Inside Hawaii’s Most Isolated Island (no traffic lights)

May 04, 2024 1.1M Views 2.1K Comments

Out in the Hawaiian islands is a place that stands out on its own. Molokai is the island (outside of unaccessible Niihau) that’s kept development away. This is old Hawaii, a place without traffic lights or bustle. Here, time stands still, and the locals have fought hard to keep it this way. Join me on an epic adventure with a Molokai local into a Hawaiian island that has stayed true to its roots.

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► Contact Ben for hunts, fishing & adventures on Molokai: [email protected] or 808-269-1149

► 🎞️ Video Edited By: Natalia Santenello

► Headlund – Heart’s Reprise
► Headlund – Red Moon Rising

[mellow acoustic guitar]
[Peter] Morning guys, here on
the Hawaiian island of Molokai
with just over 7,000 people.
No traffic lights,
no tall buildings, no big resorts.
So today we have the privilege
to meet up with a local who told me,
“This is all by design. We are different
than the other Hawaiian islands.”
He’s gonna show us around,
talk about the culture here,
the way of thinking,
and explain why Molokai is the way it is.
Let’s do this.
[mellow acoustic guitar]
[Peter] Ben, what’s going on here?
The cinemas?
[Ben] Shut down early 2000.
-What happened?
-I think the ranch wanted to develop
the side of the island.
I’ll take you down to that side.
-To the ranch?
-The ranch wanted to develop.
-It would be like Lahaina
where it’s wrapped around with all the–
-Lahaina, Maui,
which had the fires obviously.
-Yeah, so a lot of hotels.
So people of the island
stepped up, said, “We’re not doing it.”?
-Some people.
-They didn’t want big money
to come in and change the place
-Yeah, they started in the ’90s.
They built a new town
for development with the theater.
KFC was there.
-KFC was here?
-In that corner, yeah.
-Kentucky Fried Chicken.
-It was operating?
[Ben] Don’t mind me, I try to talk
good English so you can understand.
-What do you mean?
You speak good English.
-Yeah, I try.
Okay, so the local language is Pidgin?
-Pidgin, yeah.
-Okay, explain Pidgin to us.
-Broken English, it’s a shortcut.
So one thing can mean many things.
-Drop some of that in today,
I’m all for it.
-It’s hard to try.
-Ben, you got a gun in the back.
That’s Molokai style?
A lot of hunters here?
-Gas is expensive so if we can get
some dinner on our way…
[Peter laughs]
[Ben] This place was nice.
I mean it still is nice
but it’s a little bit run down.
So I think because they couldn’t do
the development and make that money,
that’s why they pulled out
and all that kinda just shut down.
This was a restaurant, The Village Grill.
-Oh, wow.
-So this stayed open
only a couple years I think.
-But this place is still open?
-Kite Factory, yeah, they’ve been
for 30, 40 years maybe.
[Peter] Post office.
[Ben] Post office been around.
This is the arts and crafts place.
Now they got food bank stuff there.
[Peter] So even the parking lot,
people left?
-You seen that movie with Will Smith,
I Am Legend?
-Yeah, the nature has just taken over.
Is this a bummer as a local
to see it like this
or is it like,
eh, life goes on, no big deal?
-Kinda would be nice,
you know, this was a laundromat.
Not anymore.
-What about this place?
-This is where I work, low income housing.
State and federally run housing.
So I do the maintenance
on these buildings.
-So low-income, what does that mean?
How much for an apartment here?
-Practically free.
-Do you have to be Hawaiian
or from the island?
-No, you don’t have to be.
[Peter] Then there’s some newer,
nicer homes here?
[Ben] That’s when the ranch came in
and took the old homes.
This is a model home you could have built
if you bought one of these lots.
They made this in hopes they could
turn it into Maui or Kihei
but you kind of lose
the essence of the place.
-Oh yeah, for sure.
The place has a totally different feel
than the other islands.
I would say as an outsider.
[Ben] That’s what I wanted,
I did construction in Honolulu.
I moved to Alaska then I worked
in Honolulu doing construction
and everybody used to wonder
why we don’t develop.
-In the construction industry
I had coworkers say,
“Why you don’t develop Molokai?”.
-I’d say because you lose
a lot of this country.
[Ben] So originally this was all
pineapple fields back in the ’50s maybe.
-So they owned all of this?
-They owned all of this.
As far as the eye could see
it was all pineapple fields.
-I read that one third of the island
is owned by
some Singaporean investment fund.
It’s for sale right now
for I think $300 million they’re asking.
-Does that worry people here?
-Yeah, well ’cause somebody buys it,
most times they want to develop.
Would be nice if they was to do farming.
‘Cause we can grow all year long.
-I saw almost all the food
in the grocery store is imported.
[Ben] They have an old harbor,
Hale O Lono Harbor.
I think maybe
the third harbor in Hawaii.
We’ll check it out but it’s not
an operational harbor anymore.
-The barges used to come in.
-Down here the harbor was?
-Oh, interesting.
-Local fisherman boats
still come in and anchor.
When there’s a canoe race
sometimes there’s almost 200 canoes.
This whole place
is just covered in canoes.
-Oh, wow.
-When the race is about to start
they carry them in the water.
They got a line of two boats, everybody
gets ready, and they sound the buzzer.
And they’ll race to Oahu.
I think it’s 20-something miles to Oahu.
[Ben] Yeah, so this harbor,
this is before I was born.
The trucks would come in from
the beach in Kapukahehu.
-Okay, that’s where
I started this morning.
-They used to have
a big tunnel at the end of the beach.
Trucks would drive through the tunnel
and push sand over the top
and there was hatches
that would fill up the trucks.
As they fill up, they’d drive out,
bring it to here,
and see the cement slabs?
-The trucks would reverse, dump the sand,
load it up on the barges,
and the barges would take it to Honolulu
to fill up the Waikiki Beach.
-Oh, no way.
-That beach is mined sand from our beach.
With some of the bones
that were buried from our ancestors too.
Some of those buildings
that they took the sand,
there was bones that was actually…
Mined it from here,
took there, mixed in concrete,
and made those buildings,
and the beach.
Which is sad that they desecrated–
-But you were saying
those buildings, some are haunted?
-From what I hear, yeah.
I never experienced that because
I didn’t do any wrong in that area.
[Ben laughs]
[Peter] And stuff deteriorates
quickly here because of the salt?
-[Ben] Falling apart.
-[Peter] Yeah.
[Peter] So massive ships
would come in here?
-Yep, big barges.
[Ben] It’s a cool place to come
spend the time with family and stuff.
When the canoe race come,
all the escort boats anchor here.
[Ben] Some people don’t like it.
They feel like they should
restore it how it was
instead of all this concrete
falling in the water
The ruins of industrial stuff, yeah?
That’s what we get left.
[bright acoustic guitar]
[Peter] “Molokai Airport”.
This is where it all comes
in and out of these days, right?
[Ben] Besides the boats that shuttle
people from Maui, sometimes Oahu.
Right there, that little plane.
-Yeah, I came in last night
on a small plane like that from Maui.
Nine seats.
So you do Costco runs,
you were saying, on Maui,
but you’ll take a boat over to Maui,
and get stuff.
-So it’s just one airline coming
in and out of the island right now?
-Yep, and they’re kinda not reliable.
[Ben] You know what,
my tire’s leaking air.
-Let’s go fix that.
-[both laughing]
-[Peter] What happened?
-[Ben] I don’t know, it hit something.
[tire hissing air]
[Peter] Oh sh*t.
-So I think I got the fix.
Let’s go fix it.
-I don’t want to be right here doing it.
-[both laughing]
-I hate being on the side of the road
fixing a tire, everybody looking at me.
I got the medicine.
I got the thing to patch the tire.
Hope I got the other piece.
This guy.
I do a lot of off-roading
so sometimes you got thorns.
Yep, I got it.
[Peter] So in Molokai you always have
relatives around the corner?
My nephew, he works at the leper…
Kalaupapa, where the lepers are.
He works down there.
-The leprosy colony?
-Yeah, he does–
-We’re gonna see that
from above today, right?
-We’re gonna check it out.
[Ben] I’m gonna patch my tire.
[woman speaking]
-I was taking this guy
around showing him by the airport.
I heard a hissing, I was like..
[speaking Pidgin]
-Watch me, I’m gonna go forward.
It might be back there
but I want to patch it right here.
[Peter] Keep going.
[tire hissing]
Keep going.
Okay, good, good, good.
[parking brake clicks]
[hissing continues]
[rubber squeaking]
This is how you do it.
I hope.
-Not your first time, Ben?
-This truck is wider
than the other little truck.
-So you drive on a road
like we went, Hale O Lono,
all those kiawes, the mesquite thorns.
‘Cause it’s wider I’ll pick ’em all up.
[tire hissing]
[tool thumps]
[Peter] And that’s how it’s done.
-[Peter] Just keep it like that, right?
-[Ben] Yep.
It’ll be good for now,
better than what it was.
[both laughing]
[woman speaking Pidgin] That’s a good fix.
-Yeah, we’s over the airport,
this guy, he go all over the road he…
-How you doing? Peter.
-This is Tiesha.
-Tiesha, nice to meet you.
-This is a great place you got.
-Thank you.
-I wish you came earlier
it was green but now coming dry.
-That’s what I told him it’s usually
real green over here in the winta.
-It’s interesting you speak totally
different to me than you do to her.
[all laughing]
-Right, your Pidgin kicks in?
-It did, yeah.
-Yeah, big time.
-Is this homestead out here?
-This is all homestead, yeah.
-The original homesteads was 40 acres.
-Okay, explain homestead.
-What is that exactly?
-Hawaiian reservation land.
-For the Hawaiians,
how Native Indians get land?
-We’re Native Hawaiians.
So in Hawaii we get res land.
-Okay, so just like the Native res.
But actually the Native res,
you get the land.
Like the res owns it but you can
build your home or you own the land?
-The land is actually leased but I think–
-Yeah, it’s leased
but it’s pretty much yours.
-Hundred year lease every time.
[Peter] There are deer out here sometimes?
-Oh yeah, the thing
they’ll be running across here.
Even if you guys go out
they might be running across.
[Ben] Oh deers, yep.
[Peter] Do you hunt?
-My son and him.
[laughs] Yeah.
[Peter] So the homestead,
you have to have a certain amount
of Native Hawaiian blood, right?
-Yeah, 50% to get, 25% to inherit.
-Oh, you do have a pump.
-Good thing I had him.
-Okay, so 50% to get, 25% to inherit?
-Yeah, and so I got
this piece of property from my mom.
-Okay, great.
She got it through her parents.
-So it’s been in the family forever?
-Oh, that’s cool. Special to you?
-[laughing] Yeah.
[Tiesha] It’s so funny
you got this experience.
This is living the life. [laughs]
-[Ben] No, he’s–
-[Peter] “My nephew’s around the corner.”
[Ben] That’s not my truck.
[Peter] You wish it was your truck.
-That’s the hunting truck right there.
We put the dogs in the back.
-Is Molokai and Greater Hawaii
sponsored by Toyota?
It’s the official truck.
-I should be sponsored by Toyota.
-You should.
-I own all Toyotas.
-Does part of you want to be driving
this versus your new Gucci version?
-No, I got an older one.
It’s in the shop right now.
-That’s my favorite truck, my old one.
So this thing’s all customed-out,
ready for the hunt, huh?
-Somebody will post this for sale,
Craigslist, they’ll be asking $10,000.
-Look at that.
[Peter] So Tiesha,
have you ever lived off the island?
-No, always here.
-Do you ever go off the island?
-Oh, yeah.
-I love it but returning home is the best.
-You just love the feeling.
-Getting off that plane, the crisp air.
Yeah, but I love to go. I love to travel.
-Okay, where do you like to go?
-All over, I’m yet to see a lot of places
I still have on bucket list.
-So there’s always that feeling
when you come back to Molokai,
-It’s like, thank God I’m from here?
[Peter] This part of the island
is all homestead?
-So Molokai has more of this
than other islands or tough to say?
‘Cause I saw a little bit of it in Maui.
-Yeah, so Maui, Molokai, almost the same
but Molokai’s unique
because they was giving us 40 acres
but if you think about it
how could you actually have a homestead
doing farming, raising livestock
with less than 40 acres?
-That’s not really homesteading
if you think about it.
-Some people against the homestead.
-A lot of the Karens don’t like homestead.
-The Karens? You have Karens here?
-Yeah, they’re everywhere.
[Peter] We’re going to the one one town,
when people say town…
How do you pronounce it?
-That’s where everything happens
on the island, right?
-That’s the main town.
[Ben] This is church row,
this is a bunch of churches here.
-Church row?
-On the left there’s one here.
-Okay, Mormons?
-This is the LDS church here.
-Yeah, Latter Day Saints church.
-Jehova’s Witness.
-Jehova’s Witness?
-And this is like a Hawaiian church.
Couple different Hawaiian churches.
So the town is the only place
you can get gas too.
-The only supermarkets?
Pretty much and the main post office,
the hospital, courthouse,
police department all in town.
-So $5.95 for gas.
-Yeah, expensive, the gas.
-What was that? Oh, $6.90 for Diesel.
Oh, man.
[Peter] No traffic lights, right?
-No, no traffic lights.
This is the second gas station.
-This guy right here.
-And they’re making a movie theater here.
I forget how much seats.
-Oh, this is great.
-I love this downtown.
-Little shops, yeah.
So no chain stores at all? No McDonalds?
-That’s one of
your two supermarkets, right?
Misaki is Japanese?
-Yeah, Japanese family.
Couple of little family shops.
-You got a gym?
-This is the town gym, basketball,
volleyball, they got some weight stuff.
-“Jesus coming soon”?
-So very religious, this island?
-Pretty much yeah, I would say.
That’s the fire station.
-It’s got such a chill vibe to it,
this town.
-Yeah, laid back.
No street lights, no big stores.
So it’s kinda rural
I guess you would say, yeah?
-So any crime here? Any big issues?
-They got a lot of the regular stuff,
you know?
Some people that are stealing.
-There’s no like homicides as far as–
-There’s only maybe one or two
that I can remember in my lifetime here.
Domestics and it got to the point
where somebody got shot.
Good place to raise a kid you think?
-I would say the best place.
As long as the parents,
guardians are doing their job right.
It’s a good place.
[Ben speaking Pidgin]
-[Ben] Oh, they’re closed.
-[Peter] Oh, they’re closed, darn.
-That’s a good bakery though?
They’ve been here for a long time.
-And then it just goes right to homes?
-So this is like the brothels.
That’s like the low side of town.
This place is closed too?
Oh no, they open.
[reggae music playing]
-[Ben] Taking him cruising.
-[Peter] Yeah, we’re cruising.
-Your name, sir?
-Dave, okay.
-What’s your name?
-Where you from, Peter?
-Nice, man.
-This is your store.
Me and the wife, her names Valeny Tanaka
and she was born and raised here too.
I’m not born and raised here,
I’m from San Diego
but my wife’s from here.
Our business is call All Things Molokai.
We’re trying to help people out
People come in here, we direct them
to the people they need to see.
We don’t advertise
but if someone has a question
or looking to go hunting, or hiking–
-“Keep Molokai Molokai”,
can you explain that to us?
[Dave laughing] The meaning
behind that is don’t change Molokai,
let Molokai change you, you know?
Respect the community,
respect the people over here,
and just know that they like it
the way it is, you know?
-And that’s the one thing
I tell people that come here is like,
me not being from here,
I understand what goes on here.
-I’ve been out here 19 years.
-So I try to just know that
I’m just a guest, you know?
People come to Molokai for this reason.
To not have the luaus.
To not have the helicopter rides
and not have everything in your face.
They want old school Hawaii
and this is it.
-Okay, so developers have no chance here?
Is that what you’re saying?
-Everyone’s gonna stand up to it.
-Yeah, 100%.
Over here, listen, you can put up
a fruit stand, you’ll get a protest.
But you also gotta understand
the demographics.
I mean… And listen, I’m telling you
from what I know, from my experience
You have the ranch on the west end,
a ranch on the east end,
a ranch up by Kualapuu.
I was one of the last employees
for the ranch up there back in the day.
Oh, wow.
-So it’s like I sorta saw
everything in the process
of going down of the Lā‘au Point.
-What they wanted to do and so…
Honestly I think this is
the last standing true Hawaiian island.
in my personal opinion.
-It’s got a way different feel
from the other ones I’ve been on
-You guys gotta stand strong because
you’ll get steamrolled if you’re not.
-That’s just how it works.
‘Cause in every nice place
in the world it seems like
with the weather,
and beaches, and perfect water,
they’re all developing.
They’re all going in one direction.
This is the one place
I’ve been to in the world that I’ve seen
where it’s going in the reverse
or holding. Holding the line.
-Yeah, and I think really because of
the ranches that own the island.
-You can’t develop
unless they want to develop, you know?
-So is that a worry for you guys that
if someone buys one of these ranches
and that changed?
-I would think so
because anytime someone comes
to buy something that large a property,
they have intentions
to do something else with it.
-That’s what happened with Lanai, right?
-Larry Ellison bought it.
-Yeah, you think of Lanai 13 years ago.
We could go over there and hang out
but now you have to be a millionaire
or billionaire to go over there.
-And what Larry is doing
is buying all the houses over there.
If you’re a local Lanai… Hey Ethie.
If you’re a local Lanai resident
and you wanted to sell your house
Larry would buy it from you, right? Okay?
And then what would happen is he would
monopolize all the housing over there.
Not only does he only 90% of the island,
but he also will own every house.
So people that I’ve heard
that go over there work for him
is if you lose your job
it’s like Survivor.
You automatically get voted off
because he owns the housing too.
-You know?
-So it’s like your average local family
can’t go to Lanai
like we used to be able to go before.
We could jump on the ferry
from Lahaina, go for the day, hang out,
but now it’s out of reach
and it’s only for the rich.
‘Cause they’re really nice hotels there?
-Yeah, that’s what he did.
Once Lanai got sold when Larry came in,
he’s remodeled all the hotels.
-He sorta took a…
He do the desalination plant,
he’s doing solar,
he’s doing more of
the eco-friendly type of situation.
-And the one positive,
I just read this online,
one lady was happy because he put money
into some sports facility
and the lap pool was functioning again.
-The Romans did the same thing, man.
They did the same thing.
They gave people sports to keep ’em calm,
you know, but at the same time
that’s not what
shoulda been done, you know?
[Ben] The ranch was…
[Dave] And look, the ranch
back in the day, I’ll tell you this,
back in the day
they built the hotel up there,
they built the employee housing,
they had ziplines,
but as soon as everything
didn’t go down they way…
That thing got boarded up real quick.
They filled the pool up with sand,
they boarded everything up.
-That’s harsh.
-So you gotta understand
there’s resentment towards the ranch too
because like I said,
their intentions weren’t pure.
What they were trying to do, in my mind.
-This is all personal opinion.
-Of course.
I can’t speak for
the Hawaiians or Molokai, you know?
-I have a smart audience.
They understand that
one man’s opinion is one man’s opinion.
Like you can’t speak for 7,000 people.
-You know, I’m just lucky to be here.
And… you know… [laughs]
I love the quietness. I love that
everybody knows each other, you know?
And that’s one thing that
I think’s the best thing about Molokai
It will hold you accountable
because there’s such a small community
that everybody’s
trying to do right over here, you know?
-That’s the main thing.
[Ben and man speaking Pidgin]
[Peter] How you doing, man? Yeah, brotha.
-Oh, I’m getting on the wrong side.
I can’t open the door for you.
Sorry. [giggles]
-So that’s how it is? You come into town,
everyone, you know basically?
-Pretty much, yeah.
-You can’t think short termed here
because you’re gonna have to deal
with repercussions, right?
It’s not like you’re not gonna
see that guy again if something happened.
-You’re gonna see him again.
-Close-knit community.
-That’s awesome, I love it.
[Ben] This is the harbor right here,
this is our main port.
-Food, everything comes through this port?
The fuel, the only barge
that comes in once or twice a week,
it’ll come in through here.
-Ever a time where the freight’s
not coming and you guys are out of stuff?
No milk because there’s
no dairies here on the island.
Shortage on a lot of stuff,
rice, toilet paper, the basics.
-So I was told by some locals
when the Lahaina fires ripped in Maui…
Is that Maui over there?
-That’s Lanai.
-Oh, Maui is over there?
-Hard to see right now.
-When the fires ripped in Lahaina
Molokai boys were killing deer,
putting them on boats,
bringing the food over.
-Some of the first guys over there, right?
-On the boats, yeah.
Down to taking gas.
You know, filling up
5, 10, 12 gallon cans.
-And shuttling it over.
You see how much our gas costs.
-They couldn’t get gas from their places
to run their generators
for essential stuff.
They was hauling gas,
whatever they could get, fish, deer meat.
Down to toilet paper,
canned goods, everything.
The stores was helping out,
filling up boats,
and sending them over with drinking water.
Because they was stuck
on that side of the burn zone, right?
-Right, right.
So how many miles out, Maui?
-From here I would say 50 miles maybe.
But then if you go to the east side,
halfway down the east side
there’s a couple spots
where your boat can come and trucks
can get close you and haul stuff.
Loading up the boats
and doing a shuttle run.
-So a lot of the Molokai guys
were there before the feds?
-I think so, yeah.
That’s what was happening
and then people from Maui,
trying to get in with cars,
trucks, trailers loaded with stuff,
essential stuff,
supplies to get to people inside,
they were stopping them saying,
“You guys cannot go in.”
So the boats came and there was
no ocean patrol stopping them.
Why was the government
stopping people from helping?
And then they said whatever help they
was getting in Lahaina
had to come through…
What is that? FEMA and stuff.
Instead of just giving it to them
they wanted to go through FEMA
and then give it to the people
but the people need it right now.
So the boats were just doing it that way
and you know,
their road blockage wasn’t in the ocean.
So that’s how
a lot of stuff got over to the people.
[Peter] So this is changing
really quickly.
It almost goes from
a real dry deserty look…
[Ben] We’re going up the mountain
where it gets more lush and green.
-To forest and green
literally in a half mile.
-Yeah, so I grew up
right here in this neighborhood.
-On the right here?
-Yeah, from my first memory till about 15.
-This is the perfect place
to grow up, huh?
-This is my neighborhood right here.
-Let’s check it out.
[Peter] Temperature cooled down
10 degrees.
-Yep, this is the best place on earth.
-I lived in that house for 15 years.
-This house? Green one?
-This is all rented houses.
-What do you think a house like this
is to rent these days?
-I’d say maybe $1,800 to $2,200 a month.
-Not cheap.
-Some people has HUD, section 8 housing.
They help adjust towards your income.
-Are there just a lack of jobs
here on the island?
-Kind of. Yeah.
Not much high-paying jobs.
So some people are not motivated probably
to work just a regular, you know…
Struggle through paycheck to paycheck.
-What’s your work?
-I work for the State of Hawaii now
but I was in construction
so we do building maintenance stuff.
-And then I always hustle side stuff.
Like doing guided hunts.
-Guys, I’m gonna put
a website link down below for Ben.
If you want to hunt
on this part of the island, right?
-We do fishing too.
-Fishing too, nice.
-And just nature hikes too.
[both chuckle]
-And your the guy to go to
for the local knowledge?
-One of ’em.
One of the best though. [laughs]
[mellow acoustic guitar]
[Ben] You can see right across
there’s all pasture land
but now you got
all these invasive species trees.
That’s why there’s no cattle
because there’s no grazing.
Right up here is these rolling hills.
You could go with a piece of cardboard
and slide down these hills.
-But now it’s…
Fimosa, it was an ornamental tree
they brought in
and Christmas berry
is this other dark green one.
It kinda just took over.
Nothing eats it so it keeps on growing.
A deer, not even a goat will eat it.
But the air is always crisp, you know?
-Yeah, it’s cool right now.
-What’s the temperature read?
-Oh yeah, perfect.
[Peter] That was interesting what you said
earlier, this guy waved to us.
He was super white.
I didn’t have the camera on.
And you were like, “He’s more Hawaiian
than a lot of Hawaiians.”
What do you mean by that?
-Um, he has I think quarter of Irish
but he looks strong Irish.
-He has red hair, blue eyes.
-But he’s 75% Hawaiian.
I am like just a little shy of half.
-Okay, what’s your mix?
-I have Danish.
My grandfather, his family’s from Denmark
and then they moved to the lower 48s
then mixed with a bit of Blackfoot Indian.
-Oh, no way. I’ve been up there.
-And then my grandma was
Portuguese, Chinese, and Hawaiian.
So I have White mixed and my dad,
half White, half Filipino.
-That’s a mix.
-My grandfather came from Philippines,
my grandmother was
pure Hawaiian from Molokai.
-Look at that.
-Got a rainbow.
-It’s gonna be a state and federal park.
Almost like a museum, the leprosy colony.
-Okay, so if you were on the islands
back in the day and you had leprosy
you were sent here?
-They’d come, throw you off the boat.
-They’d come throw you off the boat?
-Throw you off the boat kinda left to die
because they didn’t know.
They thought there was no cure,
they was lepers.
So they would throw them off the boat
to fend for them self, and then, you know…
-All the stories about the people.
-They had a school down there.
-1900s, it started even before the 1900s.
-“Band of male patients”.
And they could never leave?
-Until they found out there was medicine.
That now it wasn’t contagious
if they took the right medicine.
-So are people still living down there?
-There’s a few patients left.
-They still call them patients.
They got the medicine that cures them
but they’re still missing
the cartilage, yeah?
-So their fingers fall off and stuff.
-There’s only a couple left
and then after those patients are gone
it’s gonna be a state park.
-Federal and state park.
-And then that crater…
See the white cross?
-Yeah, yeah, way out there.
-That crater, in the ’80s
Jacques Cousteau brought his crew
and they couldn’t find
the bottom of that crater.
They found marine life in that crater that
never found any place else in the world.
That’s what they say.
-Have you been down there?
-A few times.
-What’s it like?
-It’s nice, you can feel
some presence of a lot of history.
A lot of people died, suffered there.
It was sad while they was there.
-They couldn’t be with their family.
This is Father Damien over here.
So he was a Catholic priest
that came down and served the people.
So yeah, you see
how some of them, that’s from the leprosy.
-Oh, yeah.
-Yeah, a lot of people died.
[Ben] That stone,
rumor is if a woman sleeps on that rock,
and she’s getting hard time
to have a baby, you know,
fertility problems.
It’s a fertility rock.
You sleep on that rock,
you end up pregnant not too long after
if you’re trying.
It’s a two part.
So the other half is up here
and we got one down the hill.
But that one,
we don’t usually check it out.
-It’s superstition, but…
-That’s old Hawaiian folklore?
-Pre-monarchy days?
-Ancient stuff.
Fertility stone, and you’ll see why.
-This is beautiful.
-From here we walk up.
-And then of courses, there’s knuckleheads
in the old days came in, graffitied it.
[Peter] “This site is sacred
to the Hawaiian people”.
-So that’s part of the site
and that tells the Moʻolelo.
Which is a story.
Moʻolelo means story or legend.
This is the male part
of the rock you can see.
-Oh yeah, definitely see that.
[Ben] “Many years ago the man Nanahoa
and his wife, Kawahuna
lived on this green hill of Puu Lua.”
Puu Lua is a hill.
“One day a beautiful young girl
appeared and began admiring herself
in a pool of water.
Nanahoa watched her.
The wife grabbed
the young girl by the hair.
Nanahoa hit his wife in a quick-tempered
anger and sent her tumbling down
a nearby cliff where she
turned into a stone.”
So that’s the female part of this rock
is down where we talked about.
-Okay, and that’s’ off-limits?
Kind of, it’s kind of hard to find.
I don’t know why but…
[Peter] So people put coins here and…
-My cousin, I was still in elementary,
he was a teacher in Oahu,
him and his girlfriend.
-And they didn’t have any kids,
wasn’t planning on having kids.
You know, ’cause they was a bit older.
Came up here, hung out.
They didn’t sleep on the rock
but they hung out.
Went back to Honolulu
then they moved to Maui
and found out she was pregnant.
And she… Within a couple months time.
And they was with each other
for several years.
They didn’t get pregnant,
couple months after that, pregnant.
Two kids.
-So you believe in it?
-I guess, yeah.
-It could happen. [laughs]
-There are things you can’t explain.
-Yeah, some things you can’t explain.
You gotta have faith,
if you want it, it happen maybe.
-There are feelings on this island
I don’t want to sound kookie
but it is a powerful place.
-Here is a place where even people
that born and raised here,
they say they get the creeps.
-Oh, like coming up here at night?
-Yeah, I can see that being the story.
-You can feel it’s alive.
-Everything is alive.
-The Mauna?
Everything has life.
Trees, the stones, everything has life.
[Peter] What was here?
[Ben] Dole pineapple
and then now it’s coffees
but this is the Filipino camp
they call it.
So this is where
all the Filipinos lived that came.
The labor workers
for the pineapple fields.
-You didn’t have sugar on this island?
-No, they didn’t do sugar cane,
they did pineapples.
Similar in the sense that they’d bring
Filipinos, Chinese, Japanese.
-Portuguese too, yeah.
And Japanese, and–
-I like this town.
-We used to ride our bikes and this is
where we would come to the store
School was right there.
Sometimes we’d catch a bus.
We’d come hang out.
Like these kids right here. Look.
-Oh, that’s great to see.
I love when I see that.
-Running around barefoot.
-Bare feet, pegs on back of a BMX.
Nothing says ’90s like that scene.
That was us.
I mean we didn’t even have the pegs.
The pegs was an upgrade.
-We would sit on the side–
-[Peter] Nice peg ride, man.
-[boy] Thank you.
[both chuckling]
-So that’s your local store?
-That’s the local store.
A candy bar was 50, 60 cents.
A soda was 50, 60 cents.
-Now you’re sounding like that old guy.
-Yeah, I am.
So this here was the Japanese camp.
Some of these houses are original,
some they added on.
-Like this one looks original.
-So they really divided them by races?
-Kind of.
-Yeah, I would say.
-But then everyone inter-married and…
-Some. Yeah, they did.
And they could pay rent to the housing.
Almost like those guys
from the coal mines.
-Scrip, they would get paid
in Dole currency?
-Yeah, they’d have a store
where they could get what they needed.
-The company store?
-The company store.
And then they’d give the balance
of what they earned throughout the week.
-Okay, so they earned all their money here
but it was useless money
outside this area.
-Somewhat. It is sometimes, you know?
-You really had to live off the land.
Go fishing and stuff because
you’d buy everything from the store.
At the end of the week
now you owe the company money.
[both chuckling]
-You’re in the hole.
So you were saying food is power.
Kamahao, for those that don’t know,
ruler of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
And he was the ruler of the big island
and then he steamrolled
through all the islands.
-Yeah, that’s what Kamahao wanted.
He wanted to take over Molokai
because Molokai was known…
Aina Momona,
meaning the land of plentiful.
A lot of food.
More than the people could eat.
And then they had fish ponds, like a farm.
They would go to the fish pond
they could push the fish to one side,
corner it off, and grab what they needed.
Let the rest go and that was
their source of ice box, you know?
-So this was the manager’s row.
This is where the mangers would live.
Little bit bigger houses.
-You got chimneys, fireplaces.
-More land.
Do they need fireplaces here?
-You didn’t need ’em
but it’s good to have.
-When it gets down to 62 you start a fire?
-When it’s raining a lot you can get
the moisture off your house, you know?
That’s so cool, man,
I would have had no clue about this
without you showing this.
-This was the big Dole.
This is where the masters used to stay.
-The master of Dole?
-That white house?
-Who lives there now?
-Now it’s called Kapualei Ranch.
Oil (typhoons) from the Gulf,
from Texas that own oil in Texas.
They bought it
and then leased a lot of land around it.
I think they like it
as their own little playground.
They like to do hunting,
they raise cattle.
So they don’t want development.
Which is good if it stays that way…
[Ben] They employ a couple
local families, help run the ranch.
And they’re not actually
trying to sell cattle commercially.
Every once in a while they’ll harvest
cattle and give it to their workers.
I ate some of it which was real good too.
[Peter] Where are
all of these people working?
-Here if you don’t run your own company,
construction or stuff like that,
you’re gonna work
for the store, Family Market, Misaki’s.
You can be a teacher,
health nurse, that stuff.
The only high school.
-The only high school on the island?
-Seventh to twelfth attends this school.
-For the whole island?
-Yeah, and there’s
a couple little private schools.
-This is Hawaiian homestead,
Hawaiian homelands.
This is where my parents live.
So this is my land.
I got farming and stuff
but we got five acres right here.
Down in this gulch, up that road.
-Oh, that’s so cool.
-You’re living a great life out here.
Fair to say, Ben?
-I love it. I mean I could be the CEO
of someplace else right now.
I like this. [laughs]
[Peter] Yeah, look at this road.
No cars at all.
-Yeah, look at it, you know?
-So cool.
-So my wife,
her family was the first homesteaders
here in this Ho’olehua Homesetead.
[honks horn]
First homesteaders here.
They came from Maui.
Government wanted them to do a homestead
so brought ’em here.
Which this place was full of lantana
and rocks, and kind of barren land.
No irrigation.
So they brought them here to prove
that it’s okay.
“If you guys can prove
that you can homestead this land
where you guys can be successful
then we will open up
the homesteading for many Hawaiians.
So they came from Waikapu
which is in Maui.
Which was a lot of water.
They had streams and they left that
to come and try and be pioneers
here on this land.
-What year was that?
-This was like early 19s.
Brought them here
in hopes that they would fail.
That they could say,
“You guys can’t do it.”
-But with faith,
the story is the Makaibi family,
which is my wife’s family,
they was faithful people.
Miraculously, they pulled it off.
And when the government officials
came to say,
“Here’s you guy’s chance,
show us what you have.”
and they had a pile of vegetables.
[bright acoustic guitar]
[Peter] So you’re saying these waters
are some of the best fishing?
-And the guys from Oahu would come over?
-When the waters get real nice
boats try to come over
and some people come
and they’re trying to over harvest.
Because they gotta spend the gas prices.
They spending 300 to 500
to come over and then they gotta get back.
So they want to come
and load up everything
and try to sell to make gas money back,
and fill up their freezer.
So what do you guys do?
-So we protect it
with our life if we have to.
Sometimes, you know…
Some people know to shoot one engine.
Give them a message to get back
or they’ll shoot the big GPS
on top of the roof.
That’s seven grand for one of those.
-You got some sharpshooters?
-Yeah, and if you’re coasting off
that means you’re too close.
Not only that,
a lot of the kids practice hunting here
and a deer is running by the cliff,
and the boats are too close,
accident the bullet might hit ’em.
So it’s better not to come. [chuckles]
-So you and the Oahu boys
have some beef sometimes?
We had a couple.
So some of the guys out here from
the east side, which is around Halawa.
They caught a boat that was doing that
and it was coming often.
So they went on the boat.
They gave the guy some tough love
and it was a big federal case.
They went to jail for one year for that.
-They beat him up or killed him?
-No they just beat him.
They had a big disagreement
and kinda took their gear.
But it was all over the news as pirate…
Kind of like a pirate,
you board somebody else’s boat.
-But to the Molokai people and a lot of
off-island people, they didn’t…
Agreed with the Molokai people
as heroes for doing that.
Standing up for your way of life,
you know?
[Ben] This kinda looks
like Montana right now.
[both chuckling]
Montana with ocean view.
What do you think that’s gonna be
in 30 years out there?
-Hopefully organic farms.
-You hope the island can feed itself?
-Yeah, every place
should be able to feed them self.
-Especially when you have this climate.
-Yeah, not relying on a barge.
And they panic.
When the food don’t come, people panic.
-They do.
-Oahu, can you imagine that?
No meat, they can’t shoot
no deer on their own.
-You guys are okay
if the barge doesn’t come.
You can go kill deer.
-For a while, right?
-Somewhat, yeah, you have to adjust.
-Some of the state
Oil, ingredients, we’d have to start
getting back to using what we got.
But it’s better to have
the raw food, some staples instead of
like some of the other islands.
So a lot of people
feel the same way you do?
Organic farming,
you’d love to see everything growing here?
-So that would be a case of the good
billionaire coming in and being like,
“I’m gonna preserve this land
’cause I love it
and you guys
are gonna grow your own food.”
That’s what I hope the ranch would do.
The owners of the ranch, that would
be cool if they was to make jobs.
‘Cause doing farming.
You can see right here
would be kinda tough to farm.
Which is windy
but over by the ranch where we was,
there’s a few places
we could put up a nice spot.
-[Peter] Thank you, brother. ‘preciate it.
-[Ben] Yeah.
-Glad I could show you around a bit.
-Very cool tour, awesome island.
And I want to let people know
Ben is the guy to go to here…
or one of the guys as you were saying.
Hunting, fishing, guiding.
Link down below if you want to meet Ben.
Come to Molokai, have an amazing tour.
Thanks for coming along on that journey.
This is part of a bigger
Greater Hawaii series.
-And I wanted to show this special place.
-See you again.
-Thank you, brother.
All right, thanks guys.
Till the next one.
[bright acoustic guitar]

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