Plaque stolen from North Kohala heiau


A plaque designating Mo’okini Heiau as a Registered National Historic Landmark was recently cut or removed from a rock and stolen from the centuries-old North Kohala Temple.

The heiau, less than a kilometer from King Kamehameha I’s birthplace, is where the legendary Warrior King was taken for his birth rites. It is considered a living spiritual temple and a sacred site in the Native Hawaiian religion.

“I’m very upset, totally upset. You know, this is the second time this has happened, ”Leimomi o Kamehae Kuamo’o Mo’okini Lum said on Monday. “I was totally beside myself trying to figure out why they would want to do something like this.

“I couldn’t sleep, because I don’t understand why.”

Since 1978, Lum – now in her 90s, the first woman to be a Honolulu police officer and the widow of the former adjutant general of the state, Major-General Alexis Lum – has been kahuna nui (great priestess and guardian) of the heiau, which is found on her family’s ancestral lands.

The first time the plaque was dislodged was shortly after it was installed in 1963, according to Lum, who said it was found on the Heiau grounds damaged.

“We sent it to Pearl Harbor, and Pearl Harbor straightened it out, and then we put it back,” she said.

This time, a search by Lum and an archaeologist from the state’s Department of Lands and Natural Resources failed to find the missing plaque.

Big Island State Senator Lorraine Inouye, chair of the Land and Water Committee, said she was “very disappointed and so sad too”.

“It is unacceptable. It is so sad that there is an interruption at a cultural site. I am heartbroken to see this happening,” said Inouye. “It is very disturbing for me that someone ‘one (enters) the property, and yet there is a locked door. And someone very smart. They must have done a lot of work to get it. Why is this plaque so important to this or these You can’t get to the site unless you take the old Upolu road down to the airport and then cross the shore to get to the property. ”

Inouye noted that the site has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the US Department of the Interior, but is also part of the Kohala Historic Sites State Monument, so jurisdiction will have to be decided.

Police have been notified, Lum said.

Angela Thomas, Lum’s daughter, noted the remote nature of the heiau on the north coast of Kohala, the bumpy nature of Upolu Road – which is best traveled with 4WD – and the fact that the site’s locked gate remained locked.

“They must have come with tools. They were engaged. It was planned, ”said Thomas.

Email John Burnett at [email protected]

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