Hiking with our photography equipment into the Waianae Valley was no easy task. The west side of Oahu is normally extremely dry but today the atmosphere was unbelievably humid, with no trade winds and a glaring Lahaina noon. Rays from the sun seemed to shine sharply like an ancient Hawaiian pike and the humid air in the valley didn’t seem to help us accomplish our goals.
Waianae used to be rich with sandalwood.
Sandalwood was ordered to be harvested and sold to European settlers. Hawaiians used this natural resource to gain supplies and even naval vessels. It was because of the pressures to trade sandalwood, which was once abundant on the Waianae Coast, that eventually caused the plants extinction on the islands. In fact Hawaiian’s of this time period spent so much of their resources harvesting the sandalwood in the area, that the main food crops began to dwindle. Today Waianae has a different story than the days of trading sandalwood.
The Waianae Coast is home to the largest homeless population in the United States.
Though not photographed, within several miles of the Waianae Valley is a homeless population larger than most small towns in America. Living along the coast is up to as many as 7,000 people. Called Tent City, this place is where families without a house to live in go for refuge. Even though many families live in this homeless community, many Hawaii locals will not leave Tent City even if the city of Honolulu paid them to do so. This small community is tight knit and share a sense of Ohana amongst one another. However there are many dangers living in a homeless community especially for children.
Waianae still remains largely populated by Hawaii locals. This special place keeps its small town vibe and the majority of people living on the Waianae Coast enjoy the beauty of the west side, as well as, the fishing industry. The Valley as photographed above is depicted in historical records as being extremely lush, with misty waterfalls and abundant wildlife. However when the US military became involved with the islands they diverted various fresh water sources and the Waianae Valley has since dried up. Hunters still are able to catch wild boar in the Waianae Mountains using dogs and machetes. Rifles are restricted in many places in Honolulu County including all areas that are near any US military bases or installments. Even though Waianae is mostly populated with Hawaii locals the military has taken over certain areas that used to be ancient hunting grounds.
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