PRESS RELEASE -- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ka`u Preservation 808-928-8144
PUNALU`U AS LIVING CLASSROOM OR LUXURY “ECO” RESORT?
Sept. 15, 2006 Punalu`u Beach, Hawai`i
The citizens of the district of Ka`u, on the southeastern shore of the island of Hawai`i are rallying to protect their only public beach, sacred fishing grounds, ancestral burial sites and unique way of life they have enjoyed for hundreds of years at their beloved Punalu`u – one of the last beaches in Hawaii not overshadowed by a massive luxury resort complex. However, a Beverly Hills developer, Sea Mountain V would like to change all that and build over 1800 luxury homes, a “eco” hotel and shopping center at Punalu`u that is home to the threatened honu (Hawaiian Green Turtle) and a critical nesting site for the honu`ea (critically endangered Hawaiian Hawksbill turtles) and some of the largest burial complexes and ancient temple sites in the state. Instead of more concrete jungles and pavement, the people of Ka`u have a vision of protecting the entire ahupua`a (ancestral land divisions) of Punalu`u as a community resource and "living classroom," where future generations of Ka`u children can build meaningful careers in education, science and culural arts.
Ka`u is the largest (over 900 square miles) and least developed district in all of Hawai`i. It is home to Hawai`i's largest wilderness area and longest undeveloped coastline. And most of the 6,000 people who live here want to keep it that way. In the past, they have successfully fought off schemes to build a prison and even a space port. And in the 1980's a local group formed to stop a development that would have turned Punalu`u, the only public beach park in Ka`u, into a massive resort. This same group has grown into what is today Ka`u Preservation, a non-profit organization with a mission "to protect the fragile ecosystems and cultural sites of Ka'u so these resources can continue to be a resource for local ohana (families), fishermen, ranchers and native Hawaiian Practitioners, and remain as a living classroom for future generations." With over one hundred members and growing, Ka`u Preservation is dedicated to protecting the unique lifestyle of Ka`u where local fishermen and surfers can still enjoy life without being overshadowed by luxury homes and where ancient burial grounds are revered and not bulldozed.
Punalu`u is one of the few places in Hawai`i where this original Hawaiian land division system remains intact, extending from the mountains to the sea. "Punalu`u is loved by everyone. It is where families have come to gather for centuries. It is time to restore the damage already done and protect these sacred lands from the mountains to the sea," says Pele Hanoa, President of Ka`u Preservation.
Pele became president of Ka`u Preservation in March of this year after her daughter, J. Keolalani Hanoa passed away. "Keolalani died protecting her beloved Punalu`u and we will continue her life's work," vows Pele. Keolalani was honored by the Hawaii County Council, the Hawai`i House of Representatives and the Hawai`i State Senate for her life's work as a "warrior guardian spirit for Ka`u." In 1990 Keolalani Hanoa created the Kukulu Kumuhana `O Ka`u Learning Center at Punalu`u. For over 12 years the Learning Center has provided cultural and environmental educational programs to all schools and all ages, immersing students in traditional Hawaiian Teaching and Methodology "Hands on Experiencing."
"If the developer gets his way, we will have to find a new place to teach the children," says Pele. "They say they plan to build away from the beach. But where are they going to put 1,800 houses? A shopping center? A Hotel?" For Pele, this is not just about saving a small strip of coastline. "We must protect all of this land. From the mountains to the sea. By protecting our most valuable resources we can create jobs, opportunities and a brighter future for Ka`u that is in harmony with nature and the lifestyle of its people," says Pele standing on the black sandy beach at Punalu`u where she was born and where she raised her seven children. "I know we will save it. For Keola and the children."
For more information on the work of Ka`u Preservation you can visit their educational website: www.kaupreservation.org. Or you can call: 808-928-1018 for more information.