back in 2010. My wife and I stayed in a vacation rental near Captain Cook, overlooking Kealakekua Bay. The sky was hazy with vog from Kilauea Volcano, but the place was awash with colorful flowers. Just down the road was the Painted Church and at the foot of the hill, Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park celebrates Hawaiian culture and history with its wooden ki’i and towering palms.

We traveled the whole island from the black sand beach at Pololu (even if we had to pass the carcass of a dead whale twice) to the black sand beach at Punalu’u, dotted with resting green turtles, and rocky surrounds. There were waterfalls big and small, and roads lined with tropical foliage leading to the active lava flow at that time.

There, signs warned that flowing lava is dangerous (who knew?), but we were still able to get within 10 feet of oozing tongues of red, and saw small fires still burning in nearby brush.

There was even a house for sale: ‘Buy now before it burns!’ We didn’t, though that house still stands while others, much farther from that scene, have since been consumed by subsequent flows.

It was this visit that prompted us to return permanently two years later. Hawaii isn’t paradise – it has its pros and cons like any place – but we haven’t regretted the move and are looking forward to the next 10 years.

None shall pass

A grasshopper blocks the way

I encountered this grasshopper while walking at Puʻukoholā Heiau National Historic Site at Kawaihae. As I approached, the grasshopper held its ground and I immediately thought of the Black Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail movie. Unlike the Black Knight, this grasshopper finally pinged off to the side and let me pass, all it’s limbs still intact!

Posted in response to this month’s Becky’s Squares challenge theme of ‘Odd.’ See more responses here.


A breadfruit plant and fruit

Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) is generally considered to be a canoe plant, brought to Hawaii by Polynesian settlers, though it’s not entirely clear when the introduction occurred. However, it is clear that breadfruit, known as ‘ulu in Hawaii, was a major food source in days gone by and that the trees were possibly the most prevalent tree to be found on the islands.

An interesting paper about breadfruit can be found at › oc › freepubs › pdf › breadfruit.pdf.