In less than 15 days over 10% of Kauaʻi residents have signed a petition opposing new resort development at the site of the former Coco Palms Hotel.
Please sign the petition today and help push the numbers to the highest level possible prior to the auction scheduled for July 26th, tomorrow at noon! https://www.change.org/p/prospective-developers-protect-wailuanui-former-coco-palms-land-from-development? Please also share with your networks!
Mayor Kawakami issued a public statement on Friday stating in part, “There is a growing sentiment from our residents that the site not be returned to a resort, but instead become a community gathering place, such as a park with agricultural and cultural elements.” He went on to say, “We will work with the new owners to ensure that whatever becomes of the property, we honor the sacred nature of this site and the wishes of our community.”
The I Ola Wailuanui Working Group wailuanui.org/the-team began forming in April of 2020 around the core goal of transitioning the former Coco Palms hotel site, Wailuanuiahoʻāno, into a community owned, developed and managed place for Hawaiian culture, education, restoration and more. This effort will be done so in a way that honors the deep history of this sacred place as the once social and political center of old Kauaʻi.
Working Group member Fern Anuenue Holland says, “We are confident that no hotel will be rebuilt on the grounds of the historic Coco Palms Hotel site in the future. Given the incredible cultural and historical significance of the site we are sure that our shared vision to restore this to a place that benefits the community and honors its rich history is the only acceptable path forward for this place. The time has come for Wailuanuiahoʻāno to be restored to a flourishing space for cultral enrichent, education, conservation and food production.”
As the auction date, Monday July 26th, quickly approaches, the support for the I Ola Wailuanui vision continues to build in the community. At press time nearly 10,000 people had signed the online petition with the vast majority being Kauaʻi residents.
Former Mayor JoAnn Yukimura wrote recently in The Garden Island, “It is the destiny of Coco Palms to be more than a hotel site. A group of far-sighted, heartfelt community leaders called I Ola Wailuanui has been working on an exciting new vision for Coco Palms-a vision that honors Coco Palms’ ancient past as part of a dynamic cultural, economic and political center on Kaua‘i that flourished along the life-giving Wailua River, and melds it together with the future we want to see on Kaua’i.”
Margy Parker, spokesperson for the Coconut Coast Resort Association, said in a statement, “Two years ago, our organization, the Royal Coconut Coast Association, embraced converting that parcel into a cultural/educational center. This concept had full support of our Board which includes representation by 14 hotels and condo resorts, plus Smith’s and KVB.”
I Ola Wailuanui Working Group member and Kauaʻi Museum Director Chucky Boy Chock, speaking on his own behalf said most succinctly, “My puʻuwai always had a place for Coco Palms…. but today my naʻau humbly cries “Wailuanuiahoʻāno”.
Wailuanuiahoʻāno is the birthplace of Kauaʻi’s past kings and queens. These are historic crown lands that host former royal compounds, stately temple sites, a royal birthing site and other religious locales. The eminent residences for the aliʻi were here, it was the primary domain and seat of government for the reigning chiefs of the moku of Puna and continued to be after the island was united under one ruler.
The property has two ancient loko puʻuone (dune banked inland fishponds), named Weuweu and Kaiwiiki, or Kawaiiki. These fishponds are estimated to be at least 600 to 800-plus years old. This ancient site should be restored and preserved for future generations and are an important part of our future, culture and food security.
Part of the former Coco Palms Hotel was built on a graveyard. Mapped on the old maps from the Māhele, this site included the The Mahunapuʻuone Cemetery. In 1973 during Coco Palms Hotel expansion of the north wing, thirty-four (34) sets of human remains were unearthed during construction. It is unknown how many others were in the original development. The remains of iwi kūpuna buried in this sacred land must be honored.
Pua Rossi-Fukino, a founding member of I Ola Wailuanui Working Group whose ancestors are directly connected to these lands summed up the status quo and speculated about what might happen on auction day saying, “With the help of Ke Akua, the steadfast commitment of many, and the generous support of those who would honor and respect our shared vision, at the end of the day, on Monday July 26th, these sacred lands will be heading back to our community where they belong. Either gifted through the generosity of a community benefactor, or if not, we with roots deep in this ʻāina know for certain that there will never be another hotel built in this sacred place.”