On August 15, 2005 then Mayor of Maui Alan Arakawa noticed an increase in the use of Kahului Harbor by cruise ships. He commissioned a report. One of the findings is prophetic:
The canoe clubs fear that an increase in the number of cruise ships will require harbor expansion, and may eliminate their activities in the harbor altogether.
To accomodate the Hawaii Superferry, Governor Linda Lingle and the State Department of Transportation (DOT) want to expand the harbor inward by building an additional pier. This pier, the proposed Pier 5, will destroy water sports in the harbor, including surfing and canoeing. It will also prevent tug boats from turning around. However, it won’t prevent wave surge, which keeps the Superferry from docking already.
The other harbor expansion option is outward to the East, which would truly increase the future viability of the harbor while allowing the tug boats to turn around. An outward expansion would probably require a second breakwater. The problem with this plan is that it will take more time, more money and actually require more thoughtful planning than just a fancy new ramp. It won’t help the Superferry immediately, which seems to be DOT and Lingle’s goal.
DOT noted recently that the state’s harbor expansion plan would have “no significant impact on cultural activities.” Surfing and outrigger canoe paddling have been conveniently downgraded to “recreational” activities rather than cultural ones. But how is this rationally possible? The ancient Hawaiians invented these activities; and modern Hawaiians, among others, still practice them. Just because they also happen to be fun doesn’t mean there isn’t a deep cultural connection. In the 2005 Arakawa report, the cultural relevance of the canoe clubs were noted:
The canoe clubs of Maui serve many important social functions in our community. They provide Hawaiian cultural education for children and adults and strong positive education and support for at-risk children. These programs are also held up as successful drug prevention programs.
Chances are, if you’ve shelled out for a Maui vacation, you are either curious about or appreciate local culture. Certainly if you’ve decided to live here, you understand that surfing and paddling are metaphors for our way of life. It’s time for Maui lovers, both visitors and residents alike, to speak out against idiotic harbor planning that only serves one private company’s interest. Come to a meeting, wave a sign, complain to the cruise ship or Superferry management, or tell other people. Not everything is for sale.
The full 2005 Mayor’s Cruise Ship Task Force report is available at: www.savekahuluiharbor.com .