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Hawaiian Homestead Luau fund raises for cemetery, other land improvements

The 3rd annual Waimea Hawaiian Homestead luau is on Saturday, Dec. 14 this year. Benefiting infrastructure for a new park and cemetery on Hawaiian Homestead lands, the luau will also have Hawaiian entertainment, a silent auction and a fundraiser drawing.

“It will be an awesome event,” said Tricia Hudson, who is a member of the Waimea Hawaiian Homestead Association, and who also heads the luau committee.

Tricia and her husband Mike Hudson, who is now president of WHHA, have been instrumental in assisting other Hawaiian homeland owners with setting up greenhouses and farms. A few years ago, only three families out of 115 were growing produce or flowers — Tootsie Berdon, Marie McDonald and the Hudsons.

“We were interested in seeing others use the land they were living on,” said Hudson. “We have been able to set up 14 greenhouses on other farmers’ property, and some are making an income.” She added that others are giving their harvested produce to friends and family, but at least the land is being used.

Hudson and her family have built a total of eight greenhouses on their own WOW farm, and they can be found selling their tomatoes at Hawaiian Homestead farmer’s market on Saturdays. She said after six years, they are finally making an income, but the time has been totally worth it.

Behind Kanu o ka Aina charter school, built on Hawaiian Homes land, is a 191 acre plot that was set aside to do commercial development for the area. Founded in 1953, Waimea Hawaiian Homestead lands still has not used the acreage there.

Hudson was a young teen when her family moved from Honolulu to Kuhio Village (Hawaiian homes land) and was the first family to receive land there. It was a huge change for her, and she remembers that there was no park, playground or infrastructure back then. Her father pushed to get a park created for the area.

“I was 15 years old when Governor Ariyoshi promised us that we would get a park,” Hudson said. “Now I’m 51 years old, and we still don’t have one.”

All of the other Hawaiian Homestead lands on this island and the neighboring islands have a park, but Waimea, which encompasses the greatest amount of land, does not. The goal of WHHA is to accomplish building a park and to set aside lands for a cemetery.

“This the number one project for Waimea people,” Hudson said. “Why, if our kupuna are born and raised here, should they be buried outside of our ahupua’a?”

Hudson refers to the fact that there is no cemetery for our Waimea elders to be buried in. Next to Imiola Church, there are two privately owned cemeteries with only about 12 plots available between them. If someone dies though, they must be buried in either Hilo or Kona, or be cremated.

The future project planned for the commercial acreage includes much more than the park and cemetery, but right now, these two items are the top priority for WHHA.

“I would love to have my father see the park built in his lifetime,” Hudson said.

At the Dec. 14 event, tickets for the luau are $20 donation/per person, and also includes five different entertainment bands, a silent auction with many items donated by community businesses, and a drawing that includes a hotel stay for two.

Held at Kuhio Hale Hall from 6 to 10 p.m., tickets may be purchased at Parker Ranch Store, Gregore’s Salon or Waimea Oshima Surf & Skate. For more information, visit www.waimeahomestead.org or call Tricia Hudson at 960-2648.