Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mokupāpapa (Kure Atoll)

Hōlanikū is a verb phrase that is defined as “bringing forth heaven.”  It is a variant of the word helani (heaven) and also the name of a zenith star observed by priests. (Kikiloi)

The chant of Kamahuʻalele states that Hōlani is an area attached to the Hawaiian Archipelago, perhaps alluding to the fact that it is the open horizon that meets the sky and stretches west past Hawai‘i. (Kikiloi)

It is a single name that stands alone and is located at the very end of the island sequence. It is suggested that Hölanikü corresponds with the location of Kure Atoll. (Kikiloi)

There is an account in Captain Cook’s log book that he was at Kure Island, possibly his second trip, 1779. When he encountered a Hawaiian canoe at Kure, and asking the natives… There were ten natives on the double-hulled canoe. What they were doing there? And they said they had come to “collect turtles and bird eggs." (Agard, Oral History Interview.)

Mokupāpapa (literally, flat island) is the name given to Kure Atoll by officials of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the 19th century.

Under the reign of King David Kalākaua, the Hawaiian Kingdom disbursed an official envoy to Kure Atoll to take ‘formal possession’ of the atoll.

Before the mid-19th century, Kure Atoll was visited by several ships and given new names each time. Many crews were stranded on Kure Atoll after being shipwrecked on the surrounding reefs and had to survive on the local seals, turtles and birds.

Because of these incidents, King Kalākaua sent Colonel JH Boyd as his Special Commissioner to Kure. On September 20, 1886 he took possession of the island, then-called Moku Papapa, for the Hawaiian government.

The King ordered that a crude house be built on the island, with tanks for holding water and provisions for any other unfortunates who might be cast away there. But the provisions were stolen within a year, and the house soon fell into ruins.

In 1898, the archipelago, inclusive of the certain lands in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI,) was collectively ceded to the United States through a domestic resolution, called the “New Lands Resolution”.

Mokupāpapa is approximately 1,200 miles northwestward of Honolulu and 56 miles west of Midway Islands. The International Date Line lies approximately 100-miles to the west.

Kure Atoll is the most northwestern island in the Hawaiian chain and occupies a singular position at the “Darwin Point:” the northern extent of coral reef development, beyond which coral growth cannot keep pace with the rate of geological subsidence. Kure’s coral is still growing slightly faster than the island is subsiding.

North of Kure, where reef growth rates are even slower, the drowned Emperor Seamounts foretell the future of Kure and all of the Hawaiian Archipelago. As Kure Atoll continues its slow migration atop the Pacific Plate, it too will eventually slip below the surface.

Kure is the northern-most coral atoll in the world. It consists of a 6-mile wide nearly circular barrier reef surrounding a shallow lagoon and several sand islets. The only land of significant size is called Green Island and is habitat for hundreds of thousands of seabirds.

Largely neglected for most of its history, during World War II Kure was routinely visited by US Navy patrols from nearby Midway to insure that the Japanese were not using it to refuel submarines or flying boats from submarine-tankers, for attacks elsewhere in the Hawaiian chain.

US Navy built a tall radar reflector in 1955. Coast Guard navigation LORAN radio station operated from 1960 to 1992, after that, the Green Island runway was allowed to be overgrown and is now unusable

The Hawai‘i State Seabird Sanctuary at Kure Atoll is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR,) through its Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW.)

Unlike all other islands and atolls in the NWHI chain (Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument,) Kure Atoll is the only land area owned by the state of Hawaiʻi – all of the other Northwestern Islands are owned by the US government.

The image shows a NASA photo of Kure Atoll.  In addition, I have included other images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

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