Kalaupapa Ohana Newsletter December 2020

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“E Ho‘ohanohano a E Ho‘omau. . .

. . . To Honor and To Perpetuate”

The Music of Kalaupapa By Valerie Monson

“When you think of Kalaupapa, “music” is not the first word that comes to mind.”


o began the virtual concert created by Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa that celebrated the oft-forgotten musicians of Kalaupapa and some of the many songs they wrote and performed throughout their history. As it turns out, music was a constant refrain of healing, unexpected joy and bonding in the community — the church choirs, the marching bands, the dance orchestra, the solo artists, and kanekapila. Our concert, “The Music of Kalaupapa,” was also a dream-come-true for me. I have hoped for a concert that would spotlight the music of Kalaupapa for more than 20 years, but could never find the right people. . . until now. Continued on page 10 Kalaupapa residents Francis Palea and Bernice Pupule spread Christmas cheer at Hale Mohalu in Pearl City. Photo courtesy of Hale Mohalu ‘Ohana.

k a la upa pa o ha na .o rg

Aloha from our Executive Director Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa Board of Directors Clarence “Boogie” Kahilihiwa President Pauline Ahulau Chow Vice President DeGray Vanderbilt Secretary Jodi Puaoi Treasurer Gloria Marks Director Sister Davilyn Ah Chick Director Lopaka Ho’opi’i Director Jason Umemoto Director Patria Weston Director Charmaine Woodward Director Valerie Monson Executive Director In Memoriam Bernard K. Punikai‘a Chairman of the Board, 2004-2009 Kuulei Bell President, 2004-2009

Our masthead was designed by Kalaupapa artist Henry Nalaielua. Newsletter editor: Valerie Monson Design: Yellowbird Graphic Design

Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa P.O. Box 1111 Kalaupapa, Hawai‘i 96742 email: info@kalaupapaohana.org www.kalaupapaohana.org ©2020 Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa

Clarence “Boogie” Kahilihiwa, President of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, and Executive Director Valerie Monson holding a photo of Bernard K. Punikai’a. Photo: Sister Alicia Damien Lau


resident Boogie Kahilihiwa usually authors this column, but he has kindly given me this space to deeply thank all of you for your friendship, stories and support after 17 years with Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, the last 12 as Coordinator and Executive Director. When 70 of us gathered at Kalaupapa in 2003 to establish Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, none of us realized the impact we were going to have. Before Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, there was not enough emphasis on the people of Kalaupapa as individuals and leaders, no outreach to families and descendants, no concerted effort to build The Kalaupapa Memorial and no educational programs around the islands. Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa changed all that. Our ‘Ohana was the idea of Kalaupapa visionary Bernard K. Punikai‘a. Bernard and I often talked about the future of Kalaupapa in person and over the phone. In the mid-1990s, Bernard began stressing how we needed to bring together family members and friends to stand with the people of Kalaupapa to make sure their wishes for the future of Kalaupapa would always drive the decisions.


We didn’t know we were planting the seeds for Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa. I often described myself as “Bernard’s secretary” during those early days of brainstorming. Like any organization, Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa has changed over the years. Many of our founding members have died or grown older. A new generation, anchored by descendants of Kalaupapa, has emerged to carry on our mission. I could not be happier turning over the reins of our ‘Ohana to Joseph Lapilio. As the great-grandson of Kalaupapa leader Bonepake Lapilio, Joseph will follow in his kupuna’s footsteps. He has the abilities to get our ‘Ohana through the Covid-19 era and ready for the future. You’ll still see me around. I plan to get back to doing what I love most: writing about Kalaupapa. Many of you will always have a special place in my heart and I can’t thank you enough for your kokua in making sure the people of Kalaupapa are forever remembered with pride. A hui hou. . .

Meet Our New Executive Director oseph Lapilio, whose great-grandfather was pictured in the last photo ever taken of Father Damien at Kalaupapa in 1889, has been named the next Executive Director of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa.


and was told he could leave the settlement, but he stayed with his wife until she died in 1917. He then returned to Oahu to raise his three grandsons, including Joe’s father. He died a few years before Joe was born.

Lapilio, who lives in Waianae, assumes his new job on January 2, 2021.

Joseph first attended an ‘Ohana presentation at UH-West Oahu in early 2018 and was then invited to the annual meeting of Ka ‘Ohana later that year where he found himself surrounded by Kalaupapa residents and other descendants. Joseph felt like he was meeting long-lost relatives.

After reviewing 212 resumes and interviewing the top 10 candidates, the ‘Ohana Board of Directors felt that Joe stood out — not only because of his strong Kalaupapa connections, but for his experience with strengthening nonprofits. Joseph has long been aware that his great-grandfather, Bonepake Lapilio, was at Kalaupapa. He had visited the settlement a number of times,

JOSEPH LAPILIO Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa President Boogie Kahilihiwa receives a lei and embrace from Joseph Lapilio during the Remembrance Ceremony at the site of the Kalaupapa Memorial during the 2018 annual meeting of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa. Photo: Henry G. Law

but never got to know about his kupuna until he became involved with Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa. Bonepake Lapilio was just 7 years old when he and his older sister, Mele, were sent to Kalaupapa on February 25, 1889. Bonepake married Luisa Lui in 1902 and became the director of the Kalawao Choir. He tested negative for leprosy in 1909

Bonepake Lapilio, second from left in top row, was Director of the Kalawao Choir, shown here in 1901. Courtesy: IDEA Archives

“It was nice to be in the same room with all the residents and these other family members,” he said. “It was almost as if there was a large part of your family you’d never known about and all of a sudden you’re all there together. It was that kind of feeling.” Joseph felt the presence of his great-grandfather and other ‘ohana who died at Kalaupapa. “It was like they were in the room with us,” he said. Joseph believes that, with the residents of Kalaupapa getting older, there is a greater need for the descendants of Kalaupapa to step up to make sure the history is accurately remembered.


KALAUPAPA to the State Capitol Kalaupapa residents found old friends and new ones at the Legislature. From left: Gloria L. Marks, Pauline Chow, Senator Lorraine Inouye, Senator J. Kalani English, Ivy Kahilihiwa (in front), Senator Stanley Chang, Boogie Kahilihiwa. Photo courtesy of Senator J. Kalani English


his past January, State Senator J. Kalani English — whose district includes Kalaupapa — introduced two bills to the Hawai‘i State Legislature on behalf of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa: one would provide $5 million for construction of the Kalaupapa Memorial and the other would designate January as Kalaupapa Month. To raise awareness about both bills at the Capitol, Senator English hosted a reception in his office

Senator Roz Baker catches up with longtime friends Gloria L. Marks and Pauline Chow during the reception for Kalaupapa residents held by Senator J. Kalani English. Photo courtesy of Senator J. Kalani English

prior to the first hearing in early February. Among the leaders of Ka ‘Ohana attending were three longtime Kalaupapa residents: Boogie Kahilihiwa (President of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa), Pauline Chow (Vice President) and Gloria Marks (First Treasurer, now a Director). Boogie’s wife, Ivy, later joined them. The Kalaupapa residents immediately were greeted by old friends who stopped by English’s office: Senator Roz Baker who used to represent Kalaupapa when she was in the State House; State Representative Lynn DeCoite who now represents Kalaupapa and Senator Donovan Dela Cruz. Kumu Hula Hina Wong-Kalu also visited with the residents as did Senator (now Congressman) Kai Kahele and Senator Jarret Kehokalole. The Kalaupapa folks later bumped into Senator Lorraine Inouye, a friend of Pauline Chow when they were growing up in Hilo, and Senator Stanley Chang. The Kalaupapa leaders spoke passionately about the Kalaupapa Memorial, the importance of displaying the names of all the


nearly 8,000 people who were sent to Kalaupapa and the emotion that will overwhelm when the Memorial is unveiled and the names appear in front of them. “We have wanted this Memorial for so long,” said Gloria Marks, tears in her eyes. “We want to be remembered. We want everyone who was sent to Kalaupapa to be remembered. Please help us.” Thanks to the powerful testimonies of the residents and many written testimonies from family members and friends, both bills unanimously passed the Senate and were scheduled to be heard in the House on the very morning that Covid-19 shut down the Legislature. Neither bill advanced after that as lawmakers faced this unexpected crisis. Senator English vowed at a recent Board meeting of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa that his support has not wavered. Mahalo, Senator English! We know we continue to face uncharted waters, but we will continue on with about 8,000 Kalaupapa residents at our side.


Architect’s rendering of the entry to the Kalaupapa Memorial

Conceptual design of the names on the Memorial

“Everybody’s name. . . I want to see their names on the Memorial. . . I want my children and grandchildren to know that we were here.”

funding — like the requests of so many others — was shelved. Donations slowed. Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa was certainly not alone as the entire state and nation had to learn how to stay afloat in a locked down world.

—Kuulei Bell, Kalaupapa Postmistress and first President of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa

We were fortunate to receive a $10,000 CARES Act grant made possible by the Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities. This grant enabled us to continue operations. Mahalo.


he Kalaupapa Memorial got closer to reality in 2020. In fact, when the year began, we believed we could be headed for construction in the summer of 2021:

• H istorian Anwei Law completed the list of names of everyone sent to Kalaupapa from 1866-1969 — the first time an entire list has been compiled; we are now checking and verifying spellings;

The Kalaupapa Memorial was the idea of the people of Kalaupapa — they wanted the Memorial to be a priority of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa. We must do this for them and come together to breathe new life into the names.

• S enator J. Kalani English introduced a bill to the State Legislature asking for $5 million for construction of the Memorial — a bill that had strong support in its early hearings (see Page 4); • K a ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa had kicked off fundraising with a special campaign for descendants:  The Kalaupapa Memorial Family Challenge where families of Kalaupapa were asked to pool $1,300 among their extended ‘ohana to support the costs of displaying one name on the Memorial. We have calculated that in order to raise $10 million, we would need $1,300 for each of the nearly 8,000 people whose names will be engraved. Then Covid-19 arrived with a vengeance in March, turning everything on its heels. Our bill for

An image of the Memorial as seen from above All design images courtesy of G70, Honolulu


E Ho‘ohanohano a E Ho‘oma

Remembrance Ceremonies Through the Years

Descendants and friends of Kalaupapa gather at the site of the future Kalaupapa Memorial for the traditional “Circle of Remembrance” to speak aloud the names of Kalaupapa loved ones who have died. Photo: Henry G. Law

Singing“Hawai‘i Aloha” Photo: Wayne Levin

The organizational meeting of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa in 2003 drew 70 Kalaupapa residents, family members and friends.


erhaps there is nothing more emotional during our gatherings of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa than our Remembrance Ceremonies. Like so much of what we do, this tradition has evolved over Kalaupapa descendant time. In our early years, we Colin Brede’s handpicked bouquet. Photo: Henry G. Law simply stood around the tables in McVeigh Hall, held hands while singing “Hawai‘i Aloha” and thinking of all those who died. By 2005, we were joining in a circle at St. Francis Church, speaking aloud the names of our Kalaupapa family and friends. The next year we were at Kana‘ana Hou. We called it our “Circle of Remembrance.”

Photo: Wayne Levin

Momilani Cheek, who has ancestors buried at Kalaupapa, arranges lei on the ahu that marks the spot of the future Kalaupapa Memorial.

Photo: Henry G. Law

Kalaupapa residents and friends lead a ceremonial procession to the site of the Kalaupapa Memorial with St. Philomena Church in background. Photo: Wayne Levin


au: To Honor and To Perpetuate

Ka ‘Ohana President Boogie Kahilihiwa accepts lei from Vice President Pauline Chow with descendants ‘Aina Akamu and Noelani Kauahikaua looking on. Photo: Wayne Levin

In 2008, we held a ceremony at Kalawao to remember all the thousands who lie in unmarked graves. We gathered in Siloama Church, then processed to the graveyard of St. Philomena Church to present ho‘okupu, scatter orchid blossoms and offer lei. By 2011, the Remembrance Ceremony was at the site of the future Kalaupapa Memorial where, again in a circle, individual names were spoken aloud and sent to the heavens. Soon after, Pi‘olani Motta, a descendant of Kalaupapa, designed a procession with protocol that became a permanent part of the occasion. When descendants built an ahu at the Memorial site, it became the cornerstone of the ceremony with presenting of lei, chants, songs — and, always, saying the names.

At the Memorial site: Robert Ho‘opi‘i, born at Kalaupapa, with residents John Arruda, Winnie Harada, Pauline Chow and Boogie Kahilihiwa. Photo: Wayne Levin

Timmy Leong (middle) and daughter Napua, descendants of Kalaupapa, offer ho‘okupu to those buried in unmarked graves with the Rev. David Kaupu in 2008. Photo: Wayne Levin

Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa gathers in a Circle of Remembrance in Kana‘ana Hou Church. Photo: Wayne Levin


Ambrose Hutchison



“ was taken from my home at Honomaele, Hana, Island of Maui by a squad of native Police headed by the Sheriff of the District and locked in a prison cell like a felon without food and drink and sent to Honolulu. From there a cursory examination by Dr. McKibbin a government physician and I was sent to the Settlement . . . “

Cover of Book, © Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa

These blunt and solemn words begin the remarkable story of Ambrose Kanewalii Hutchison who was separated from his family at the age of 22 and forcibly isolated at Kalaupapa for the rest of his life. After an amazing 53 ½ years at Kalaupapa, he died in 1932 at the age of 76.

Kalaupapa for 10 years and a leader of the community for much of his life. He was close friends with Father Damien, Mother Marianne, Rudolph Meyer, and Queen Kapi’olani.

Anwei went farther then just editing the memoirs. She did additional research that resulted in information Upon Ambrose’s death, a about Hutchison not sheaf of his handwritten previously known. She also When the significance of these memoirs was memoirs were sent to identified Ambrose in three Leuven, Belgium for recognized, Kalaupapa history buffs were photographs — the first safekeeping in the Sacred provided with a never-before-seen account time this has happened. Hearts Archives. Some Throughout the process, of life in Kalaupapa. pages were also preserved Anwei worked closely with in the Hawai‘i State Ambrose’s relatives, Mercy Archives. When the significance of these memoirs was Hutchison Bacon and her daughter, Monica Bacon. recognized, Kalaupapa history buffs were provided The book will be published later this year by Ka ‘Ohana with a never-before-seen account of life in Kalaupapa. O Kalaupapa in association with the IDEA Center for Now, these unpublished memoirs have become the Voices of Humanity, the Molokai Museum and the basis of a new book—Yours Faithfully: Ambrose Cultural Center and the Damiaan Museum in Belgium. Hutchison. Recollections of a Lifetime at Kalaupapa, Initial support for the book came from the Hawai‘i edited by Anwei S. Law, historian and award-winning Council for the Humanities and the Damiaan Museum. author of Kalaupapa: A Collective Memory. Details of how to purchase a copy will be available on the ‘Ohana website and Facebook page. Anwei says that Ambrose “left for us the story that no else could tell.” He was Resident Superintendent of


The Restoration of Family Ties


hen Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa was organized in 2003 as a 501-c-3 nonprofit consisting of Kalaupapa residents, descendants and friends, a priority was to help families reconnect to their Kalaupapa ancestors. Since then, hundreds of descendants have reached out to Ka ‘Ohana from across the globe — from every island, many states and even other countries.

Kalaupapa and former Board Member of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, found a record of Grace’s marriage to Manuel Castro — the two were wed on November 1, 1907 at Kalaupapa. Winnie and Sister Alicia asked Ka ‘Ohana if a tombstone for Grace had been identified. Winnie got the good news — yes, there was a stone. Winnie visited the grave with Debbie Collard, a nurse at Kalaupapa who also has ancestors buried there. Winnie placed a lei on the grave and let her hand rest on the stone.

Winnie Harada places a lei and her hand on the stone of her Some might be surprised Great-Aunt Grace Robello Silva. Photo: Valerie Monson to hear that Ka ‘Ohana has also helped present“It was a very touching moment,” said Winnie. “To day Kalaupapa residents learn about their family know that my aunt and grandmother had looked for members who were sent to Kalaupapa before them her for so long. I just don’t know how to express it, — relatives they never knew personally, but who they what it felt like to be at the grave. Finally!” had heard of over the years. The stone had a wavy top, unique in the cemetery. Kalaupapa resident Winnie Harada was born 33 years Winnie believes that Grace’s husband made the after her great-aunt, Grace Robello Silva, was admitted marker for her and that the unusual design had a to Kalaupapa. Winnie had several other relatives sent special meaning. to Kalaupapa, including her grandmother, Jessuina Silva, her aunt Mary Silva and uncle Frank Silva along “I think he was trying to put angel wings on it, trying with her father, Domingo Mendes, and brothers Eddie to get her to fly up to heaven,” said Winnie. and Richard Marks. Winnie remembered her Aunt Mary Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa was able to find a photograph talking about how she and Mary’s mother, Jessuina, looked for the grave of Grace, but could never locate it. of Grace’s husband, Manuel Castro, but has not yet been able to locate his grave. A year ago, Winnie began thinking about Grace again. Sister Alicia Damien Lau, a Franciscan nun living at

? Are you looking for an ancestor at Kalaupapa?

The ‘Ohana wants to hear from you so we can help. Hopefully, we can provide information that should get you on the path to finding any ancestors you might have had at Kalaupapa. The ‘Ohana believes that the descendants of Kalaupapa are one of our organization’s greatest strengths. Please contact us at info.kalaupapa@gmail.com and let us help you bring home your Kalaupapa ancestors. They are not lost. . . they are waiting for you.


The Music of Kalaupapa Continued from page 1

Big mahalos to producer Chris Lau, emcee Billy V, slack key guitarist Stephen Stephen Inglis Inglis who helped with planning — and all of the wonderful artists who brought the music of Kalaupapa back to life: Brother Noland, Melveen Leed, Kevin Brown, Makana, Lopaka Ho‘opi’i and Stephen. It was during my first visit to Kalaupapa in March of 1989 as a reporter for The Maui News when I noticed — quite surprisingly — the importance of music here.

Brother Noland

Melveen Leed

Having been told there were about 95 “patients” at Kalaupapa, I assumed there would be a hospital or nursing home, people in bathrobes or wheelchairs. I was not prepared for the incredibly vibrant and interesting community that I found: Rows of pretty little houses with tidy yards and glass fishing floats hanging from the porches; people smiling and waving even though we’d never met; an outdoor chalkboard that delivered the town news; three active churches within sight of one another and, as my ears would soon learn, music. Did I get off the plane at the right place? That first weekend changed my life. Of course, there were a few bumps along the way — some people did not want a reporter in their midst and weren’t shy about letting me know that — but there was more smooth sailing than not.

Lopaka Ho‘opi‘i


So I kept going back, interviewing as many people who would agree and writing about them or events at Kalaupapa.

Music seemed to always be in the air. When I would go into someone’s home, there was often a guitar, ukulele or autoharp in the front room, Hawaiian music on the radio. A handcrafted bass made from an upside down washtub and a broomstick — a pakini, I was told — stood outside the social hall of Kana‘ana Hou Church; a pump organ was in the back of Siloama Church. During our interviews, music kept popping up: people reminiscing about concerts and dances at Paschoal Bernard K. Punikai‘a Hall or when Photo: Valerie Monson they would sing in the hallways of the hospital or at bonfires on the beach. There were heartfelt stories about the beloved musicians of Kalaupapa, mostly unknown outside of the settlement. I got to hear about The ‘Aikala Brothers during interviews with Bernard Punikai‘a; I learned about George McLane from Helen Keao; about Sammy Kuahine from his sister, Cathrine Puahala; about Ernest Kala from just about everyone. There was the group known simply as The Kalaupapa Band and The Kikania Singers with Kanani Costales as vocalist. Bernard spoke proudly about the Hale Mohalu Band, himself and other musically gifted supporters who were among those that banded together to try to save Hale Mohalu, the residential facility for people affected by leprosy in Pearl City.

Ernest Kala Photo: Anwei Law Collection

Kevin Brown


Twice I tried to organize concerts about the music of Kalaupapa — on

Maui in 2000 and on Oahu in 2016. Both times I failed. We were looking at a live performance in a theatre or auditorium. Everything was too complicated and too expensive. The thought of going virtual never occurred until this pandemic. We all needed some healing and a way to come together while staying apart. In May, I contacted friend Stephen Inglis who grew up spending time with Kalaupapa folks at Hale Mohalu and now has a voice that sounds much like Bernard. Stephen The Baldwin Home Boys Band at St. Philomena Church, 1905. Photo courtesy of Hawai‘i State Archives brought in musician/producer Chris Lau and got word out to other musicians — all those who responded had ties to Kalaupapa. After seeing radio and TV broadcaster Billy V host the virtual Waikiki Slack Key Festival, we knew he had to be our emcee. Everything clicked. I wrote the script, using information from my interviews and other stories about music at Kalaupapa. Stephen and I chose the songs. The Helen Keao musicians recorded their Photo: Wayne Levin own videos — at home, on a lanai, at the beach. Billy’s narration was pure Kalaupapastyle. Chris pulled together all these pieces and made everything sing.

Sammy Kuahine (top row with bass) with friends and fellow musicians at Kalaupapa. Photo courtesy Saint Marianne Cope Shrine & Museum

The Music of Kalaupapa

The event turned out to be part concert and part documentary. We added a fundraising component for The Kalaupapa Memorial. As the virtual curtain rose, I realized that my longtime dream had finally come true.


We’re hoping it’s just the start. Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa is planning to compile as much as we can about music at Kalaupapa and produce a book so this history is never forgotten. We’re hoping to have more of the songs of Kalaupapa recorded by additional artists.

DEC. 19, 2020 – JAN. 3, 2021

If you missed our concert, “The Music of Kalaupapa,” or simply want to enjoy it again, Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa will air it beginning 1 p.m. December 19 through January 3.

All of this means that now when you think of Kalaupapa, hopefully one of the first words that comes to mind will be music. Mahalo to the great musicians of Kalaupapa for providing this healing power that continues to lift us up today.

This rebroadcast is our Christmas gift to you! Visit facebook.com/kalaupapaohana​ or ​ Stephen Inglis’ YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/user/palolosteve


Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa “E Ho‘ohanohano a E Ho‘omau. . . . . . To Honor and To Perpetuate”

P.O. Box 1111 Kalaupapa HI 96742 Email: info.kalaupapa@gmail.com www.kalaupapaohana.org INSIDE: Welcome New Executive Director for Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa . Pg 3

Photo by Henry G. Law

Join Our ‘Ohana Support Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa

“I got so overwhelmed at the church, it was like my grandma and grandpa were right there with me. I stood up to leave, but I couldn’t go. I sat back down and it felt like someone had their hand on my shoulder, saying everything is all right.” —Philip Panquites, grandson of Joe Victorino and Mabel Kato Victorino Borge, who was especially moved when he visited St. Francis Church during a journey to Kalaupapa arranged by Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa.

Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa relies on donations from supporters like you to enable our programs to grow. Your contributions will help us reconnect more descendants to their Kalaupapa ancestors, continue our Schools Outreach program, establish The Kalaupapa Memorial and more. Please consider a donation to the ‘Ohana. Mahalo in advance. Send your donations to: Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa PO Box 1111 Kalaupapa, Hawai‘i 96742 Or donate by visiting our ‘Ohana website www.kalaupapaohana.org

Photo by Valerie Monson


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