History of Pa’ula’ula
Talk on the‘Russian Fort’ set for Historic Waimea Theater
WAIMEA — The pile of red rocks on the south side of Kuhio Highway is much more than the Russian Fort Elizabeth that sparked the place’s current popular name.
It was part of King Kaumuali’i’s own kau hale and Peter Mills, of the University of Hawaii, Hilo, will bring that history to life Friday at the Historic Waimea Theater.
“The name ‘Russian Fort’ has served to obscure the Hawaiian history for the last century,” Mills said. “I hope to share some of what we have learned about the Hawaiian history behind this highly significant wahi pana.”
Mills is the author of “Hawaii’s Russian Adventure: A New Look At Old History,” which explains the history of the Russian use of the space, but goes further into the Hawaiian history of the Russian Fort, also known as Pa’ula’ula.
The free event is set for 6 p.m. and is open to the community courtesy of the Friends of King Kaumuali’i, which is hoping to construct an interpretive center in Pa’ula’ula to explain the long history of the place.
“It’s been on the books for Pa’ula’ula for 50 years and there’s interest in seeing the Hawaiian heritage being acknowledged,” said Maureen Fodale, of Friends of King Kaumuali’i.
She continued: “So this talk is getting everyone back in the mood in the way of knowing and remembering the Hawaiian heritage, not the Russians that were there for just 13 months.”
Since 2012 Friends of Kaumuali’i has been working toward constructing an eight-foot bronze statue of King Kaumuali’i on a lava rock pedestal on a prepared site at Pa’ula’ula, adjacent to the Russian Fort site.
The area has been maintained by West Kauai Business and Professional Association since 2009 with an average of around 500 volunteer hours annually.
The 1986 Master Plan for Kauai includes a visitors’ center, according to a grant application to the state for the statue, which is estimated to cost a total of $246,000.
The grant application also states a 1972 archaeological survey indicating there was additional pre-contact artifacts at the site, which should be investigated and preserved.
Currently, the sculpting and castings of the eight-foot statue are in the process of transitioning clay to bronze. After that’s finished, artist-sculptor Saim Caglayan will send it to Kauai.
The plan is then to position it on a six-foot high, fourfoot square pedestal with a 26-foot square concrete slab surrounding the pedestal. The perimeter of the slab would be surrounded by a 2 foot wide, 2.5 foot high rock wall.
Optimally, the statue will be constructed by the summer of 2019.
Highlighting the history of the Hawaiian culture in the area is important to the community, Fodale said, and Mills said he’s looking forward to shedding light on the subject once again.
“There is no evidence that the fort was ever garrisoned by Russians,” he said. “It was built by Kaumuali’i with the help of his people and garrisoned and used by Hawaiians for half a century.” ••• Jessica Else is a staff writer at The Garden Island Newsapaper and can be reached at 245-0452 or at firstname.lastname@example.org