Welcome to the Kailua Historical Society website. We are a small nonprofit dedicated to collecting, sharing, and preserving the history of Kailua, located on the windward side of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands. Please use the links to the right or at top to explore our site.
We are pleased to announce a public program, entitled KAMIKAZE OF KAILUA, will be held in the Kailua Public Library on
December 3, beginning at 6:30.
When warfare broke out unexpectedly in 1941, who could have known what lay behind the battle lines of that conflict in faraway
Okinawa? Known only to a very few in Kailua, where the very first shots were fired, was that one of its own was “missing”. Caught
behind the enemy line, so to speak, was teenager Minoru Teruya, being trained reluctantly to become a Kamikaze pilot. His story is
“Mino”, as he was affectionately known during his long life in Kailua, was born to farming parents in the Kalaheo area in 1925.
Though short of stature, his strong, athletic body was recognized by his family as an important asset to his immigrant parents. So,
when his grandparents in Okinawa needed help on their farm, dutifully the family decision was to send him back temporarily to be
useful in whatever ways a teenage youth could be. Who could know then what was soon to happen, and for that family the
consequences that would develop?
As a high school student in Okinawa, Mino was recognized for his intellectual and physical abilities, and was drafted into the Japanese
Air Force. With little personal choice he was conscripted to the elite class of Kamikaze training. Here he excelled . . . except for the
realization that he might someday be called upon to deliver destruction to his homeland. He was caught within a system and
circumstances, testing his loyalties that would mark him for the rest of his life.
Fortunately, “my number never was called,” he later expressed. The war had ended, the truce was signed, and one very jubilant son
was freed from all obligations. Mino returned to Kailua, worked in agriculture all of his active life, and lived peacefully and quietly
with his family as a “keiki o ka aina.” For many years he volunteered at the Hawaii Okinawan Center as its groundskeeper. Always
reluctant to reveal his dramatic story, he chose to humbly use his own energy and calm demeanor toward peaceful, productive
purposes. It is not surprising that he and his wife, Kay, would become interested in the history of Kailua, faithfully attending most of
Mino passed away in February of this year, at the age of almost 94. Now we are free to celebrate his story, something he would not
permit us to do in life. His spirit of valiant courage, hard work, loyalty, and peacefulness remain alive among us.
October 22, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Trinity Presbyterian Church (Auloa Road)
Free to the Public
The Kailua Historical Society is pleased to present a public program on the timely subject of THE OLD PALI ROAD: HUMBLE AND SHIFTING? The slide-illustrated program will take place appropriately near that historic road, namely at the Trinity Presbyterian Church (Auloa Road) on October 22, at 6:30 in the evening. The public is welcome to attend this free and informative event.
When the green lights soon open the Pali Tunnel in both directions, Windward commuters will be among the first to toot their jubilation. For the past seven months the tunnel’s connection to Honolulu has been blocked or severely restricted due to natural slippage, caused by heavy rains at the beginning of this year. Never before has closure to traffic lasted as long while repairs have been done. Government announcements indicate that all necessary work will be completed sometime around the season of Thanksgiving.
On the Windward side there is no acreage more disturbed than the soils at the base of the Pali. With the arrival of wheeled vehicles more than 150 years ago, the walking path was upgraded to accommodate wider and heavier traffic. Layer upon layer of soils were shifted and modified to allow cattle drives, mule trains, carts and even stagecoaches to make the journey from country to town. But it was foot traffic that accounted for much of the travel over the lowest passage of the Ko’olaus . . . until motorized vehicles became dominant about the beginning of the twentieth century. Gradually the 22 hairpin turns were replaced by straighter stretches, and cobblestone surfaces were filled to allow wheels to run more smoothly. Today the sealed road is taken for granted, just like the open tunnels . . . until Mother Nature rains down its powerful force.
Come to be entertained, educated, and reminded of what massive efforts (and money!) have left their trail along “the Old Pali Road”.
The program is free and open to the public on October 22, 2019 from 6:30 – 8:00
Return to 1946 and sail amongst our beautiful islands with the Powlison Family and friends aboard the Mokuola. Come watch a 16 mm color film taken by Ted Bredesen (navy photographer who married Puna Peggy 40 years later). It also includes an eruption on the flanks fo Mauna Loa, old-time Waikiki surfing, and area scenery of Kailua, Lanikai, and other islands. Generously shared with the community by Cosette Harms and son Jerrett Harms.
In 1946, Kailua’s population was under 5,000. The biggest store was Harada’s (at Ku’ulei and Kailua). Two churches existed—St. Anthony’s and the “Little White Church” (where Salvation Army is now located). Campos Dairy leased many acres in today’s business district and the surrounding areas. Several dozen homes were standing in and near Lanikai, including the Freeman’s, Tanaka’s, Hedemann’s, and Powlison’s. Mid-Pacific Golf Course, a popular attraction was 17 years old. The Kailua Race Track still existed, as did watermelon farms throughout the Coconut Grove area. Sullivan’s first store, today’s Foodland, would soon be built across from Kalapawai Market (near Kailua Beach), as would Kailua’s first post office nearby.
Everyone is welcome to join us for this free amazing movie and program about 1946 Kailua.
July 29, 2018
3:00 – 4:30 pm
A. & B. Community Room, Suite 202
146 Hekili St., Kailua
Join the Kailua Historical Society
Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016 at 6:30 p.m.
at the Kailua Public Library
for a staged reading of excerpts from “December 7, 1941: Letters from Hilltop House” by Cosette Morrison Harms.
Through a series of letters to her son on the mainland, the author’s grandmother, Anne Powlison, describes witnessing both the bombing of Kaneohe Naval Air Station (concurrent with the bombing of Pearl Harbor) from the family home overlooking Lanikai and the frenetic weeks which followed. As the family and the territory itself copes with the ensuing confusion of blackouts, paranoia and an expected imminent invasion, Mrs. Powlison finds herself cut off from reliable communication with the mainland and her son at university in Washington state. Her steady stream of letters help to bolster not only her own courage, but those of her son’s as well, and bear testament both to life on Oahu during wartime, as well as the enduring resilience of the human spirit.
Performers from KOA Theater will perform a selection of these letters, interwoven with historical interviews and news reports, to bring to life the dark days of uncertainty that followed the attack on Pearl Harbor and the fortitude of Hawaii’s citizens in the face of the unknown.
A WALKING TOUR WHERE WATER ONCE FLOWED
Within a stone’s throw of Kawainui’s levee lies an acreage virtually unknown and out of sight. Had the homeless encamped there remained invisible, this historically significant area would not have become a public opportunity for further education. But the opportunity is now very real, thanks to the recent clearing efforts done by the State’s DLNR.
Driving into Kailua along “Church Row” over the past month, one could not have but noticed the hau thicket being pulled back and the narrow embankment exposed. It may have seemed an insignificant acreage before, but, in fact, the opposite is true. A century ago, for example, a large pump ran non-stop sending millions of gallons of precious water to the thirsty sugar cane fields in Waimanalo. Centuries before it may well be that the Marsh’s water, in that same location, was flowing through fish ponds with gated chambers, as the water flowed into Kaelepulu Stream.
Unlike most areas lying on the southern bank of Kawainui, this parcel has relatively been spared the massive soil disturbance of heavy earth-moving equipment. So come to see with your own eyes the three types of human impact still preserved: the Hawaiian culture, the Japanese immigrants, and the homeless.
Because the terrain is uneven and the walkways not well formed, good walking shoes are required. Mosquito repellent is recommended. Parking is provided by St. John’s Lutheran Church. The tour will begin Sunday, November 13, 2:30 p.m. in the parking lot and will end approximately an hour and a half later.
On June 14, 2015 at 3 – 4:30 pm, we will have our annual meeting. Please join us, it will be wonderful! Please see all info below in either jpg or PDF format…
PDF File: KHS Halia Flyer