I was delighted to read last week of state Rep. Angus McKelvey and Mayor Alan Arakawa's separate initiatives to save the precious jewel of Honolua from the threat of development at adjacent Lipoa Point.
Now, that's leadership.
Of course it must be done. The beautiful bay is one of those places where so much of Maui's culture, history and natural wonder coincide that it deserves preservation as an island treasure. As so many letters to the editor have attested, to lose it would be a sacrilege and a failure of politics.
Saved Honolua must be, and when it is done, the deed will rank with such monuments to civic sanity as the preservation of the eastern strip of Oahu from Hanauma Bay to Makapu'u.
In this month's Vanity Fair, our president, asked to describe a perfect day, sank into a reverie about driving from Waikiki to Sandy Beach, where he parked the car and pondered the waves. "You grab your car keys in the towel. And you jump in the ocean. . . . And you spend an hour out there. And you've had a good day if you've caught six or seven good waves and six or seven not so good waves. And you go back to your car. With a soda or a can of juice. And you sit. And you can watch the sun go down . . . "
For so many people, visitors and residents alike, a trip to the marine sanctuary at Honolua evokes the same timeless satisfaction.
Imagine old Hawaiians on the cobblestone beach throwing hukilau nets for the bountiful akule and growing taro in the little kuleana behind it.
Imagine the interisland steamer pulling in once a week to pick up coffee and cattle hides and other marketable products from Honolua Ranch.
Imagine pineapple tops from Haiku being unloaded there when the Baldwins first started planting pineapple in 1912.
Imagine Sam Kaai's Hawaiian ceremony blessing Hokulea's maiden voyage to Tahiti, and the throng on the cliffs watching as her sails caught the perfect breeze and headed out to sea.
Imagine the rides on the monster winter swells.
The arguments for preserving Lipoa Point, and thus the ecology of the bay, are legion. But Maui Land & Pineapple Co.'s need to preserve the pensions of its retirees is an imperative, too.
In the summer of 1923, Frances Hobron Baldwin fell in love. Her parents were Ethel and Harry Baldwin, and the Mediterranean villa, Kaluanui, on Baldwin Avenue, was her home. She was engaged at the time to a cousin, the aristocratic Yale student Douglas Cooke, but while he was away she met an advertising salesman on a blind date in Honolulu's Chinatown.
He was a a smooth talker and a good dancer, a World War I veteran and a high school dropout, not at all a society match for the highly eligible Frances. But he captured her heart and a year later they married. "I confess I have not heard of this young man," a business associate wrote her parents.
J. Walter Cameron wanted to keep selling newspaper advertising and take his bride home to Boston, but his father-in-law made him an offer he couldn't refuse. How would he like to move to Maui to supervise a startup pineapple company?
Walt was cool to the idea at first, but eventually accepted the "pineapple proposition," and when the feisty little Maui Pineapple Co. was formed in 1932 in a Depression-necessitated merger, he was named its head. The company became renowned islandwide for its progressive management and innovative technology.
The "Upcountry crowd" never cared much for the reserved easterner, who didn't like horses or booze, and was seldom seen without a suit. The feeling was mutual.
What Walt Cameron did care about was his employees. Living conditions at Haliimaile Camp were the best on the island, and as the years went by Maui Pine's benefits were the envy of the industry.
Take care of your people, Cameron believed, and "never sell the farm." Those conservative principles seem awfully old-fashioned today, don't they? Many bitter things have been said about those who bought the company, and yet here we are. Ryan Churchill, Maui Land & Pineapple's earnest CEO, told me the biggest obligation of the severely scaled-down company is fulfilling its commitment to its pensioners. Apparently, keeping Lipoa Point out of preservation zoning enhances its credit and ability to do that.
It's a decent goal, but pitting old-timers against the 'aina is a terrible choice. Let's hope an outpouring of generosity and wisdom on all fronts helps forge a deal that's win-win.
* Laurel Murphy is a former staff writer for The Maui News whose "Keiki o ka 'Aina" column appears each Tuesday. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.