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End of Isolation at Kalaupapa Commemoration

Hui Malama Makanalua News Release

This year, June 30 marks the 45th anniversary of the end of the isolation of Hansen’s disease (leprosy) patients at the Makanalua peninsula, commonly known as Kalaupapa. To observe this anniversary and honor those who were subject to the policy, local nonprofit Hui Malama Makanalua will be placing lei made from natural materials at every known burial site on the peninsula. This project, named Lei Hali`a O Kalaupapa(lei in remembrance of Kalaupapa), will be completed with the assistance of Kalaupapa National Park personnel.

From 1866 to 1969, nearly 8,000 individuals with Hansen’s disease were sent to live in “quarantine” on the peninsula. From challenges wrought during the early decades of the leprosy settlement, to tsunami damage at some of the cemeteries, there remain approximately 1200 marked graves, along with several known unmarked burial sites.

Hawaii’s isolation policy for those with Hansen’s disease came to an end on June 30, 1969. With members from across the island chain, Hui Malama Makanalua’s mission is “to honor and perpetuate the mo`olelo of Makanalua.” Recognizing that this history includes the generations of kama`aina who lived on the peninsula prior to the leprosy settlement, the thousands of patients who were sent to the peninsula since 1866, and the many who were kokua to the patients, the group is endeavoring to honor all of the kupuna of this `aina with their efforts.

The group largely consists of individuals who have previously participated in service projects on the peninsula with the Kalaupapa National Historical Park.

“This will surely be a beautiful event,” said Erika Stein Espaniola, Superintendent of Kalaupapa National Historical Park. “I can imagine how impactful it will be to see all the marked graves and known unmarked grave sites adorned with lei. Mahalo to the hui for the conception and implementation of this effort and to the patient-resident community for supporting the idea. Kalaupapa NHP is happy to be a part of this effort.”

Although the isolation policy is no longer in affect, the Department of Health still enforces restricted access to maintain privacy for the resident-patients. Those interested in being a part of the event, or donating lei, should coordinate through Hui Malama Makanalua.

For lei donation, all lei must be made of natural plant materials (eg. fresh flowers or ti leaves) and should measure approximately 24 inches before tying (please tie all flower lei). If your group would like to donate a large number of lei, please contact Hui Malama Makanalua with your pledge.

The group hopes to have drop-off locations organized on all islands. Please check huimalamamakanalua.org for updates on drop-off locations, dates, and times.

For more information, contact Hui Malama Makanalua by email, makanalua@gmail.com, or on Facebook, facebook.com/leihaliao.


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