By Hugh Clark
Hawaiian homesteaders will gather at noon today at Puhi Bay in Keaukaha to mourn the death of Kauai activist Hilbert Kahale Smith.
Smith died in a fire at his Anahola home on Kauai as he was being evicted by state officials.
Plans for the Big Island vigil were outlined by Patrick Kahawaiola'a, statewide director of Aupuni O Hawaii, which is made up of homesteaders, applicants and their families.
Kahawaiola'a and his followers ended a nearly two- week protest at the project site of a shopping center on Thursday to take a respite at Puhi Bay and plan their next step before a court hearing here on Tuesday.
Kahawaiola'a, a Hilo postal worker, has emerged as a central leader of Big Island protests over Hawaiian issues since the Puhi Bay incident of 1993 when dozens of Hawaiians were arrested in a dispute over use of the seaside park.
He said Smith will "become a martyr" for all issues involving Native Hawaiians, especially homestead concerns.
He described Smith as a member of his group and a friend of five years.
"He was probably the most abused Native Hawaiian," said Kahawaiola'a who, like Smith, has been withholding his home mortgage payments as a protest of state policies.
As much as he admires Smith, Kahawaiola'a said he does not recommend that protesters "go burn yourself."
Aupuni O Hawaii says it has more than 5,000 members.
Return to the Hawaiian Independence Home Page, the Kahale Smith Memorial Page or the News Articles Index