Press Release – Pacific Media Centre
The real Hawai’i is one where evictions, desecration of cultural sites and sacred graves, and collusion between the academy and the United States military are the order of the day, says an indigenous Hawai’ian activist and filmmaker.‘Real’ American occupation of Hawai’i exposed by doco
AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): The real Hawai’i is one where evictions, desecration of cultural sites and sacred graves, and collusion between the academy and the United States military are the order of the day, says an indigenous Hawai’ian activist and filmmaker.
The tourist resorts and even beach sand are all imported or fake, designed to create an impression of Hawai’i as a playground for the affluent which bears no relation to the realities experienced by indigenous Hawai’ians.
Indigenous Hawai’ian filmmaker Keala Kelly screened her film Noho Hewa: The Wrongful Occupation of Hawai’i at the Auckland University of Technology last night.
In the Hawai’ian language, hewa means “wrong” and noho means “to occupy”. The United States overthrew Hawai’i's native government in 1893 and has controlled Hawai’i ever since.
“This is just a no bullshit movie. It’s lean and mean and it is absolutely true. It is about the swallowing up of everything that is us,” Kelly said before the screening. The film has won three international awards since it was made in 2010.
Although the film has been screened all over the world, it is still a timely reminder of the way in which US control over Hawai’i negatively impacts on almost every aspect of the daily lives of indigenous Hawai’ians.
Property development takes the form of ancestral land being bulldozed to make way for resorts, with small areas left behind in fenced off areas to create an impression of respect for ancient artefacts.
As one activist says in the film “the simulation of the native presence always signals the native absence. You can golf next to an ancient Hawai’ian burial site”.
The film depicts US military vehicles being taken to intermediate schools and put on display, in an effort to entrench the normality of the 162 American military installations in the country. It shows how developers on Molokai island encountered resistance to a planned new resort and in response, simply shut down all businesses on the island and leased out all the land to Monsanto for genetically modified crop growing.
It shows wave after wave of tourist encroachment with Hawai’ians being priced out of their own land and forced to relocate to Texas or Oklahoma to find work. Evicted Hawai’ians eke out miserable existences on the side of the road or on the beach – until they get evicted again. “Housing development is the new missionary with a bible”, one man tells Kelly.
State hired archaeologists employed to assess the impact of new golf courses on ancient burial sites are instead given licence to desecrate graves.
“We are always under threat of being evicted from our homeland even when we are under the ground,” Kelly hears. In another chilling scene, a woman describes how a Walmart store was built on top of 44 graves.
The graves were supposed to be moved 30 metres away but three years later this had not happened. Instead, one of the archaeologists had removed a hand from a grave, placed it in a bag and written on the bag ‘ Louis Vuitton handbag’.
Only five percent of the indigenous forests of South Maui remain. Public hearings on new military bases are held in the private Honolulu Country Club. Indigenous Hawai’ians who attempt to take part are arrested and carted off by police.
“Their paradise is driving us out of the homeland” Kelly is told.
Kelly was hosted by Peace Movement Aotearoa and the screening was organised by Peace Movement Aotearoa and the Womens’ International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) along with AUT host partner Pacific Media Centre as part of the WILPF Asia-Pacific conference this weekend.