VIDEO: Demonstrators Claim “Back” Door Tactics Put Halloween on “Front”

September 27, 2011, 1:32 PM HST · Updated September 27, 5:02 PM
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By Wendy Osher

*** An interview with the mayor and statements from the Arakawa Administration is now posted along with a video interview explaining Mayor Arakawa’s stance on Halloween in Lahaina

A small group of demonstrators held signs in front of the County Building in Wailuku today, protesting the mayor’s decision to proceed with Halloween festivities in Lahaina town.

“The county put together their own permit, paid their own permit fees, and signed their own document.  That’s my problem about this whole thing–the transparency is thrown out the window. There is no safeguard,” said Ke’eaumoku Kapu, a member of the group Kuleana Kuikahi, and cultural rights advocate.

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The mayor announced the return of Halloween Festivities to Lahaina Town in a press release issued on September 14, 2011.  The events were allowed to proceed for the first time in four years after the county obtained permits for the closure of Front Street between 3:30 p.m. and midnight on October 31.

Ke'eaumoku Kapu was among those who showed up in front of the County Building in Wailuku to protest the Halloween Festivities in Lahaina. Photo by Wendy Osher.

In the past, event organizers encountered difficulty in obtaining approvals from the County Cultural Resources Commission, but this year elements that would have triggered a review by the CRC were removed from the county application.

“The county Cultural Resources Commission can’t even view this because he (Mayor Alan Arakawa) took it out of their jurisdiction by moving the event to certain places, by downsizing on the stage… from 60 feet to 30 feet…  I mean, he’s just circumventing his own process and policies to allow these things to happen, and I think it’s wrong,” said Kapu.

The slogan for this year’s event highlights the return of Halloween to Front Street, but fellow demonstrator Johanna Kamaunu said in email communication, “His (Mayor Arakawa’s) Back on Front slogan is more Back Door on Front.”

Kapu held an advertisement sign from the 2004 event of a headless Hawaiian horseman holding a decapitated pineapple head, as a reminder of the cultural challenges that have been raised in the past from the Lahaina Halloween festivities.

“From 2004, when this poster came out, we said, you know what, enough is enough… There is no transparency across the table where the community can be involved and say… this sign is no good for this town, it’s in a historic district–all those kinds of things,” said Kapu.

Protest of Lahaina Halloween Festivities. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Several kupuna (elders) who showed up to the demonstration held signs that read, “Mayor Arakawa, Kupuna Matter.”

The signs were in reference to a comment allegedly made during a meeting to discuss matters about the Halloween festivities in Lahaina.

The meeting ended without resolve from the groups in attendance, including Na Kupuna O Maui.

“I’m here to support our kupuna.  To me, how can a person say that about us?  I really believe that it’s time for a change–they should put the Halloween somewhere else,” said Mattie Kaeo, a Hawaiian Homes resident in Kula.

“We tried to get with the mayor on ways of toning it down, and apparently his whole perspective and his brains were someplace else because he made a campaign promise to the community saying that he was going to bring Halloween back to Lahaina, and he did,” said Kapu.

Iwalani Shim was among the kupuna protesting the Halloween festivities in Lahaina. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Others in attendance expressed concern of how events like the Halloween festivities could impact Lahaina’s status as on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Lahaina is a National Historical site and I come from Lahaina, so I feel that they should take Halloween and move it to another town like Ha’iku, Pa’ia, Kihei or Wailea,” said Iwalani Shim, a member of the group Na Kupuna O Maui.  “There are other areas where Halloween can be celebrated,” she said.

“We’re not against the Halloween–let me get that straight–however, we’re against the activities that are taking place in the name of Halloween on Front Street,” said Princess Lehuanani who is from the village of Moku’ula near Front Street.

“Lahaina is a very traditional, historical place for our people, and we just want to keep it like that.  If the County of Maui and Mayor Arakawa wants to have Halloween, he can have it at the Lahaina Cannery Center, he can have it at the Lahaina Civic Center, he can take it out to Ka’anapali; but we are asking, please, remove it off Front Street where it is known to be a historical land for our Native Hawaiian people and our ancestors,” said Lehuanani.

Kupuna protest Halloween Festivities in Lahaina, and alleged comments made by Mayor Alan Arakawa. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Another concern raised was that of safety.

“With 30,000 people, coming from all over the world, to celebrate Halloween in that small town, it’s not safe,” said Shim.

“This year, because of the public relations, and all of the things that you can find on the media now, I think we might hit 45,000, maybe 50,000 people this year,” said Kapu, who expressed concern over safety, and dollars that are used in the general fund to support security.

“As far as all of us kupuna, we’re out here to let the mayor know that we don’t want Halloween in Lahaina.  My feeling is the mayor is not listening to us,” said Shim.

Other objections raised by kupuna in the past have included concerns over past incidents involving alcohol, lewd behavior, and inappropriate costumes.

*** An interview with the mayor and statements from the Arakawa Administration is now posted along with a video interview explaining Mayor Arakawa’s stance on Halloween in Lahaina

 

 

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