After a devastating fire swept through Lahaina Town on Maui late Tuesday night, residents and visitors are mourning the loss to the cultural and religious sites with roots that go back centuries.
According to Maui County, over 250 structures were damaged or destroyed as Lahaina’s entire block – once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom – turned into smoke.
Lahaina Town had also laid claim to what Maui County calls America’s largest banyan tree, which was engulfed by the fire.
Nobody could have predicted the speed or size of the fire’s spread and expansion.
The popular Front Street and the historic city centre, which goes back to the 1700s and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, were destroyed by the wind-driven fire in a matter of hours.
“Lahaina Town is now reduced to ashes, the entire town — hotels, buildings, historic sites,” claimed Leomana Turalde. She told USA Today that her mother, 56-year-old John Ho’okano, had worked as a dancer at Old Lahaina Luau for years, which is considered a “well-preserved center for Hawaiian culture and storytelling,” according to the place’s website.
based on the 2020 U.S.Census, Lahaina’s population is roughly 13,000.
How old is Lahaina Town?
Over a thousand years before the founding of America, people were living on the Hawaiian Islands, leaving their mark.According to the National Park Service, Polynesian explorers travelled around 2,500 miles north for 1,000 to 1,200 years to inhabit the Hawaiian Islands.
Throughout history, various Hawaiian monarchs competed for power on the islands, and Lahaina continuously held royal and religious significance with its cemeteries and historic churches.
According to the website of the church, the beginning of Christianity in Hawaii in the early 1800s took place at the now-demolished Viola Church.
The Rev. remarked that although the church was destroyed, the harm was just temporary.Enela Rosa, who has been the minister for 13 years.According to her, even if pop-up tents are necessary to accommodate attendees for the upcoming service, the church will do so.
“There’s resilience in this church, in this congregation, like no other,” Rosa exclaimed. I am confident that we will recover and become more stronger than before.
King Kamehameha I designated Lahaina as the Hawaiian Kingdom’s capital before the island chain was annexed by the United States in 1898.
According to one of the city’s tourism websites, in the 1800s, Hawaiian royals built a stone palace in Lahaina among other royal residences.
Lahaina Banyan Court Park, home to a famous banyan fig tree imported from India in 1873, was threatened by the fire and had its limbs and limbs damaged, as per the Honolulu Civil Beat report.
Lahaina’s ‘Cultural Heritage’ Destroyed by Fire
Local residents say losing so much of Lahaina is heart-wrenching because the place represents a culture tied to prestigious roots from that time.
For 66-year-old Hawaiian Francine Hollinger, losing Lahaina was “like losing a family member.”
Because, as she explained, “We’ll never be able to bring our mum or dad back,” they will never be able to recreate it.
Although assessing the damage is still challenging, Sen. Gilbert Keith-Agaran of Maui County told USA Today that alleged historical sites have been lost – historic businesses and cemeteries where royal figures were buried.
“This really is a loss. Keith-Agaran, whose district encompasses central Maui and Kahului, stated that both Hawai’i and Maui have been working very hard for years to conserve and maintain those places—not for tourism, but because it is a part of our cultural legacy.
We’ve lost a significant portion of our heritage, he declared.
Apart from being a historic area, Lahaina Town is a residential and tourist area with commercial districtsIt has long been regarded as Maui’s central business centre.
The area is especially well-known for its extensive stretches of resorts along the coast, including Kaanapali and Kapalua.
With its boat trips, fishing, and water activities, Lahaina Harbour draws tourists.