In March 2016, we passed my cultural markers law at the Honolulu City Council, and since then, cultural and community groups from Ewa, Kapolei and across the Waianae Coast have been working hand-in-hand to plan and install cultural markers that will enhance our parks and educate our families of the significance of these beautiful city resources. One of these groups include Ulu A’e Learning Center, who has dedicated their heart and time to reinstating culture and history back into a place they cherish so deeply.
At the top of the city’s Kapolei Regional Park, in the eastern corner, is an often overlooked and unknown treasure but a place deeply rooted in Hawaii’s history and culture – this special place is Pu’uoKapolei. Pu’uoKapolei was the location of the largest and most sacred heiau in all the ahupuaa of Honouliuli. It also once served as a landmark for travelers and a place of solar observation in determining the seasons.
Under the leadership of Mikiala Kanekoa Lidstone, the Ulu A’e Learning Center takes care of Pu’uoKapolei year-round through monthly clean-ups and community events. Through these acts of voluntary stewardship, the Ulu A’e Learning Center strives to educate our Leeward community on the sacredness of this open space.
Now, Mikiala and the Ulu A’e Learning Center are proud to share that they are the first group to officially install cultural markers in Pu’uoKapolei. The cultural markers signify a milestone for Ulu A’e Learning Center and their efforts in reinstating the historical significance of the Pā Hula, or hula mound at Kapolei Regional Park.
The first cultural marker signifies the name of the area: “Pu’uoKapolei.”
Mikiala explained her heartfelt vision behind this marker: “I wanted to give the area back its name so residents know how special of a place this is. Throughout the years, the area has been neglected, and has faced ongoing vandalism, desecration and more. By marking Pu’uoKapolei’s name back on its grounds, we would give back its mana (power, authority).”
The second cultural marker placed near the hula mound at Pu’uoKapolei serves as a cautionary sign: “Pā Hula: Please be respectful.” It signifies the sacredness of the hula mound, as well nudges a gentle reminder to residents to respect the surrounding area.
In the upcoming months, The Ulu A’e Learning Center is looking forward to working with the community to build a 3rd sign near the entrance of the park — which will also display the name “Pu’uoKapolei”, so residents will be able to see it when they drive along Ft. Barrette Road.
The Ulu A’e Learning Center thanks James Campbell Company, Aloha Pacific Center by APC Development Partners LLC, Queen’s Health Systems, and Ko‘olina Resorts Operators Association for their support in funding the cultural markers.
If you would like to get involved with Ulu A’e Learning Center’s efforts at Pu’uoKapolei, you may learn more at www.puuokapolei.com or contact Mikiala Kanekoa Lidstone at email@example.com.
If you and your organization would like to bring cultural awareness to an open area in our community, I’d love to chat! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.