History of Hawaiian Paradise Park
The land area for Hawaiian Paradise Park and Kings Landing was sold to David Watumull’s father. I believe it wasn’t for a figure necessarily, but an arrangement where by certain things changed hands; for instance, the Watumull building in Honolulu became the Shipman building. (This is one of the things I was told accounted for the sale) I do know that it was in anticipation of statehood that these lots started to be marketed. One of the first lots that I bought was in Block 10, it was $545.00 or something like that. I think it was $85 down and $15 a month at 6%. In those days that wiped me out just to make a down payment, and to try to keep up the payments was something! It’s a funny thing in those days it wasn’t as easy to sell lots at $795 as it is today to sell lots at five, six, seven, eight or more thousand dollars per lot. Oddly enough, some of the local people who turned up their noses, today are buying now that the prices are greatly increased over what it was at the end of the 1950’s and beginning of the 1960’s. There was a promotion at the very beginning, (I was not here at this time but several people told me about it). During this promotion lots were made available only to people on the island, next to people within the state, and then it was thrown open to the people on the mainland. I know they had promotions in California, New York, Chicago, Detroit and places like that. As a matter of fact, I bought my first lot in a snow storm in New York City, back in 1959 and it was a sight unseen kind of thing. I took a lot of ribbing from my friends but when I came here to look at the lot I liked it well enough that I decided I was going to stay. I could definitely see a future here, despite some of the discouraging things that were said by local people. I know I had a hard time getting my first poker game going out here, because people didn’t think that I had a bathroom or any kind of facilities whatsoever and they were very reluctant to come out. I was the only resident, so I guess I am the first permanent resident, of the sub-division. I was here a couple of years before the next families came, one was Coombs who built the house that the Mishimoras occupy now, and the other was St. Croix.
Originally there was only one entry into the sub-division and that was Paradise Drive. It was kept closed, with a chain to protect the fishing area. But the main reason, people would come in to picnic, and became careless like they do any place, I suppose, and it got to be a major problem with people throwing out their rubbish along the road. Unfortunately that problem still continues today. I see rubbish being thrown out along the main access roads in the sub-division. I don’t know what can be done to prevent it. I certainly know that it’s impractical to have a chain across the road now. In the old days when that was the only road in-it was important. Another reason for the chain was that people used this as an access to get into the Shipman estate from Block 10 roads near the ocean. Some people did a little bit of cattle rustling from the Shipman estate and brought out some free hamburgers. Still another reason was the university was doing some studies on opihi growth (I think some of these studies are still going on today). So they were trying to keep some areas free from harvesting the opihis to get some kind of idea on how fast they would reproduce themselves.
There were only about fifteen miles of road when I first came here-that was Paradise Drive all the way down to the ocean, most of block 10 and a few of the lower numbers-1 thru 10-between Paradise and Kaloli Drives. Then after that every 4th road was put in, then every 2nd road, then eventually they filled in all the roads. A good job has been done considering the bulk of the lots sold for $795.00 and $895.00, and for that kind of money, I think people didn’t expect too much. When the lots were first put on the market, I know that there was a plan for this to be an undeveloped sub-division, and Kings’ Landing was to be a developed subdivision. After some lots were sold in the early 1960’s, the state announced that they were going to locate the new state prison on land adjacent to Kings’ Landing. This panicked a lot of people, and it stopped the subdivision cold in it’s tracks. I have to say to the credit of David Watumull, that everyone who had bought lots in Kings’ Landing was refunded his money plus 6% interest. The plans for putting in the state prison fell apart, the panic began to fade, and I think everyone has forgotten about it by now. I do think that probably the island is ripe for a major development of Kings’ Landing now. It is such a short distance from the ocean, and when the Coast Highway goes in, its going to put Hilo several miles closer, especially for those people who live close to the ocean. The Coast Highway will follow close to the ocean, swing mauka of the Shipman residence because of the family burial grounds. One of the provisions that Mr. Shipman made-if he was going to donate the right-of-way for the highway through the land-was that it swing sufficient distance out of respect for the family cemetery there. From there it runs into the State and Hawaiian Homes Commissions land to the Hilo boundary and then will swing into the intersection where Taniguchi’s market is on Kanoelehua. In the early 1960’s a study was performed by K I K Associates and this should be available in the Planning Office for anyone who wants to study or get an idea of what the alignment of that coast highway was meant to be. Actually, I think it might be a worthwhile purpose for people in the sub-division to look into. I know at the time when I was on the council there were about $400,000 in that account. I hope that money hasn’t been lost or gone down the drain in additional studies, but it would seem to me this would be one way to get one road paved, and that is Beach Road. I am pretty sure that through the sub-division there is a sixty-foot right-of-way. If they don’t have the money to do the whole highway maybe it can be done incrementally, and at least do that portion of Paradise Park along Beach Road, which would provide a paved surface across the sub-division at the lower end. This is something that should come out of tax payer funds and should not be on any kind of assessment basis. It would benefit many people, espcially those on the ocean end of the sub-division, I am sure.
The lots started out at $795.00 then went to $895.00 then $1095.00, $1295.00, then jumped to $1995.00. That’s what they were when the sub-division sold out. I think it was in 1967 when the sub-division sold out its last lots. There were some repossessions, I suppose after that, but I am sure they were a small percentage of the total. The sub-division to my knowledge has 8843 lots, plus several shopping sites, several school sites set aside. I found it to be a great place to live. I am in my 18th year here; my only regret is that I didn’t come here a lot sooner than I did. It’s been a great place to live-this island has been very kind to me. I just hope that is some small way, while I still have time, to find a way to express my thanks to the people of this island who have been so terrific to me, because as I say the best part of my life has been the part of my life that I have lived here on the island, it’s really great.
Property tax is one topic not included in our questions to Rick. We have researched tax records and arrived at representative taxes for one acre lots in Paradise Park, recognizing that assessed values of all lots are not the same.
The following table shows property taxes for representative one acre lots since 1959. The table shows considerable increase in taxes since the development began. The current taxes have increased to almost 600 percent greater than the taxes paid at the start of the present decade.
During the past five years the State of Hawaii has collected about one-half million dollars each year from taxes on Hawaiian Paradise Park Property.
Tax years Taxes per one acre lot Remarks
1959-1964 $ 1.13
1965-1969 $ 3.13 almost tripled
1970-1971 $ 8.77 almost tripled
1972 $30.43 almost quadrupled
1976-1977 $45.74 dropped about $1.00
1977-1978 $45.74 same
1978-1979 $52.16 increased over $6.00
I was trying to rack my brain when you first provided the questions, about the first ten residents in the sub-division. A man and his wife by the name of Piper were the first residents and they lived in a tent while they were building the house, which is on Lot 226 in Block 8. Mr. Piper didn’t finish the house. He had used some ohia logs, etc. and hadn’t used the proper kind of supports, so when they left (they had been getting assistance from Mr. Watumull) Mr. Watumull then had to make arrangments with a contractor to come in and finish the painting and construction properly. This was in 1960 about the time I came along. No one else lived in the immediate area.
The first ten residents in the sub-division were; the Edwards, Coombs, St. Croix’s, Tiptons, Knolls, Fullertons, Siemans, Randas, Mathews’ and Remniffs’. Of these, I think it’s kind of interesting to note that seven of them are no longer here; they have either moved or passed away. So there are only three still here, the Edwards, Mathews’ and Siemans’.
I also think it is significant to note in 1960 there was only one house in the sub-division. It took five years from 1960 to 1965 to go from one to ten houses, a thousand percentage increase, it’s not very much numerically but its quite a percentage increase. Oddly enough between 1965 and 1970 it increased another thousand percent. It went from ten houses to one hundred houses. It took ten years to get the first one hundred houses in Paradise Park, and now I understand there is a little over four hundred houses in our subdivision. There will probably be one thousand in the next two or three years if the present rate of construction continues. More and more you can see evidence of cleared lots within the sub-division, whereas before it was largely undeveloped.
Earlier I mentioned that this land had been used for cattle grazing. Mr. Shipman told me at one time that his brother was responsible for frequently setting fires in this area to prevent trees from growing. The old grass would be burned out so new green grass could grow up for the cattle. It also made it easier for the cowhands to see the surface of the ground-you know how irregular and full of cracks it is. It was easier for them to ride and see without vegetation.
I recall in my first year I was frankly told by several locals that people who had come here didn’t last very long. They gave me six weeks, six months at the most, and I would be gone too. I remember Sonny Kamahele, who lives down by the ocean near Makuu saying, “in the old days even if they tried to give us this kind of land we wouldn’t take it – this is junk land that won’t grow anything”. I was kind of discouraged in the beginning. So anything I could get I would stick in the ground and was thoroughly delighted when it started to grow. A lot of you have had a chance to be here for a time and see that things do grow. It is a good thing sometimes when you don’t listen to people, because you go right ahead when you don’t know any better, and do the impossible. I took a terrible ribbing the first few years l lived here.
There were no telephones. I have an interesting story to relate concerning the telephone. Originally the telephone followed the railroad. When I was clearing the brush around my house on Lot 228, I attempted to burn some material. Like so many who don’t believe that this wind can pick up and dry out the grass, the fire got away from me. I was really concerned about my house. I caught someone on the highway (in those days there was hardly any traffic) and, while I went back to fight the fire, they notified the fire department. After this episode I knew something had to be done, so I had a phone installed on a telephone pole at the intersection of Railroad and Paradise Drive. For quite some time I left the telephone there, because in the old days people liked to come out and go fishing and, in case of an emergency, I thought it would be good if the phone was there. Of course the inevitable happened, and one month my bill came in with quite a few long distance phone calls on it. From then on I had to put a padlock on the box and keep it locked so that people wouldn’t take advantage of it. It wasn’t too much longer after that until they put the new telephone iine in along Highway 13 as it exists today. They then took out the line along the old railroad that had existed since the old days. In the old days the phone line followed the old railroad into Pahoa.
A foreman from the Shipman Ranch told me that the reason there are so many mango trees around the center part of the sub-division was that in the old days it was used for cattle grazing. Some of the cowhands when rounding up the cattle, would bring lunch. Quite often they would be carrying mangos they would throw out the seeds. Consequently, you have quite a few mango trees growing in that area.
Apparently this area of the sub-division prior to the last lava flow (which was estimated to be over 400 years ago) was very heavily forested. For instance, there have been tree forms found in the area of the Stephen Hazzard residence as well as at the end of Road 17 on the Hilo Boundary. You can find a form in the front yard of Jimmie Brown on Road 7 where there is an impression of a tree that has been burnt out. I am sure that Jimmie will be happy to show it to you. In addition, along the ocean around Lots 125 and 129, or approximately in that area, along the sea coast you can find some impressions of fairly good sized trees that have been burnt out. These are easy to spot because the salt spray has left them open.
Also of historical significance is the Mamalahoa Highway that King Kamehameha had built to completely go all the way around the island. He was the first one that brought all of the districts under one leader. It was crucial-in order to maintain control there had to be good communication, therefore he had this highway built all the way around the island. When I say highway, I mean everything then was by foot, so they put round sea rocks over the lava flows or other round rocks which were easier on the bare feet and the people could make better time. On the makai side of Beach Road running through the sub-division you can find good examples of where this Mamalohoa Highway still exists.
Also it should be pointed out, that the road that everyone know as Old Railroad is called that because at one time a railroad went over this road alignment. In the very beginning, the only means of communication was either by canoe along the coast or along the Mamalohoa. I do know, from some of the old time Kalapana Hawaiians, that they used to have pig roundups, and they would drive the pigs to market in Hilo. They would follow along the Mamalahoa, spending the night several times along the way, because they couldn’t make all that much time with so many pigs to be concerned with. Then the TRAIN was put in from Hilo to Puna. One spur went up into Pahoa; it was like a dagger into the forest. I’m told this is how Pahoa got its name. (Pahoa means dagger). The other spur went all the way around to Opihikao and almost to Kalapana, and one branch of it went down to Kapoho to the rock quarry. The bulk of the rocks for the Hilo breakwater came from there and were shipped over that railroad to Hilo.
I am told that one of the first businesses in Pahoa was a lumber mill where they did logging of ohia trees. These were cut into square railroad ties that were shipped to Caiifornia, and a lot of the ties that exist to this day in the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific Railroads are ohia iogs which came from the Pahoa area.
Later on sugar began to expand so that a lot of the sugar cane made its way on the train. About that time World War II came along, there was more and more effort to go by truck, and from the 1946 tidal wave, which destroyed part of the track, the train started to be phased out, and more and more trucking came into the picture as the main means of transportation. Highway 13 or the Pahoa government road as we know it today was one of the main routes. Things have been swinging inland from originally being along the coast to the railroad which is midway between the coast and Highway 13, and now Highway 13. Now I see signs that perhaps the future may swing back to having the bulk of the activity close to the ocean. I don’t know-time will tell on that. The reason I am mentioning this about the railroad is when I first came here there was a concrete platform on Lot 130 in Blk 6 with bamboo and orange amaryllis plants This was the remains of a railroad station called Makuu Station. Can you imagine, a train station there which served this area, I know that some of the oldtimers who lived in Pahoa and Kalapana areas used to go to school in Hilo. They rode the train back and forth along with anything else that had to be shipped, including sugar cane. Oddly enough you can see sugar can growing here and there where some of it spilled off along the right-of-way of the old railroad.
In the old days the Puna land was pretty much divided between two families–The Shipman’s and the Lyman’s. The Shipman “domain” extended from the Hilo boundary all the way to the Hawaiian Beaches and Parks area, which is where the Lyman family’s interests began. Fortunately Mr. Shipman’s father was very wise in legal matters. He went to the trouble of having the bulk of the land, which fell within his area of interest, registered with the land court which was the Torrance Land system. This is the best kind of land system there is. It means you can’t even lose it to squatters rights, or adverse possession, without due cause, and thats why to this day we are fortunate enough to have all our lots recorded with the Hawaii State Land Court, as well as the Bureau of Conveyances. All the lots in this sub-division fall into that category, thanks to the foresight of Mr. Shipman in the old days.
Before the sub-division became a sub-division, it was rather a barren area with much less vegetation than it has today. It wasn’t very prized by local people, it actually was used for grazing purposes for the Shipman Ranch. But going way back into the old days, apparently there was a heiau down in the corner of the subdivision along the ocean on Kapoho boundary of Paradise Park. There is a one hundred acre parcel in that area which belongs to the Shipman Estate. When Herbert Shipman was alive there was a standing offer to the County and/or State that if these one hundred acres would be restored to the Bishop Museum specifications, and the heiaus be preserved, then that land would be donated for park purposes. (There are the remains of two stone platforms for heiaus, one mauka and one makai on Beach Rd.). Now that Mr. Shipman has passed away I am not sure whether that status still stands. It’s too bad that no one took advantage of it while he was still living. I do think it is important for all people who live in the area to do something toward preserving the heiau area for the importance that it did have. One Hawaiian that I talked to from the area said that one of the heiau was devoted to Lono, the God of Agriculture (no human sacrifices were made at this heiau). It was more of a peaceable agricultural and fishing type venture for the small community around the heiau.
On Lot No. 87 in Blk 11 which is an ocean front lot, you will find a rather high mound which has some loose rock and soil mixture. This has been broken into by successive high water periods, and this did consist of a burial area. I know that the bones of one human being became exposed the teeth, the jaw, the skull and some of the other bones.
The thing that I found most significant was that there was a dime that was found; apparently, the Hawaiians in the old days upon burying their ancestors, would place a coin or something of value over each of the eyes before they were wrapped in “ti-leaves, or however else they were prepared for burial. The significant thing about this dime was that it had an 1810 mint on it, which meant that burial had to take place sometime after that 1810 minted dime. A man from Honolulu took the dime, and, I think, that it was rather significant to note that this individual who took the dime has had a series of misfortunes or bad luck occur to him. I really think that anytime you find someplace in the sub-division where someone has been buried, that in all due respect, those things should be left as they are or pointed out to proper authorities so that they can be preserved as much as possible. I don’t think that anyone should consider the desecration of graves, whether it be within or without our culture, and it is unfortunate that this type of thing goes on. There is one area close to the heiau where I know of a burial. In addition to that, off Road 22 on the mauka side between Paradise Dr. and Kaloli, there is an entrance to a lava tube. The lava tube goes on for quite some distance in the mauka direction before it runs into collasped rock near Road 29. This lava tube apparently served two different purposes since there are one or two branches off this tube. One of them was sealed with lava rock and is not too high at all, and contains the remains of quite a few burials. It was very important to the Hawaiians to bury their loved ones in a place that couldn’t be found by anyone else, so that the grave couldn’t be desecrated. This cave was used for, number one, that purpose, and number two, defense purposes, because in the early sixties within this cave were found the rotted remains of spears and sling stones and some of the largest opihi shells that I have ever seen which were used to collect water. Upon coming in and out of the sunlight into this cave and looking into the dark you are blinded. You are on loose rock to begin with, therefore, it is an area that can be defended easily (only a few can come in at a time; it only takes a few whose eyes are already adjusted to the light to defend it). At one of the entrances there was a skull which must have been a warrior’s as there was no ceremony as far as burial was concerned. The skull was just sitting there; the jaw bone was loose, and I recall one time picking up this jaw bone-it was so large that it easily fit outside my jaw, flesh and all. He apparently made the mistake of entering the cave and must have been bashed in the head with a rock or something and left there and not given a decent kind of burial. Apparently there was a very small community in the golf course area as there are remains of some house sites and evidence of fruit trees, coconuts, etc.
Another historical item of more recent vintage in the Block 3 area, probably within a thousand feet of the highway, during WW I I a P38 crashed. I was told by a Chinese gentleman in Pahoa that this caused quite a bit of excitement, and since it had crashed he was going to go in and get the propeller as a souvenir. Apparently they had some M.P.’s in the area that said, “this is government property, and it belongs to the government; and don’t remove anything from it.” The crash must have been investigated, but they never removed the aircraft. It might be of interest to people in Block 3, when someone is building on his lot if he comes across a piece of beat up, rusty or corroded metal, or whatever-that could be the remains of the P38 which crashed in the early 1940’s.
I think it is interesting to note also, that there are a handful of petroglyphs in the sub-division. The bulk of these that I have been able to find have been close to the ocean. The ocean front park area between Paradise Drive and Makuu has several. I would say they are probably in the area across the street from Lot 2962 in Block 7, or in that general area. I would be glad anytime to point out some of them to you, if anyone is interested, so they can be preserved. In addition, there are a couple more on both the mauka and makai sides of Paradise Drive, as it goes on in the vicinity of Lot 468 in Block 10. They are a little bit hard to see; the grass has been growing over them, but I think they still might be found. One of them is very rustic; it’s not the classic type. It’s interesting because someone went to the trouble to do a fairly large stick figure type petroglyph down in that area. We don’t have to go to PUULOA, PUAKO, to see petroglyphs because we have them right here in our sub-division. They are not that spectacular, and they are a little bit hard to see in some place, but they do exist within our sub-division.
NAMES AND PLACES
You indicated an interest in Names and Places within the sub-division. I maybe saying something that you already know but I won’t take anything for granted. As you know, the Hawaiians originally divided up the islands into districts like: Hilo, Puna, Ka’u, Kona, Kohala, and Hamakua, etc. Within these districts there were further breakdowns that were called AHUPUAAS and within the AHUPUAAS, there were additional breakdowns called KULEANAS. The KULEANAS were usually for a family or a small number of families to use, and they were awarded by the local chief or local king, as long as they maintained the favor of the ALI’I. I think it is significant to note that the names of the three AHUPUAAS that occupied the park are of course KEAAU, which is on the Hilo side; then you come to WAIKAHEKAHENUI and WAIKAHEKAHEIKI, NUI means big; and IKI means small; WAI water, and WAIKAHEKAHE means trickling. So, it’s big trickling water or little trickling water. I know there are places within the sub-division that during heavy rains you can hear the water running beneath the surface of the lava rock in many places. KEAAU,-I am not sure what that means. I know that KEA means white, and AU is another work for water, as well as current, or whether it forms white water when it is running, I really don’t know. This would be a good thing to ask El Mathews or someone else who is an expert in the Hawaiian language–What these names mean. Going all the way from the Hilo boundary to Pahoa the AHUPUAAS are called KEAAU. Then of course, it is WAIKAHEKAHINUI and WAIKAHEKAHEIKI. Then we go into MAKUU, and into HALONA, then into KEONEPOKO, and KEONEPOKOIKI, and then to NANAWALE, which is in the Pahoa area. I think it is important to preserve the importance of the original Hawaiian names and how they got them. I was told by Richard Lyman that the word PUNA, the district we live in, means the source or it could mean the spring. PUNALUU-is a little black sand beach-where there are a lot of little springs that flow into the ocean. PUNA means spring, LUU means running or could mean running springs with water running into the ocean at the ocean side. As to some of the other names within our sub-division, there again it would be a good idea to check with El Mathews. KALOLI DRIVE, I am sure was named because it runs from the highway down to KALOLI POINT which is the peninsula largely occupied by Block 10, lots. What KALOLI means I don’t really know but it would be of interest to find out. MAKUU DRIVE, of course is the one that runs from the Highway down to the ocean in the area of MAKUU; there again, I don’t know the meaning of it. PARADISE DRIVE, I feel positive was named because the corporation, Hawaiian Paradise Corp. started this sub-division. SHOWER DRIVE was named because there were several attempts to plant shower trees along it, but when they were not attended, they would not grow. I had a Johnny Appleseed complex in the early 60’s when I had more time than anything else, so I got busy and dug up some of the albizzia tree seedlings from the Nanawale Forest Reserve and planted them along Paradise Drive and Makuu. I tried to do it randomly and in far enough, so if utility lines ever came in they wouldn’t interfere with them. I can see I didn’t really accomplish that, now that the trees have grown up pretty high today. But it is a tree that adapts well to this area, whereas the shower trees, monkey pod and some of the others, just didn’t make it when they weren’t attended. If you take care of these they will grow all right.
The words POHAKU CIRCLE, I think, are kind of significant. The story behind that is Lot 8323 originally belonged to Louis Stone. I’ll never forget that name because Louis Stone was the name of the man that played the father in Andy Hardy movies when I was a kid growing up. Some of you may remember that. Louis Stone and his mother owned that lot, before there were any houses on that street. He came here and made a big issue of going to build a house. But (if) they built a house, they expected the street to be named after them. I phone David Watumull and told him the story. We both recalled the word for stone, or rock, in Hawaiian was POHAKU, so we said, “O.K., we will name the street after you, go ahead and build your house”. The street was named for him, and like quite a few false starters in the beginning, it turned out to be just talk. Subsequently LouisStone sold the lot and moved someplace else. I think it is rather interesting that it was a trivia type reason how POHAKU ClRCLE got its name. For anyone who is curious, that is the story behind it.
Lee, I want to thank you, I don’t know if I have provided all of the answers that you want. I have tried to provide the things that stick out in my mind in kind of an informal manner. I thank you for the opportunity because those things that I know about I got from some people who are no longer with us, and I think it is important that some of the knowledge about this area be preserved as much as possible. I wish to express a concern that anytime any kind of burial site is found, that the people that find it show the proper type of respect and reverence for it. We can only show our respect for Hawaii and let’s face it we are all Hawaiians, you don’t need to have Polynesian blood to be Hawaiian. All you need to have is a love for the ‘aina or land and if you have this you will show proper respect. I am hoping there can be proper education of newcomers so they can come to appreciate the land and its history-it is a very delicate history-the threads are only here and there. If we can, when we know about things, do whatever is possible to preserve and keep them for future generations and expand knowledge on it, then I think people will be living up to some of their obligations to Hawaiians of 1978 and beyond. But again Lee, l want to thank you for the opportunity to make a contribution of what little knowledge I have about the background of the sub-division. I do hope that is is useful, and please feel free because I am going to be the white-haired old man that’s going to sit around for as long as I possibly can and share any kind of old lore that might have come my way just simply by virtue of the fact that I came here to live a lot sooner than a lot of people have been able to do. Thank you, Lee, very much.