Help a Native Hawaiian Family remain on their ancestral Homelands in Kailua.
It doesn’t take much time to look around Kaiilua and realize this place is changing far too rapidly. We see the repercussions of this everyday. We talk about it while we walk down the street, “remember Agnes bakery, or camp Kailua? Remember when you walked down Kailua beach and instead of seeing hoards of strangers you saw your family, and your friends… Do remember when Kailua was our home?” Do you?
The Manuwai’s have been caretakers of their Kailua property since the early 1900s. Over the course of those years the Manuwai property was blessed with the births of four generations of Manuwai children and became a puʻuhonua (sanctuary) for this family and to this day is still protecting ancestors who are laid to rest beneath its dirt and stones.
Because the Manuwai’s had been taking care of and living at their property for so many generations, in the early 2000s it was clear their hale (house) needed some TLC to continue to be a safe place for their family to continue to grow.
As an old school Hawaiian family, the Manuwai’s put their trust in a family business to help with the renovation. Unfortunately this “family business” ended up taking advantage of the Manuwai’s trust and ultimately the contractor made away with hundreds of thousands of dollars, leaving the Manuwai’s with a half finished “renovation" that wasn’t up to code which resulted in the permits remaining open and incurring interest for years — burying the Manuwai’s in a debt they couldn’t ever hope to repay. It was an absolute nightmare for the family.
The years to follow were difficult and trying. Yet Joddy ‘Iwalani Manuwai always seemed to make it work. As a Kanaka Maoli therapist that specializes in women’s issues, Joddy devoted her life to supporting and uplifting Kanaka Maoli and other local women in Hawaiʻi. She continued to do this work while she suffered and hustled quietly to try to save her family home. She fought daily to make sure the Manuwai ʻohana had a roof over their heads, food to eat, a place to sleep, and a yard to play in. But it wasn’t just about saving any house. This very same yard that helped to grow her, her father, her grandmother, is the very same yard that helped to grow her children and now her grandchildren. So Joddy’s struggle was not just to keep any roof above her grandchildren’s heads, it was to allow the Manuwai ʻohana to continue to feed and be fed by the ʻāina that had raised over four generations of their family. Becasue the Manuwai’s know , what all of us Kanaka Maoli know, this ʻāina isnʻt just real estate, this ʻāina is an important member of their family.
After years of struggling and feeling more and more defeated hope was delivered to the Manuwai ʻohana. A family friend connected Joddy to a woman on maui who had success in the past with helping ʻohana in similar situations. The Manuwai ʻohana was hopeful that this might be their opportunity at a fresh start. After months of working with her, Joddy began to trust her with more and more as she slowly helped her navigate through this sea of turmoil. By November of 2018 the family was instructed that a certain amount of money was needed to be able to refinance the house. The whole family came together to raise the funds and handed the money over to this woman for the refinance.
This April the family was notified that the refinance never occurred and the money they raised was not returned to them. Ultimately the result is that the bank has since foreclosed on the property. Leaving the Manuwai's til December 1st to buy the land back at auction or vacate the premises. So the Manuwai ʻohana needs our help to raise the nearly 1 million dollars to save their home.
This story matters. Not just to the Manuwai’s who desperately wish to continue to raise their keiki, care for abandoned animals, take in the many of us kanaka who have needed a safe place to stay, be loved and understood, on their ʻāina in Kailua. This story also matters to all us Kanaka who wish not to see yet another one of us removed, displaced and turned to strangers to their own home. This story matters to locals living in Hawaiʻi who tire of how rapidly Hawaiʻi is changing for the benefit of outside investors and tourists. This story matters to folks around America and world who too have witnessed the detriment of gentrification on their communities and the way long standing locals and Indigenous people have been pushed out for those with more capital. We know this is just one of the thousands of stories about our people losing their ʻāina at the hands of greed, misconduct, and deception. But the difference now is that we can come together to help the Manuwai’s hold onto their ancestral ʻāina. The difference is, its not too late for us to step up and save this ʻāina from becoming another vacation rental in kailua beach, and help support the Manuwai’s from not becoming just another Hawaiian family pushed off their land.
So today thats exactly what we are doing. As friends and extended ʻohana to the Manuwai's, we humbly ask that you give whatever you can to help our friends hold on to their home. There is no amount too small (or too large ). Just know that every bit you give is one step closer to us holding on to the communities that make Hawaiʻi so special in the first place. Kailua is special because of the families and communities that first cultivated, protected and cared for this ʻāina. The Manuwai ʻohana are one of those families. If you love this place like we do, we sincerely hope you join us to help protect such an important part of what makes Kailua and Hawaiʻi home.