The Waiaka Bridge and the Kamuela Museum:

The Waiaka Bridge and the Kamulea Museum

Again, government encroachment is threatening to destroy two important Waimea landmarks and further dilute and desecrate the rich history of the Hawaiian Peoples. At the intersection of Highways 250 and 19 stands the Historic Waiaka Bridge, currently scheduled for demolition in 2015 by the State of Hawaii. Built by Charles H. Will in 1932, it was the first bridge ever funded by federal money on Hawai’i Island. Coming at the cusp of the Great Depression and WWII, the bridge would serve as a vital link for both native and American military interests in the years to come, and it continues to this day.

Directly alongside the bridge stands the Kamuela Museum, a labor of love and respect for the Hawaiian heritage and built by native locals Albert and Harriet Solomon in 1968. Albert’s part-Hawaiian mother was a descendant of King Kamehameha I, and his father was Arabic, Turkish and Jewish. Harriet Meyers Solomon was the great-great granddaughter of John Parker, of the world-famous Parker Ranch.

The Kahunas had predicted to a young Albert that he would one day settle on land that had three mountains in sight, and he and Harriet felt the purchase of their land parcel in 1954 was “meant to be.” Until Albert’s death at age 95 in 2002, the museum served as an amazing repository of native lore and history, and was instrumental in educating generations of the local people in their rich heritage.

Historically, at least three Heiau are mentioned in the immediate area–but more importantly, one of the Heiaus was dedicated to training young virgins into becoming Priestesses of the healing arts. This Haleino heiau was attributed to Ho’opiliahae and is the only Heiau dedicated and consecrated by a woman. According to a local native women’s historian: “This is a place where women were trained to become healers. Up in this hillside, you can step out and look at this hillside of many Kapu…these stories tells us that there is a women’s Heiau. It was exclusive and beautiful, the story says that it was exclusive to women who had seen no man. They were young virgins, and they were trained to be the Medicine Women. They would administer to the people of this place. They came from these hills; they were trained here. This particular region was a vicinity for Great Women Healers.”

Sadly today, and directly across the stream from the Museum, the bulldozers have already spoken. The Lalamilo Homelands project to date has leveled, uncovered and reinterred the remains of over twenty-five native human beings, as it continues to dis-inter the bones of those who were overlooked in the original government surveys. Although these ‘Iwi’ are handled with respect, the rich taro fields, fences and habitations dating to 1500 A.D. are not. They are simply gone, the mute traces of a Noble Culture now only visible from high up on Kohala Mountain Road.

The Kamuela Museum and Waiaka Bridge stand as the last sentries to the Historic District of Waiaka and The Heiau of Chiefess Ho’opiliahae.

 Would that her medicine could stay the hand of the encroachers, before yet another layer of Native Legend dissolves in the dust.

I have tried for yrs 2 stop the desecration of the Waika Bridge, and having failed, I wish to turn to the People of this Community who care about The History of The Big Island, to make their voices heard.

Save The Waika Bridge where The Red Water (Waimea means Red Water) from The Priestess/Chiefess’ Heiau held the Spirit of The Mo’O, (The Hawaiian Lizard Goddess).