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Eagle Project Uniting Community On Mural

When the community pools its time and talent, beautiful things happen.

You can see the creativity in action Saturdays at Kapolei Regional Park where Kapolei High School students, the Kapolei Hawaiian Civic Club, the HPD District 8 Community Policing Team, Makana o ke Akua (transitional housing) and Boy Scout Troop 263 are contributing to the creation of a giant mural.

Kamalani Kahaiali'i , Mahina Kauhi and Mahea Kahaiali

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Kamalani Kahaiali'i (from left), Mahina Kauhi and Mahea Kahaiali are among the family and friends of Boy Scout Koa Kalamau (not pictured), who coordinated a mural-painting project for Kapolei Regional Park. Kapolei High students, Kapolei Hawaiian Civic Club, HPD's District 8 Community Policing Team, Makana o ke Akua and Boy Scout Troop 263 teamed up with him on his Eagle Scout project. Photo by Haley Kailiehu.

“The mural is a celebration of Hawaiian people and their culture,” said KHS art teacher Haley Kailiehu who, along with fellow teacher Martha Richards, has been overseeing the effort. “We painted Hawaiian people in a lush landscape. There are women weaving and making kapa and kapa dyes. There are men farming and fishing. Also, there are significant historical references that we chose to include.”

The mural is located at Pu’uokapolei, an important landmark in Hawaiian history.

“It is said that if you are standing near Waikiki Aquarium May 3-4, looking back toward Pu’uokapolei, the sun will set directly in this crater, and when it does, it is officially the first day of summer. We made sure to paint this in the mural,” noted Kailiehu.

Inspiration for the design came from civic club member Uncle Shad Kane, a longtime resident of Makakilo who is well-versed in Hawaiian knowledge of the area. Kane got involved in creating the mural when another project he was working on began suffering setbacks. The Kapolei club became permanent caretakers of the parcel of land where the mural rests – at the east end of the park near the archery range – a couple of years ago.

When the club took on the responsibility of caring for the land, explained Kailiehu, “the plan was to plant a Native Hawaiian nursery in the area and instill a sense of Hawaiian culture through educational programs and building a hula mound where hula halaus could practice and perform.

“Since then, the Native Hawaiian nursery has been planted, and the hula mound has been built.”

Kane and other volunteers tended to the lauhala (pandanus), ma’o (Hawaiian cotton), ipu (container gourd), kukui (candlenut tree) and loulu palm growing in the garden, but a problem arose. No matter how hard they tried to clean up the area, a nearby military bunker, sitting open but inactive since the 1940s, remained a haven for graffiti, vandalism, littering and drug activity.

When repeated paint-outs weren’t effective, Kane came up with the idea to involve KHS students and get them invested in their community. The mural, which covers the outside walls of the military bunker, now glows as testimony to the dedication of the community.

The final workday will take place soon, and all mural volunteers will come out for an unveiling celebration April 28.