Keiki o ka ‘Aina

I find gratitude a perfect antidote for what ails me. Thanks giving. If I can remember to count some real blessings, positive energies are marshaled that eventually turn the corner on a dark situation.

The problem might still be there, but a little corner of peace has entered my heart and made it easier to bear.

I thought of this recently when I viewed Ka ‘Ohana o Kalaupapa’s touching exhibit evoking the relationship between the people of the leprosy settlement on Molokai and Hawaii’s royal family. (It ends Dec. 6 at the University of Hawaii Maui College.)

The people exiled beginning in 1866 endured deprivations beyond our ability to fathom, but through it all, the cruel disease and even more bitter separation from loved ones, they found rays of joy and reason to hope.

Visits and communications from their monarchs were lifelines of mercy in a place where, in 1873, storm winds blew two dozen houses flat to the ground and damaged 50 more so nothing was left but the frames.

“It is a Melencolly sight to see the poor Sick with Sunken Eyes look at you and when asked how they fare, reply ‘We’re hungry,'” Peter Young Kaeo, a cousin of Queen Emma’s, wrote to her. He added, “On the 15th of last Month two men died from Hunger . . . the man Kealohi died on the 23rd and ‘a little poi’ were his dieing words.”

It breaks your heart. But the patients possessed courage and agency, the ability to act on one’s own behalf even in dire circumstances, the quality that mental health professionals tell us is the key to surviving trauma.

In 1868, William Humphries Uwelealea, a former representative to the Legislature, wrote a letter to Ka Nupepa Kuakoa on behalf of the congregation of Siloama, requesting financial assistance in building a church. They had raised $125.50 from the 25 cents extra allowed per month for extras. “We have saved it bit by bit, though often hungering.”

Thus, the creation of something to live for.

Queen Kapi’olani went to the settlement for the second time in 1884, and visited the people firsthand. “The Queen greeted the occupants ‘Aloha,’ as she entered the house or hut and the Queen’s greeting returned in kind ‘aloha,’ with sobs. She would ask the state of their health and how they fared?” wrote the superintendent.

The inevitable reply: “Pilikia (hardship, suffering).” “The Queen seeing with her own eyes the poverty, squalor, and squalid bare conditions of the homes of some of her people, was visibly affected.” “Kaumaha nohoi!” (deep sorrow) was her only comment when she withdrew.

Kapi’olani read letters and petitions from the patients and collected gifts for them. “Last Monday, I gathered the sick of Kalaupapa and the names were on each packet and all received with great joy the aloha-gift from the Queen,” Father Damien wrote to her in 1884. “Yesterday (Wednesday) we did the same thing at Kalawao.”

In 1883, Kalakaua and Kapi’olani sent an emissary to the United States in search of sisters to work with them on the leprosy crisis. There was only one positive response out of 50, Mother Marianne Cope, provincial of the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse, N.Y.

She and the sisters of her order turned the Kaka’ako hospital in Honolulu into a sanitary, modern place of comfort where people received the latest treatments. The king and queen visited frequently.

A clear trend emerged in 1884 to keep patients there instead of sending them to Molokai. Serious thought was given to establishing hospitals on each island. But after the Bayonet Revolution of 1887, in which power was stripped from the king and given to the Cabinet and Legislature, patients were exiled in earnest again under the new haole government despite medical evidence that it was not necessary.

Lili’uokalani visited Kalaupapa in 1891 after she became queen, continuing the link of royal caring. In 1893, six months after the overthrow, J.P. Miau, Jno. A. Kamanu, and Josiah Haole wrote to her requesting a Hawaiian flag – now a symbol of protest – to go on a staff they had erected.

“Your Majesty, . . . perhaps it is in keeping with your loving and generous heart, to help us, being but the dirt of your common folk who have been isolated and who live on this island of incomparable agony.”

“Your fond affection, dear Queen, for your people,” wrote young David Kahoeka of Kalawao in a beautiful poem, “Is a source of light which is constant and never-fading.”

* Laurel Murphy is a former staff writer for The Maui News whose “Keiki o ka ‘Aina” column appears each Tuesday. She can be reached at

Keiki o ka ‘Aina

I loved last week’s winter rains. I found myself one cloudy evening at the intriguing strip of fishing beach across the street from the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, hidden by gnarled sea grape trees.

Cold, gray waves broke onto the rocky shore, covered with a strange assortment of driftwood. In the distance the orange lights of the harbor facilities glowed. This is the spot local people still call Y. Hata for the longtime business that once occupied the corner of Lower Main Street and Waiehu Beach Road, now a market. This confused me when I first moved here. I thought there was a town called Waihata somewhere before Waiehu.

It was at this beach, on Kahului Bay, where rebellious workers staked out a refuge that enabled them to weather Maui’s first successful labor strike.

On April 20, 1937, members of the Filipino union, Viboro Luviminda, spontaneously struck HC&S in reaction to word that the method of calculating the pay for cutting cane had been changed, amounting to a wage decrease. Assistant manager Ward Walker told the laborers the company would consider their demands, but they had to go back to work first. Instead, the Filipinos marched to the plantation office and turned in their knives. “If you don’t like it, pack your gear and get out,” Frank Baldwin, the company’s head, told them. When the workers refused, they were dismissed and evicted from plantation homes. The union agreed that married men and irrigation contractors would work while the single men continued the strike.

They set up camp – “Little Manila” – at the beach near Y. Hata. Slowly, the walkout spread until it involved 3,500 workers, including those from Maui Agricultural Co. and Wailuku Sugar Co.

Baldwin, in established industry tradition, refused to negotiate or recognize the existence of the union, saying it was a test case for the sugar industry. “They can tear down the mill, but I won’t give in.” A hundred deputies, some armed and on horseback, were hired.

Hawaii planters crushed earlier strikes and gave no ground, the most famous of which was the courageous 1920 strike of Japanese and Filipino workers on most Oahu plantations. The eviction of thousands of laborers and their families into hastily setup camps in Honolulu, where many caught flu, factored in the capitulation.

In the Maui strike of 1937, however, for the first time in history Hawaii strikers had powerful allies. National labor laws enacted under President Franklin D. Roosevelt legalized unions, and National Labor Relations Boards were created to hear disputes.

When Antonio Fagel, Viboro Luviminda’s leader, was beaten by a plantation guard, attorneys for a new Honolulu-based labor union, the Congress of Industrial Organizations, or CIO, filed a charge of unfair labor practice with the NLRB in San Francisco.

The matter did not fall under federal jurisdiction, but Maui’s planters took note. They agreed to make some concessions and the strike ended after 86 days. Workers received a 15-cent pay raise and management agreed to meet with their representative in future disputes.

It was the last racial strike in Hawaii, and the first time the sugar industry officially recognized a union. Just think how things might have turned out if there was no safe haven at “Y. Hata.”

In 1904 the Kahului Railroad Co., headed by Henry Perrine Baldwin, Frank Baldwin’s father, undertook improvements to Kahului Harbor, then essentially an inlet at the mercy of wind and heavy sea.

Dredging began on an 11-acre basin and a 1,800-foot breakwater, “thus making the Kahului Harbor as safe as that of Honolulu.” The breakwater meant that steamers could remain in port during inclement weather, instead of having to “go outside.”

In 1910, with the approval of the U.S. Army Board of Engineers, construction commenced on “Claudine Wharf,” built to accommodate the (notoriously uncomfortable) interisland steamer between Kahului and Honolulu. The railroad ceded the harbor to the federal government that year and the U.S. Congress approved further dredging and extension of the breakwater.

In 1924, per agreement, the territory bought the wharf, and on Dec. 16, 1931, The Maui News reported, “The Kahului breakwater project is completed. . . . There was no ceremony.”

The west end of the harbor is still a refuge, sort of a people’s park. Canoe clubs use it, Kahului kids use it, fishermen use it, families use it and the homeless do, too. I used to swim there sometimes, until I figured out sharks probably like it as well.

* Laurel Murphy is a former staff writer for The Maui News whose “Keiki o ka ‘Aina” column appears each Tuesday. She can be reached at

Keiki o ka ‘Aina

The new moon had sunk into the sea and the black night held an air of enchantment as I walked the dark garden paths of Lumeria, the relatively new educational retreat center on Baldwin Avenue below Makawao.

I always enjoy visiting this refined place, built on the footprint of the old Fred Baldwin Memorial Home, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The gardens are lovely, the lighting restrained, and I appreciate the sense of peace and spaciousness when I go there.

That evening I passed a lanai where a delicious-smelling dinner was being served to an intimate group, then through a quiet courtyard and a living room full of dark antiques before I found the yoga/meeting room on the fringe of the property, abutting a woods.

Lama Gyaltsen of the Maui Dharma Center was unraveling the mysteries of the sacred art of the Tibetan thankga, those elaborately painted, intricately embellished wall hangings representing deities of Buddhist Vajrayana practice. (If you’re like me, you know the word, but not the full significance.)

Some 20 thangkas hung on the walls, long, intricate, colorful scrolls above which carefully folded silk covers bloomed like golden clouds. The Tibetans were a nomadic culture, and this portable form of art was designed to be protected, rolled up and hung again at the next stop. Creating them is a painstaking, time-consuming act of devotion.

The central figure is drawn to the exact proportions of the original Shakyamuni Buddha. It is said that his glorious presence was so blinding that when an artist asked to paint him, he graciously stepped to a lake so his reflection could be captured in the water.

“They’re not just art,” said the lama. Thangkas are a path to consciousness, a meditative aid used to visualize oneself as an emanation of divinity, a doorway to focus the mind and lift into the inner essence.


This is the sort of thing that goes on at Lumeria, an educational retreat center where meditation, aromatherapy and yoga classes are offered as part of the daily rate. People can book individually (prices begin at $329), but it’s often used by retreat groups, a boon since so many places once suitable for that purpose on Maui have been converted into private homes.

I’m happy the owners maintained the original footprint of the Fred Baldwin Home, designed in 1910 by Oahu architect Harry Livingston Kerr, who had designed the Wailuku Courthouse.

It was a memorial to Fred Chambers Baldwin, the fifth child of Henry Perrine Baldwin and Emily Alexander Baldwin, who died of a ruptured appendix in New York City in 1905. It was to be a brief vacation before Fred, only 24, assumed duties as a field luna for HC&S. Handsome and charismatic, he was the most popular of the seven Baldwin siblings, and his dream was to one day manage Haleakala Ranch.

All of Maui turned out for the funeral. Plantation workers lined the road from Kahului Harbor where the coffin arrived, all the way up the hill for services at the family home at Maluhia in Olinda. Fred’s favorite horse, “Bowery,” ran to the fence when the bier bearing his master passed by.

Construction of the home took place five years later half a mile below Fred’s birthplace at Sunnyside, now the site of Maui Job Corps. It was a long, low, U-shaped campus, made up of five low, wooden buildings, with two one-story dormered structures at each side. A two-story structure at the apex housed the dining and communal rooms. The spacious private rooms with wide verandas centered around a formally landscaped park.

Henry P. Baldwin endowed the home to aid indigent old Hawaiian and white men (although it evolved into caring for the latter). Ethel Baldwin and her daughter, Frances Baldwin Cameron, lovingly tended to the residents, many of them World War I veterans, for four decades. Their humble grave markers, arranged in rows, lie in Makawao Cemetery, not far from the fine marble headstone that reads, “Our Fred.”

In World War II the facility became a military hospital and the residents were moved to the Pioneer Inn in Lahaina. They returned when the war ended, and the home was maintained until the mid-’50s, when the advent of Social Security and government programs for the needy made it unnecessary.

I’m happy Fred Baldwin’s memorial remains as a place of beneficial use.

* Laurel Murphy is a former staff writer for The Maui News whose “Keiki o ka ‘Aina” column appears each Tuesday. She can be reached at

Keiki o ka ‘Aina

It was early (for us) on a Saturday morning, and we headed off to the cove at the Paia end of Baldwin Beach, colloquially known as Lime Kiln.

It was a lovely day, blue sky, white puffy clouds and a nice breeze to leaven the heat. The water was a cool, clear aquamarine, the swells swimmable but not too scary.

I was basking in the shade of an ironwood tree when the snorkeler in our duo came up with a great discovery: railroad tracks under the water!

We swam out to just beyond the rocks of the point, a little east of the Montana Beach house, and there they were – long straight metal rails with a few remaining horizontal ties, overgrown with coral but nevertheless intriguing evidence of the days when a lime kiln for Maui Agricultural Co. operated in that vicinity.

I was intrigued by this fragmentary window into Maui’s past and decided to consult an expert. This was Upcountry stalwart Bill Bates, St. Anthony Class of ’61, owner of a landscaping business, and whose father, Walter A. Bates, was division overseer of Keahua, Pulehu and Pukalani districts for MACo.

The family lived at Sunnyside – that choice area stretching from Kaluanui to Rainbow Gulch – and Bill has many happy memories of Paia when it was just a sleepy town and plantation managers were given beach houses near the bay.

He accompanied me to Baldwin Beach one morning to see what he could recall of the days when his father drove him and his older brother Michael, now living on the Big Island, down to check on the lime kiln. They entered via a cane road near where the Paia Youth Center is.

The kiln was visible from the beach park’s pavilion, which supervisors built during the labor strike of 1946 and named for Harry A. Baldwin, MACo’s popular boss, who died later that year.

The pavilion replaced an earlier structure damaged by the April Fool’s Day tidal wave of the same year. It was for the use of supervisors (they lived the life of Riley, of course), but workers could obtain it for special events like weddings.

Bill looked down the beach, envisioning the old kiln. “It was a big, two-story structure with corrugated siding with timbers holding it up, and it was all white from the lime.”

The lime was made by burning coral in a furnace back of the building. It was essential in the sugar-making process and the manufacture of cement, used as well for sanitation and as a soil additive. The finished product was sold all over Hawaii – well into the ’70s – in bags with a MACo label.

We walked to the middle of the beach, past the Montana Beach house, and discovered that our timing was good. The waves had cut a sand cliff, revealing at the water’s edge a 5-foot-long concrete slab, perhaps the side of a footing.

In those days, the beach was much wider than it is now, and the rocks forming the little cove had not yet been set in place. Nor were there ironwoods.

Bill recalled that little gondola cars such as those used in a mine rode on tracks out into the water. A drag line and a bucket went out and scooped up the coral. A winch was used to reel it in. A rail line led back to Paia Mill. In the old days, a workers’ camp called Lime Kiln stood nearby.

Here’s the history. In 1906, an expanded sugar factory at Paia went into service with a state-of-the-art nine-roller Cora mill. This kept working, with modifications, until the mill closed a little over a decade ago.

At that time, the old sugar factory at Hamakuapoko in 1878 was closed and some of the equipment incorporated into the new plant. (The exotic ruins of this early mill, slowly being devoured by a banyan tree, still lurk in a cane field like a set from a Harrison Ford movie.)

The lime kiln was built in 1907 to prevent possible disruption of Mainland supply of the important substance. In part for this decision, MACo earned a reputation as “the most progressive plantation company in the islands.”

I don’t know when the old lime kiln was taken down. Like so many important facets of Maui’s past, little now remains except the name.

It’s funny,” said Bill. “There’s no evidence of it.”

* Laurel Murphy is a former staff writer for The Maui News whose “Keiki o ka ‘Aina” column appears each Tuesday. She can be reached at