A Hui Kaua

The War Memorial

Across the Wind

With a sudden change of plans for a September wandering of the fields of battle in France and Flanders I found myself quickly booking a late August return to Oahu. Here, as I snorkel out across the Waikiki breakwater, I chance upon many close encounters as I drift along the current observing various fish of amazing colour and size, including the unusual, juvenile Rockmover Wrasse, eels of various lengths with mouths of various sizes, yawing at the water and occupying their reef caverns or sometimes venturing out to find other places of eel comfort.

In my eagerness to identify that Rockmover Wrasse we wander down to the Waikiki Aquarium and spend some time observing the exhibits.  As the collections pass by in these giant windows, I eagerly watch for those I have visited with in their outdoor domain. Like many other visitors I become fascinated with the gentle motion of jelly fish, their delicate bodies, and thin fiber optic tentacles, their bodies pulsing in slow continuance. Elsewhere a Nautilus sits motionless and I become entranced as I am drawn towards this ancient being hovering motionless in the stillness of the water. Now as I explore the Nautilus’ roots, its’ origins, I am taken to the late Triasic towards one of its ancestors. Then to 1870, the imagination of Jules Verne, his Captain Nemo, his submarine Nautilus and the various film adaptations based upon one man’s imagination.

Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial. Opened August 24, 1927.

The walk to the aquarium brings me back to a familiar landmark, the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial built along the shoreline and clutching to life. The Natatorium is both graceful and shattered.  Since my first visit here the Natatorium has been under continual discussion and debate as time has not been kind to its concrete and steel structure.  The debate: to preserve or demolish?

It is here where Hawaian legend Duke Kahanamoku and Johnny Weissmuller, both Olympic multi-medalists swam, carving through the aquatica with the skill of one born unto the water.  As I look through the locked gates towards the pool of this site I know how much I would miss this structure if it were to leave its place along the waterfront. The salt water, that same water that calls me out into its crests and surf, has claimed the very foundation of this landmark consuming the steel that holds the cement – it is falling, it is in jeopardy.

Warning signs at the Natatorium

At the Natatorium’s entrance gate I always follow its lines upwards towards the sky, that other sea of blue, whose whitecaps are the passing clouds. Turning around I watch the palm leaves sway with the breeze, in this act of hula immemorial. Like the dancers I have watched here, their spirit lives with every gentle motion. As I wander towards the nearby park, I segue as we are also near to the Honolulu Zoo with its collections of animals, and reminding me of Tarzan, King of the Apes, and of Johnny Weissmuller once again, the sixth actor to portray the legendary character.

The Roll of Honor

In the park, the plaque upon that rock of formerly molten rock records all those from this former territory who gave their lives during the Great War. One section records those “IN THE SERVICE OF GREAT BRITAIN” and I know that several of these soldiers served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force.  At least three have Scottish regimental connections, Frank Stephen Blackwood and Gideon Potter of the 72nd Battalion C.E.F. (Seaforth Highlanders of Canada), and Alexander Collie of the 1/14 London Regiment (the London Scottish), one of the many whose lives were claimed on the first day of the battle of the Somme, a date that always chills, 1 July 1916.

Today has been a fine wandering and with the new day we find ourselves walking along South King Street towards McCully, the whole while the camera snapping the early neon signs that remain in place along this stretch. Then as we near the canal, playing across the wind, a lone piper standing in the shade brings Scotland into the air with every Hawaiian breath. A hui kaua (Until we meet again).

For Further Information visit Natatorium History.


About The Author

pferguson
Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and in Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was further amazed by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Film captivated Paul and with time he became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was entranced when he learned Weir had visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. The film "Gallipoli" alone led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii and Gallipoli. It was, however, when Paul watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", that Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests would be a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, he believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.

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