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Ship Logs

Holaniku, The Boundary of Existence
Kure Atoll
Posted By Scott Kikiloi
September 27, 2002

Westernmost point of  Green Island.Recorded in our oral histories is ka mele a Kamahu`alele, or the chant of Kamahu`alele, the famous priest of the navigating chief Mo`ikeha, who recited "Eia Hawai`i" in the year 1215 A. D. on their return voyage to Hawai`i. Within the lines of this old chant lie subtle clues to ancient place names and locations of traditional regions across Oceania. In verse twelve and thirteen of this mele, Kamahu`alele recites this, "Pae like ka moku i lalani, hui aku hui mai me Holani…," which means "The (Hawaiian) islands lay in sequence, adjoined to Holani…" (Ka mele a Kamahu`alele in Fornander, APR 2:10-11). Holani is a region that lies due west of the Hawaiian archipelago, and its boundaries are traditionally marked by Holaniku (Holani in the East) and Holanimoe (Holani in the West) (Ka Mo`olelo o Aukelenuiaiku in Fornander, Vol. 4: 32-111). These names are so ancient that many of them have been forgotten about, residing in obscurity for many years.

Holaniku however, is an ancestral island name we should never forget. It is the island name for the oldest geological island in our homeland, known today as Kure Atoll (Bishop Museum Archives #HI. H.107, folder 2), and she is a reminder of how long our history spans back in time.

In researching these island names and their traditional history often times I felt as though I was guided by my kupuna, because so much of the information pertaining to these places lay hidden, or fragmented in various places. Hawaiian language documents for the most part are not indexed, and this tedious type of searching requires patience and a type of intuition I cannot accurately explain in words. Similarly, being able to visit these places is a guided experience. I find myself fortunate to be in such a position. Reconnecting with these islands teaches you a number of values that you internalize and hold dear- the most important of which is respect. Without respect, there is no balance in the relationships within our family and society, and there is no balance in the relationships we have with the natural world.

The only word that can describe her character is serene. Like an aged woman, the beauty of this island is timeless. She has aged gracefully in her years of existence, and hosted us warmly during our two-day stay there. As a group, we immediately loved her… We greeted her in a traditional manner, through pule, or prayer. After we were done, an `a, or brown boobie bird flew overhead and hovered curiously in the wind. We spent the entire day walking about, learning her stories and concerns. We walked to her northern most point, and her western most point, marking the end boundaries of our Hawaiian archipelago. That night we celebrated with her in eating Hawaiian food, laulau, and drinking awa, of the papa `ele`ele variety.

Verbesina and Masked booby.On the second day of our stay there we worked most of the day pulling out the invasive verbesina. This aggressive weed is threatening to take over Green island (the largest sandy island within Kure's lagoon), and destroy critical habitat for nesting sea birds on the island. We cleared a two-acre area of land by hand, led by Ethan Shiinoki of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife we accomplished our mission for the day. The last remaining hours on Holaniku were spent at the beach, we loaded our supplies on the zodiac and walked the shoreline to the western most point to be picked up by the Rapture crew. This area is perhaps the most beautiful area I've seen yet during our trip. It's a long white sand peninsula that extends out into the ocean's currents. As I looked out to the setting sun, I thought of how that very spot marked the end of our homeland. As a Native Hawaiian, it is the boundary of my ancestry and existence. I have no genealogical claims outside of this point. What lies behind me however is a personal responsibility to spread the values that I have learned from this expedition when I return home.

Leaving Holaniku.On board the Rapture, we set sail later that night. The Hawaiians on board gathered up all the leis we received when we left Honolulu two weeks ago. We let them go one by one, as they left a trail of ho`okupu on the ocean surface. Just outside of the glow of the ship was an `a, or brown boobie. As Kahape`a went upstairs she saw the hidden bird fly off into the darkness.

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