Local, state, and military officials are still investigating two large parties that occurred on Oahu’s North Shore over Memorial Day weekend.
With talks of another party being planned, North Shore leaders met today to let organizers know that future un-permitted parties won’t happen again.
“I’ve had discussions with the Honolulu Police Department, Department of Parks and Recreation, and there are ongoing investigations,” said Honolulu city councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi (Mokuleia, Haleiwa, Kahaluu), “But looking towards the future, we just wanted to share the message loud and clear that the city will be moving forward on enforcement should this ever happen again.”
She said the Dept. of Parks and Recreation is not permitting any events at any North Shore beach or park anytime soon. “So, any large events of that nature are not only illegal, and not permissible, but it’s also irresponsible with the social distancing practices and all that’s going on,” Tsuneyoshi added.
State Representative Sean Quinalan (D- Waialuia, Haleiwa, Kaaawa) said residents have sacrificed a lot during stay-at-home orders.
“At a time in Hawaii when so many people have sacrificed so much to get us down to zero, or two, or one cases a day, it’s really disheartening that a small group of selfish and ignorant people would jeopardize our economic recovery,” he said.
“From the state’s perspective, the DLNR will be investigating, and they stand ready to assist HPD as needed,” Quinlan added.
The morning after the party at Waimea Bay, North Shore residents shared photos of trash left behind.
“Waimea Bay and Beach is a protected area. It’s for the public and we’re fortunate that our waters and beaches are public which means we have a deep responsibility to protect them and treat them responsibility,” said Denise Antolini, who runs Malama Pupukea-Waimea.
“Treat the beaches and ocean with respect, treasure it, don’t trash it,” she added.
The night after the party at Waimea Bay, another party was held at Kaena Point State Park. DLNR officers broke up the event and made party-goers clean up their trash.
One North Shore Neighborhood Board member who represents the Mokuleia area and a decorated former U.S. Coast Guard member said the actions taken over the weekend would not have been tolerated when he was in service.
“When we served at that time we never, ever behaved in such a manner because we were very loyal to our command and also we knew what was going to happen if there was any kind of mishap,” said Thomas Shirai.
“If you behave in this manner, you’re not welcome at those places and I think it should stay home until you learn how to behave,” he said.
Another North Shore board member said the actions last weekend were, “unacceptable.”
“It’s our kuleana to make sure these natural resources are a privilege for us,” said Raquel Achiu-Hill. “If you cannot handle that kuleana then stay out.”
She added that it wasn’t just military members who were a part of the Memorial Day weekend parties.
“There was a significant amount of local interaction in these events, and more shame on you for not taking that stand and for taking care of what we’ve been given,” she said.
“Respect the people who belong to this moku. If you cannot handle the responsibility of taking care of someone else’s land and area, stay out, we don’t want you here,” Hill said.
Da Hui O He’e Nalu hosts the majority events held on Oahu’s North Shore every year. They’ve had to cancel events due to COVID-19.
“Even as a native Hawaiian organization, we go through the proper channels to get our permits, insurance, and everything else to make sure that our event is responsible, and to make sure everyone is safe,” said Da Hui’s Mahina Chillingworth.
“And when we leave, we clean up our rubbish, it’s our kuleana and it should be everyone’s kuleana as well, there is no entitled behavior here,” she said.
Another member of Da Hui said it’s everyone’s responsibility to clean up after themselves.
“I am a native son of this ‘aina, I am kanaka, the responsibility of being a kanaka is great, it’s high,” said Kaipo Palakiko.
“The ‘aina speaks through us, the land cannot talk so that’s what we’re responsible to protect our ‘aina, to protect our kai and that’s what I teach my children, my son,” he said.
He said to see all the trash and lack of respect from the weekend parties hit him hard.
“It hits me in my heart because it is for them,” he said while pointing to his son. “The next generation, people all over the world needs to know that. Not just here in Hawaii, but the world. We need to take care of her so that they can grow up and it can take care of them,” he said.
A representative from the military was also at the press conference on Saturday afternoon and confirmed the military is looking into the parties that happened over the weekend.
“We’re aware of the allegations and that’s why we opened an inquiry into the matter,” said Lt. Col Adam Hallmark, 25th infantry. “Any potential as a result of the inquiry that will be up to the Commander.”
He said the soldiers know the state and local rules under Governor Ige’s emergency proclamation regarding social distancing.
“Our soldiers know what the right answer is and so this inquiry is looking into and will determine if any of our personnel were involved in that,” he said.
“In the two to three years we’re here, it is our home and it’s our responsibility to protect the ‘aina as well,” Lt. Col Hallmark said.
On Saturday, several women were seen picking up trash at Haleiwa Beach Park.
The woman said they were military wives and saw the videos of the parties that had occurred over the holiday weekend.
“We know it was different people that were there, but it was primarily military affiliated, we weren’t there ourselves, but I personally wanted to help and give back,” said Veronica Penuelas.
She said she was disappointed after seeing the videos across social media.
“For me, I was more disappointed because I know that military personnel, not everyone is like that,” she said. “It makes me sad to see that the island is being disrespected in that manner and I just wanted to make sure that, especially the locals here know, that not all of us are like that.”
One person has been sharing posts on social media of another party planned on the North Shore for later this week.
The military has confirmed the person is not affiliated with the military, but North Shore leaders wanted to send this message to the organizer and those who plan on attending:
“What you did was illegal, irresponsible and it won’t be tolerated again,” said Tsuneyoshi.
“There will be presence there to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” she said.