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Tuesday, April 5, 2005
Group seeks relief
The society made the request last week in a letter signed by 55 people to landowner HRT Ltd., the for-profit arm of the Jeanette and Harry Weinberg Foundation.
The tree is about 10 feet from an 1860s-era house that was part of the estate of Maria Adams Boyd, who bought Maunawili Ranch in 1869. Her husband was Hawaiian Maj. Edward Harbottle Boyd, a merchant who held several Hawaiian Kingdom government posts including serving on the staff of John Owen Dominis, governor of Oahu and Liliuokalani's husband.
The Kakalia family later lived in the house, which is now in disrepair but still worthy of preservation as a historic building, said Chuck Burrows, a member of the Kailua Historical Society.
The one-story wooden house, which has plumbing and electricity, has been vandalized and sits in an unmown, weed-filled yard. A second dead tree, not quite as large as the first, also is within falling distance.
The historic society and other historic and Hawaiian preservation groups would like to see about 10 acres of the area, including several buildings from the late 1800s and a special outdoor bathtub built for Liliuokalani, restored and opened to the public, Burrows said.
"They used to have luau in this field for the royalty, Queen Liliuokalani and King Kalakaua," Burrows said, pointing to a meadow surrounded by dense rain forest. "They would hang banners and light bonfires on the hills."
"There is evidence that this area was a classic Hawaiian valley and they were using the area for growing of taro especially," said archeologist Paul Brennan, a Maunawili resident and Kailua Historical Society member. Some archeological features date to 1400, and there is a temple site nearby, he said.
"There are many stories associated with that area. You can get a sense it was stately and the grounds very well kept," said Brennan, who noted that there are also petroglyphs alongside springs in the area.
"Nowhere on the Windward side is there any other acreage which has as rich a history and interesting cultural mix of activities," Brennan said. "Yet when you look at the area, you'll see it's in tremendous neglect.
"We've tried to impress on the landowner that they should be good owners and be responsible."
HRT Ltd. is the former Honolulu Rapid Transit, which the late Harry Weinberg owned until the city bought the bus company in 1971. The company now makes investments to yield income for the Weinberg Foundation, which in recent years has granted about $14 million to Hawaii nonprofit agencies annually.
Calls to the HRT's property manager and to Alvin Awaya, a trustee of the Weinberg Foundation, were not returned yesterday.
Burrows said other organizations that support protection and restoration of the Queen's Retreat include the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Maunawili Community Association, Kailua Hawaiian Civic Club, Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, Kailua Neighborhood Board, Kawai Nui Heritage Foundation, Ahahui Malama ika Lokahi, Historic Hawai'i Foundation and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources' Historic Preservation Division.