Author Archives: Melissa Kelsey

No Windmills in Landfills

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

Community Contributed

By Frank Leary

Aloha, Slow Down, This is Molokai.

For almost 20 years, this sign at the airport has greeted visitors and locals to let them know we want them to slow down and drive safely. Slow down, and respect our island and lifestyle.

Molokai is heaven on earth compared to the other Hawaiian Islands. There is still a small-town atmosphere with no traffic lights or parking meters. People still wave at one another.

Molokaians have worked hard to defend our island against outsiders trying to capitalize on our resources. Several half-baked ideas have been tried. Most were not well thought-out, and some were just plain scams. A plan to create electricity from our refuse failed. When Molokai Ranch tried to install a 36-inch diameter water pipe leading to the west end to sell for agricultural use, it was stopped by locals blocking the construction equipment.

Water Conditions Remain Fragile, but Improving

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Water Conditions Remain Fragile, but Improving

Maui County Press Release

With the help of Kaunakakai and Kalae residents and businesses, the level of water in the Kaunakakai water tank has somewhat stabilized. However, the situation remains very fragile. Until the repairs to the water well pump are completed, efforts must continue to avoid unnecessary water use that can cause the water level to drop. Saving the water that is in the tank is critical because it helps meet hospital and dialysis center needs and provides water to fire hydrants. Contractor crews and personnel from the county’s Department of Water Supply are continuing to work days and evenings to expedite repairs. 

Kaunakakai and Kalae residents and businesses are advised to take the following actions:
•    Continue to avoid unnecessary water usages
•    Alert your family, friends and neighbors
•    Use water from the water tankers provided

The water tankers are located at Kaunakakai Regional Park. The potable drinking water tanker is available 24 hours per day. The non-potable water tanker is available daily from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Residents should bring their own containers, labeling separate containers for potable drinking water and non-potable water for everything else.

A Sustaining Experience

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

A Sustaining Experience

By Melissa Kelsey

Expanding hearts, minds and the capacity for hope, master navigator Nainoa Thompson shared his personal history with over 300 conference goers at last week’s sustainability conference. The keynote speaker emphasized vision, unity, and the love for nature, children and each other as key reasons to live sustainably.

For many people of Molokai, sustainability is a way of life. Last weekend’s Sustainable Molokai: Future of a Hawaiian Island conference provided a learning space for those who want to make sure it stays that way.

Raising voices in oli, the conference audience of hundreds of people chanted mahalo to Nainoa Thompson, the master navigator of the Hokule`a who spoke at the conference.

“You have to have vision, because if you do not, somebody else will,” said Thompson.

Thompson said he thinks there will always be people who plan and scheme to use the wind and the ocean for financial gain. However, he said he believes there is still time for the people of Molokai to ensure that Molokai does not become overdeveloped and unsustainable like Oahu.

“When we figure out it is about love, we have the most important gift we can give to the earth, and that is hope,” said Thompson.

While looking to the future, no one forgot the past. Event organizer Malia Akutagawa said her great-grandmother said there used to be so much fish on Molokai that one could “kick ‘em with your feet and grab what you catch.” She said her grandmother used to refer to the ocean as an icebox.   

“I realized that we have been talking about sustainability, but we do not know what it means,” said Akutagawa. “Their mindset was momona, more than enough.”

Forming a micro-community over the course of the last few months, event organizers paid attention to the details. From ono breakfasts created from locally grown produce to a composting system for waste, the event promoted green living. Some attendees went even further by bringing their own coffee cups and wearing recycled clothing.

“It brought a lot of us together just to put the conference on,” said event organizer Noelani Yamashita. “We had so much help from so many community members.”

The gathering was a time for people who do not live on Molokai to learn from Molokai.

“Molokai, we have been living sustainably for years. We live off the land, we live off the seas,” said community member Mervin Dudoit at the conference. “The young ones already know how to fish and hunt.”

Visitors from as far away as Slovenia and Korea came to gain knowledge from people on Molokai who are living sustainable lifestyles.

“I think Molokai is an example to Hawaii and the Pacific,” said event attendee Angela Fa`anunu, who is originally from Tonga and traveled to the conference on the Hokule`a. “Molokai has a good community to work together for the future.” 

Our Hawaiian Hokule`a

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Our Hawaiian Hokule`a

Voyaging canoe sails to Molokai.    

By Melissa Kelsey

Blessed with good wind, Hokule`a sailed into Kaunakakai Wharf last Wednesday, arriving safely from Oahu.

“The trip was faster than expected,” said Cliff Kapono, a member of Kapu Na Keiki, a community of intrepid young people training to sail Hokule`a.  

The double-hulled voyaging canoe had left Oahu’s windward side in the early hours of the morning, bringing its crew to the Sustainable Molokai: Future of a Hawaiian Island conference.

But for the akamai who sail Hokule`a, the vessel means more than just transportation.

“The point is to bring awareness that our environment is in trouble and we need to do something,” said Angela Fa`anunu, a crewmember who grew up in Tonga.

Fa`anunu said one purpose of sailing Hokule`a is to give young people a sense of place in the ocean so that they will care for it and its inhabitants, including coral reefs. The crew is planning a voyage around the world in 2012.

“There is so much knowledge out in the ocean that just needs to be understood,” said voyage captain Russel Animoto.

Animoto also captained Hokule`a’s most recent voyage, a return trip from Palmyra, an atoll about 1,000 miles south of Hawaii. He compared sailing Hokule`a to living on an island. On each voyage the crew has to live sustainably by taking care of each other, the canoe and their limited resources and water.

“This group is bigger than any one individual,” said Kapono.

As an active replica of an ancient Polynesian vessel, Kapono said Hokule`a is a symbol of Hawaiian culture, resurrecting navigating and sailing arts that are thousands of years old.
“The Pacific Ocean was first explored 3,000 years ago, and it was completed 2,000 years ago,” said navigator Nainoa Thompson, who sailed the Hokule`a from Hawaii to Tahiti in 1980. “If we stop voyaging, we have no bridge between our culture, ancestors and neighbors.”   

To prepare for future voyages, Kapu Na Keiki sailors undergo years of training. Crewmember Kailin Kim said safety was a highlight of learning how to sail Hokule`a. In addition, trainees learn how to work the sails, how to steer and how to navigate. She said this particular voyage to Molokai was special because Kapu Na Keiki sailors had planned most of the details themselves, including food and navigation.

“We have to make sure we know how to handle everything,” she said.  

The crew left Kaunakakai on Sunday morning, sailing Hokule`a back to Oahu.

Airline Blues

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Airline Blues

UPDATE: With taxes and fees, a round-trip Kalaupapa airline ticket is now $492.62 for topside Molokai flights and $499.82 for Oahu flights. 

Fare hikes and schedule changes for Kalaupapa flights

By Melissa Kelsey

Pacific Wings is the only airline that flies to Kalaupapa peninsula, offering daily flights to and from Honolulu and topside Molokai. Last week, Pacific Wings drastically increased airfare prices for all Kalaupapa flights. According to Kalaupapa Acting Administrator Tim Richmond, the airline is charging an average of over $400 for a roundtrip ticket. The high prices pose hardships for the settlement’s patients and employees alike, according to Carol Franko, the Nursing Supervisor at Kalaupapa Nursing Facility. 

“The prices are difficult for everybody right now,” said Kalaupapa patient Ivy Kahilihiwa, who said she did not think the state Department of Health would be willing to pay that much for patient airfare. “Nobody is rich to pay that kind of price.”   

Franko said Pacific Wings also changed its Kalaupapa flight schedule in such a way that if travelers want to want to take day trips, they can only stay for a few hours. To make a reasonable trip, travelers would have to arrange for overnight accommodations at their destination. Many Kalaupapa workers commute to the settlement by plane, including the medical staff. In addition, patients regularly fly to Oahu for doctor appointments. Franko said that while fortunately many flights for both patients and staff have been scheduled ahead of time, all future bookings are on hold until the situation is resolved.

“It is not feasible to get a patient out for the day,” said Franko.

Kalaupapa community members also say Pacific Wings is considering not providing a wheelchair ramp for passengers once they arrive.

“Some of our patients here are handicapped and cannot walk on the plane,” said Kahilihiwa.

Surrounded by the highest sea cliffs in the world and rough ocean waters, Kalaupapa depends on air travel for its daily operations. Kalaupapa Home Settlement Supervisor Harry Arce suggested bringing in a second airline to service Kalaupapa to create healthy industry competition.

“It is just unfortunate because this is a working environment and people are traveling for needed services,” said Kalaupapa worker Mahie McPherson. “For Pacific Wings to take advantage of that is just wrong.”

Pacific Wings halted air service to Kalaupapa for one day last week as a result of a conflict between airline employees and security personnel at Kahului Airport on Maui. For that day, patients at Kalaupapa were only able to receive full medical services because a doctor hiked down the Kalaupapa trail to provide care, according to Franko.


Ala Palaau Trail Project Meeting

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

There will be a community meeting on Saturday, August 1 to update everyone and request input on the planning process for the Ala Palaau trail project. The meeting will be at the Palaau Park Pavilion at 10 am and will be followed by a potluck lunch. Seating is limited in the pavilion, so the meeting organizers are requesting that people bring chairs or blankets to sit on. 

Jetstream Wind Plans Molokai Hydrogen Power Plant

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

The Honolulu Advertiser and the Associated Press have reported that a New Mexico-based company called Jetstream Wind, Inc. has plans to build a hydrogen power plant on Molokai. We have been unable to verify these claims, and are currently investigating the situation. Our attempts to obtain a press release or comments from Jetstream Wind have so far been unsuccessful. Please contact The Molokai Dispatch office if you have any information on this situation.    

Follow this link to read an article by The Honolulu Advertiser and the Associated Press, printed in Maui News:

Water Update

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

By Melissa Kelsey 

Pumps at both the Kualapu`u Well and the state Department of Hawaiian Homelands well are broken, severely affecting residents and businesses in Kaunakakai and Kalae, according to Maui County officials. Earlier today, Maui County Community Relations and Communications Director Mahina Martin said repairs could take up to a week.

County officials said residents of Kaunakakai and Kalae should make every effort to conserve as much water as possible, preserving system water for essential health, safety and hygiene purposes.

At a community meeting at Kaunakakai Park earlier today, Martin urged Molokai residents to hold off on washing cars, watering lawns, doing laundry and any other nonessential water uses. Whenever possible, residents should visit family and friends in Ho`olehua, Maunaloa or the east end for showers. She also urged the community to alert their friends and neighbors to the situation.

Immediate Kaunakakai and Kalae Water Conservation Required

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

Maui County Press Release

A mechanical breakdown affecting a water pump will severely affect residents and businesses in Kaunakakai and Kalae on Molokai. Until repairs can be completed, residents and businesses in the areas of Kaunakakai and Kalae should make every effort to immediately conserve water and limit usage to minimum requirements needed for health, safety and hygiene. Water customers will experience low water pressure or no water as water tank storage levels diminish. The county is working with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) to utilize a second DHHL well.

The county of Maui has mobilized a 5,000 gallon water tanker which is located at the intersection of Ala Malama Avenue and Kukui Place near the post office in Kaunakakai. It will be available in the evening and daytime until repairs are completed. Residents are encouraged to fill personal containers at this location should water service diminish.

Wharf Woes

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Community debates possible renovations.      

By Melissa Kelsey

From canoe races to weekly barge deliveries, Kaunakakai Wharf is a bustling center of island activity. Keiki swim in the surrounding waters to cool off on hot days, and passengers arriving on the Molokai Princess ferry enjoy their first walk on the Friendly Isle. All this activity has lead the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) to target millions of dollars to improve Molokai Princess ferry facilities at the wharf.   

The renovations have been proposed as a result of inadequate restroom facilities for ferry passengers and substandard mechanisms for fighting fires at the wharf, according to Valery Suzuki, the DLNR engineer coordinating the project.  

“Existing commuter ferry operations are vital,” said Suzuki. “Current facilities are inadequate.”

The Proposed Improvements
Suzuki explained that with the volume of passengers arriving on the ferry each day, the current restroom facilities do not meet the needs of passengers. As a result, she said the DLNR hopes to turn the existing ferry waiting station into a new and larger restroom. A new ferry station would be built further away from the barge docking port. Suzuki said this change would reduce safety hazards resulting from the barge docking so close to where the ferry docks.  

The new restrooms would include janitor and storage closets and new underground sewer lines. It was unclear what would happen to the old restroom facilities.