After repeated vandalism of Kaniakapupu, the historical ruins that were once the summer home of King Kamehameha III on Oahu, state officials are putting up barriers and signs.
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said around Valentine’s Day, vandals carved a heart shape into a wall at Kaniakapupu. Three years ago, vandals carved a series of crosses into another wall on the opposite side of the ruin’s entrance.
“I’m sad, I’m angry, I’m disappointed,” said Ryan Keala Ishima Peralta, a forestry supervisor with the state DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, in a news release. “While the vandal’s intentions perhaps were in their mind innocent, they are defacing an irreplaceable feature of our host culture’s history. It’s hard to imagine what’s going through someone’s mind when they intentionally deface or destroy this important part of Hawaii’s legacy.”
The Kaniakapupu ruins, which most people reach by hiking in Nuuanu, have been promoted on some social media and tourism websites, but has long been closed to visitation due to its cultural significance, state officials said.
Kaniakapupu is considered the second most important Native Hawaiian structure on Oahu, DLNR said, second only to Iolani Palace.
In 1845 King Kamehameha III and Queen Kalama hosted visiting dignitaries and large parties at the summer palace, including a Hawaiian Restoration Day luau in 1847, attended by 10,000 guests.
Work crews, with funding support from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, are currently constructing a low-impact barrier of logs and plants around the perimeter of Kaniakapupu, and will also put up signs indicating that the area is closed. The signs will also inform people that they should stay off the walls, rock piles and any features associated with the ruins.
Other signs will explain the history of the area and detail why the ruins are kapu (off-limits).
“We know people come up here, even though it’s closed, so we want to arm them with information to help them appreciate the cultural significance of Kaniakapupu,” said Peralta.
Social media is, in part, to blame, according to DLNR.
In 2016, after vandals carved a series of crosses into the ruin’s walls, DLNR contacted numerous travel websites and bloggers who were promoting Kaniakapupu, asking them to delete web references and directions to the ruins.
While many complied, new photos and references to Kaniakapupu have popped up once again. DLNR is once again contacting social media sites asking them to remove references to the historical, cultural site.