The year was 1789, just 12 years after the Hawaiian Islands had been discovered by Captain James Cook.  Cook who was initially perceived as a God, eventually overstayed his welcome and was discovered to be a mere mortal.  Ultimately his return to Hawaii was his downfall.  He met with an untimely death by angry Hawaiians who killed him on February 14, 1779, on the Big Island of Hawaii.  However, Hawaii was now on the map for the seafaring captains of America and Europe.

Captain Simon Metcalfe and his son on two different ships set out on a fur trading mission in 1789.  The elder Metcalfe aboard the Eleanora and his son on the Fair American which he captained.  The two ships were small schooners with only five crew members each. The two made plans to rendezvous at Kealakekua Bay in the Hawaiian Islands if by circumstance the two were to become separated at sea.

Simon Metcalfe (sometimes spelled Metcalf) was the first American captain to take sea otters on the Northwest Coast and then trade those furs for goods in China.  Hawaii being a halfway point was a good place to obtain provision of food and water.  He was considered by all who knew him, an irritable, snappish, harsh individual, who was a stickler for rules.  He was a firm believer in robust and immediate punishment for those who broke them.  No doubt he let the “cat out of the bag” (meaning the cat o’nine tails) on more than one occasion to administer just such punishment.

It was wise the Metcalfe’s had made arrangements to meet if they were separated but also unfortunate for young Thomas Metcalfe as you will soon discover.

It seems the father and son did get separated and Thomas Metcalfe’s ship the Fair American was captured by the Spanish and taken briefly to Mexico.  It seems Spain got upset that foreign vessels were engaged in fur trade off the Pacific coast which it laid claim.  It captured several ships including the Fair American and several British ships as well.  These events have become known as the Nootka Crisis for Nootka Sound off the coast of Vancouver.  Britain with its vast armada threatened Spain and Spain without its French ally who was busy with the French Revolution acquiesced to British demands and released all their captured vessels.

Meanwhile, Simon Metcalfe made it to Hawaii and sought refuge and supplies off the coast of Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii at Kealakekua Bay.  Tragically, there seems to have been some altercation with the local chieftain, Kameʻeiamoku and Metcalfe had him flogged.  In retaliation, a small boat was stolen and the watchman killed.  This infuriated Metcalfe, and he fired his cannons into the village and captured some of the villagers.  They told the Captain that the boat was taken by people from the village of Olowalu.

Simon Metcalfe immediately set sail for Olowalu off the coast of Maui.  There, he discovered the boat had been broken up for its nails.  Nails for Hawaiians were a real treasure since the Hawaiian culture had no metal smelting technology.  The nails were used for fish hooks, adzes, drills, daggers and spear points.

The Chiefess Kalola of Olowalu was only too aware of the gravity of the situation having returned what she could, that being the stolen boats keel and the watchman’s stripped thighbones. She declared a three-day “kapu” (a Hawaiian corporal offense by law) on all canoes approaching the Eleanora.

Meanwhile, Metcalf who was infuriated… feigned a display of peace and invited the villagers to his boat. When the kapu was lifted, hundreds of Hawaiians paddled their canoes out towards where the Eleanora laid anchored. Metcalf was ready for them, having instructed his crew to open fire with cannon and musket.  When the smoke lifted more than 100 men, women, and children lay dead in the canoes and many others wounded.

To this day the massacre at Olowalu is referred to by Hawaiians as Kalolopahu or spilled brains.

After Kalolopahu, Metcalfe weighed anchor and sailed back to the island of Hawai’i.  Anchoring off of Kealakekua, Metcalf sent his boatswain, John Young ashore to inquire about the Fair American. There Kamehameha learned of the Olowalu massacre from the Eleanora’s boatswain. Kamehameha immediately placed a kapu on any boats going out to the Eleanora for fear the events of Olowalu might be repeated.  Metcalfe sent the head chief a letter demanding his crewman’s release but after several days and fearing the worst fate for his boatswain, Metcalfe set sail for China.

John Young, however, was not killed but instead was befriended by Kamehameha.  In time he became a close and trusted advisor to the head chief.  Something that could not be said for Thomas Metcalf who finally made it to Hawaii after being detained by the Spanish.

About five or six weeks following the Olowalu massacre, the Fair American arrived at the Island of Hawaii. There Kameʻeiamoku, the same chief who Simon Metcalfe had flogged was waiting at Kaʻūpūlehu. The schooner’s crew of five were quickly overcome, and four were killed, including  Thomas Metcalfe. The only survivor was Isaac Davis, whom King Kamehameha also befriended as he had done John Young.

Together Young and Davis with their skills and knowledge of the weaponry also captured aboard the Fair American helped Kamehameha become an undefeatable force.  As horrible as the Kalolopahu was, it was an event that resulted in shaping the history of Hawaii.  Kamehameha’s foresight, leadership, and strategies unified the islands and changed everything for this island culture.

John Young went on to marry the Hawaiian chiefess Ka‘ō‘ana‘eha, and their granddaughter would later become Queen Emma.  Of Isaac Davis, he went on to marry a chiefess and had six children and upon her death married a relative of Kamehameha having two more children.  He, unfortunately, was poisoned in a plot to kill the King of Kauai.  Following his death, John Young raised the remainder of his children.

As for Simon Metcalfe.  He left Hawaii for China not knowing that his actions had indirectly brought about the death of his son.  Some five years later in 1794, he was killed while trading with friendly Haida natives in Canada.



The Observatory on Haleakala, aka Science City…

On a clear day
How it will astound you
That the glow of your being
Outshines every star…  (Lyrics from “On a Clear Day” by Barbra Streisand)

High atop Maui’s Haleakala, the dormant volcano that dominates the island’s landscape, “Science City” sits on a pinnacle of lava, cinders and ash formed from countless ancient volcanic eruptions. Its domes glisten in the brilliant afternoon sun above the mountain’s almost-daily flaring skirt of clouds clinging closely to its slopes like a ballerina’s tutu.

Science City sits atop the mountain’s lofty perch over Maui’s fertile Central Valley below. On the other side of the island valley from whence it gets its nickname “Valley Island” are the West Maui Mountains, also called Kahalewai,. They appear in the distance as a breathtaking three-dimensional patchwork of sugar cane fields and desert. The surrounding blue Pacific, relentlessly whipped by the nearly constant trade winds, reaches in every direction to the distant horizons. But, it is what’s above Haleakala that matters most to Science City (it’s unofficial but popular name) and to the scientists, technicians, and military personnel who use the site for observing, exploring, probing, and monitoring the heavens. It is the unobstructed view of our planet’s sun, solar system, galaxy, and, indeed, the entire universe that make this site unique.

Officially, Science City is known as the Haleakala High Altitude Observatory. With an impressive collection of optical, radio, radar, and infrared telescopes, listening dishes, and sensing instruments. The various observatories scan the limitless sky above on a 24/7 basis. Simultaneously, they perform such diverse missions as exploring the heavens, monitoring natural and manmade space activities, tracking the growing amount of space junk, and defending the nation from missile attacks.

The array of observatories at the summit site includes both science and military projects. They are managed by an alphabet soup of civilian, governmental and military agencies. They are supported by labs and computing facilities far below at the Advance Technology Center in Pukalani and Kihei’s Maui High Performance Computing Center (MHPCC).

On a clear day and might… they can see forever!

Whadda Ya Know About Maui?

RUNWAY 01-19

For 25 years from 1961 to 1986 the Ka’anapali Airport operated with an airport that started just 30 feet off of the Ka’anapali Beach that has affectionately become known today as “Airport Beach.”

It began on an old coastal road that cut through a sugar cane field. In 1961 plans for the development of a resort area by Amfac Inc. dictated the need for a landing strip that could bring in workers as well as equipment and materials.

Designated as Runway 01-19 it soon came into use by the fledgling commuter air service begun by John Peacock and W.K. Woods called the Royal Hawaiian Air Service aka RHAS. Initially, this legendary airline launched in 1962. The runway’s length being only 2615 feet limited the usage to the fleet of single prop Cessna 402 aircraft, but in its heyday, the airport averaged 60 flights a day in and out of Kaanapali.

At the end of the runway was a two story terminal constructed of plywood. The control tower was located on the first floor and a spiral staircase many considered to lead to heaven, led instead to the High School Harry’s Windsock lounge. There the bartender “High School Harry” would treat passengers to his world famous Bloody Marys.

The walls and ceilings of the Windsock were covered from top to bottom with business cards from all over the world, and it was believed that if the walls ever collapsed the lounge would be held together by these calling cards that were stapled, glued and some held in place by bubble gum.

To their credit, the Royal Hawaiian Air Service transported over 2,000,000 island visitors during its lifetime without registering a single incident on its’ watch. Something no other airline can boast.

The daredevil commuter pilots who flew the Cessna for RHAS regarded this airfield their favorite because of its challenges being in the middle of a wind shadow. A “wind shadow” is a phenomenon occurring when the wind air flow encounters an obstacle. The obstacle in question was the West Maui Mountains that shielded the beach from the trade winds. After impact, the wind flow is perturbed over a certain distance creating depression zones. It was not uncommon for the windsocks located at either end of the runway to each be turned inward pointing to the center of the field .towards each other.

During takeoffs and landings when there were no passengers, the pilots routinely practiced STOL’s an acronym for Short Takeoff & Landings in which with a full throttle, a good headwind and full flaps they would land and take off using only 50 feet of runway… OMG. Little wonder Kaanapali Airport along with High School Harry’s Bloody Marys was a favorite for these adrenaline junkies.

But more than just great flying these pilots offered unbelievable service because Royal Hawaiian was known for its entertainment factor as well. The pilots not only guided their crafts safely but gave in flight tours along the way. Aviators were expected to fly low and describe the scenery for passengers. Flight routes were never predetermined, and routes over waterfalls, volcanoes, and whales came standard with the fare. It was said that one pilot even got chewed out for taking a straight, high-altitude flight without narration. Pilots became friends with the likes of Carol Burnett, Charles Lindbergh, and other repeat customers. The company’s sight-seeing vacations attracted worldwide recognition and by 1974 bookings reach 128,546.

The Ka’anapali Airport finally closed its doors on January 25, 1986, to make room for the construction of the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort. However, the actual building did not begin for another 17 years after this date in 2003. Today, the pavilion at Kaheliki park is all that remains of the once bustling little terminal where the A-frame Windsock Lounge sat upon its plywood haunches. However, there you will find a plaque dedicated to those glory days when Airport Beach was indeed Runway 01-19.


Born Was Kumulipo In The Night

Did you know that virtually every culture in the world embraces their own story of creation? They are commonly called creation myths. And while the term myth itself, usually refers to a false or fanciful story, this author in no way wishes to imply or suggest that these beliefs are anything less than what they are meant to be… man’s sacred attempt to explain how the world was formed and where humanity came from.

Hawaiian religion tells a story known as the Kumulipo (Koo moo leapo).  Early Hawaiians did not have a written history, and everything that is known has come to us in the oral form of storytelling or ‘Ōlelo (Oh lay-low) meaning the language and spoken word.  In Hawaii, it is called “talking story.”

And so it began with the first chant:

“At the time when the earth became hot
At the time when the heavens turned about
At the time when the sun was darkened
To cause the moon to shine
The time of the rise of the Pleiades
The slime, this was the source of the earth
The source of the darkness that made darkness
The source of the night that made night
The intense darkness, the deep darkness
Darkness of the sun, darkness of the night
Nothing but night.”

The Kumulipo is an 18th-century chant that tells the story of creation.  It is a genealogy record that describes the lineage of Hawaiian royalty and was created in honor of Kalaninuiamamao, the prince of the Big Island at the time of his birth.  All 2102 lines of it were passed down orally to his daughter Alapaiwahine (Allah payee wa-hinee.)

Kumulipo means “a source of darkness or origin.”  Children in the Hawaiian tradition are brought up to believe that darkness is not a bad place but rather a place of creation.  According to the Kumulipo, the world was created over a cosmic night which entailed many nights.  They believed that man came from the sea just as the seaweed, coral, shark, and fish did.

It was this chant; the Kumulipo said during the Makahiki season (the Hawaiian New Year from October/November to February/March for four months) that the kahunas (Hawaiian priest) would recite honoring the god Lono (Low-no.)

When Captain James Cook in 1779 became the first European to land in Hawaii, he was greeted by the Hawaiians reciting the Kumulipo.  They mistakenly believed him to be their god Lono because of his pale skin and the type of sails on his ship.


The Banyan Tree

Anyone who has ever been to Maui has been to Lahaina… and anyone who has ever been to Lahaina has indeed passed by what is unquestionably one of the most remarkable and impressive trees, they will ever see.  It is the Banyan tree of Lahaina.

Located in the heart of Lahaina directly in front of the Old Lahaina Courthouse, this epic tree has earned the title of the biggest Banyan tree in all of Hawaii. Its branches spread out over more than two-thirds of an acre. It’s circumference measures more than one-fourth of a mile, and its branches soar upwards to a height of 60 feet. If you have ever seen a sight before where all you can say is “Wow!” The Banyan tree is just such an experience.

The tree was planted back in April of 1873 by William Owen Smith, the Sheriff of Lahaina. At the time Lahaina was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii. It was given as a gift from missionaries in India to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the first American Protestant mission.

The First Presbyterian Mission was founded at the request of Queen Keopuolani (Key-oh Poo-oh lan-ee), the Queen Mother and sacred widow of King Kamehameha (Kah-may-ah may-ah) the Great

The tree at the time it was planted was a mere 8 foot tall. Today, it is not only the biggest Banyan tree in Hawaii but in the entire United States, as well as being the oldest.

Characteristic of the Ficus benghalensis, better known in Hawaiian as paniana (pan-ee an-ah), are the aerial roots. These roots descend or sprout from the branches downwards towards the ground where they form new trunks. This results in the growth of many trunks around the main trunk. The Banyan Tree in what has now become known as Banyan Tree Park has 16 major trunks, apart from the main trunk.

Those whose see the Banyan  tree cannot help but notice its uniformity which is not a product of chance. Over the past twelve decades, it has been groomed and pampered by a host of Japanese gardeners. Initially, these caretakers hung large pickle jars below the aerial roots whose locations promoted the greatest strength and symmetry. They then identified and removed other aerial roots whose positioning detracted from the overall conformity of this amazing tree.

It is hard to believe this giant began life as an “epiphyte” which is an organism that grows on the surface of a plant.  Epiphytes get their moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, and water in whatever debris is around them.

Sadly, the Lahaina Banyan tree has fallen victim to the whims and maliciousness of thoughtless individuals carving their initial through the outer layers of the bark. Even today despite the fact that signs are posted everywhere warning to not climb on the tree, children and even adults cannot resist the urge.  However, there is a hefty penalty for doing so.

The park occupies the site of the Old Lahaina Fort, originally built in 1831. Hoapili (Hoe ah-pee-lee) who was the Royal Governor of Maui, built the fort to protect the town from riotous sailors when Lahaina was used as an anchorage for the North Pacific whaling fleet. After the fort had been demolished in 1854, a courthouse was built on the site. And in 1964, a portion of the old Lahaina Fort was reconstructed.

Every Saturday and Sunday, you can find an Arts & Crafts Show under the Banyan Tree sponsored by the Lahaina Arts Association. There art by local artisans is available for purchase and viewing. The park and courthouse are presently managed by the County of Maui and the Lahaina Restoration Foundation.


The Legend of the Naupaka Flower

If you are ever on Maui and happen upon a flower that looks like it is only half a flower. You might not believe your eyes. However, seeing is believing and what you have found is the Naupaka (Now-Pak-ah).

Legend tells a number of stories about this uniquely blooming flower. The one I am going to share with you is but one of them.

The Princess Naupaka was beautiful. She was also very kind and loving. For those reasons, the people all loved her very, very much. Her sister, the Goddess Pele (Pay-lay) was often very jealous of her sister, Naupaka because of how much she was loved.

Now Pele was loved too. She brought fire to the people, and with fire, they could cook their food, they could light their way at night, and keep warm when it got cold. The people loved Pele for all she did for them, but they also feared her because when she got mad. She could get very angry. She could make the mountains rain down fire killing the plants, animals, and anyone who got in her way.

It just so happened that one day, the Princess Naupaka was sitting on a rock at the edge of the ocean. There was a rush of silver fish in the water, and she saw that they were swimming away from a throwing net. A young man was standing in the water, fishing with the net for his mother and father. He was very handsome, and Naupaka could see that he was a hard worker. She spoke to him, and he smiled and told her that his name was Kaui (Kah-why-ee), and she fell instantly in love with him.

The Princess Naupaka’s heart was filled with joy, but she became very sad. Kaui was a commoner and she knew the two would never be allowed to marry. Princess Naupaka thought of everything she could, and in desperation, she went to her sister, the Goddess Pele. She begged and pleaded with her sibling to allow this marriage. Pele was touched and curious as to who this young man was and what power he might have to have made her sister fall so madly and totally in love with him. She concluded that she must first meet him and after doing so she would consider Naupaka’s request.

Naupaka sent word to her beloved Kaui and told him to meet her at his fishing spot down by the sea at first light. True to his word, Kaui was there when Pele arrived. She looked him over not once but twice and thought to herself, “I now know why Naupaka has fallen in love for Kaui is indeed very, very handsome. But why should she be the only one to enjoy his company and his pleasure!” she asked herself. So being Pele, she disregarded her sister’s feelings and instead told Kaui of her intentions. She said “Kaui, I find you very pleasing. Come live with me.”

Kaui was indeed handsome, but he was also a good man, a faithful man. He told her, “I cannot, Goddess Pele.”

Pele could not believe her ears and began to smoldered a little bit. She asked, “How is it that you can say no to Pele?”

Kaui looked up at her with his big brown eyes and said, “Because I met your sister, Naupaka first, and I love her.”

Now, this infuriated Pele who was use to having her way. She became so angry that she chased the young fisherman into the sea and because her lava was fast, it over took him there and killed him. If she could not have Kaui, then no one could… not even Naupaka.

When the princess Naupaka heard what had happened, she became grief stricken and fled to a temple in the mountains. There she stayed grieving for her lost love and as she wept tears flowed from her eyes, and everywhere her tears touched the ground a Naupaka plant sprouted, but because her heart had been split in two, their bloom was but half a flower. Her tears were caught by the wind, and some landed near the beach where her lost love had perished. There more Naupaka plants sprang forth with the other half of the flowers blooming forth.

Pele soon began to realize her problem had not been with Kaui but rather with Naupaka whose beauty was so great that every man who saw her fell in love. Pele knew that it was Naupaka who must go. Naupaka believed herself to be safe from her sister having fled to the mountains since lava cannot flow uphill but she was wrong. Pele became so angry that she threw the lava up the mountain. The ohia trees caught fire, and poor Naupaka died in the fire.

To this day there are two species of Naupaka plants. One grows near the coast and is called Naupaka Makai (mac-eye) for shore. The other is the Naupaka Mauka (Mow-cah) for mountain.

The people say that someday they will grow back together, and when that day comes, the two lovers will be reunited.


Hauola Stone


For all women who have experienced childbirth as an unbelievably painful experience, it is good to know that the early Hawaiians found a solution to the pain of childbirth. That solution was to give birth on a hard rock, apparently making the pain of birth minimalized by the discomfort of the hard rock surface where the birthing took place.  At least that’s my guess about the Hauola Stone. After all, who am I to say… I’m just a guy.  However, looking at the Hauola Stone, I cannot believe I’d want to sit in the time-worn hollowed-out rock seat while giving birth but then again I would never want to be giving birth anywhere for that matter… but that just me!

Located at the right-hand end of the stone wall that separates Wharf Street from the ocean in Lahaina Towne is a cluster of rocks which stand above the water at low tide.  There as you gaze over the rock wall sits the sacred chair-shaped rock amongst the rocky shoreline of Lahaina Harbor.  It might be partially submerged in water depending on the tide, but never-the-less there it sits as it has for centuries beckoning the ill and the life givers.

Hawaiians believed that if sick people would sit on the stone and let the surf wash over their dangling legs while offering ceremonial prayers to regain their health. It was a practice for these healers to send their patients to bathe in the waters at this stone and reports were given that many of these patients were cured. There is even an old Hawaiian proverb that refers to Ka La’i o Hauola (the calm of Hauola), as a metaphor for peace and comfort.

Healing stones have long been a part of ancient Hawaiian medical practice, and many healing stones like the Hauola Stone could be found throughout the islands.  Today, most of these healing stones have been forgotten, but the Haulo Stone in Lahaina remains in the forefront of Hawaiian folklore and history.

Its origin is legendary and its special healing powers sacred. The stone was once believed to have been a young girl, Hauola who when fleeing her enemies was turned to stone by her protective guardian gods.

The stone which looks like a spacious seat with a short angular back dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries. The name “Hauola” is loosely translated to mean extended life and health. While its general purpose was for healing because it was located where both fresh and salt water mixed, the blend of the two waters was significant for healing.  Its specific use was as a birthing stone.  When a chiefess, a female chief or female royalty was ready to give birth, her attendants would help her onto the stone chair.  They would then assist with the delivery and witness the birth.  Situated next to the site of the Brick Palace it was the birthplace for the ali‘i mo‘i (alley ee moi), the high chiefs.

Birth on the Hauola Stone provided the birth child with instant recognition as a potential leader of royal society. Just as a royal birth not involving the Hauola Stone forfeited a child’s royal privileges. And since the stone was unmovable, attendants would stuff the umbilical cord between the cracks and crevices of the stone, thus ensuring a common bond forever with the magical mysteries of the stone and the infant.

When there was talk and plans to enlarge the Lahaina Harbor which might have potentially ruined the picturesque nature of the area… it was the Hauola Stone, its placement, and its historical significance that overturned all changes that could have possibly changed Lahaina Harbor and its place in Maui culture.