Ha‘ikü is all these things and more. Kokomo Road and the nearby Ha‘ikü area, the focus of this month’s “Mai Hö‘imi Maui” special issue, has a rich history—much of it centered around the pineapple industry and World War II. Over the years, it has grown and changed, yet has somehow retained it’s natural charm and beauty.
Pineapple, pineapple, pineapple. It was back in 1890 that Dwight Baldwin planted his very first pineapple right in Ha‘ikü. Upon its ripening, his brother, H.P., predicted that this juicy exotic fruit had a very bright future. Boy, were they on the mark there! In 1903 they opened Ha‘ikü Fruit & Packing Company, Inc., which literally started the whole booming pineapple business in Hawai‘i. Young women at the packing company canned what probably seemed to be an endless amount of pineapple— much of which was grown right in Ha‘ikü.
In 1916, Ha‘ikü Elementary was opened. It remains in its original location today. Maui High School was located nearby off of Häna Hwy. It’s said that in the 1930s the sport of “barefoot football” was all the rage, and the boys of Ha‘ikü were the best at it. In 1937–1938 they won 20 games straight. In the 1940s, during World War II, Kokomo Road was a very busy area. At “Giggle Hill” the 4th Marine Division would train, rest and camp. In fact, the area got it’s name during that time because it’s rumored that female giggles could be heard coming from the wooded area where soldiers and spunky little ladies would meet after dark. I couldn’t find any women (who are now in their 80s) who wanted to talk about it “on record,” but I assure you that the trees of “Giggle Hill” have many juicy stories to tell, if only they could speak. During this time, Kokomo Road was also the home to a much darker aspect of war—Japanese Internment Camps. Upon the bombing of Pearl Harbor, many Japanese Americans were sent to live under military-type law. It’s said that there was a camp located across the street from St. Rita’s church on Kokomo Road. The war ended and years passed by.
The cannery closed, and new business started to open. In 1972, Fukushima Store was originally opened, though not in it’s current location. George Fukushima said, “My father first opened the store down the street, and then he moved it across the street next to where the post office is. In 1975, we opened it up where it is today.”
George, as those of you who know him are aware, is a true character. “Why are you asking about Fukushima’s?” he asked, “Are you saying I’m old? Write about the internment camps instead.” Ah, George. Fukushima’s is part of Ha‘ikü history, too. Generations have been enjoying their famous hot dogs and chow fun!
Ha‘ikü is once again a bustling little community. But it’s not as congested as Pä‘ia, or as “consumer minded” as Makawao. Ha‘ikü, in a phrase, is “just right.” You can find good food in Ha‘ikü, and there is something for every craving. Hana Hou has great kalua pig, and the roadside taco stand in the Ha‘ikü Market-place parking lot has the best tacos on the whole island. Really, I consider my- self a taco expert and this place is absolutely amazing. Colleen’s, which has grown from a little coffee shop to a full- on restaurant, is extremely popular. Veg Out and Lynnes Café across the street from the Marketplace are like two sides prices.
Shopping in Ha‘ikü is always fun. They have a full grocery store, a video store, pharmacy, clothing boutiques and more. They even have a day spa and a high-tech gym.
“Giggle Hill” has been renovated over the past few years and now sports a huge playground for the keiki. It’s a great place to spend the afternoon. People play paint ball in the hills, and there is an arena for horseback riding nearby. It is now a recognized memorial for the 4th Marine Division that once camped and trained there. And, I suspect that young lovers still sneak into the forest after dark.
Laughter and giggles can still be heard there on a daily basis. Some things, thankfully, never change.
Approved by Sam Ako, Hawaiian cultural advisor for the Kä‘anapali Beach Hotel.
Kalakapua playground at the 4th Marine Division Park.