POSTED: 23 AUGUST 2007 - 7:00am HST

OHA Rep fights facility near Salt Ponds

image above: detail of painting Hi'iake and the Mo'o by Linda Rowell Stevens
OHA's Cataluna to Baptiste “I will fight that facility if it is the last thing I do with my life.”

Salt Ponds name: Waimaka O Hi‘iaka (The Tears of Hi'iaka)
by Lester Chang 23 August in The Garden Island News

The Kaua‘i representative to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs voiced opposition yesterday to Mayor Bryan Baptiste’s residential drug treatment center for youths in Hanapepe.

At a Kaua‘i County Council meeting at the Historic County Building, Don Cataluna said even if the county implements mitigation measures, the risk of runoff from the project could cause irreparable harm to the Salt Ponds beds — a rare and prized Hawaiian cultural site.The salt beds, where salt is made naturally through the evaporation of ocean water, are located near the facility.

“The mayor’s plan for Salt Ponds is dead,” Cataluna said, while Baptiste sat in the audience. “I will fight that facility if it is the last thing I do with my life.”

Cataluna said he has received support from four of the nine Office of Hawaiian Affairs board members, and he said he anticipates support from the other four in the future. The board will be taking an official position on the matter soon, he said.
As a last resort, Hawaiian Affairs will take the county to court if it decides to resume the work, Cataluna said.

The county’s conversion of the old Kaua‘i Humane Society complex into the treatment facility has been held up 10 months due to Hawaiian Affairs’ concerns about possible environmental damage to the ponds.

Baptiste said he is in no mood to go to war with the agency and has focused his attention on mitigating environmental impacts that he felt were at the core of the controversy.

But the discussion yesterday led him to believe otherwise.

“My understanding is that we are going to mitigate environmental impacts on the salt beds, and we looked at that,” Baptiste said. “If it is social or cultural, then that is a different discussion altogether.”

Baptiste has pushed for the project because it will allow Kaua‘i youth to remain on the island for treatment for the first time. Because family members will be able to visit them, their rehabilitation time should be accelerated, Baptiste has said.
“This is a potential win-win situation because the children being treated at the center can go to the ponds, help out and learn,” he said.

The county issued to Kaua‘i Builder, the contractor, a notice to proceed in October 2006, but work was stopped two weeks later due to Hawaiian Affairs’ concerns.

In a letter sent to Baptiste in November 2006, the agency posed a slew of questions about the project, according to county documents.

Among them, Hawaiian Affairs asked pointedly why the facility could not be relocated to another part of the island.

Trustees also noted that they couldn’t support the project until the county agreed to meet with salt makers from Hanapepe; Hawaiian Affairs also asked for notification when projects are proposed by the salt beds.

Councilwoman Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho said Bapiste’s pledge to meet the salt makers has yet to become a reality.

Government watchdog and Kaua‘i resident Glenn Mickens said the failure is inexcusable, as salt makers are eager for answers on the issues.

County officials have maintained, however, that they followed proper procedures in initially notifying Hanapepe residents about the project. With regard to resuming work on the facility, officials said they intend to talk with Hawaiian Affairs and community members before making any decisions.

But Cataluna said the project should be abandoned out of respect for the Hawaiian culture.

The salt pans were first used by Hawaiians, or kanaka, the indigenous people of Hawai‘i in 1000 A.D., he said.

Salt Ponds was known as Waimaka O Hi‘iaka, essentially meaning tears from Hi‘iaka, the sister to Pele, the goddess of fire, lighting, dance, volcanoes and violence in Hawaiian mythology.

West Kaua‘i resident Frank Santos, whose daughter Ku‘ulei Santos makes salt in the salt beds, said if the county has failed to properly maintain a 40-year-old road by the salt ponds, how can it offer assurances the project will not harm the salt beds.

“This is environmental, and the county looks away,” he said. “The county cannot help us protect this cultural site.”

County Planning Director Ian Costa, who was on hand for the meeting, said if critics are concerned about potential runoff from the project onto the salt pans, they should be equally concerned about runoff from the cane fields and dirt from vehicles passing by the beds.

The county will be able to control sewage seepage through a septic system that has been designed for the new substance abuse treatment center, Costa also said.

Baptiste noted that the project should continue because the county has spent $500,000 on work to date.

But Cataluna countered that the loss is small when compared with the historical value of the ponds.

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you may have to look through blog archive for dated articles



POSTED: 30 JULY 2007 - 9:00pm HST

Public Meeting on Drug Treatment Center Aug 1st

image above:view northwest across portion of flooded Salt Pond in February 2005

[Editor's Note: There will be a County Council public meeting on Wednesday at 9:00am on August 1st in the Historic County Building on Rice Street. If you are interested in this issue, please attend.

The agenda will include • Bicycle and pedestrian pathway project • Seawall in front of the Pono Kai Condominium development in Kapa‘a • Residential drug treatment project in Hanapepe for youths • Vacation rentals and an executive session related to the matter.

In support of the Salt Pond community are letters from various sources, collected  by Dawn Traina.]

Below is an email letter to Gary Heu (the assistant to Mayor Baptiste) from Dawn Traina on behalf of the Citizens to Protect Hanapepe Salt Ponds/Puolo Point Peninsula. Dawn also included attachments from OHA Chairperson Haunani Apoliona, Kumu Hula Kehaulani Kekua, and Doug Tom as well as State Rep. Roland D. Sagum III. The Sagum editorial was included in this article previously (see below).


Dear Gary Heu,

I received your phone message today. Thank you very much for the communication.

I wanted to share a few documents with you, that should help to update you on the direction things have been going with regards to the Hanapepe Salt Ponds / Puolo Point Peninsula this past year.

The meetings a year ago pertaining to the proposed residential drug rehab center at Hanapepe Salt Pond / Puolo Point Peninsula served to galvanize and create a renewed awareness not only on the part of the Salt Makers and Westside community, but amongst cultural practitioners, government agencies and residents throughout the island of Kauai, the entire state, and even beyond to the mainland.
The awareness and direction is this:

1.) The Hanapepe Salt Ponds / Puolo Point Peninsula is a one of a kind, irreplaceable, fragile cultural resource and treasure that has been severely mistreated, damaged, and disrespected for the past 70 (plus) years, by an assortment of entities.

2.) Because the damage to this area has been cumulative and ongoing, this cultural resource has been diminished to a mere fraction of what it once was. It is getting more and more damaged with each passing day, and is currently teetering on the brink of irretrievable loss.

3.) In light of this, time is of the essence. There can be no further development on the Salt Ponds/Puolo Point Peninsula.
4.) And immediate measures need to be taken to assess the current conditions there, develop a resource management plan for the area, and to start implementing that plan immediately. This would include un-doing the damage that has been done, and putting into place protections that will preclude any future damage from ever occurring there again.

Thankfully there are many residents and government figures and agencies who now recognize the utter importance and dire nature of this situation. As a result there has been a ground swell of support coming from many sectors.

People are realizing that it is no longer a political issue. It crosses all lines and barriers. There is a universal understanding that this living cultural resource absolutely cannot be allowed to slip through the cracks. It is bigger than anyone. It is about losing an irreplaceable treasure, a direct link to the past, and a major defining characteristic of the island and its indigenous people.

That can't be allowed to happen on our watch. We owe it to the future generations to turn things around now. We need to begin treating the precious Hanapepe Salt Pond/Puolo Point Peninsula and the Salt Makers who have kept this tradition alive, with the respect that they so duly deserve.

To that end, we hope that the County Administration will understand the superceding priority here, and once and for all end its effort to build a drug rehab center on the Hanapepe Salt Pond/Puolo Point Peninsula.

It would be nice if the County Administration would find it in their hearts to join the salt makers, residents, practitioners, and other government agencies, and representatives state-wide, who are now currently lending their support to this effort. That way everyone can work together in a united effort to restore and protect this legacy for future generations.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. The attachments should help to illustrate some of the things mentioned above.

I am currently contacting folks with regards to your suggestion of a meeting. While I'm doing that, I thought I'd share these things with you just to clarify, so there is no confusion as to the position and focus of those involved.

Please feel free to call me if you have any questions, and I will do my best to find the answers for you if I can.

Mahalo and Aloha,


Below are excerpts from OHA address pertaining to Hanapepe Salt Ponds / Puolo Point Peninsula written by Chairperson Haunani Apoliona   


07 December 2006

State of OHA and the Native Hawaiian Community 2006

The theme of this year’s Investiture is, HOOKELE POLOLEI: 

It is an appropriate theme given that this year is the 30th anniversary of Hokulea and her reaffirmation of Native Hawaiian courage to rely on our traditions and values to chart our future and press on against all odds.

“At the local level, our legislative advocacy will continue with the State Legislature and the various County Councils…

…We ask that you join us in advocating for our legislative agenda which will make life better for Hawaiians and, in turn, all of Hawaii.
On the County level we will advocate for the protection of cultural sites and cultural practices.  Trustees will soon be formally discussing ways to assure the protection of the much treasured, Salt Pans in Hanapepe, Kauai. 


Below are excerpts from proposal, by Doug Tom for using the CZM (ORMP) to assist in the restoration and preservation of Hanapepe Salt Ponds / Puolo Point Peninsula.)


October 13, 2006

From: Doug Tom
Subject: Hanapepe Salt Ponds

We intend to examine the watershed/moku/ahupuaa to identify sources of pollution and recommend, small scale projects that can be undertaken to reduce them and to specifically examine the Hanapepe salt ponds as a subset of the watershed-moku-ahupuaa and develop a resource management plan for this unique and historic resource. Surface water runoff is a major problem in maintaining the cultural, environmental, and economic integrity of the salt ponds.

The project addresses several important CZM priorities, including but not limited to nonpoint source pollution and cumulative and secondary impacts. It also implements a recommendation in the Ocean Resources Management Plan (ORMP) calling for place-based approaches to reduce nonpoint source pollution.

The project complements Department of Health clean water initiatives. Hanapepe is on the final Clean Water Act 303(d) 2004 List of Impaired Waters in Hawaii. The list identifies those areas where there are excessive levels of total suspended solids, nutrients and temperature, and toxic substances.

In addition, the project addresses the expressed concerns of kupuna and practitioners that participated in the public meeting on the ORMP held on Kauai on problems facing the salt ponds.

In rural Hanapepe on the West side of Kauai, the community is very concerned about development relative to impacts on the salt ponds. It is unclear how long the salt ponds have been in existence, but community members have testified that changes in the area over the past 50 years have not been helpful to sustaining the health of the ponds.

The Hanapepe salt ponds are listed on the state historic preservation register and are an extremely important cultural resource to the community. In addition to consumption, this salt is also important in blessings and other cultural rites. The Hanapepe salt is mixed with alae, a form of red dirt from Kokee, which Hawaiians believe has medicinal value. The cumulative effects from actions over the past decades have rendered Hawaiian salt making a serious challenge. As a result, many salt makers are fearful that this ancient cultural rite will cease.

During the 1960’s, because of Burns Field, or Port Allen Airport, and sugar plantation activities, the county constructed a road that essentially bisected the salt making area. Polluted runoff from the toxic pavement material of the abutting airfield and newer developments permitted without sewer system connections are serious threats to the salt ponds and the ancient art form of making “Hawaiian” salt, which practitioners contend is authentic only in Hanapepe. The contention is that the Hawaiian salt sold in grocery stores is merely rock salt from anywhere.

The community is very interested in protecting this cultural resource. And want to see it as a defining feature for the area. A Hanapepe salt pond resource management plan would help galvanize the larger community as well as state and county agencies in understanding the resource issues and provide them with information and options for consideration in deciding the future of the community.

Development of a Hanapepe salt pond resource management plan is directly related to the ORMP and CZM. Salt ponds exist because of tidal influence, and they are affected by land activities. In addition, it is an appropriate project for this office to spearhead insofar as it should cross several functional lines of authority which is a major criterion for Office of Planning involvement. The project would involve the services of a planning consultant to: identify and assess the problems and issues; involve all applicable parties, government agencies, and the community; and integrate the information into a resource management plan that offers solutions and options. The community must be involved in the process to assure the investment of time and funds will produce acceptable and workable results or recommendations.

The scope of work for the project would include:

Identifying the watershed/moku/ahupua’a of Hanapepe/Makaweli.
Identifying sources of pollution, particularly those that affect coastal water quality and cultural and historic resources in the area surrounding the salt ponds.

Preparing a watershed implementation plan similar to those prepared by the Department of Health Polluted Runoff Program in other areas of the state including but not limited to identifying and recommending small scale, local projects that can be undertaken to reduce sources of pollution in the watershed/moku/ahupua’a.

Convening and consulting with local Hawaiian practitioners and kupuna in the Hanapepe watershed/moku/ahupua’a about local best management principles and practices, and documenting such principles and practices in a report which also integrates findings from number 3 above.

Preparing a resource management plan for the Hanapepe Salt Ponds.

Identifying community stakeholders and conducting a meeting with them to discuss preliminary study recommendations.
Preparing and submitting draft and final reports.


Below are excerpts from winter 2007 issue of Halau Palaihiwa O Kaipuwai Newsletter by Kumu Hula Kehaulani Kekua


January 2007

Aloha mai kakou! I’m excited and looking forward to a brand new year of shared experiences and learning in 2007!…

…As we move in to this New Year, I humbly ask all of you to learn about Kaua`i’s sacred places, traditions and resources. Crucial issues on the table this year that will have a huge impact on our wahi pana and cultural practices include the State’s Master Plans for Koke`e and Ha`ena, the County’s Drug Treatment Center proposed for Hanapepe, the Waipouli Development projects and more. For your interest I’ve included an article on the significance of the pa`akai that is cultivated in Hanapepe. This is a unique cultural asset and a treasure that must be protected.

In our halau, hula is much, much more than the movements of hands and feet. It is an archaic means by which we perpetuate our history, culture and `aina! Please join me in bringing health, life and mana into our halau, families and the Kaua`i Island community with a renewed and heightened commitment thru hula and Hawaiian culture.


Na Lo`i Pa`akai Kahiko
The Ancient Salt Beds of `Ukula at Hanapepe

Our ancestors have long perpetuated the importance of spiritual and physical cleansing and purification – not only for ourselves, but for our homes and places where we work, gather and frequent for various purposes.

The ocean and the many resources that it provides are primary to our wellbeing. Not only do we gather and harvest fish and seaweed for food and sustenance, but we also find swimming and bathing in the ocean as a way in which to tend to our health and wellbeing.

There are two forms of spiritual cleansing and purification that we continue to practice today. One is called, “Kapu Kai” which is a ceremonial bath requiring total immersion in the ocean. The other is “Pi Kai” which is cleansing with the sprinkling of salt water. Prayer and meditation are required accompaniments that are needed to heighten the mana or spiritual power of the ceremony itself.

The important component of course, is the pa`akai or salt that is prevalent in the ocean. It symbolizes preservation and purification.

Everywhere else throughout Hawai`i, pa`akai is gathered from coastal areas where ocean water has evaporated from shallow bowl-like indentations in lava rocks. There are many different kinds of salt, pa`akai lele wai, very fine, dried salt; pa`akai walewale, slimy salt; pa`akai pu`upu`u, coarse salt; pa`akai lepo, salt mixed with earth; pa`akai `ula`ula, and salt mixed with ocherous earth.

However, it is only here on Kaua`i that you will find salt specially cultivated at the ancient salt beds of `Ukula at Hanapepe. The processes are still very much the same as it was in ancient times.

This pa`akai is very special. For those of us who do not have regular access to pa`akai harvested from Hanapepe, it is downright sacred.

Although its initial and more common use was for the preservation of food, I only use this pa`akai for ceremonies, healing and to offer as special makana and ho`okupu.

What most do not realize, is that the lo`i pa`akai or salt beds at Hanapepe are unique and simply extraordinary. We must do everything possible, to protect this cultural resource and to support the Hawaiian families who continue to perpetuate this ancient practice and tradition. The process of Hawaiian salt making at Hanapepe is fascinating and complex altogether.

There are drawn-out steps that are followed to keep the area clear of pollution and debris above and below the surface of the beds. Activity on immediate and nearby surrounding lands can cause adverse and irreversible impacts on the ancient salt making site. Salt Makers painstakingly monitor and maintain the area, paying special care to the hand-dug wells that are fed by subterranean ocean springs. Perfecting the longstanding practices of preparing and tending to the pune`e (`alaea clay beds) requires knowledge and skill that is expertly held by the kupuna generation. From a very young age, children are given different tasks in the salt making processes each season…slowly graduating to higher levels of responsibilities over the years that require more skill and proficiency. The life-long practice ensures that the tradition of producing pure and excellent pa`akai will be perpetuated.

Hawaiian salt makers prepare pune`e or beds in which spring-fed salt water is later transferred as part of the pa`akai cultivation process. The pune`e is evenly layered with clay which must be smooth and void of cracks, bumps or holes.

Wahi pana or storied and celebrated places usually do not stand alone. Such is the case of the lo`i pa`akai of `Ukula. The ahupua`a of Hanapepe is filled with significant sites from ma uka to ma kai. And there are many fascinating stories that accompany them.

Just beyond the salt beds near the coast, our kupuna constructed a heiau and named it Kauakahiunu. It was specifically dedicated it to the primordial gods, Kane and Kanaloa who are revered for the opening of springs and water sources throughout Hawai`i. In most cases, they gifted the people with fresh, sweet drinking water. However, at `Ukula, they provided a system of underground springs of highly salty, brackish water.

Ma kai of the airport is Lae Pu`olo or Pu`olo Point – a promontory that has long been known to us as a leina ka `uhane. This is one of three known leina or jumping off points from which the spirits of deceased ancestors are believed to leap into the nether land of Po.
The others are Ka`ana and Polihale.

In the bay of Hanapepe (referred to more commonly as Port Allen) are numerous hale mano or shark houses. It is said that a sequence of underground ocean lava tubes enable sharks and other ocean creatures to find their way up to the fresh water pool of Manowaiopuna far up in Hanapepe valley. Pele’s older brother, Kamohoali`i is a shark god and the navigator of her canoe. He was known to frequent this upland retreat as a favorite place of residency whenever he visited Kaua`i.

Pu`ulani is the name of a cinder hill at Hanapepe Heights. It is one of the last places on Kaua`i where Pele attempted to create a volcanic home for herself and her siblings.
Our kupuna knew that the establishment and continued existence of the salt beds involved a greater relationship with the sites that surrounded it. They also acknowledged the powers of nature for such profound gifts and resources that supported their wellbeing.

Water fed from underground springs fill the puna or wells. The water is collected and placed in to wai ku or staging ponds, before being transferred into the pune`e where the final stages of crystallization takes place. The best pa`akai is white. `Alaea – a water soluble colloidal ocherous earth is used to color the salt with a reddish tinge. It is also high in minerals and is used for ceremonies and procedures in healing, purification and cleansing
There is a mo`olelo or story that has been passed down through the years. It tells of the very beginnings of how these salt beds came to be. As with other important natural resources in Hawai`i that were known to our ancestors, they were viewed as gifts from the gods themselves. The lo`i pa`akai at `Ukula in Hanapepe are no different. And for this amazing resource, we are reminded of the kindness and generosity of Pelehonuamea – the goddess of fire and the volcano.

The mo`olelo is centered around Kia – a woman from Hanapepe who often traveled to the shores of `Ukula to fish and gather food from the sea. One day, she experienced an unusual streak of luck and in her excitement, caught an overabundance of fish. Even after giving away portions of her catch to family, friends and strangers, Kia was left with a great excess of fish. She began to cry helplessly, knowing that had taken far more than she had needed. The rest of the fish would rot and go to waste.

From beyond the sand dune where she sat crying, an elderly woman appeared to console her. When told of her dilemma, the woman gently took Kia’s hand assuring her that she would help to resolve her problem.

“Come with me,” she said as she led the fisherwoman to an area just beyond the beach. She began to dig a pit in the ground until it filled up with water that came up from within the earth. “Put your fish in here for a little while, then dry it out in the sun,” the woman told her as she explained how the salt from the ocean spring would help to preserve the rest of her catch. Kia’s crying subsided to a quiet stream of tears, grateful for the kind stranger who had appeared to help her. Assuring Kia that everything would be fine, the woman gently wiped the salty tears from her face and placed it in a basin of `alaea. The first salt is said to have come from Kia’s tears. This marked the beginning of the famous lo`i pa`akai of `Ukula at Hanapepe. From that day on, the knowledge of cultivating Hawaiian salt was spread amongst the people, along with its significance for preservation, purification and cleansing.

He la i ka pa`akai `ole,
He la mana`ona`o no!

A day without salt is a dreadful day indeed!

(An `olelo no`eau about the preciousness of salt)

Mahalo e na kupuna past and present, including Jenny Keuma, Janet Kahalekomo, Frank Santos, Wilma Holi and the salt-making families of Hanapepe who have continued to perpetuate the rare and unique Hawaiian customary practice of `Ohi Hana Pa`akai.




POSTED: 28 JUNE 2007 - 7:30am HST

Salt Ponds management plan needed

sunset across Salt Pond captured by Arius Hopman in "Golden Evening". See

by By State Rep. Roland D. Sagum III on 27 June 2007
A guest editorial in The Garden Island News

A society is often measured by the care with which it values and preserves its culture. We all seem to agree that the Hanapepe salt ponds are an important historic site and cultural resource to Kaua‘i and the state, yet look at the burdens we have placed on them.

This ancient site, listed on the State Historic Preservation Register, is surrounded by the development of an airfield runway, a heavily used county beach park, a road that actually cuts through the salt beds, a veterans cemetery, an active sugar cane plantation and a makeshift beach access route that blocks drainage. The Kiawe forest that once served to protect the ponds from the dust and contamination of the neighboring cane fields and the highway — and to assist with evapotranspiration — were cut down. This is a disrespectful way to treat this unique and valuable resource.

Hawai‘i needs to develop a resource management plan for the Hanapepe salt ponds before the surrounding development and activities destroy the health of the ponds forever. The surface water runoff from all of the encroaching uses has already compromised the purity of the ponds. In 2004, Hanapepe was placed on the federal Clean Water Act list of impaired waters in Hawai‘i for excessive levels of toxic substances.

During the 2007 legislative session, I proposed a resolution for the State Department of Land and Natural Resources to develop a comprehensive resource management plan for the Hanapepe salt ponds. As the ponds are also affected by the incoming tides, the plan would include the management of the coastal zone and ocean resources in the area.

The resolution did not make it through the session, but I intend to propose another measure in 2008 to protect the salt ponds. I believe the need to develop the resource management plan remains valid, if not urgent. In the interim, I urge the Land and Natural Resources Department, in cooperation with the county of Kaua‘i and other stakeholders, to go forward with the following:

• Identification of all sources of pollution, particularly those that affect the water quality in and around the area of the Hanapepe salt ponds.

• Identification of the watershed, moku and ahupuaa of Hanapepe and Makaweli.

• Preparation of a watershed implementation plan, to include the recommendation of projects that would serve to reduce sources of pollution in the watershed.

• Consultation with the Hawaiian practitioners and kupuna in the Hanapepe area on best management principles and practices.

• Identification of the source of salt and brine shrimp, and information on how they migrate into the area.

• Identification of and meeting with all community rights holders and stakeholders.

• Recommendations for long-term protection measures.

With each passing day, more and more people lose sight of the significance of the Hanapepe salt ponds, which are more than 1,000 years old. They are unaware that the current day salt makers are preserving a practice and producing a kind of salt that is unique in all the world. The salt from the Hanapepe salt pans is considered sacred and is used by Kahu and Kupuna for blessings and for healing.

There will always be competing uses for the land area at the Puolo Point Peninsula. I believe that many feel that the proposed Drug Treatment Center is desperately needed as an interim measure on Kaua‘i, but not at the expense of and loss of respect for the salt ponds. Let’s all come together — government, our Hawaiian community and those who are Hawaiian at heart — to ensure that the Hanapepe salt ponds are protected as a symbol to the people that this is a culture and a place that we value.

• Roland D. Sagum III, state representative for west Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau, has a background in urban and regional land use planning. He can be reached by e-mail at

see also:
Island Breath: Puolo Point Meeting 5/26/06
Island Breath: Puolo Point Plan 4
Island Breath: Puolo Point Plan 3
Island Breath: Puolo Point Plan 2 
Island Breath: Puolo Point Plan 1