Lanai Culture & Heritage Center — Community Heritage Stewardship Programs
The history of Lanai spans some 1,000 years of residency. While little known, there are treasured sites (wahi pana) and historical resources across the island.
The Lanai Culture & Heritage Center (Lanai CHC) is now embarking upon a series of community heritage stewardship programs. Castle & Cooke has approved Right of Entry Agreements to Lanai CHC for work to begin, and the first projects have been planned.
Funding for this initiative was generously been provided by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Agape Foundation. The goal of the stewardship program is to engage Lanai’s people in projects to help document and preserve some of our island home’s special cultural, natural and historic resources. Many residents on Lanai are unaware of Lanai’s cultural-historical and natural resources. Through this stewardship program we seek to stabilize and provide informed access to the sites, so that residents and visitors to the island can learn about our cultural legacy.
The grant is designated to help pay for materials and the specialized skills needed to stabilize and restore special resources. Volunteers will also be engaged in doing some of the work, and our elders will be encouraged to pass knowledge about these unique resources on to members of the younger generation.
Two major projects being undertaken are: (1) Stabilizing Ka Lanakila Church along the Keomoku coast, development of an interpretive trail to the old Maunalei Sugar Company Mill, and caring for other cultural/historic sites along the windward shore of Lanai; and (2) Stabilizing the last harvesting machine — partially engineered by our Lanai elders in the plantation days. Sadly, the harvesting machine is nearly a complete loss. But with the help of families on Lanai, we hope to stabilize this machine and pass its history on to those who follow us.
A team has been organized to help guide and facilitate the stewardship program. Like other places, Lanai has been impacted by economic difficulties. But on Lanai there are few opportunities for employment—you can’t get in a car and drive to the next town. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs/Agape Foundation has given Lanai CHC funding to support Kaulana Kahoohalahala as the project leader, along with additional money to engage some adult work leaders and students from Lanai High & Elementary School, in the program. The Agape Foundation is committed to helping keep island residents on the island. Other partners in the project include Hal Hammatt’s Cultural Surveys Hawaii, along with Albert Morita (Lanai CHC board president), Warren Osako (a Lanai raised anthropologist), and many others, all of whom are working to care for these wahi pana and special resources.
Progress of Work At Stewardship Sites (2010 - 2011)
Ka Lanakila Church
The building is 24 feet 2 inches wide by 40 feet 3 inches long Photo KPAC2-4201).
At least 20 inches of siltation has buried the front steps of the church since the last effort at renovation in the mid 1980’s (Photo KPAC2-4181).
At least 29 inches of silt has buried the back end of the church in the same period (Photo KPAC2-4187).
New posts and piers were added to the footings and the floor leveled in the mid 1980’s. Today, siltation appears to have buried the entire footing under the floor (Photo KPAC2-4182).
As part of the 1980’s renovation, interior rafters, (Photo KPAC2-4189) wood paneling, window frames, roof shingles were added (KPAC2-4188), and the bell tower was partially constructed (Photo KPAC2-4173).
Preliminary Plan of Action
While in the field, the planning group discussed the following options:
1. Containment of Siltation (alternatives);
a. Remove silt from under the footings in a manner which facilitates assessment of footings and replacement as needed.
b. Open a 10x10 foot section of the floor to evaluate the condition of posts/piers and determine if preservation could be achieved by leaving siltation in place. (Photo KPAC2-4174)
c. Have a historic preservation architect come and do an assessment of wood and structural integrity and offer recommendations for the most efficient means of stabilization.
d. Whatever the method of stabilization, use kiawe and silt to create a burm at the back of the church lot to divert future runoff from impacting the foundation. Possibly create a diversion channel to correct the problem which has arisen as a result of clogging the original stream flow.
Kiawe and debris will be cleared to 20-plus feet away from the outer walls of the church.
Maunalei Sugar Company Mill
The mill site is approximately one-quarter mile behind Ka Lanakila Church, mauka of Keomoku Road.
The mill foundation is 35 feet wide by 67 feet long. The remains of the mill furnace room are approximately 12 feet high (Photo KPAC2-4191). On the connecting east side of the mill platform is a water catchment basin 10 to 12 feet deep, 67 feet long adjoining the mill platform, and 107 feet long on the far eastern side.
Kiawe overgrowth makes it impossible to photograph the complex. Kiawe will be cleared to make an interpretive path from the Church lot to the mill site. In the 1970’s-1980’s, clearing of kiawe was begun on the mill platform, but left incomplete. This project will clear the kiawe from the mill platform and catchment basin, to an area beyond the features, allowing for an adequate buffer.
We have developed a plan for stabilization of the machine, and are soliciting proposals for the work. We expect that:
a. The heavy welding will be led by a professional, with lighter work supported by volunteers. Volunteers will also be engaged to ensure that the restored machine is maintained so that rust spots and other forms of deterioration are controlled.
b. We expect that it will take one year to complete the work. At the close of the restoration, the harvester will look much as it did when in operation, though we expect to shorten the boom by half of the original 65 feet it spanned. This in part due to it’s having been crushed, and for ease of managing it as an exhibit.
Albert Morita prepared these annotated figures, to describe the work proposed. If anyone has photos of harvesting machines, or if you know where plans for them may be found, we’d appreciate your sharing them with us. Also, if there are any welders, sanders and others who would like to help, please let us know.