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Ship Logs

Mokumanamana (9/10/02)
Posted by Scott Kikiloi
Photos by Andy Collins

Mokumanamana with Hawaiian FlagThere was a sense of mystery to Mokumanamana, as we arrived to the island around 7 a.m. in the morning today. The sky was cloudy and the island stood tall in the middle of the ocean. From on board the Rapture I could see the religious cultural sites that ran across the ridge of the island. Getting on to the island went smoothly as the seas were calm. The zodiac didn't have any problems getting us all on safely. Once on the island, we did a oli kahea to ask for ancestral permission to enter this sacred place. Mokumanamana is perhaps one of the most interesting cultural phenomenons in Hawaiian traditions, as there are over fifty-two cultural sites on the island. What is even more interesting is the fact that thirty-three of these sites are religious heiau. There has been some debate in the past by archaeologists on whether these sites were produced by Hawaiians or other Marae on Mokumanamana.Polynesians such as Tahitians or Marquesan people. Archaeologists looked at the style of stone masonry and did comparative studies between different island groups to come to these conclusions. It is my thought however that these cultural sites are of Hawaiian origin. Similar types of structures are found on Haleakala and Maunakea in our main Hawaiian chain. These types of sites are usually found in areas that are prominent and ideal for tracking star movements and navigational studies. This may give us clues about these heiau on Mokumanamana and how they may have functioned similarly in the past. Once we got to the top of the first ridge it seemed very likely that many of the uprights on these structures were meant to line up with different points in the sky. There are still many unanswered questions and there is great need for these ideas to be studied further.

`ohai with flower.Much of the day was spent hiking the island and taking photographs of the endemic flora and fauna. Mokumanamana is the nesting spot for thousands of sea birds, and as Kahape`a has put it, "there's so many eggs around, its like being in an Easter egg hunt." Under the direction of Beth Flint, from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we were careful not to unnecessarily stress the native birds, and tried to avoid them as much as possible. The native plants that we saw throughout the day were the `ohai, the `ihi, the `akulikuli, the aweoweo, and a native type of grass. I thought it was interesting how natural it seemed for these native birds to nest on the native shrubbery. There are very few pristine ecosystems like this left on O`ahu, and I felt very fortunate to spend my whole day on this island. I love archaeology and cultural sites, I love native plants and animals. These are the things we need to continue to protect for tomorrow.


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