Members of the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission will hold hearings on Oahu and Maui this month to hear public input on how to preserve a large, flat, petroglyph-inscribed boulder perched at the edge of an eroding gully on Kahoolawe.
The rock is designated as feature "BU" on the island, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Located along a severely eroded gulch on the hardpan area of southeast Kahoolawe, the rock also is known as "Loa'a" or "Pokaneloa," according to an announcement from the commission.
The 9-by-12-foot boulder may have been used by ancient Hawaiians as a birthing site, a navigation point or to track the movements of the sun across the sky, said Kuiokalani Gapero, the commission's cultural resource project coordinator.
Public input will be sought this month on the best way to preserve this large, flat, petroglyph-inscribed boulder on the edge of a gully in southeast Kahoolawe. The boulder may have been used by Native Hawaiians as a birthing site, a navigation point or as a way to track movements of the sun.
Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission photo
The Maui meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 20 at Pomaikai Elementary School in Kahului.
The stone was first documented in an archaeological study of the site in 1993, and it was studied in 2002, 2008 and 2009, said Gapero, who provided some citations from studies.
* Research conducted by members of the Edith Kanaka'ole Foundation identified Pokaneloa as a culmination of the Kane (north) and Kanaloa (south) suns. A study determined that one function of Pokaneloa was to measure the curvature of the Earth as it relates to the sun.
"Data collection to determine this function included placing a long upright stick directly west of the pohaku and, as the sun sets, record the measurement in time and distance in inches on the poho of Loa'a as the shadow moves from one side to the other," a study said.
* Historian Rubellite Kawena Johnson said the A'a in Lo-A'a "is Sirius in the southeast, the star which marks the parallel of latitude which (is) at the place where navigators would aim their canoe, as from Hawai'i to Tahiti, which marks therefore the point overhead when the sailor is beneath Sirius, and which is also used when sailing east/west to mark the azimuth, or point of rising when seen, both in the morning before sunrise (east) or after sunset (west) to target that point, which astronomers also call 'right ascension,' '' or longitude.
* Edward Stasack, a former art professor at the University of Hawaii, wrote that the "Loa'a stone was unique in that it contained the only poho (usually called cupules in the rock art jargon) at this site, and, in fact, the only presently known poho on the island. In current Hawaiian rock art and archaeology terminology, poho is the term now generally accepted for the hollow, or pit, in stone or lava that functioned as a receptacle for the navel stump, piko, of a newborn. (There's documentation) that support the practice of placing the child's piko in a poho at carefully chosen, often sacred places accompanied by prayers for the welfare of the child."
Gapero said he expects the commission to consider public input on what to do with the stone and make a decision on Oct. 25.
The archaeological reports are online at kahoolawe.hawaii.gov/pokaneloa.shtml.