UH archaeology students to study North Shore heiauBy Gordon Y.K. Pang, Honolulu Star Advertiser
A brief ceremony Saturday at Kupopolo Heiau, in the ahupuaa of Kawailoa between Haleiwa and Waimea, marked the heiau's dedication as a "North Shore field school" where archaeology students will study the heiau over 16 consecutive Saturdays. Richard Pezzulo, Waimea Valley executive director, placed a hookupu, or offering, on the heiau.
(Dennis Oda / Doda@staradvertiser.com)
Kupopolo Heiau is expected to be one of many locations available to University of Hawaii archaeology teams. Students toured the heiau on Saturday.
1/13/13: Budding Hawaii archaeologists are expected to benefit the most from a partnership between Kamehameha Schools and the University of Hawaii's Department of Anthropology announced Saturday.
The agreement establishes a "North Shore field school" at Kupopolo Heiau, allowing 20 archaeology students to survey the historically significant heiau over 16 consecutive Saturdays.
Nathaniel Garcia, a senior in archaeology, said he's been fortunate enough to have field experience as part of a team that studied a heiau in Makakilo last summer. Most of his classmates have not, he said.
But this is also a new experience for Garcia because for the first time he will be getting credits that count toward graduation when on the site.
"It's very rare that you get college credit and field experience at the same time," he said.
Kamehameha also benefits from the partnership, which organizers said had been under discussion for more than five years.
Clearing of vegetation on the site, at Kapaeloa in the ahupuaa of Kawailoa between Haleiwa and Waimea, began more than four years ago, said Jason Jeremiah, Kamehameha's senior cultural resources manager.
"The work that the students are going to do is going to help inform us about what the appropriate steps are to take for future restoration of the site," Jeremiah said.
A major part of the ongoing restoration will be removal of invasive species and the reintroduction of plants that are native to the area, he said.
Jeremiah said there are nearly 100 significant cultural sites between Kupopolo and Haleiwa town. Kupopolo was chosen as the first to be used as a field school partly because it has relatively easy access and, more importantly, because it is considered among the better known and more significant sites in the area.
Windy McElroy, one of the UH archaeology professors leading the class, said the heiau is believed to have been built in the late 1700s by Oahu chief Kahahana.
When the chief asked a prophet whether he should invade Kauai, the prophet told him to build the heiau so he could get a signal. But no sign came, and the prophet had Kahahana build a second heiau on higher ground.
Kahahana never invaded Kauai.
"We don't know if (Kupopolo) was abandoned after that," McElroy said. "We think not, but we're going to try to find out."
Once the vegetation is cut back, the class will be able to map the site more properly, she said.
Measuring 266 feet long and 116 wide, and with at least three terraces, Kupopolo is considered a relatively large heiau and it is relatively intact with internal features that include petroglyphs, upright stones and possibly a shrine.
Kamehameha Chief Executive Dee Jay Mailer said she expects Kupopolo will be only one of many field schools made available to UH archaeology teams.
"People learn best on lands, and we have so much lands and natural resources here, we need people who are skilled and who are knowledgeable," Mailer said. "We envision (work at Kupopolo) extending as well as other in-field or on-aina programs. We expect to use our lands and our resources for these kinds of learning opportunities."
Volunteers are being sought to help the cleanup effort at Kupopolo for two hours every Saturday over the next 16 weeks.
To help, email northshore@ksbe. edu.
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