Mar 14, 2012
Waiāhole-Waikāne :amd Struggle (Repost)
(Note: Reposting this from the UH Department of Ethnic Studies http://www2.hawaii.edu/~aoude/pdf/09Nakata.pdf as it compliments some of my other posts about the Hawaiian sovereignty movement)
The Struggles of the Waiāhole-Waikāne Community Association
Talk given to Ethnic Studies students in ES 381 (Social Movements in Hawaiʻi) course, on
Monday, November 16, 1998.
Senator Bob Nakata discussed the Waiāhole-Waikāne struggle and the role of Ethnic Studies
Students and teaching staff in that fight. The importance of leadership, democracy, strategy, and tactics in community organizing were highlighted.
Those elements, essential in any social struggle, reinforced one another to bring about a significant victory that now serves as a testament to the role of ordinary human beings as active agents of social change.
Coming Home to Development Struggles
Let me give you some personal history first. I’m assuming you folks have read about the Waiāhole-Waikāne struggle and know where the valleys are. I grew up one valley Kāneʻohe side of Waiāhole-Waikāne, but in the days that I was growing up, the only elementary and intermediate school in the area was the Waiāhole School, so I went to school there. I worked in the taro patches from the age of six. Since then, I’ve moved on, but I want to go back to working in the taro patch. I have great respect for the Reppuns who got Ivy League education but are doing taro farming. I was highly skeptical that they would do it, but they have done it. So I grew up in that area and went to school in Waiāhole, and I was very familiar with that community.
After I went to seminary in New York City, where I did field placement and worked in Spanish Harlem – that was my introduction to community organizing work – I came home in 1972. I guess that’s before most of you were born; I’m starting to feel old. When I had left Kahaluʻu, it was really a rural area, with farms – pretty much a farming community. When I came back in ’72 it was under a lot of development pressure – after statehood, the development of this island spread out in all directions from Honolulu outward, and somewhere in the early 1970s, it got out to Kahaluʻu. When I came home, I saw –when I was a teenager, I wasn’t paying any attention to – these developers’ movements that were happening in the state. While I was a teenager in the fifties and sixties, the City had come up with a development plan for Kahaluʻu which billed it as a second city. What you see now in ʻEwa today was planned for Kahaluʻu – the deep-draft harbor, the oil refineries, the resorts, the major sewage treatment plant, the major marinas, things like that, were all planned for Kahaluʻu when I grew up.
Several groups had formed while I was on the mainland, who were working to stop these developments. So when I came home, I joined them and one of the major struggles was the H-3. But as I got involved, there was work cleaning up Kāneʻohe Bay. We worked changing those development plans – specifically, there were several major developments that we stopped. There was a 1600 unit development plan on the back of Waiheʻe Valley which we stopped, and several smaller ones. From that I got some of that training and experience on how to slow down or stop these kinds of developments, and that’s where I became acquainted first with Pete Thompson, who was one of the Ethnic Studies instructors here, Terri Kekoʻolani and Kehau Lee. They spent a lot of their time out there in Kahaluʻu with us – I’ll refer back to that later. But in 1972-1973, as a result of the work I did in Kahaluʻu, a planner told me, “Watch out for Waiāhole-Waikāne.” We had gone through a planning process; I was going around to different parts of the community asking, “Okay, how do you want to see our community develop?” We were trying to be proactive – and developers were not cooperating.
When I got to Waiāhole, in the summer of 1973, there were around 30 people at the meeting – normally only 10-12 people who would come to the meeting, that was all I wanted to get discussion going.
But the reason why there were so many people in Waiāhole was that they were seeing surveyors coming 2 up and down their roads and out of their fields, and there was an agricultural economist going around talking to people asking them their attitudes about development. From that meeting, I got to know Bobby Fernandez, who was a young fellow only 27-28 years old, on disability from Hawaiian Electric, where he was a boiler mechanic, but he also happened to be the President of the PTA [Parents-Teachers Association], and the only person I knew who had any kind of leadership capacity in Waiāhole.
The first place we went to was the Land Use Commission where we found a letter from Mrs. Loy McCandless Marks, the owner of the property, and she had plans for 7,000 condo units in those two valleys, which at that time probably had 120 families, tenant farmers, Filipino laborers, and some Hawaiian families there. Then we talked to Life of the Land, which was one of the active environmental
groups at the time. We talked to Legal Aid, which at that time, played a much higher role than it does now
in terms of community struggles. We were checking things out, but we finally called a meeting in April of
1974, and we had meetings with the developers.
We later found out how much power we were up against – there were City officials and
legislators, there were judges, there were labor leaders, all involved with the developers. The name of this
development company was Windward Partners. We found out really quickly what we were up against.
When we called that first meeting, practically every adult in the community turned out, and many
of the children also. One of the things I’ve learned from these kinds of experiences is that the more
threatened people feel, the easier it is to get them organized. But they do have to have some faith that
they can do something. The experiences that Kahaluʻu felt then, those people had seen us win a number
of smaller battles, so when we came in to help organize them in Waiāhole, they turned out. Bobby and I
felt the whole weight of the community on us, expecting that we would be able to help them. We told them
this was a struggle which all of us must participate in. There was a tremendous amount of fear. Most of
the people were tenants on month-to-month leases. On a month-to-month lease, all you’re entitled to is
28 days’ notice and you’re supposed to vacate. The tenants at that point refused to be leaders of that
organization. The first steering committee meeting had people who were small landowners, Hawaiian
kuleana owners (owners of small pieces of land), and there was one family – the Charlot family – if you
don’t know that family, it’s the one of the artist who painted that mural on the UPW [United Public
Workers] Hall. His son and daughter-in-law lived in Waiāhole, and they got involved. It was not a real
representative leadership at that time; it was more middle-class, more secure people who became the
leaders in that early period.
Now I had called Pete to come out; he had to go to China, but he sent a couple of other people to
help. We were careful about who we involved there. Partly because, in my experience in Kahaluʻu – and
this is instructive for those of you who might want to get involved in this kind of community struggle – in
those days, when the outsiders came in, they were so active that over time, the community leadership
pulled away. This was especially so since the Ethnic Studies students were at a higher academic level,
they knew how to go down to the City to check out the records and all that, and they’d come back and
report. The community people would start to feel as if it wasn’t their organization, and they pulled back.
We didn’t want to see that happen in Waiāhole, so we had just a few people come and Pete sent us a few
students to help.
One of the first things we did was to have a demonstration downtown. We knew that the savings
and loans were funding this development and we went down to demonstrate against them right in the
middle of downtown, on Bishop Street. What we did differently from most of the other struggles going on
at the time was that we took just residents – the normal procedure was for a lot of outside help,
particularly students, to be there. While we were demonstrating, one of the students who went by yelled
out, “Hey, where’s your support?” At that point, we didn’t want it and we didn’t need it. We needed the
people to stand up for themselves. And they did, but they also needed support.
At the same time, we had put together a slide show with Pete Thompson’s help an excellent slide
show. We trained the people themselves to take that slide show. They were going all over the place – into
the schools, and to the unions, even if we were up against union leaders. Whatever civic groups wanted
to hear about Waiāhole-Waikāne, we sent people to go and talk to them. And then we had a petition
drive, and in 20 days, they turned out and they got 20,000 signatures. This was a community of people
most of whom didn’t have even a high school education – most of them had a junior high school
education at the most. But this was their cause, their homes, and their livelihoods that were threatened;
they had motivation to go out there and try to protect their own community.
There was a hearing in October of that year, 1974, with the Land Use Commission. That year
was a very exciting and important year in the history of land use in Hawaiʻi; The Land Use Commission
was doing something called the five-year boundary review – they actually had abandoned that since that 3
year because it provided a valuable forum for all kinds of communities across the state. The review was
the time that all the developers would put their plans on the table. All the communities across the state
knew at the same time what was happening not just in their communities, but in other communities.
That’s where Pete and the Ethnic Studies students played a very important role. They and several other
groups connected all of these community struggles statewide. They were sending people to Kauaʻi,
sending people here, sending people to Kona, to Maui, wherever these land struggles were happening.
But the linkage was through Pete and the Ethnic Studies Program. That’s the kind of role this Program
played at that point in the struggle.
Strategies and Responses
We really worked at two things – the community, and leadership in charge. Before the hearing,
there was an upheaval within the community association itself. Pete had been talking to a lot of nonfarming tenants – Filipino families, and Hawaiian families who were not fighting and who actually were
most at-risk. One of the slogans was “keep the land in agriculture,” but the tenants were not farmers, so
they were very vulnerable. Pete and some others worked very hard with those tenants, saying, “You folks
should be in the leadership of the association.” And I guess that would get everybody hyped up to do that:
a group of them getting into one steering committee meeting, and demanded to be a part of the
leadership, almost forgetting that several months earlier, they had refused to be a part of the leadership.
But that was an important turning point, because, as it was, it was those tenants who would carry the
struggles from that point on. The farmers turned out to be more conservative in the end and pulled back
from the more radical actions that we had to do later on in the struggle.
One key thing happened shortly after that. I had never voted in the steering committee – I would
get into the arguments and the discussions. Others from the outside had participated in the voting. One of
the residents noticed that I hadn’t voted on a key issue, and he asked, “Well Bob, what’s your stand on
this?” And I said, “I support what you’re doing, and I support you in your struggle, but this is your
community and your life, so I shouldn’t be voting.” After that, all the outsiders stopped voting. And that
was the key thing that kept the control of the struggle in the hands of that steering committee, the
residents. We participated fully in the arguments, and there were times you’d feel that some kind of
physical fight would break out, the arguments were so intense, but that never happened, and the
leadership really remained in the hands of that community.
The first major hearing we had, we turned out about a thousand of people, in King Intermediate
School, from all across the island. Support groups from other struggles were there. While the hearing was
going on, we had prepared 30-35 people to testify at the hearing. We said, “Look, you speak pidgin, but
the Land Use Commission is made up basically of local people who will understand pidgin, so never mind
– just practice and be ready to make your testimony.” We had a Japanese lady who couldn’t really speak
English very well, and probably was a bit little mentally out of touch with reality, Mrs. Matayoshi, but she
wanted to testify, and her testimony was a gem to the valley. There was a Hawaiian lady maybe in her
eighties who testified in Hawaiian, and we had someone translate for her.
We did those kinds of things – we had everybody ready, and we had rehearsed, but there was
another group that was going around to all of these hearings with their bullhorns, megaphones, whatever,
and literally taking over the hearings. We didn’t want that to happen in ours, because we had spent so
much time preparing. It’s another example of how the leadership stayed in the community and a
testament to Bobby Fernandez . Shortly after the hearing started, I noticed that the people on my right
had a bullhorn, and Bobby was on my left. I tapped Bobby and I said, “Bobby, I think they’re going to take
over the hearing.” He immediately reached behind me and tapped the fellow on my right. And he just
said, “We’re in charge.” That was the end of that.
Things got a little rowdy in the hearing, though – a lot of emotions. We asked for a recess so we
could calm down our supporters. We explained to them that we wanted the hearing to proceed because
we had good testimony; everybody was prepared. The Chairman of the Land Use Commission was kind
of worried about what would happen, he came out, and we told him, “Look, don’t worry, we’ll control the
situation.” The hearing was reconvened, but what I didn’t know was that the Chairman had agreed to let
our group come in with their signs and circle the room once and chant, and then everything would be o.k.
That’s how it turned out, everybody coming in with all the signs and leaving. But as a result of that
hearing, Windward Partners was turned down, 9 to nothing, by the Land Use Commission.4
That organizing effort led to victory, but it was not a permanent victory. The landowners then sent
in one of our present City Council people, John Henry Felix. Felix had been head of the Board of Water
Supply, chief engineer or whatever it was – you know, chair of the board. Anyway, somebody called with
an anonymous tip to Bobby Fernandez that Felix was a member of Windward Partners. At that point, we
didn’t know it. We called him on conflict of interest, and he resigned from the Board of Water Supply, and
became openly the leader of Windward Partners. He came and started negotiating with the steering
committee. And he was good as man as chief negotiator. But the developer was this man named Joe
Pao, kind of infamous back in those days for ignoring anything environmental. He was really the power
behind Windward Partners. He pulled John Henry Felix out of the negotiations two months after it started,
which probably was a good thing for us, because John Henry Felix was working out a compromise which
would’ve allowed the development of Waikāne but not Waiāhole. That was the foot-in-the-door tactic that
he was using. But fortunately, Pao was too impatient to let the process go forward. He pulled John Henry
out, and the negotiations came to a stop. They tried to get the redesignation of Waikāne by itself, and we
were able to rally again and defeat that. That was in 1976, but the trouble was still not over after two
What happened next was that Mrs. Marks raised the rent – the rents were actually quite low.
Some rents were proposed to be raised 700%, seven times. We went to court trying to stop people before
then. We got people to refuse to pay the increase. We started collecting the rent money and put it into an
escrow account. Almost everybody in the valley did that. Their next move then was to evict everybody
from the valley and we were in court to prevent the eviction.
Remember now, at that point, all they needed was one months’ notice and then you’re out, but
during the course of the struggle, we could see the people getting stronger and stronger. One of the
chants in our demonstrations was “Hell no, we ain’t moving.” And the demonstrations would strike the
people in this way – over the course of this struggle, you could almost see roots growing out of their
clothes into the ground. They were getting that determined that they would not move out, and in this time
period, when you were going to court, we had eviction drills. Later we had people surrounding the house
with locked arms, and we called the media in to demonstrate what we would do. There were some
discussions that, when you look back, sound kind of funny – what would we do if they came in from the
ocean? We couldn’t figure that one out. Then we were like, what if they come in with helicopters? My
uncle was a farmer, and he took this suggestion seriously – I don’t know how many others did – but one
idea was to climb the roof. He said that, “If they come by the air, we go climb the roof.” But the serious
one was “What if they really do come, then what do we do?” There were long discussions about blocking
all the roads leading up into the valley, but none of those things worked because there were people who
lived on the ocean side of the highway. Finally, somebody suggested that you have to blockade the
highway. Eventually, that is what was done.
In the court process, we kept losing – the District Court, Circuit Court – but when we lost at the
Circuit Court, the judge said, “I’ll let you stay on the land while your case proceeds to the Supreme Court
if you will post bond,” but he didn’t say what the bond would be. He set another hearing at which he would
set the bond price. There was a major meeting of the steering committee at that point, and the
recommendation to what they called the general membership, the whole membership of the association,
was not to post bond, no matter what it was. It was about this time of the year, when the holidays were
coming up. The analysis basically was: here’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, the New Year, and the opening
of the Legislature, we are about as strong as we can be, let’s bring it on now. That was the
recommendation. We don’t post bond, and bring on the confrontation. The vote was 39-36. There had
been other things along the way where people gradually fell away, but that was the vote, and the 36
became inactive at that point, so the 39, the rest of them, continued the struggle. And this is where I have
to give Bobby Fernandez a lot of credit, as a young man, 28, 29 years old, 30 at the most by this time –
his closest friends were part of the 36, rather than the 39, and yet he continued the leadership of that
association. He didn’t let friendship stand in the way of what he knew had to be done. He had to take
radical action to block the eviction. And it was serious, because a good friend of mine, was a woman, a
sergeant at the police department, and she was the first to be in charge of the children – when the
eviction happened, she was supposed to take care of the children at the Koʻolau Boys Home. On the
police side, the plans were very serious. Bobby deserves a lot of credit for staying with the struggle and,
in a sense, divorcing himself from his friends and continuing in the leadership.
Anyway, we got about 500 people into those valleys over New Year’s weekend, because Mrs.
Marks said that January 3rd was the eviction date. Five hundred people were camped up in the valley,
some from outside who came in for support, to generate support from all kinds of people, including church 5
groups. January 3rd, I think, was a Monday, and from that day, we saw that people were leaving, going
back to work or whatever. I was instructed to call the Governor’s Office – I was the liaison to the
Governor’s Office – and tell Governor Ariyoshi or his assistant that if he didn’t step in to resolve the issue,
we would bring everybody down to the Capitol Lawn and camp out there. They asked for a couple of days
in which to try and work something out, and they started talking with Mrs. Marks.
But on the – I believe it was the 5th, Wednesday – we had CB radio operators working with us,
and they were watching all the police stations. That week, we were meeting every night, late into the
night, working on strategy. At about a quarter to eleven, or twenty to eleven, we got a call from the CB
operators saying that the police were moving in, or moving out of the police station. We said, “Watch for a
couple of more minutes, then call us back.” They called and said, “They are coming.” We put our plan into
action – sounded the alarm, everybody went down Waiāhole Valley and blocked Kamehameha highway
on both ends. It was kind of funny; I saw everybody going to Kāneʻohe side, nobody was going to Kahuku
side. I went to Kahuku side and found one or two cars standing, with this trucker blocking one lane, and
nobody blocking the other lane. I pulled my Volkswagen over and blocked that lane. Luckily, no car came
along to ram it. We were there alone about 16 minutes before anyone else came, but all the action was
happening on the other end anyway.
Finally, the police were able to convince us that it was a false alarm, that they weren’t coming.
We lifted the blockade at about 1:30 in the morning. The interesting thing was that we stood by Waiāhole
Poi Factory, singing “Hawai‘i Aloha” with our arms out, holding hands, and the drivers – you’d expect
they’d be mad, being stopped for two, three hours – but they went by cheering us.
After that, the Governor finally really stepped in, and about a month later, announced that the
state was purchasing Waiāhole, and the families could remain there. I’m looking at that: “The limits of
what is 'possible' for you to do is restricted by the narrowness of your outlook” (a quote by Lenin written
on the chalkboard in ES 381). If you have the guts to fight, you can do a lot of things. I don’t think when
we started, that people dreamed that they would be blockading the highway, a federal crime, in order to
preserve their rights to stay on the land.
Eventually, the Supreme Court, I forget on what grounds, did say that the people could remain.
And they’re still there, the families, they’re still there, they just got their 55-year leases earlier this
summer. It took a long time to wrap up the leases, but they had them.
Lessons in Political Mobilization
I mentioned several lessons along the way. In the organizing effort, there were four of us that I
think were critical: Bobby Fernandez, Pete Thompson, Michael Hare, and myself. Bobby was the natural
leader although he was the youngest of the tenants in the association. His instincts on what to do were
really very good. I did mention that the sheriff actually called on January 3rd, the day of the eviction drill,
he called ahead to say, “I’m calling, but I’m only delivering them [eviction notices], I’m not evicting you
guys.” He wanted to be sure of his own safety. When he called to say he was coming, we marched down
Waiāhole Valley Road, more than 500 people marching down, we found the ladies were leading us with a
chant, and somebody had been evicted. I didn’t realize the intensity of the emotions. The chanting helped
because it released a lot of the stress and pressure, but it was just constant. All the way from where we
were, the headquarters were 4 miles down the highway. The chanting was going on, and all the way to
All of those kinds of techniques were important. Bobby was important. Pete was great not only for
his research abilities and the energy that he had, but he’s probably one of the more charismatic leaders
this state has had over the last couple of generations, a tremendous talker. He was the one who, if
anyone could be called a rabble-rouser in that group, he was, because he had a fine sense of how far to
push so things wouldn’t go too far. He always could pull back, that’s important, to get out of there. As for
my role, I was a minister, more like a good shepherd, trying to keep everybody together as long as we
could. I think the four of us were critical. And teamwork is important, even in this kind of struggle.
One of the other important lessons that I mentioned earlier is that we really talked things out.
There were a lot of disagreements within that steering committee, but once a decision was made,
because of the critical nature of the situation, everybody should stick behind it. Whether you agreed or not
in the discussion, if a decision was made, stick behind it. There was tremendous unity in that struggle.
From the larger perspective, I think that ended the development going down the coast from Waiāhole on
down. Hopefully it ended almost forever – there will be houses built and stuff like that, but any major 6
development, I’m hopeful, has stopped as a result of the stuff that we did in Waiāhole and Kahaluʻu. All
the things that I’ve mentioned to you, the deep-draft harbor and whatever, have been wiped off the maps
now – the Windward Second City, the Kahaluʻu Second City. I think it’s a real credit to these people,
especially in Waiāhole-Waikāne.
I think too that this serves as an inspiration for people across the state to stand up and fight the
developers. In the eighties, there were golf courses; now we seem to be in a time where development is
really down. I expect that when the economy in Asia picks up again, we’re going to face development
pressures again. I really believe that a lot of groups have formed now who can help to either block it or
control it, so that this state remains a relatively good place to live.
There were elements of the Hawaiian community that came into this struggle, but because
Waiāhole-Waikāne had Hawaiians, Filipinos, and Okinawan farmers, we didn’t bill it as a Hawaiian
struggle, although many Hawaiian groups did come in too. I’m not sure what the implications of all that
are. We did build it very deliberately that way on a class basis and not as an ethnic struggle.
Excerpts from Replies to Commonly Asked Questions
About the Revolutionary Communist Party’s (RCP) involvement in the struggle, Pete and others
very close to him did become members of the RCP. The reaction of the people were very interesting; you
would think that they would reject that. But they were feeling so isolated by the power structure that many
of them said, “If this is what communism is, I want it too. (Or something to that effect.) They’re the only
ones that care for us.” That did play an important role, the discipline that they brought. I won’t deny that
they played a very important role.
But after this victory, they tried to use this Waiāhole-Waikāne struggle as a launching pad for
other struggles, and it was about that time that Mao died. And to me anyway, they lost a little bit of
perspective, and started pushing something they called the “Mao Memorial.” And that’s when they
alienated themselves from the community. I’m not sure that people were safe now that they didn’t have to
depend on these people, or whether they actually pushed them out. The RCP may’ve lost touch with
reality – that’s my sense. That was a time when Pete lost that fine touch and took it one step too far.
I’m remembering an incident that happened, and in a sense, the RCP faction wasn’t wrong –
several years after the state purchased the land, something came up. Remember the state purchase was
Waiāhole and not Waikāne. There were some discussions going on with what to do with Waikāne. The
developers made an offer through Michael Hare, who was the attorney to all of them, and represents
Bishop Estate frequently these days.
We have to give Mike his due; he left one of the biggest law firms in town and practically starved
himself to work with us. He was in his early twenties, married with a young child, working as a night guard
at one of the hotels to support himself, but very staunchly for the community. The important contribution
he made is to tell us, “The lawyer is not here to keep you out of trouble; the lawyer is here to get you out
of trouble.” He said that in order not to inhibit the action.
But the approach was made too much on settlement on the Waikāne side. And one of the ground
rules for the steering committee was that no-one talks to the other side alone. Mike violated that, and
Pete was calling him on that violation. But the steering committee, maybe tired of the struggle, and maybe
it was different circumstances, sided with Mike. An attempt was made at a resolution. Pete folks were
kicked out. But there was no resolution, and two months ago, the City Council through Steve Holmes
purchased Waikāne. So stray pieces kept falling in place years after the main struggle was over, but it still
carries the impact. That community had different leadership a few years ago just on the waterfront; this
time the leadership was with the Reppun brothers who back then [in the 1970s] were ostracized because
they were outsiders coming in. Their friends were in that more moderate group of 36. Their leadership
was not really accepted by the old-timers. But the Reppuns are the ones who carried the water fight.
It’s a very interesting history. It almost makes me feel that even though I’m a Christian minister,
there’s a lot to the Hawaiian religion, the Hawaiian perception about natural power. Kualoa, a few miles
down the road, and I’ve always felt that Kualoa does have a special power of mana. It’s almost as if the
mana emanating from Kualoa is helping protect that part of the land.
On overdevelopment in Kāneʻohe, those of us who acted in Kahaluʻu didn’t want to see Kahaluʻu
turn into something like Kāneʻohe. Kahaluʻu had slowly developed as a rear guard action. Waiāhole is
where it’s at and we were going to stop it here. One of the earlier things we did in Kahaluʻu was the flood
control bridge in Kahaluʻu. A friend of mine died when we were in a group fighting that flood control 7
project. We knew we’re going to lose, so our group called us traitors. We said, “Okay, we’ll say yes if the
bridge is only two lanes, and no high arch allowed,” and the City agreed to that. I think we were right – the
project was coming through anyway, because about fifteen out of sixteen groups in the community
wanted it, and we were the only holdouts. So there’s a history to that too.
The regional Native Hawaiian groups in Kahaluʻu fighting development were doing it because
they were protecting their kuleana. The development plans with a deep-draft harbor and all of that
threatened their as property – that’s why they organized.
On the recent water rights struggle, having the land gives these people a stronger leg to stand on,
but each time, the struggle seems as though it will go on forever. The three Reppun brothers, who have
gotten into the water rights struggle (they speak fluent Hawaiian now), I think, are the next generation of
leaders of that part of the island.
The Waiāhole-Waikāne struggle was hard to do but also very exciting, and very rewarding. And
for me, the reward was not so much the victory on the land but to see the development of people like
Bobby Fernandez, like Hannah Salas, the housewife, who, in the course of that struggle, became one of
the sharpest and strongest political analysts and political leaders that I’ve ever seen. I tried to get her
involved with bigger issues outside of Waiāhole, but that she didn’t want to do.
At one point, we had a big benefit concert. Actually, that occurred in 1977, after the blockade. We
wanted to raise money, so we had this concert, with all kinds of Hawaiian entertainers. Traffic backed up
from Waiāhole Poi Factory to the Wilson Tunnel. I know because I had to come here [Honolulu] to
address a church group and take a Native American back out to Waiāhole.
The reason I believe the eviction never happened was that we generated so much support. They
were going to use the National Guard in the eviction; the officers in the Kāneʻohe Police Station had
made it very clear that they wouldn’t participate in an eviction. There was a film crew that came up to
Waiāhole and used that struggle as one part of a three-part documentary. One was in California, in the
grape fields; the other was an Eskimo struggle up in Alaska. It was a big story; probably in Hawai‘i the
biggest movement since the labor movement.
On Cayetano’s recent efforts to purchase the Waiāhole water ditch for $9.7 million, we are trying
to stop the bill. We were wondering if there was some kind of glitch so they couldn’t purchase. We were heavily involved in the creation of the water struggle and the amendment to the state constitution. I sat on the original commission for seven and a half years, still just the beginning part of the Waiāhole ditchdigging. I could only serve two terms consecutively. I was off before the full-blown case started.
Transcribed by Ida Yoshinaga