Sadness at Kaupoa

By Cheryl Sakamoto

Three weeks ago, I walked along the beach from Dixie Maru to Kaupoa and then further on to La'au Point. I wanted to share the beauty of the island with a visitor from the Mainland who expressed her newly-discovered love for this island and the people.  She mentioned how apparent it was that the people of this island seemed so connected to where they live and how privileged she felt to experience such precious moments here. 

Then we arrived at Kaupoa, and she watched my smile turn to disbelief and sadness.  When she looked around and saw the trees dying and the torn-apart building
structures where the tentalows stood, she asked if we had had a natural disaster here.
It took me awhile to reply that this was a man-made disaster.  The trees, at least 40 of them, looked so sad as they seemed to be struggling to live. Ironically, the area off to the side where Anakala Pilipo Solatorio stewarded the cultural site with his heart and soul was green and soaking wet.

Just the other day, a longtime friend of mine from Oahu, the coach of Lanikai Canoe Club was recalling his memories of 2004, the year when Lanikai crossed the Channel first in the race. He shared with me how significant their stay at Kaupoa had been for all of them as a team. 

It was a place where they had felt invulnerable, and they would carry this feeling with them through the finish line.  I knew that I could not describe what I had witnessed, so I showed him the photos I took, and he too, could not believe the sad destruction.

Clearly we all have different origins and experiences. Understanding our privilege to be anywhere in the world and remembering to leave it in a better condition than we found it is more than an environmental commandment. This island is blessed with many people who wish to steward the land towards its own sustainability.  So in contrast to the disappointment of Kaupoa, I would like to reaffirm and thank the efforts of all those who continue to toil the land and foresee a sustainable future for Moloka'i.


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