By Lt. j.g. Eric Galassi, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs
Eighteen volunteers from the visiting ships, USS Lake Champlain (CG 57)and USS Sampson (DDG 102), helped in a project to restore the historic Kalaeloa Heritage Park on June 26.
They were greeted with a Hawaiian blessing and a history of the park from Shad Kane, Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner. After a tour of the park and a depiction of its original inhabitants, the Sailors started work, clearing branches and other plant waste to make space for landscaping that will use native plants.
Chaplain Lt. Shaun Kennedy of the Lake Champlain was appreciative of the history lesson.
“It’s so great how Shad Kane took the time out of his busy schedule for us, sharing his knowledge about the Kalaeloa Heritage Park. He spoke of how some ancient Hawaiians lived and possibly why they settled there in such a dry, arid area. I’ve never thought how the sugar plantations in the upper regions affected life at the lower regions by channeling water to other areas to water their crops,” Kennedy said.
Kalaeloa Heritage Park is a 77-acre parcel of land located at the former Barbers Point Naval Air Station. After the air station’s closure, the land was declared a heritage park due to historical structures. These structures consist of several house foundations constructed with stacked karst stones as well as a stone-lined path that once extended four miles.
The settlement has been dated to about 560 years old and was determined to be inhabited by people from Tahiti due to the manner of construction of the house foundations, typically using upright stone formations.
The plan for the park is to eventually turn it into a re-creation of the original Tahitian settlement that was located there centuries ago.