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but ensured that that quasi-polit- worked very hard,” she acknowl- us, you swore at us.

us, you swore at us. I was humil-


ical organization would support edges. “You know, it was all the iated the whole time.
the Master Plan. old guys, my guys that I worked “And Karen Holt, when I
Machado’s clearly staked-out with to stop the cruise ships look at the past, we were like
position and her power as an coming to Moloka’i, my guys this, we were best friends! …
OHA trustee stirred up a history that I organized in the past.” In fact, she once offered me an
of long-simmering grievances There is pride in her voice, and olive branch, but the lines were
and resentments between her bitterness. already drawn.”
and many of her former war- “The difficulty for me is that I ask Machado, whose blood-
rior comrades, Ritte and Holt they treated us like we were the lines go deep into Halawa Valley
among them, especially as the military or something. It became on the East End and deep into
island’s opposition to La’au Point a very hostile environment.” Maui history with her Kahekili
solidified. In the days following the news genealogy, how she would de-
By her own reckoning, Mach- of the ranch’s closure, Machado scribe the people of Moloka’i.
ado estimates that 70 to 80 per- says she received several phone “Resilient,” she says simply,
cent of the island’s residents have messages from R itte asking “resilience.
come to oppose the Master Plan, for her help as he scrambles to “I’m so proud of how they
because of La’au Point. She cred- come up with a new plan for the articulated some of their strong
its “Ritte dem” with leveraging island. positions, unlike any other is-
what they had available to them. “Now,” she says ruefully, land over the last 25 to 30 years.
“The thing with Walter is he “Walter wants me to sit at the They know to be vocal, do the
gets free media coverage. That table. I say, Walter, I cannot turn homework, work hard, no back
helped them a lot. my cheek now. You folks were down.” n
“But still, the opposition rude to my trustees, you booed

Kukakuka on the lanai


At the beachfront Mowat home- Photo by Leo De Azambuja

stead just east of Kaunakakai at


Kapa‘akea, a group of veteran is-
land activists gathers just before
sunset under a big free-standing
lanai to talk story. They are all at
least 50-ish, and all allies in the
La’au Point fight. Wayde Lee is a
longtime youth counselor with
Alu Like; Mahealani Davis is a
social worker with the Queen
Lili‘uokalani Children’s Center
while husband Glen Davis is a
taro advocate who works the lo’i
in Hälawa Valley; Mervin Dudoit Signs everywhere gave voice to the island’s visceral opposition
to plans for a 5-mile ribbon of luxury waterfront homes at La‘au
is a retired fisherman and fishpond Point.
educator with Ka Honua Mo-
mona International, a non-profit; Glen: People from off-island, Mahealani: Walter’s sound bites
and Bridget Mowat, our host, has we really blow their minds when are always right on the money, so
worked in the state welfare office we go on the reef and catch a fish I appreciate that he’s in there. He’s
for 20 years. or go up to the mountains and get a natural politician if there is such
The Mowat homestead is guavas. a thing. If he hadn’t taken on La‘au
steeped in recent Moloka‘i history. Mahealani: There are people Point — I can’t think of anybody
The earliest meetings of Hui Alaloa, who say give tax breaks to the rich, else who could have organized the
one of the first organizations in the and all that money starts coming community the way he did. But it’s
state to stand up and fight for tra- into the economy, and pretty soon sometimes hard to talk to him when
ditional Hawaiian ways, were held everybody’s lifestyle is better, but he’s made up his mind about some-
here in 1975 under the auspices of the life everybody here enjoys isn’t thing. He’s a catalyst, he knows how
Harry James Mowat, Bridget’s late connected to money. to motivate crowds, how to put
brother-in-law. A little bit later, Mervin: Us guys, we happy with just the right edge on things. Real
Moloka‘i organizers of the Protect what we have. We survive with what effective.
Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana regularly met we have. If we have no more money, Mervin: If not for him, I wouldn’t
here. eh, we no more money. That’s the know a lot of things that were hap-
Following are excerpts from the people of Moloka‘i. pening. You gotta talk story with
conversation. Mahealani: You know, some him. I ask him things.
Bridget: People have got to people come here and think, oh, [Talk turns to future of the
know that it was the Ranch man- Moloka‘i’s so cute, it’s like the old island.]
agers who messed up. We don’t Hawaiian days, like back in kahuna Glen: I believe that the 30-year-
have to justify our actions. We just days, whatever, but no, it’s right olds gotta be the backbone of the
brought out the facts. If they nuha, now, it’s real. I don’t always remem- future.
they nuha with the whole island, ber that until something happens, Mahealani in response: Yeah,
because the whole island was be- or just in a real quiet moment, you they’re thoughtful, they’re edu-
hind us. We don’t need the Ranch hear the voices that tell you what cated, they’re asking the right
or it’s off-shore business-minded to do, which way to go. I think questions. Todd and Matt, Kauila
managers. It was Moloka‘i that Hawai‘i is like that, but it’s so noisy and Kahua, Kainoa, Hano and
was running that place all the time most of the time you don’t hear it ‘Ua … Our generation was always
anyway. too often. If nothing else, I’d like fighting, grabbing at grant monies,
Mervin, in response: The akua Moloka‘i to stay open and quiet scooping it up.
took care. so that people can come here and Wayde: To get to the next level,
Bridget: I know we’re going to hear it for themselves. So they re- we bring all our practitioners to-
survive this. Hawaiians take care. It member they’re spiritual people gether and start talking. They’re
was the wrong people who came as well as economic widgets in the the ones who can pa’a the culture.
here. They didn’t want to listen. factory out there. All we gotta do is put all the piec-
They wanted to bring in their Mervin: That’s what this island es together and take care of our
Westernized ways when Moloka‘i is for, to heal people. It’s the healing place. My grandmother once told
is not that kind of island. You look place. Everybody’s gonna focus on me that the most powerful thing
around, we are unique. Not every- this island—the fishponds, the taro in America was the military, and if
body can live on Moloka‘i. … they can learn from this island. the Hawaiians can beat the US mili-
Wayde: To me, this island is Bridget: I have great respect for tary at Kaho‘olawe without firing a
beautiful because the people are Walter [Ritte], because he doesn’t single shot, then everyone can go
beautiful. falter. To me, he’s been on a straight home and take care of their place.
Mervin: We may be poor, but path, always on the up-and-up and George Helm said it best—‘Aloha
we no get homeless. straight. ‘Aina.’” —C.S.

www.honoluluweekly.com n April 9-15, 2008 n Honolulu Weekly 

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