Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023 |
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The town name Captain Cook could be no more under a resolution being considered by state lawmakers.
House Concurrent Resolution 27 requests the U.S. Census Bureau re-designate the Census-designated place known as Captain Cook on Hawaii Island as Ka‘awaloa. It further requests the County of Hawaii remove all references to Captain Cook as a place name.
Introduced by Rep. Jeanne Kapela (D-Naalehu, Ocean View, Captain Cook, and Kailua-Kona) and others, HCR27, if passed, would not have the force and effect of law, but rather it would state the official position of the Legislature.
Re-designating the area as Ka‘awaloa is vital to recognizing and honoring the rich and storied history of Hawaii, according to the resolution.
“When we honor history, we also have to honor native history and Native Hawaiians had a name for this place before it was renamed Captain Cook,” said Kapela. … “We can still recognize the history of what has happened in that space, but I think it’s incredibly important to honor place names.”
Captain Cook, located between Honaunau and Kealakekua in South Kona, was so named after a post office established at the Captain Cook Coffee Co. in the early 1900s. The coffee company was named after Capt. James Cook, the British explorer and navigator, and first European to discover Hawaii, was later killed at Kealakekua Bay on Feb. 14, 1779.
Prior, the area was known as Ka‘awaloa, and was home to a thriving Hawaiian village and the choice locale for many Kona chiefs, including King Kamehameha I.
“I don’t see how covering a place, which already holds a traditional Hawaiian name, with a name of one of the most infamous people in Hawaiian history is a great idea. It is better to return the place to its original name, Ka‘awaloa, instead of its current name Captain Cook,” testified Hema Watson. “Returning it to that original name will reinstate the mana that the place had, and it already has the memorial to Captain Cook. I don’t believe reinforcing his sentiments and his name on these islands is very important.”
HCR 27 passed 7-0 its first House committee Wednesday and next needs to secure a hearing before the Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee before a vote on the House floor before the resolution crosses over to the Senate for consideration.
Rep. Gene Ward (R-Oahu) raised concern over “canceling” a part of history before voting yes, with reservations.
“I share the disdain for what Captain Cook did, but I also honor history because if we erase or quote ‘cancel’ that, I’m afraid that what otherwise now is on the social agenda, when people mention Captain Cook all those bad things that this excellent testifier mentioned are brought up,” he said referring to Watson’s testimony. “Hey, the guy, he was confused to be a God and then he was slaughtered because he was not a good person — that story needs to be told. If we cancel it with this resolution that story is not going to be told and I’m afraid that is probably a downside.”
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