World Premiere of Ta Hali Toa Hope Loa — The Final Harvest
by Hokulani Cleeland
The world premiere of the DVD Ta Hali Toa Hope Loa — The Final Harvest, a 30-minute documentary of the closing of the Gay & Robinson Sugar Plantation on Kaua‘i, will be screened at the Historic Waimea Theater on Thursday, November 8, at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public with donations accepted in the calabash.
Relive the final days of sugar production on Kaua‘i’s Westside. Walk along with the G&R crew as they light a predawn cane fire.
Practically smell the sugar being processed in Olokele Mill. Watch sugar being loaded into the storage facility in Nawiliwili, and for the last time, into the hold of the “sugar ship.”
Ride along in the farewell convoy, and hear employees discuss their future plans. Join the closing celebration in Kaumakani with G&R retirees and former employees.
Producer and lead secondary teacher at Ke Kula Ni‘ihau O Kekaha, Hokulani Cleeland, says, “The video started out as a social studies project for the high school students, but it ended up as a fascinating historical documentary that also gives ʻchicken skin’ to many of the former G&R employees.”
On the last day of operation for the mill, retiring G&R process supervisor Andres Emayo voiced the thoughts of many workers when he said, “It’s very sad that they’re closing down, because a lot of people won’t have jobs, but I’d like to say thank you to the Robinson family, who have sacrificed a lot.”
November 8 marks the third anniversary of the departure on November 9, 2009, of the final tonnage of sugar that left Nawiliwili Harbor on Kaua‘i aboard the Moku Pahu, headed for California where the sugar would be refined.
Students and staff of Ke Kula Ni‘ihau O Kekaha, a public charter school located in Kekaha, produced this video, including interviews with workers, to preserve an epic time in the history of the Westside of Kaua‘i — the day that sugar as a lifestyle and economy was lost forever.
Many G&R employees were left without jobs, so they either retired, went back to school, or needed new employment. Generations of families supported by the plantation, which was established in 1889 and finally closed down 120 years later, were no longer members of this history-making institution on the Westside of Kaua‘i.
A life of early-morning rainbows framing waving cane and tassels, of evaporating steam pouring out from the mill, of truckloads of cane headed to the mill with red dust flying in the fields, and of roaring predawn cane fires was gone.
Arrive early on November 8 for a good seat. Ke Kula students will open with an oli. Two short videos, also produced by Ke Kula, will air first, then Ta Hali Toa HopeLoa. A drawing of door prizes will follow, along with distribution of complimentary DVDs to those who participated in the project, and the program will close with another oli by the students.
DVDs will be available for purchase after the screening for $15 each to help offset the cost of the production.
A video trailer is available at the following URL: www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjYXv8TYbjo.
For information, email Hokulani Cleeland at email@example.com, or call 808-337-0481 days.