Time To Change Drink-at-21 Law

Bob Jones
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Wednesday - September 03, 2008
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An artist's rendering of what a rebuilt Moku'ula would look like
An artist’s rendering of what a rebuilt Moku’ula would look like

I’m not in favor of retaining the 21 drinking age for the same reason I’ve never favored arrests for prostitution: There is some social behavior you cannot effectively control by law.

Twenty-one to drink in a bar or buy at a liquor store? Fine. Those are licensed premises and we can set the terms of the licenses. But making it illegal to drink younger or to give a drink to an under-21 person? It’s not working. Ask your kids.


three star

Americans pony up money to save Civil War sites, old factories or a some-president-slept-here site. A fellow is even trying to save a World War II airfield in Ewa.

We have a Lahaina, Maui, site, an island once set in a 14-acre pond, home in history to Kamehameha the Great, briefly King Liholiho, Queen Kaahumanu; for eight years the government seat of Kamehameha III and his mother Queen Keopuolani, and what happens? About 1875, the island and its structures were demolished. Who ordered that and why is unclear.

In 1913, the Pioneer Mill and Pioneer Hotel owners persuaded Maui County to let them fill in the pond and the area was turned into a baseball field, tennis courts and a parking lot.

That is the story of Moku’ula, the once-upon-a-time island off Front Street that was our capital. It’s where Kamehameha III’s sister (and lover) Nahienaena and their child and his mother were entombed. The coffins were moved to a nearby graveyard, but some think those coffins were empty and the bones buried in the mountains.

Moku'ula as it looked two centuries ago
Moku’ula as it looked two centuries ago

Modern people wanted a ballpark and parking and didn’t give a hoot about the history. Akoni Akana, executive director of the Friends of Moku’ula, a nonprofit agency, says Linda Lingle as Maui mayor went with the park/parking people. But he says Maui’s current mayor, Charmaine Tavares, has been a steadfast supporter of restoration of Moku’ula and that most Lahaina residents have come around to that side, too.

Archeologists Christiaan Klieger and Susan Lebo have written that restoring Moku’ula “is especially needed since the traditional culture in Lahaina has been greatly obscured by historical reconstructions whose primarily images are of missionary and whaling cultures.”

The feds seem inclined to chip in about $5 million to restore Moku’ula. The Friends have a lease on the government land. They have major donors such as the von Tempskys and Kekau Kawananakoa. Now they have to move that parking lot so they can start the dig and a restoration of Moku’ula structures.

Akana says the county’s foot dragging on okaying the new parking lot and educational hale permits that lead off the restoration. He says, “I get frustrated. I yelled at them. I said, ‘What do you think we’re trying to do here, build a hotel?’”

And I’m thinking: A hotel developer probably would have gotten permits already.

Here’s the ultimate irony. The pond that was filled in used to collect runoff water from the mountains, let the silt settle, and excess water seep into the ocean. Now, the runoff floods the area along Shaw Street. Government is talking about millions for flood control.

And I ask this: Who would have suggested bulldozing Jefferson’s Monticello or Washington’s Mount Vernon because those presidents didn’t live there anymore?


three star

There’s a sign, in German, in Fritz’s Bakery on Dillingham Boulevard that I really enjoy.

It says: “All Christians, Jews and Muslims are welcome here so long as they are hungry.”


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