Lawful Visitation

Kalaupapa discusses enforcement of visitor regulations.

By Catherine Cluett

Whether it’s for the sheer beauty of the landscape, the feeling of walking in Father Damien’s footsteps, visiting the unmarked graves of ohana or the thrill of hiking the highest sea cliffs in the world, Kalaupapa peninsula on Molokai’s north shore is quickly becoming a popular destination for Molokai residents and tourists alike.

Visitors are welcome to Kalaupapa, but out of respect to the patient community, protocol must be followed, according to Acting Administrator Tim Richmond at a settlement meeting last week. There are only two ways both topside residents and off-island visitors may make the trip: sponsorship by a patient or employee, or through Damien tours. As requested by the patients, visitors must display their visitor pass during their stay on the peninsula.

“We always used to be isolated,” said Richmond. “But I don’t think it’s going to be like that anymore.”

With religious interest growing as a result of Father Damien’s upcoming canonization and increased media publicity, Richmond said he has been receiving more phone calls from people inquiring how they can visit Kalaupapa. Patients also report seeing more visitors entering Kalaupapa limits without permits for activities from praying to surfing.

National Park rangers act as law enforcement on the peninsula, but Richmond encouraged the organization of a community watch in addition. He explained that just as in any small community, citizens should feel safe and look out for each other.

“We are going to be challenged on this – we need some plan in place to meet this challenge,” said Richmond.

A complete explanation of laws regarding Kalaupapa can be found in Hawaii Revised Statutes, Chapter 326.

A date has not yet been set for Kalaupapa’s annual barge delivery that brings the settlement’s bulk supplies, food, equipment and gasoline. Residents and employees are already on strict gas rations.

“If it comes in June, we’ll be okay,” said Richmond. “If it gets into July, we’ll be hurting. If it’s August, we’ll be walking.”

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