Honolulu Star Advertiser

July 11, 2016
By Nina Wu

COURTESY KUPU HAWAII / SAMUEL APUNA The nonprofit organization Kupu Hawaii will begin bringing native plants to a burial ground on the west side of Hawaii island. Student interns pose for a photo at Kupu’s training facility at Kewalo Basin.


Dozens of youths from Kupu Hawaii, a Kakaako-based nonprofit, will be among the first volunteers to begin restoration work at the Kuamoo battlefield and burial grounds on the west side of Hawaii island.

Through a collaboration with the Trust for Public Land and Aloha Kuamo‘o ‘Aina, members of Kupu’s Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps will help bring native plants back to the 47-acre property. Most of the parcel, situated near the coastline in Keauhou, Kona, is brush land that was previously used for cattle grazing.

They will also help build trail spurs off the historic Ala Kahakai Trail, which stretches 175 miles past fishponds, a majestic stone slide and fishing shrines.

On Dec. 31 the Trust for Public Land and Aloha Kuamo‘o ‘Aina announced they had raised the $4.25 million needed to purchase the ancient battlefield from the Schattauer family. Aloha Kuamo‘o ‘Aina, founded by the Beamer ohana and led by musician Keola Beamer, became the steward of the land.

The property is the site of the 1819 Battle of Kuamoo, when Hawaiian warriors who wished to preserve the traditional kapu system fought against those who wanted to abandon it. The battle pitted Chief Kekuaokalani, nephew of King Kamehameha I, and his forces against his cousin Liholiho (King Kamehameha II), who had abandoned the kapu system. Liholiho was victorious.

Hundreds died in the battle and were buried at the site, including Kekuaokalani and his wife, Chiefess Manono, who fought beside him.

Her last words were “Malama ko aloha,” or “Keep your love” — a plea for both sides to keep their love for one another despite their differences.

Aloha Kuamo‘o ‘Aina envisions restoring the historic site as a “center for peace and reconciliation,” according to a news release.

Kupu Hawaii, founded in 2007, provides service-learning programs and paid internships for youth in the fields of natural resources management, renewable energy and conservation.

At Kupu’s annual Environmental Fair at its training facility at Kewalo Basin in June, enthusiastic youth met with partner organizations including the Hawai‘i Conservation Alliance, Oahu Invasive Species Committee and Hui o Ko‘olaupoko for prospective internships.

Three Kupu alumni — Molly Mamaril, Jayleen Marar and Keoni Kikala — shared how their internships lead to real-life conservation jobs.

Kikala, once a troubled teen, completed his Kupu internship with the Lyon Arboretum’s Pahole Rare Plant Facility, which landed him a part-time job there while he now pursues a degree from Windward Community College.

His words of advice to other youths looking ahead to their futures: “Every person is capable of becoming a leader. Destiny is in the hands of your own, so think about what it is that you want to become and where you want to see yourself. Don’t give up and keep striving for what you believe in, even if that means standing alone because everyone will eventually see the impact from that example that you set.”

To learn more, visit kuamoo.org and kupuhawaii.org.