Continuation of Theodore Kelsey’s lament, 1948.

A Hawaiian Lament

A little seaward of this forbidden domain the face of the father valley-ridge is sadly disfigured by a large quarrying scar, obliterating the interesting light-colored formation of Ka Upena a Maui—Demi-god Maui’s Fishnet.

Continuing down the road a short distance we come to the place where, on the upper side, the large sacred rock of Kane-hoa-lani has been split up.

Only the big rock of Pueo—the Owl—on the Manoa side of the stream a little above the Palolo School, remains, still anticipating, perchance, a glimpse of the depredatious rat that dwelt a little upland in a secluded vale on the ridge-side, and reflecting on the pernicious ways of the foreign invaders, particularly those inconsistent white-skinned creatures, whose motto on their Almighty Dollar reads, “In God we trust,” but who change the word “God” to “gold,” who classed the deeply religious, reverent Hawaiians of old as “heathens,” yet many of whom profane the names of God and Christ almost every time they open their mouths, who destroy the beauty and the cherished legendary relics of the land, while with patriotic pride they loudly sing:

“I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills.”

* * * *

Another cause for deep regret is the demolition of a number of our ancient native fish-ponds. Those especially dear to the writer were Mr. David Malo Ku-pihea’s two splendid ponds of Ale-noho and Au-iki, at Kalihi-kai, traditionally the revered works of the mysterious Menehunes of the dim past. First the acid of the pineapple juice killed the fish, then the ponds were filled in for an army establishment. Today Mr. Ku-pihea and his family, like so many other Hawaiians deprived of their natural means of livelihood, and the great heritage of their ancestors, experience “the beautiful way of life” on “the wrong side of the tracks.”

Horrid gashes, necessary as defense measures, scar the sides of dear old Diamond Head and Punchbowl, so that a kamaaina can hardly lift his eyes to them without heart-pang.

Until very recently, by taking a ride out Kuli-‘ou’ou way, one might seek relief from contemplating the spoilation of the lovely land, from the grim tragedy of its splendid native race, from the loss of precious aboriginal culture, and from the passing of the language of olden days, with its very little known literally translated, though deeply hidden esoteric chant literature, a true understanding of which might beautifully and sensibly explain—for history repeats itself—such incredible tales as that of the removal of the rib from Adam’s side, as an afterthought, to miraculously form Eve.

* * * *

As one travels toward Ka Lae o Ka-wai-hoa, called “Koko Head,” almost untouched ridges, ages upon ages old, descend nearly to the road, leading the eye up to the sublimity of the mountains that form the backbone of this island.

But now, more and more, modernization, climaxed by the partial filling of Mauna-lua Fish-pond, whose name perpetuates the memory of Ku-mauna’s youngest son, intervenes. Back, back is driven the sclacing spirit of the primeval hills and mountains, till its brooding presence is little felt as before.

What next in Time’s inevitable march? What next in wanton, or necessary, destruction? Is the sublime grandeur of our world-famed vista of the Koo-lau side of O-ahu, as beheld from Nuu-anu Gap, to be doomed by the cutting of the proposed tunnel through the mountain?

Thank God for His eventual blessed release of spirit-birth, and for the dream of a kamaaina’s Paradise Regained, in an inviolate Hidden Land of God Kane.

(Advertiser, 6/13/1948, p. 20)


Honolulu Advertiser, 91st Year, Number 21,674, Page 20. June 13, 1948.


1 thought on “Continuation of Theodore Kelsey’s lament, 1948.

  1. T. Kelsey loved words, in Hawaiian and in English, and considered them to be like pearls. For any who have had to look up a few of his obscure ones, “sclacing” won’t be found, but “solacing” will. A testament to the long tradition of newspaper typos. Aloha nō, Puakea


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