Kawaiaha'o Cemetery

Letters of Concern

February 14, 2011

From: Irmalee Kamakaonaona “Onaona” Pomroy Maly

Kawaiaha‘o Church
Attn: Kahu Curtis Kekuna, Senior Pastor
957 Punchbowl Street
Honolulu, HI 96813


RE: Family Burials at Kawaiaha‘o Church Cemetery; Ninth Kāhea i nā ‘Ohana Meeting held February 8, 2011; and concern regarding ‘ohana buried in Kawaiaha‘o Cemetery. 

Kahu Kekuna:

My name is Irmalee Kamakaonaona Pomroy Maly. I am  informing you in writing, I have ‘ohana-kūpuna buried at Kawaiaha‘o  Church. My great-grandmother Lā‘ielohelohe Kapukui Pomroy (and infant  who died with her in 1910); and Samuel Lawrence Pomroy, aged 2 ½, who  died in 1900. 


I know where my great-grandmother is buried (in the  Halu‘apo plot – also being family). She has a grave marker but we are  concerned as her grave is located right next door to the “Word of Life”  building and who knows if someday in the future—based on the history of  Kawaiaha‘o, as a church which digs up its congregants graves—that the  church may decide to intrude into this section of the cemetery as well.  We do not know the location of little Samuel’s grave, and are concerned  that he may be one of the unknown ‘iwi.


On behalf of my family, I share with you that we do  not want my great grandmother, Samuel or any other ‘iwi kūpuna to be  removed from their final resting place. In both the traditional Hawaiian  and Christian contexts, there is a reverence for burial sites, that  runs deep among our families, and which, for some reason, Kawaiaha‘o has  seen fit to ignore.


It is my feeling, that you, the families of  Kawaiaha‘o, and members of families, whose elders are buried at  Kawaiaha‘o need to respect and mālama the ‘iwi—those in the ground, and  those sitting in your basement for over a year. I don’t understand why  they were removed in the first place. Whether marked or not, this is a  known cemetery, and the record of burials on the property pre-dates the  A.B.C.F.M. lands award; and you have known there are burials all about  you. How this poor (disrespectful) treatment of members of your church  could be allowed, is difficult to comprehend. Just because they are in  the way of a multi-purpose building? To build a “kingdom?” We know that  the Kingdom of God is not made by the hands of man.


I apologize to my kūpuna for not coming forward  sooner when the first unearthing of the ‘iwi occurred. I’ve  lived on  neighbor islands for the past 30 + years, and because we work full-time,  I was not aware of this hewa being allowed to happen. Sadly the  desecration of our kūpuna ‘iwi is not new to us, we have been involved  and came forward before in protection of ‘iwi kūpuna by questioning,  researching, holding signs in protest, making news, etc. back in the  ‘70s, 80s and 90s. Never ever in my worst nightmare could I possibly  imagine burials at Kawaiaha‘o cemetery would be allowed to be dug up in  this day and age. Adding to the hewa, is the fact that this is a  Hawaiian Church, and Hawaiians are facilitating the desecration.  


Because it happened in the past, more so today, we  cannot let it happen again. We have lost enough of our past, our  history, our right as a people, it is time for all Hawaiians, all human  beings who care, to make a stand. Watch out everyone, for if this is  allowed to happen at this well known graveyard who is to stop other  graveyards in the future of having this same fate.


I received the invitation and for the first time I  attended your hosted Ninth Kāhea i nā ‘Ohana Meeting held on February 8,  2011. My husband and I arrived early as we weren’t exactly sure where  on the grounds the meeting was to be held. I approached two older  Hawaiian couples who sitting on a bench, said “aloha,”  and asked,  “Where is the meeting being held?” One of the women asked me, in a very  sarcastic voice, “What is your name?” I told her who I was. She then  asked “What is my last name? I told her, she asked “Since when did you  become a church member?” “I am not a church member.” She said, “I don’t know who you  are?” I explained I was there for the burial/‘iwi meeting. She was very  rude and sassy, she told me, “What is so good about the bones? They are  all gone, they no more feelings.” 


Right then I felt so hurt in my na‘au, she hurt me  spiritually. I walked away, my husband and I immediately went into  prayer. A few moments later a friend, Lani Ma‘a walked up, came up and  hugged us. It felt good to know there was a friend at Kawaiaha‘o amongst  the wolves. She invited us into the church to go in through the side  entrance. While she was directing us, another unknown person, a man,  told Lani, “They can’t come in this way, they have to go in the front  entrance”. No aloha, no compassion, no care. He didn’t even come up to  us to explain, he just spoke to Lani who looked very apologetic, but  what could she do. We walked away and went in the front door. I later  found out during the meeting by his introduction, this “man” is the  newly appointed chair of the Na ‘Iwi Committee. That felt like a slap in  my face, to be treated so poorly by the one who has been given charge  in the responsibility for the care of our ‘iwi.


As the meeting unfolded with Kimo Kahoano as the  mediator, he read the rules which included, “Treat everyone who speaks  with kindness, compassion and respect, even if you disagree.” We sat  towards the back of the church for we were there mostly to observe since  this was our first time in attendance. In my observation each time  someone went up to share their mana‘o, if the person was speaking on  behalf of our ‘iwi kūpuna the church members were very rude, they would  mumble under their breath and make snide remarks.


Because of how they were acting, I did not go up to  share. I personally feel there was nothing accomplished at that meeting,  it was a waste of time. Is that how all your meetings have been in the  past? You and your church members have already made up your mind and  desire to finish your building, you care about nothing else. Obviously  you cannot see how very wrong this is. How can you or I for that matter  attend a funeral at a grave site and not help but think, “Is this only  temporary?” until this location is going to be for a future road or a  new building?

I can say that one member of your congregation  represented the spirit of aloha, in her mannerism that evening. Mrs.  Galuteria, graciously came up to us, said aloha, and shared a few family  memories with us – my grandmother, Violet Kaiapa Pomroy had been her  teacher. Mahalo to her and Lani for being kanaka mākua.

In a recent search of news on cemeteries, and the  word “grave,” I came across discussions about flowers being taken off  graves, and how upset people are. I can’t help but think what would  happen if I was to start a discussion stating “if you think flowers  being removed is bad, how would you like to hear bodies are being  removed from the grave, their final resting place?” Now that is  something worth standing up for, bodies versus flowers.


I feel sorry for you Kahu Kekuna for ultimately this  burden falls upon you. You are the senior pastor, the kahu, the leader.  It is not too late, make a stand, do what is right. These are burials  in your cemetery representing the foundational families of your church.  If you don’t stop this now who is to stop the future leaders and church  members from taking out more bodies?


Our kūpuna taught us, “Mai kaula‘i nā iwi o nā  kūpuna i ka lā!” (Do not expose the bones of the ancestors to the sun!)  This saying is both literal and poetic, and it would be helpful if you  and your congregation took it to heart.

Below, is a brief record of my kūpuna – ‘ohana, and  their place at Kawaiaha‘o. I’m also attaching as a separate file,  selected certificates documenting my kūpuna at Kawaiaha‘o, and my  descent from them. The genealogy is summarized below:


Lillian Lā‘ieloehlohe Kapukui married Walter Melville Pomroy in 1890, and to them were born:

Jane Kalaniwela Pomroy, March 21, 1891
Edward Matthew Halu‘apo Pomroy, October 15, 1892
Clara Louise Ka‘aimahu‘i Pomroy, April 17, 1895
Samuel Lawrence Pomroy, October 8, 1897 (died, March 21, 1900, buried at Kawaiaha‘o)
Louis Melville Pomroy, January 19, 1900
Harry Kind Pomroy, March 28, 1903
Eva Maua‘eikaluaolonoikahiki Pomroy, November 27, 1904
Walter Pomroy (died at birth)

Lillian Lā‘ielohelohe Kapukui Pomroy died on  February 17, 1910, of complications from pregnancy, and was buried with  her unborn child, at Kawaiaha‘o Cemetery. 

Lillian Lā‘ielohelohe Kapukui Pomroy is my great grandmother; 

Her son, Louis Melville Pomroy, is my grandfather.

His son, Walter Melville Kaiapa Pomroy, is my father.

(Certificates Attached in Transmittal to Kahu Kekuna)


The names and numbers of people who have been  interred at Kawaiaha‘o are not all known. But from a simple review of  historical records, we begin to comprehend that hundreds of families who  are affected by the actions of Kawaiaha‘o in this present time.

On the following pages are the names of a few kūpuna  who are recorded as being buried at Kawaiaha‘o Church in the past. As  you read each name, feel love, feel compassion, let them touch your  hearts. They were laid in their final resting place forever, please let  them remain. Do not remove anyone else.


Na‘u no me ke aloha o ke Akua, 


Irmalee Kamakaonaona Pomroy Maly

“And Jacob set up a monument of stones upon her grave, and it is there to this day.” Genesis 35:20 (The Living Bible) 

cc: OHA Trustees and concerned parties 


March 14, 2011   

From: Irmalee Kamakaonaona “Onaona” Pomroy Maly  

To: Kawaiaha‘o Church
Attn: Pastor Curtis Kekuna, Senior Pastor
957 Punchbowl Street
Honolulu, HI 96813  

RE: Uncalled for Arrest of Kamuela Kala‘i and Ka‘anohi Kaleikini;  Family Burials at Kawaiaha‘o Church Cemetery; and concern regarding  ‘ohana buried in Kawaiaha‘o Church Cemetery.   


Pastor Curtis Kekuna,  

I am saddened by your actions in advocating for the  arrest of Kamuela Kala’i and Ka‘anohi Kaleikini who were brave enough to  stand up and voice their mana‘o in the care of iwi kūpuna at Kawaiaha‘o  Church Cemetery. I pray that you will see the hewa in the action which  you caused to be set in place — not  allowing Kamuela or Ka‘anohi to be  on church/cemetery property for one year — will be removed immediately.  How can any good Christian bar these ladies from visiting their kūpuna,  and all because they are trying to protect them from additional harm,  and to return those kūpuna who have been in the basement for over one  year in the ground where they belong? Will you do the same to any others  of the ‘ohana who might try to visit the pā ilina of their kupuna, or  try to determine where their elders remains are? 


I am also informing you we are missing another  family member, Luther Aholo. According to Kupuna Frances Hi‘ileilani  “Mele” Apaka Mahelona who will be 91 years young in April, she remembers  Kupuna Aholo was buried behind King Lunalilo’s tomb. He is in an  unmarked grave. I would like to know if your archive has any maps or  documentation available for us as ‘ohana to have a more definite  location of where he is located. We would like to make arrangements for a  plaque or a grave marker to be set in place in his honor where he is  buried. Luther Aholo was an important figure in the Hawaiian Monarchy,  and his daughter, Lydia K. Aholo was the hānai of Queen Lili‘uokalani.  Kupuna Mahelona also shared that other family members, Charlotte Aholo  Kahalewai and son, Carl Kahalewai are also buried at Kawaiaha‘o.  

So, what is the protocol to engage in researching  and marking unmarked graves of ‘ohana? We want to make sure to obtain  permission from you and your congregation before any plans are set in  place. Once we hear back from you I will pass on the information to  other family members. I hope to receive a reply from you in writing  soon.   


Attached is the Genealogy of the Pule & Puali to  the Mahoe-Adams Family of which my mother is Irmalee Kamakaonaona Adams  Pomroy, under the Mahoe-Adams line which shows our blood relation to  Luther Aholo.  

I am also concerned and will come forward as  additional ‘ohana through marriage, Emma Lahapa Bush, Harry Bush,  Kahalewai “Kepeni” and Harry Kapuhiliokalani Bush, Emma Bush &  Kahalewai “Kepeni” and C.B. Maile. The Bush and Maile families are part  of the  Kapukui-Pomroy genealogy. I have documentation prepared by our  grand aunt, Mary Kawena Wiggin-Pukui which shows these family ties.   

How much family information is needed from you and  what do you do with this information? I have yet to receive a reply from  you with regards if you accepted me as a lineal descendent to my great  grandmother La‘ielohelohe Kapukui Pomroy and grand uncle Samuel Lawrence  Pomroy genealogy even though documents were submitted to you on  February 14, 2011.


Also, I do not give you or those you work with  permission to use the mo‘okū‘auhau  (genealogical and anecdotal family)  information in any other way, nor to distribute it to any other party.  It is strictly to be used for determination of genealogical descent from  Kūpuna interred at Kawaiaha‘o only.  


I will continue to research Family Obituaries at  Kawaiaha‘o, as well as articles of interest pertaining to Kawaiaha‘o.  Contrary to popular belief by yourself and some members of your  congregation, Kūpuna buried at Kawaiaha‘o are known and by reading their  obituaries the voices of their families bring forward reminders of  their lives, and the truth that they are there. The elders who are our  earthly foundation, do count and they are somebody. Take the time to  read their names, catch a glimpse of who they are, let them touch your  heart. Leave them alone, do not dig up any more of our ancestor’s bones,  let them rest forever more and to be at peace as how God intended for  them to be.  


Another concern of mine is to make sure that  anything/everything that was buried with the iwi kūpuna must remain with  the specific iwi kupuna (moe pū), for that was the intent at the time  of burial. Since you should not have dug them up in the first place,  these kinds of issues would never have had to be considered. But because  you, as the pastor of this church, and your members allowed this hewa  act, it now becomes your kuleana to make sure nothing is separated from  the ones for whom these moe pū were intended. 


Aloha ke Akua,  



Irmalee Kamakaonaona Pomroy Maly 

Attachment: Mo‘okū‘auhau Pule-Puali to Pastor Kekuna only  

cc. Trustees, Office of Hawaiian Affairs
Clyde Namu‘o, OHA Chief Executive Officer
Governor Abercrombie, State of Hawaii
Interested Parties 

Grave stone of great grandmother Laie K. Pomroy.
Grave stone of great grandmother Laie K. Pomroy.