Maui Business

Monsanto Donates Land to Preserve Oʻahu Internment Camp Site

April 1, 2015, 10:28 AM HST
* Updated April 1, 4:17 PM
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No. 3380 Honouliuli Internment Camp overview. R. H. Lodge photos from AR 19 Archival Collection. Photo credit: Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i – Resource Center – Historical Photographs collection.

No. 3380 Honouliuli Internment Camp overview. R. H. Lodge photos from AR 19 Archival Collection. Photo credit: Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i – Resource Center – Historical Photographs collection.

By Maui Now Staff

A celebration will mark the official creation of a new national monument–the Honouliuli Internment Camp Site on Oʻahu.

Monsanto Company recently donated the land to the National Park Service for a National Monument for the Honouliuli Internment Camp Site during World War II. Monsanto officials attended a private ceremony on March 31, with local community leaders, US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Deputy Director Peggy O’Dell, to dedicate the new Honouliuli National Monument.

The designation was announced by President Barack Obama on Feb. 19. “There’s still a lot of work ahead, and Monsanto will continue to support the vision for Honouliuli,” said Alan Takemoto, Monsanto’s community affairs manager for Hawaiʻi

No. 910 Barracks at Honouliuli Internment Camp. R. H. Lodge photos from AR 19 Archival Collection. Photo credit: Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i – Resource Center – Historical Photographs collection.

No. 910 Barracks at Honouliuli Internment Camp. R. H. Lodge photos from AR 19 Archival Collection. Photo credit: Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i – Resource Center – Historical Photographs collection.

This monument permanently protects a site where Japanese American citizens, resident immigrants and prisoners of war were held captive during World War II. The monument will help tell the difficult story of the internment camp’s impact on the Japanese-American community and the fragility of civil rights during times of conflict.

The camp, located in a steep canyon near Pearl Harbor, opened in March 1943. It was the largest and longest-used confinement site for Japanese and European Americans and resident immigrants in the state, eventually holding 400 civilian internees and 4,000 prisoners of war. The camp was largely forgotten until uncovered in 2002. The president’s designation will ensure its stories are told for generations.

“We’re honored to participate in the celebration of the new Honouliuli National Monument and reach this historic milestone in the community’s efforts to preserve the Honouliuli Internment Camp as part of the US National Park System,” said Alan Takemoto, Monsanto’s community affairs manager for Hawaiʻi. “Transferring ownership of this land to the federal government is the result of years of planning and coordination. We’re very proud to be part of this collaboration, from donating 123 acres for establishment of the national monument, to working on site preparations with distinctive organizations like the National Park Service, the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaiʻi and the University of Hawaiʻi.”

In 2007, Monsanto acquired Kunia farmland that included the site of the former Honouliuli Internment Camp. The company pledged to work with the community to preserve the camp site for its historic value. Since then, Monsanto has collaborated with local organizations to establish the camp as a National Historic Site.

Monsanto donated the land in late 2014 to help achieve that goal, and is presently working to donate an additional 22 acres, bringing the company’s total land donation to 145 acres.

Over the years, more than 1,000 people have been welcomed to the Kunia farm and the Honouliuli site for various educational activities and observances.

“There’s still a lot of work ahead, and Monsanto will continue to support the vision for Honouliuli,” added Takemoto. “This site is an important part of Hawaiʻi’s history and should be preserved for future generations, which is why Monsanto is very passionate about this effort. We look forward to seeing the Honouliuli National Monument come to full fruition.”

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A new video features the story of Honouliuli. For more information on Monsanto’s participation in preserving the Honouliuli Internment Camp, go online.

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