LETTER: Pointing Out the Hypocrisy of Rock & Brews Opponents
Editor’s note: See Related Articles below to read different viewpoints on this issue.
By Andrée Conley-Kapoi, Pā`ia
This letter is in response to the letters published in Maui Now and the petition established against Rock and Brews in Pā`ia.
I have been working in the field of anthropology on Maui, Kaho`olawe, and Lana`i since I was hired by the Bishop Museum 25 years ago. Since that time, I have worked for various companies in the realm of cultural resource management which is often associated with proposed developments. Hence, I am addressing this subject from another point of view.
My three children are fourth generation Pā`ians and trace their lineage to pre-contact Hawai`i. I have lived on the North Shore since the mid-1980s and have observed the drastic changes in Pā`ia—although, they are nominal in comparison to what my ohana has seen in Pā`ia over the last hundred years.
In reading the content of the information provided in the two letters associated with the aforementioned development –I am dismayed with the audacity of the authors (to my knowledge–neither of which was born in Hawai`i). One states that the Paia Merchant Association “honors the area’s unique seaside culture and history”.
I understand that there is always going to be development –and of course, I would like to see Pā`ia back to how it was in the 80s when I arrived with all the mom and pop stores and parking—but, please do not pull the culture and history card.
All that is left of the history and culture of this little plantation town are some remnant storefronts—not the people—not the culture. Yes, there is a new culture evolving—but, it is totally disconnected with the local plantation population of Pā`ia that is represented by the old storefronts.
My educated guess would be that less than 1% of the people walking down the street, shopping in the stores, and eating at the restaurants can trace their lineage to Pā`ia more than one generation. It is not because this population has moved away (look at the children on the Pā`ia School playground)—it is because Pā`ia has developed without any regard to the history, culture, and people of this town.
I am not saying that this is right or wrong—I am simply pointing out the audacity of the folk that are trying to stop the development based on it ‘not fitting in to the history, culture, and architecture of Pā`ia’… and… ‘honoring the culture and history of this unique seaside town’. Was there any effort to help the mom and pop stores stay afloat—or is this new generation of Pā`ians standing by to snatch up properties as they fall behind in their taxes. Do any of the store or restaurant owners actually employ the ‘local’ people of Pā`ia? My guess would be that less than 10% do.
If you truly care so much about the cultural component of the town, then I suggest you start wondering where all the ‘local’ folk have gone and what you can do to get them back. If not–please stop grasping at the historic and cultural terminology.
I am well versed in the politics of development and after reading the article in Maui Now my first question was who constitutes the Paia Merchant Association. Is it a diverse group of people that accurately reflects the population of Pā`ia or could it be partially made up of people with an ulterior motive. One of the claims put forth is that they do not want a formula-based business. I do not understand how Rock and Brews differ from Shell Gas, Minit Stop, Honolua Surf Co. (owned by Billabong), and Flatbread (with nine other locations on the mainland)–with the exception that Rock and Brews is a smaller chain.
The proposed restaurant is going to be constructed in a manner which is congruent to the environment. One of the owners is a graduate from Saint Anthony’s High School, while another has been a preschool teacher in Pā`ia for years. Let the people decide where they want to eat—do not let tainted politics, ignorance, and adult bullying dictate the evolution of this town.
I attended the meeting at the Pā`ia Community Center with my children and could not get over the ethnocentricity of all these newcomers. In lieu of asking who has been here for ‘10 years, 20 years, 30 years…or 50 years’, it should have been asked how many generations can your family trace to Pā`ia. Instead of claiming, “I have been here for 26 YEARS!” –It should have been stated, “I have ONLY been here for 26 years”.
With much aloha,
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