NationalGeographic.com [an error occurred while processing this directive]


 

  Field Notes From
The Hawaiians


<< Back to Feature Page



On Assignment
Arrows
View Field Notes
From Author

Richard A. Cooke III



On Assignment

View Field Notes
From Photographer

Adriel Heisey



On Assignment

View Field Notes
From Photographer

Lynn Johnson


In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs (from top) by Richard A. Cooke III, Holly Rainier, and Brian Strauss

 

On Assignment On Assignment On Assignment
The Hawaiians

Field Notes From Photographer
Richard A. Cooke III
Best Worst Quirkiest

Although I live in Hawai‘i and have a lot of friends, I don't always get to spend as much time with them as I would like. So this story was a great excuse to do that and witness some of the incredible things they've been doing. A prime example is Mac Poe Poe, who I've known for 25 years. Scientists told him it couldn't be done, but over the years he has almost single-handedly rejuvenated Moomomi Beach. He's controlled erosion, reintroduced native plants, and monitored fish populations. The beach is now rich with vegetation, and the moi are as big as the ones I saw in the ocean during my childhood. I like to call people who are making a huge impact like Mac "Hawaiian heroes."



I was in an escort boat photographing an outrigger canoe team from Molokai when we hit some wicked weather. Forty-mile- (60- kilometers) an-hour winds and 15-foot (four-meters) waves came at us in every direction. All I could do was sit on the floor, hold the boat's sides tightly, and clutch my camera gear. We finally hit land four hours later, but I came to a strong realization that day: When I'm in survival mode and battling seasickness, I'm not thinking about National Geographic or photos.



Kia Frondi uses taro production to teach Hawaiian culture to kids. I arranged to take photos at his place in Waipi'o Valley. He told me to meet him near there at 8 a.m. and added that I wouldn't eat if I didn't work.
I got my gear and headed out, but Kia never came. So I ended up hiking in. And when I got there, he sent me to the muddy fields with the kids to pull taro. Eventually I had to tell Kia, who had barely spoken to me, that it was fine if I didn't eat because I needed to take pictures. He didn't say much and soon sent all of us out to collect shrimp from the streams. The rest of the day continued like this until we retired to a primitive room with a gravel floor and cooking hole. I was grateful that I had packed some protein bars, since I wasn't expecting a meal. Then Kia turned to me and asked, "What type of wine would you like with your dinner? Maybe a cabernet?" He had been "testing" me all day. I must have passed because the next few nights were filled with shrimp, poi, and steak.





© 2002 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy       Advertising Opportunities       Masthead

National Geographic Magazine Home Contact Us Forums Shop Subscribe