Star-Bulletin Features

Tuesday, February 5, 2002

Rocks of ages

A Big Island church that has stood
for almost 2 centuries plans a fund-raiser
to repair 2 lava rock walls

By Tim Ryan

KAILUA-KONA >> It's stood like a beacon for nearly two centuries at what is now Alii Drive, a combination of New England architecture and Hawaiian Island materials -- lava rock and coral-based mortar -- topped by the 112-foot-high steeple.

The Mokuaikaua Church has withstood gale-force winds, rains, thousands of visitors, and ceaseless foot and vehicle traffic. So every now and then, this place of worship needs renovation. This time, two of the three lava rock walls that border the monument's property need repair.

"Some of the rocks started to tumble from people climbing on the wall and the constant traffic rumbling by," said Rev. Henry K. Boshard, who's been the pastor of Mokuaikaua Church for some 40 years.

Treasures of the Past

Mokuaikaua Church Auction Items

Where: Ohana Keauhou Beach Resort, 75-5713 Alii Drive in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island
When: 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday; the resort is offering a special rooms package. Call 1 (800)462-6262
Schedule: Preview of times noon to 8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; auction 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday; 11:30 a.m. Sunday tour of Mokuaikaua Church and nearby Hulihe'e Palace
Tickets: $25; bidding requires a ticket; available at church office, Cook's Discoveries in Waimea, and Ohana Keauhou Beach Resort
Call: Barbara Meheula at (808) 328-9749, or Pam Napoleon at Mokuaikaua Church (808) 329-0655; or email

The lava rock wall bordering Alii Drive is 110 feet long and 5.5 feet high. The north and west barriers are each 130 feet long. The rear of the property was left open for neighbors who were church members.

This weekend, the church will hold an auction to pay off the remaining half, $35,000, of the $70,000 renovation that began last January. The auction of several historic pieces and artwork -- given to the church by parishioners and friends -- will be held at the Ohana Keauhou Beach Resort. The more than 200 items have estimated values ranging from $50 to $25,000, the latter for the 1925 handwritten score of the only opera, "Prince of Hawaii," written by Royal Hawaiian band leader and composer Charles E. King, whose music teacher was Queen Lili'uokalani.

Other objects include contemporary koa ukulele, baby cradle or two nights for two at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel (estimated value $1.050).

"The idea is to have something for everyone -- from the serious collector of Hawaiiana to simple pleasures not often found today," said Barbara Meheula, who is co-chairing the event with Sheila Vitulli.

Mokuaikaua Church was Hawaii's first Christian church, established in 1820, alhough the present structure was dedicated in 1837. The interior is constructed with ohia and koa woods; a model of Thaddeus, the ship that brought the first missionaries to Hawaii, is displayed inside, where visitors can also peruse the pages of Lucy Thurston's diary.

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