Maintaining Historic Ewa Plantation Cemetery

The Ewa plain is rich with local history. Once the site of large sugar operations and home to many of Hawaii’s immigrant families, the Ewa area has deep roots.

Maintaining our historical sites has become an ongoing community service for many people who live here, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for taking on this responsibility.

Few sites in Ewa have more historical significance than Ewa Plantation Cemetery. It is the resting place for many ancestors of today’s Ewa families, including approximately 500 of Ewa Plantation’s earliest workers.

The names on the head-stones tell the story of Ewa’s diverse ethnic and cultural heritage, and that of our whole island community. The names – Japanese, Filipino and Portuguese – live on through the many generations that make Hawaii their home.

Historical sites represent our past, but more importantly, our roots, and it is therefore important to preserve them. We must put pressure on our government leaders to pay attention and allocate the necessary resources to make sure these special places are not lost.

Another very special place is Ewa Plantation itself. This institution has played a pivotal role in the growth and diversity of the Ewa Plain and still contains many of our culturally important buildings and sites.

Ewa Plantation dominated life in Ewa since it was established in 1890. Many of the names associated with its creation are still with us: G.P. Castle, W.R. Castle, C.M. Cooke and James Campbell. The second manager of the plantation was George Renton.

These names live on as corporations, schools and place names of our community. But it is the lesser-known immigrant laborers who came and worked the fields who are remembered by the preservation of the cemetery.

Now owned by the city, the cemetery still depends on community volunteers for its maintenance and upkeep.

Mr. Kibul Pantohan, who has relatives buried there, is one such volunteer caretaker. At age 79, Mr. Pantohan still cuts grass, straightens headstones and picks up fallen branches.

Ewa Lions Club, including Kurt Fevella, Mitch Tynanes, and Coby and Eileen Lynn, have lent their time and money to helping out as well. The Lions club does a great many things in the Ewa community, and maintenance of this cemetery is at the top of its list. We are lucky that the club works to fill the shortage of volunteers in our community.

What’s needed is some attention from the property owners: the City and County. The good news is that new City Councilman Ron Menor has vowed to help fix the situation and push the city for regular maintenance.

Contact state Rep. Bob McDermott, R-District 40 (Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point) at 586-9730.