Road to hell is paved with gold, 1915.


C. R. Forbes Warned from Undertaking by John G. Stokes; Will Put Up Markers

Plans that Charles R. Forbes, superintendent of public works, has had for the restoration of the heiaus on Hawaii will probably be abandoned as a result of a letter received by him recently from John G. Stokes, curator at the Bishop museum.

Mr. Stokes objects to having the heiaus built up again to a semblance of their original shape, as was the plan proposed by Superintendent Forbes, by taking rock that had fallen and resetting it in its old position. Mr. Stokes’ contention is that this would be an unwise thing to do, even in the interest of preserving the old relics. His statement is made after a careful study of them.

Since receiving the letter the public works superintendent has decided to forego this part of the work, but he will insist upon having the heiaus protected from animals and vandals, and also upon placing a marker and tablet telling the story of the old temple and the surrounding country at each of the ruins. Senator Stephen Desha has offered to hunt up this history, and to put it into form suitable for the tablet.

In answer to Mr. Stokes, who offered the suggestions which have come to him in his experience as an archaeologist, Superintendent Forbes wrote under date of October 23, as follows:

“I am in receipt of your letter of October 22, relative to the matter of restoring the heiaus on the island of Hawaii as appeared in an article in the Star-Bulletin on the 21st instant. Neglect is Deplored.

“I thank you for your letter and the information contained therein. I have never studied archaeology and the matter of an attempted restoration of these old temples suggested itself to me as a way of saving to posterity some of the most interesting features of ancient times in Hawaii. On my numerous trips around the islands, I have deplored the neglected condition of these relics. Many people have talked to me of them and expressed the wish that they might be preserved to the country and taken care of.

“Since reading your letter I realized the enormity of the task my goal would have had me assume, and the stumbling block I might have unwittingly put in the way of persons better qualified than I to perform such a work.

“However, my interest is not in any degree diminished, and if at any time during my tenure of office, there is any movement made by any society or organization to restore these heiaus, such organizations may count on my cooperation.

“Meanwhile, whatever I can do in the way of protecting these sites from vandals and animals I shall do, together with erecting suitable descriptive signs or markers, and having a copy of the statute regarding heiaus placed in a conspicuous place on each marker.

“Yours very truly,


“Superintendent of Public Works.”

[John F. G. Stokes in 1909 did a major survey of the heiau on Molokai. There is a talk happening at the Bishop Museum on 12/8/2016 (Thurs) about Stokes and a new database which includes his unpublished maps of the heiau! For more, click here.]

(Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 11/3/1915, p. 11)


Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Volume XXIII, Number 7352, Page 11. November 3, 1915.

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