Volcano

NOVA
Making North America: Life

 

Mighty, elemental forces molded North America – fiery eruptions, titanic floods, the grinding of great ice sheets and massive impacts from space all shaped our homeland. The epic three-part series unfolds in a forgotten world that existed long before our own, crossed by lost mountain ranges, giant deserts and vast inland seas.

 

Making North America: Life
Discover the surprising intertwined story of life and landscape in North America – from origins to iconic dinosaurs to giant marine reptiles swimming in an ancient sea that once split the continent in two.

 

NOVA
Making North America: Origins

 

Mighty, elemental forces molded North America – fiery eruptions, titanic floods, the grinding of great ice sheets and massive impacts from space all shaped our homeland. The epic three-part series unfolds in a forgotten world that existed long before our own, crossed by long-lost mountain ranges, deserts the size of Africa and vast inland seas spanning the length of the continent. Hosted by renowned paleontologist Kirk Johnson, this spectacular road trip through a tumultuous deep past explores three fundamental questions: How was the continent built? How did life evolve here? And how has the continent shaped us?

 

Making North America: Origins
See the epic 3-billion-year story of how our continent came to be. From palm trees that once flourished in Alaska to huge eruptions that nearly tore the Midwest in two, discover how forces of almost unimaginable power gave birth to North America.

 

Sky Island

 

In Northern New Mexico, a range of mountains rises up from the high desert, a wild, rugged land of the Faraway Nearby. The volcanic Jemez Mountains are isolated from all other ranges — an island in the sky, surrounded by a desert sea. In SKY ISLAND, filmmaker John Grabowska profiles this enchanting landscape and our place within it, with climate change effects already dramatically altering the desert and alpine ecosystems. The film features narration by Pulitzer Prize winner N. Scott Momaday and actress Meryl Streep.

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
Henry Rice

 

A direct descen­dant of a missionary family, Henry Rice’s roots run deep in upcountry Maui. His grandfather purchased Ka­onoulu Ranch a century ago, and with roughly 10,000 acres of land stretching from the top of Haleakala to Maui’s south shore, it remains one of the few nearly intact ahupua‘a left in Hawai‘i. After a stint as a banking executive in Honolulu, he returned to Maui and his paniolo origins, and continues to honor the traditions passed down to him.

 

This program will be rebroadcast on Wednesday, June 7, at 11:00 pm and Sunday, June 11, at 4:00 pm.

 

Henry Rice Audio

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

Does it irk you, though, to be a missionary descendant, and to hear comments about missionaries taking advantage and getting rich?

 

Getting rich off the Hawaiians. I think a lot of that … in some ways, I do. But I tend to get it corrected in what they did well, and why they did well at it.

 

His family arrived in Hawai‘i around 1840, after a long journey from New York around Cape Horn. He describes himself as a Caucasian with a Hawaiian cultural background. Growing up, he didn’t need toys; just his horses, Nellie and Kamehameha, and the slopes of upcountry Maui. Next, on Long Story Short, Henry Rice.

 

Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox is Hawai‘i’s first weekly television program produced and broadcast in high definition.

 

Aloha mai kakou. I’m Leslie Wilcox. Henry Rice is a third generation rancher and former bank executive from Kula, Maui. His family’s century-old ranch named Kaonoulu, which means the good or plentiful breadfruit, is one of the few nearly intact ahupuaa left in Hawai‘i. The ranchlands span from the top of Haleakala down toward the shores of Kihei. Kaonoulu Ranch, now roughly ten thousand acres in size, has been in operation since the Hawaiian Monarchy. Henry Rice is a direct descendant from a missionary family.

 

Well, I think it goes back to they came here in about 1840, 1841.

 

What for?

 

On my father’s side, the Rice side, was William Harrison Rice. And he came here as a missionary. My grandmother’s side, which was the Baldwin side, they came here as a doctor. When they first got here, William Harrison was actually to go on down to the South Pacific; the Society Islands. He got ill here, and so, he and his wife stayed here, and consequently, never did get down permanently to the South Pacific.

 

And where were they from?

 

East Coast; New York.

 

And what generation are you on down the line?

 

Fifth, if I count correctly. Yeah. Because it would have been William Harrison Rice, then William Hyde Rice, then my grandfather Pop, then my father, and then myself. So, we’re fifth generation.

 

And the family business was not being a missionary; that ended with that generation?

 

Yeah.

 

How did ranching get into the family blood and property?

 

Well, I would say, really, Pop Rice.

 

Was he already a rancher?

 

No; he grew up on Kauai with his brothers and sisters, and moved to Maui in the sugar business, and also in the fruit growing business in Haiku. And it was there on Maui that he met his bride, Charlotte Baldwin, who was Henry P. Baldwin’s daughter. And they got married there on Maui, and lived on Maui. Our ranch is probably one of the last ahupua‘as on the island, running from the top of Haleākala Crater down to the beach. Going back further, it was under King Kamehameha IV. It was this huge tract of land from mountain to ocean was given to, or deeded to a Hawaiian. And then, that was about in mid-1800s.

 

Do you know what Hawaiian family?

 

It’s Kaoahokoloi. And then, the ranch itself, which is the Kaonoulu Ahupuaa, eventually ended up in farming with a Chinese person by the name of Young Hee. And Young Hee in turn, in the early 1900s, about 1902, sold it to Colonel William Cornwell, who at that time was a sugar grower on Waikapui. Then my grandfather, Pop Rice, purchased it from Colonel William Cornwell’s daughter, who was married to John Walker. And he purchased it in 1916 from them.

 

How much did it cost?

 

It’s always been a wonder. Everybody has wondered about that.

 

headed the ranch and the lands before you did?

 

He was a very large person, with a very large voice. Very heavily involved in politics, but ranching was his life and his love. But he was never afraid to try something new, and he was always experimenting with a farming operation, a large piggery.

 

Was he fair?

 

Very fair, and very well appreciated by our neighbors. I always admired; in different walks of life, people would come up and tell me of things that he did. But he was a very modest man, and he was very much below the radar in that aspect. Very above the radar in politics.

 

What kind of politics?

 

State Senate. He was a longtime Republican, but then, I think it was back in the late 30s, he switched to Democrat. He rode his own trail.

 

So, that’s a large legacy. You know, that’s your grandfather. What was your father like? Did he also live large?

 

He was very much under the radar; very much under the radar. And he did not like politics, per se. His integrity and character was something that I always admired. You know, at one time, he was head of the Maui Police Commission. At one time, he was head of the Maui Water Department, which was at that time autonomous to the county government. He was a very influential person in my life.

 

So, he didn’t run for office, but he was appointed to office.

 

Yes; right.

 

He was also in public roles, but in an appointed fashion.

 

That’s correct; yeah. But he was a wonderful person.

 

When you say his integrity always impressed you, do you remember as a little kid feeling like, Wow, my father is really a straight, fair guy?

 

Absolutely.

 

Do you remember anything?

 

Oh, there are just numerous incidents. And that’s the beauty of growing up on the ranch, was the ability to work side-by-side with your father every summer as a small child, growing up to when I went away to college. Then after college, we were weaned.

 

So, you rode alongside him, and worked alongside him in the office?

 

There was no office.

 

No office?

 

It was always horseback.

 

The office was out on a horse back.

 

The office was down in Wailuku, and we didn’t go there.

 

What did the paniolos you worked with teach you about life? Lots of Hawaiian families have grown up on your ranch.

 

Yeah; yeah. What’d they teach me about life?

 

Yep.

 

I think the first thing that comes to my mind is the importance of the ‘aina, the land. And that in Hawaii, it is very important to have good stewardship of your lands, that lands in Hawaii should never been taken for granted, and that you’re responsible for good stewardship. That, followed with a lot of good fun.

 

In addition to laborious duties on the family ranch, Henry Rice did make time for fun, and took advantage of the open country on Maui.

 

I grew up in our family home in Makawao, which is a home above Makawao. The ranch had a few hundred acres in Makawao there, so it was where the horses were all kept. And in our yard, I had two horses, Nellie and Kamehameha, that I rode all the time. It was mostly outdoors you made your own fun.

 

So, you raced; did you play polo?

 

I played a lot of polo. A hard, but a very fun sport. I was very, very lucky in that my years in polo, I got to play for the Maui Polo Team. Probably the last Maui polo team to play outdoor polo at Kapi‘olani Park.

 

Yeah; so you came before the days of people staying inside with their digital devices and watching Netflix on their Smart TVs.

 

Right.

 

Always outdoors; nighttime too, campfires?

 

I think our best camping trips were during the summers, where we would get on our horses with my mother and father, and family, and packhorses and ride a whole day around the Island of Maui to an area called Waipai, and spend about five days over there, hunting goats and fishing. That was a lot of fun. And then, ride all the way back.

 

As a teenager, Henry Rice traded in his daily life of horseback riding in open spaces for city life on Oahu.

 

Afterwards, then came down to Honolulu to go to school here.

 

Did you board?

 

At Punahou. Yes; we boarded. And then, on to Fort Collins, Colorado at Colorado State University.

 

Why did you go to Colorado State?

 

Well, number one, I had a very good scholarship to go there. Secondly, I knew some people from Hawai‘i that were already going to Colorado. And I knew they had a good ag school, and I was gonna major in animal husbandry. And so, the combination, ‘cause I had never been off to the mainland before, knowing that some people that were already going there was a big influence. There was a Hawaiian gal, and her name escapes me right now, that was going to Colorado State University. She came from the Big Island. And she was a friend of Sandy’s. She’s the one that said to me; she said, You ought to meet this lady, Sandy Goodfellow.

 

Did you know when you saw her, she would be your wife?

 

Very shortly after I met her, I knew. She was a very beautiful person, Sandy was, and still is.

 

It sounds like you intended to take over the family ranch after college.

 

No; no, no.

 

Even though you were majoring in animal husbandry? Which you already knew a lot about.

 

I think very early on, growing up on the ranch, and especially as we got into college and came back during the summers, it became very important in my father’s eyes, and I really thank him for this, that we get weaned and go out and find out own way, and gain some experience at other ranches. So, when you graduate, find a job.

 

M-hm.

 

But get it on another ranch.

 

But it was gonna be ranching?

 

It was gonna be ranching. And I started out at Moloka‘i Ranch. By then, I had gotten married to Sandy, the wife I have today. So, we moved in 1960 to Moloka‘i, where I was employed by Moloka‘i Ranch. And we were five years on Moloka‘i. They were wonderful years. God, this wonderful place. It still is a wonderful place. And I had always been interested in what made certain businesses successful, and what made the same type of business unsuccessful. When I made the change to go to Bank of Hawai‘i, a lot of that played a role in why would I leave ranching to go into banking. Primarily, at that time, Moloka‘i Ranch was negotiating with Louisiana Land Company to develop the west end of Moloka‘i. And so, the chairman of the board of the ranch was also the chairman of the board of Bank of Hawai‘i, and he thought it would be very good for me to go down and learn a little bit of land development and land financing, and get my feet wet there. So he, together with another person, Wilson Cannon, talked me into going down to the bank. So, Sandy and I picked up our two children who were born on Moloka‘i, and came down to Honolulu.

 

What did you start off as at the bank?

 

In the vault, counting currency, I think it was. Then I got moved up in the training session to a teller. But I could never balance.

 

So, they got me out of there fast.

 

So, you started kind of at the bottom?

 

At the bottom. It was fun. It was hard work in that I had to really grind myself into a lot of areas that I’d not touched before. Especially accounting and business financing, and credit. So, I did a lot of night schools.

 

You had connections, two generations, yourself and your daughter, with the family of Barack Obama.

 

My daughter uh, graduated with President Obama. They were in the same class together. My connection was, I worked for his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, in part of going through the various parts of the Bank of Hawai‘i. In fact, I think I still have a couple of scars on my back from her.

 

She was known as a very strong woman.

 

She was an immense banker.

 

How did she leave those scars on your back?

 

Just because a of my stupidity of not doing things right.

 

But she was a marvelous person; marvelous person.

 

And then, you rose to become an executive in Honolulu.

 

I first became in charge of the corporate banking division, then did that for about five or six years. And then, moved over and became head of all retail banking units, domestically and internationally. And it was a lot of fun. What made it a lot of fun was, I was with good people all the time.

 

While ranching was profitable for Henry Rice’s grandfather in the early 20th century, by the 1950s, when Henry’s father Harold “Oskie” Rice and uncle Garfield King bought the ranch, it was a break even business. As time marched on, and as Henry Rice and the third generation came of age, the family was faced with tough decisions. They sold their coastal lands in Kihei to survive in the family business.

 

It was about ’81, ’82, early 80s, that we formed the family partnership. Then unfortunately, my father passed away in ’83, I think it was. And unexpectedly, my uncle passed away uh, in ’87. So, my cousin Charley King came on as a general partner, and my Aunt Mary came in as a general partner, and I was the managing general partner. But I was still at the bank, still enjoying my banking days there. But, I kid everyone. Finally, my Aunt Mary said that I’d been playing around long enough, and I had to come home and work.

 

I came home. The Pi‘ilani Highway down in South Kihei was being built, and it was gonna be cutting off a portion of our makai ranchlands. We got ourselves together, and said, You know, those lands are gonna become valuable. It was at that time that we made the decision, Okay, let’s entitle the lands below the Pi‘ilani Highway.

 

You sold the coastal lands.

 

Coastal lands; all the coastal lands. But we put it into other properties, which in turn then produce income. So that you would not wake up one day and say, Where’d all our assets go? We have three warehouses in Austin, three in Ontario, California, and a few others. Since then, the younger generation has brought on a commercial fence company that’s doing very well.

 

I presume your banking background, you were a banker for twenty-five years. That must have informed what happened to how you could support this wonderful land, where renting couldn’t do it.

 

Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to bring the ranch to its financial stability that it is now.

 

As the patriarch of the Rice family, Henry continues to honor the traditions of his family’s past, and values the importance of staying connected with his extended ‘ohana.

 

You work and live with lots of family. I think I read somewhere that at Thanksgiving, you have fifty-two people show up; they’re all family. I mean, you’re intermarried a lot in the Maui area, and then, you’re involved in business with family, which seems like a very hard thing to do, especially when it’s generational. How do you make that work? It can’t be all sweetness and light.

 

I tend to leave it to Sandy and Wendy.

 

My wife and my daughter. I try to stay out of the loop as much as possible. But, you know, we live in the ranch house, the old ranch house where my grandfather lived. And you know, in fact, this year it’s a hundred years old.

 

Congratulations. I hope you have new plumbing, though.

 

We do; we do. And Thanksgiving, even Easter, but not as big. But Christmas Day, families from all over come to the ranch. It’s an important aspect for me and Sandy that they enjoy that this is their land, this is their ‘aina, and the responsibility they have, but to be able to come together and enjoy a day together. Thanksgiving dinner; yes, gets up to forty-five, fifty sit-down dinner. We have to do a little rearranging in the living room, but they get it done.

 

You know, I’ve run into people who talk about having spent years on the ranch, and they always say the Rices take good care of their people. Meaning, their employees. How do you?

 

It’s a matter of how you’re brought up. You know, as the saying goes, you ride for the brand. Like in any business, whether you’re in very nice brick and mortar, it’s still the people that make the business a success or not. Our ranch foreman always said, Henry, you tighten your own girth, your own saddle girth, you’re responsible. But don’t forget, the guy next to you is gonna make you good or not good. And so, you just naturally take care, and they take care of you.

 

Over the last few years, Henry Rice has slowly handed over the reins of Kaonoulu Ranch to the fourth generation. Although he says he’s retired, he hasn’t quite ridden off into the sunset, and he serves as senior advisor to the ranch.

 

Even our own ranch, the transitioning of bringing in three general partners that are of the next generation, one being my daughter Wendy, and a new general manager Ken Miranda, who’s married to my niece, their ability to flow with new ideas, and take really careful calculated risks—not stupid risk, but calculated risk, is a lot better than in my time, where we tended to be more structured. I would say that’s biggest thing I’ve seen.

 

You don’t have trouble letting go of things; right? Your banking career. I mean, you seem like you’re ….

 

Always looking ahead. Never dwell on what you did in the past. I think it’s very important to look ahead all the time. For years, we had a foreman on our ranch, Ernest Morton, who was probably another one of my great mentors. He never looked backwards; he always looked at what was ahead. Never say whoa in a tight spot.

 

You can’t take the cowboy out of Henry Rice. Here he is, back in the saddle, helping with the cattle drive in July 2016. In April 2017, Henry was inducted into the Pani‘olo Hall of Fame in Waimea, Hawai‘i, taking his place among revered Hawaiian cowboys of past and present. Mahalo to Henry Rice of Kula, Maui for sharing your story with us. And thank you for joining us. For PBS Hawai‘i and Long Story Short, I’m Leslie Wilcox. Aloha, a hui hou.

 

For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit PBSHawaii.org. To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTunes store, or visit PBSHawaii.org.

 

You know, you’re very self-deprecating. You know, you say you leave the family stuff to Wendy and your daughter, and you know, the younger generation is smarter than you are. Were you always this modest, or at some point, was there—

 

I’m not very modest.

 

You’re pretty modest.

 

No.

 

I don’t think I’ve heard you really take credit for anything.

 

They do it better.

 

Was there ever a different kind of Henry Rice?

 

I don’t think so. I’m just who I am; myself. Maybe it’s the local style. You’re just never really that way.

 

[END]

 


PBS HAWAII PRESENTS
The Quietest Place on Earth

 

On the island of Maui, Haleakala rises 10,000 feet – nearly two miles – into the sky. The massive crater located at its summit carries the unique distinction of being “the quietest place on Earth.” The exquisite stillness of its stark volcanic landscape inspires a variety of experiences ranging from spiritual to philosophical. Featured are musical artist Keola Beamer, poet W.S. Merwin, cultural specialist Clifford Nae’ole, paniolo Wilfred Souza and others.

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
James Kauahikaua

 

James Kauahikaua has witnessed some of the planet’s most awe-inspiring spectacles as a geophysicist at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on Hawai‘i Island. While his research frequently leads him dangerously close to molten hot magma, a dire cancer diagnosis may have been his most humbling encounter yet.

 

This program will be rebroadcast on Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 11:00 pm and Sunday, Sept. 81 at 4:00 pm.

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

I always liked puzzles, figuring out how things worked, why they worked, and I like the outdoors. Although, I was encouraged by my parents to do things like collections. You know, stamp collections and coin collections, and things. I tried to collect rocks for a while, but that got kind of boring in Hawai‘i, because there are not that many different kinds of rocks. And at that time, if you bought a book that identified rocks, they were all mainland rocks, and maybe one would be a basalt from the volcano. And you say, Ah, that’s what we have.

 

You might say James Kauahikaua’s passion for collecting things as a kid became a foundation for his profession. Today, he gathers data about Hawai‘i’s volcanos. Volcanologist and cancer survivor, James Kauahikaua, next, on Long Story Short.

 

Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox is Hawai‘i’s first weekly television program produced and broadcast in high definition.

 

Aloha mai kakou. I’m Leslie Wilcox. Hawai‘i is home to some of the largest and most active volcanos on earth, and Hilo resident James Kauahikaua is close to the action. Kauahikaua, who studied geology and geophysics, works for the U.S. Geological Survey at the Hawai‘i Volcano Observatory, which monitors Hawai‘i two most active volcanos, Kilauea with its Puu Oo eruption going strong since January 1983, and Mauna Loa, as well as two less active volcanos, Hualalai and Maui’s Haleakala. More than three decades after he started studying lava flows and eruptions, Kauahikaua is still fascinated by what he gets to do for a living. A Big Islander for many years, Kauahikaua grew up on Oahu in the Windward community of Kailua.

 

What was Kailua like then, as compared to the bustling metropolis it seems to be now?

 

Yeah; I don’t remember a whole lot about it, except from photos my parents had. And like all new neighborhoods, there was no vegetation, no hedges, no trees or anything. There were just these tract houses. We lived in Kuulei Tract, which is right around what is now, I think, Kailua Intermediate School. And we were a block and a half from the beach or so when I was old enough, we could do that.

 

Why did your parents pick Kailua? Was there a family connection to that area?

 

No. It was, I think, just new. My parents, when they were married, I think they lived in Nuuanu. And they moved after I was born, but it was like the first year. But I think it was just a new area opening up, you know, they decided to take the plunge, and maybe they could buy a house. The Kuulei Tract, I think, started in 1950 or ’51, and I was born in 1951.

 

What kind of Hawaiian background did your family employ? What was that like for you? Did you have a Hawaiian household? You’re of multiple ethnicities.

 

Right. I’m German from my mom’s side, and Hawaiian-Chinese from my dad’s side. And I’ve thought about that a lot. I think we had basically, your basic suburban household that just happened to have multiple ethnicities. About the only Hawaiian culture thing was, we’d go visit my grandfather out in Haleiwa every couple of weeks, maybe. Long drive, or course, at that time. And, you know, many of my uncles and other cousins would be around, and that was actually pretty interesting. The luau’s, you know, you’d get all the really good stuff, the opihi and many, many delicacies. But yeah, I was never steeped in culture. I never joined a halau, I never felt the need or the desire to join a halau. But I’ve always been fascinated at that field. And so, I kind of think of myself, I guess, as an academic Hawaiian. I love to learn all about what Hawai‘i was like in the 19th century and before, ‘cause that explains a great deal of how we got where we are, I think.

 

James Kauahikaua was glad for the chance to be exposed more to the Hawaiian culture when he transferred in the seventh grade to the Kamehameha Schools in Kapalama. But when he reached high school in the late 1960s, he found himself at odds with a different kind of culture on campus, the ROTC military environment, and strict requirements for boys.

 

At the time, I think they had just gone co-ed in high school. But for the boys, there was still mandatory ROTC. So, we all had to wear uniforms every day, had to parades couple times a year. And it was a military institute, they were very proud to say. We had to wear these little red pins that said it was a military institute. It was not just like your regular ROTC. I guess it’s because we had to wear the uniforms, and we had to always be in uniform, you had to had to polish all your brass, had to keep your hair—you know, all that sort of stuff. Polish your shoes. None of those things interested me, and I was not good at any of them. And so, throughout my four years in high school at Kamehameha, I was never even probably considered for promotion once. You know, it’s like the military; you get to be a corporal, then sergeant, or whatever. And I just stayed a buck private the entire time. But you also got demerits if you didn’t polish your brass, or you didn’t wear your hat outside, or you wore your hat indoors. You know, all breaking rules. And I got a lot of demerits.

 

Were you trying to, or were you just hapless?

 

Hapless would be a kind word for it.

 

But were you trying to get into trouble? Were you making a statement?

 

No; it wasn’t important to me.

 

But you weren’t used to suffering consequences. You’d been a good student, and a good kid.

 

Yeah. No; academically, I was good. But at that time … in fact, I think they called my parents in a couple times, ‘cause I was doing so poorly on the military end that I could have been kicked out. But I wasn’t. But for every demerit that I got, I had to march around the ball field for twenty-five minutes after school. And so, ultimately, I couldn’t do anything else after school.

 

‘Cause you were busy doing your—

 

I couldn’t join sports or anything.

 

You were serving your sentence.

 

I think you could march four of them an afternoon, so only two hours’ worth, you know.

 

So, I don’t understand. So, after you’d done that a few times, wouldn’t you stop getting the demerits? Wouldn’t you say, I’d better, you know, polish my brass, or … no?

 

It just wasn’t that important. That’s all I can say.

 

Despite all of those demerits, James Kauahikaua graduated from the Kamehameha Schools with good grades. He went on to college at the University of Southern California, and later Pomona College, where he majored in geology. He moved back home to Hawai‘i to earn his master’s degree and doctoral degree.

 

Geologists look at what’s on the surface, and infer what’s happening at depth from that. And geophysicists can do a bit better than that in terms of determining what’s under the surface. So, I decided to do that. When I went to graduate school, I went as a geophysicist.

 

So, you’re closing in now on volcanoes. How did you close that gap?

 

So, I went to school as a geophysicist at UH Manoa at a time when you had to get a master’s first, and then a PhD. And so, I got a master’s working on this big project called The Hawai‘i Geothermal Project. Their goal was to try to discover likely resource areas within the state, and one of the ways we were doing that was with electrical geophysical techniques. So, we did that mostly on the Big Island, but some on Maui and Oahu. That got me interested in that, and then when I finished my master’s, I was offered a minority internship with the U.S. Geological Survey. And that’s at the time when they were still doing affirmative action through hires. And so, I worked with them in Denver in a group that was doing electromagnetic studies. They were working out methods to use the techniques and all that.

 

So, did you have trouble catching on there at first?

 

No, actually. I just came in at a time with a set of skills that was what they needed at that time, you know, being interested in electromagnetic methods of detection of subsurface. And at that time, they were studying how the lava lake in Kilauea Iki was cooling. It erupted in fountains in 1959, and it filled up an old crater, so there was quite a good thickness of molten lava that was just sitting there and cooling. And so, electromagnetically, we could watch it shrink, sort of guide drill holes into the lava to take samples and things. And because I’d had that computer background from college, I was able to write computer programs that were able to interpret that data in a way that hadn’t been done before. So, it was just a good fit. I was very lucky.

 

A few years later, James Kauahikaua was hired as a staff scientist at the Hawai‘i Volcano Observatory at Kilauea on Hawai‘i Island. As a volcanologist, he studies past and present eruptions and flows, mostly on Kilauea, where an amazing bountiful eruption has been sending out lava since 1983. Kauahikaua’s job sometimes puts him dangerously close to the molten flow.

 

Often, we want to get pretty close so we can, you know, say, measure the velocity or something, the speed at which the lava is flowing in the tube.   And you never do that by yourself. You always have somebody around watching you, making sure you don’t slip or, you know, something.

 

You’ve seen in the field those fountain domes. I’ve only see pictures of them. What is that like?

 

They’re quite loud, actually. They’re coming out under gas pressure. And I think the one I’ve worked closest with is when Puu Oo was sort of split on one side, and there was lava coming out in fairly large amounts. But it was all confined, you know, where it was very clear it was downhill at that point, so we could watch it at a fairly close distance and make measurements. There was another time where the whole lava supply kinda stopped for a while, but then, it abruptly started again, and lava came back into this tube. And it came back in, in such a large amount that lava was coming out of the skylight in a very nice dome fountain. And so, once we got back out there, the dome fountain was going, it was clearly a much larger amount of lava going through there than before. So, I had to measure it. So, I got up there right at the edge of the fountain. Itt was upslope of the fountain, so everything was flowing away from me, and I was able to get that number, and it turned out to be some incredible amount, like eight or ten times what it had been before the lava supply had shut off. And you know, it eventually, died off within a few hours. But that was incredible. That was very noisy, the ground was vibrating the whole time.

 

What are some of the stories you have of being out there with those fiery elements?

 

Before I became scientist in charge, one of my specific projects was trying to understand lava tubes, how the conduit forms within a flow, and then how that evolved. And so, I would spend a lot of time around skylights, places that collapsed into the lava tubes. You can watch the lava flowing in there. It flows pretty fast, sometimes few tens of miles per hour, depending on the size of the tube. But it’s very quiet. And there was one time I wanted to make observations over three days, three days and nights. And so, I was out there with the bats at night, and it was just so quiet. It was sort of like watching paint flow, you know, ‘cause it’s slightly viscous. But it was just really quiet, but obviously, very hot. Beautiful; just incredibly beautiful. And at other times, you’re in a position around, say, an aa flow or something, where you do need to pay attention to what it’s doing very carefully, ‘cause you want to be making some measurements close to it, but you have to figure out what the lava flow is going to do before, you know, while you’re up there.

 

And you’re out there alone?

 

Well, I’m out there alone sometimes. But usually, I try to have somebody else there.

 

Is there any downplaying how dangerous this is?

 

It’s dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. And you wouldn’t walk up to any of these flows if you didn’t know something about what they’re gonna do.

 

So, while there certainly are hazards that come with being a volcanologist, James Kauahikaua’s scariest moments in life have had nothing to do with his job.

 

One morning, after I’d been up to Mauna Loa, I woke up, and all of a sudden, I had double vision. And so, you know, obviously, I went to see a doctor. But in the meantime, I still had to do my job, and so, I had to drive around for a while an eye patch on, like a pirate, you know, so I only got one eye and see one image. And it took a while. I saw a couple of doctors, got an MRI of my head, and all that sort of stuff. And after a few misdiagnoses, in January of 2003, I was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer. There was a tumor just under the brain, behind the nasopharynx, which is how your nose connects with your throat. I had a lot of support of one or two neighbors who were doctors were, you know, kind of advising us. ‘Cause you’re getting a cancer diagnosis, you’re immediately overwhelmed. It’s scary, you don’t know exactly what to do, what’s the best thing to do first, and all this. And there were a lot of people that really helped us out. And so, almost immediately, started chemo and radiation.

 

What stage was the cancer in at that point?

 

It was uh, 4A. It had …

 

Advanced; it was advanced.

 

It had metastasized, but way in the like, neck area, I think. So, there was still hope. I fortunately got to see Dr. Clayton Chong, who’s also a Kamehameha graduate, and John Lederer, who’s a radiologist, and they prescribed … well, the chemo almost killed me, as Dr. Chong likes to laugh about.

 

So anyway, they did I don’t know how many chemo treatments and forty or fifty radiation treatments, and they finally licked it. I’m in remission. I’ve been remission since late 2003. And you know, my chances even then were pretty good to last for five years, but now, it’s been, you know, eleven, twelve years, and I’m still feeling pretty good. I don’t get checked nearly as often, which is kind of nice. But you never get rid of it, as Dr. Lederer told me. I asked him one time, Well, how do I know, you know, when I’m over cancer, when I’m done with cancer? He said, Well, you’ll know for sure when you die of something else.

 

Scientists have a way of saying things.

 

Oh, that’s really positive.

 

Did it do some damage in your body? The cancer.

 

Well, the cancer didn’t, but the treatment did. It damaged my hearing, my hearing nerve. It wasn’t obvious. They told me it was gonna happen. And it wasn’t obvious at first, you know, the first six or seven years. But then, I slowly did start to lose my hearing. And so, at this point, I have to wear hearing aids, and even then, it’s a pretty profound hearing loss in the higher frequency. So, when I’m talking to somebody, I have to watch their lips to get the consonants. ‘Cause like S and F sounds the same. Even when I say it, it sounds the same. But you know, I’m alive, I survived, I’m happy. I just can’t hear very well.

 

After getting past cancer, James Kauahikaua applied for the top job at the Volcano Observatory. He became Scientist In Charge in 2004. During nearly eleven years of management before stepping back to refocus on his research, Kauahikaua installed a lot more technology, including webcams that show flows and eruptions in real time. He also improved communication with the community, and was the go-to guy for timely updates when the Big Island town of Pahoa was threatened by a long traveling lava flow in 2014 and 2015.

 

You were called on to predict when it would stop.

 

You know, I’ve been through enough of these things that, you know, I realize that we’re limited. We can say a lot about what the lava flow’s gonna do, or you know, the possible consequences and things. But there’s just a limit to it; we can’t answer everybody’s questions. There were people that would come up to us and say, Well, you know, I was planning to go to California in two weeks, and I live right here; should I go?

 

You know, we can provide you the information so you can make the decision, but … you know. And we made an attempt to sort of forecast how fast the lava would get to the highway, say. But every time we did that, we would be wrong. And we would be wrong in the public’s eyes, which was very important. The way we would say it is, If the lava flow kept advancing at this rate, it would be at the highway in seven days, or whatever. And all they would remember is, it’ll be at the highway in seven days. And that didn’t happen, therefore, we were wrong. But the statement was accurate. And so, we didn’t communicate that properly, I think. But I’m not sure how we’re gonna do better the next time.

 

I remember there were people saying, You’ve gotta build some kind of barrier, you’ve gotta stop this thing. And others were saying, No, you can’t stop the flow, because it’ll have other repercussions. Where were you on that?

 

We did provide a lot of background, ‘cause that’s one of our functions. Hawai‘i actually has a fairly long history of diversion attempts. None of them have been hugely successful. So, you know, we can kinda look at that and say, Well, we don’t want to do that, or do anything else. One of the factors, I think, that went into it was the fact that this eruption had been going on for thirty-three years, thirty-two years at that point. And so, if we divert this flow, this eruption’s not gonna stop, it’s gonna continue. And so, does that change the way the government then looks at it? What about the next flow? Does that mean that kinda guarantee we’re gonna have to divert that? Or you know, I’m guessing that from the County government’s point of view, the question of investment or whatever, you know, what is it gonna cost, is it really gonna be effective? And ultimately, I think the whole thing was decided by a statement from the Mayor, and he said that he wasn’t gonna make any decisions until it was very clear what the outcome would be. And you know, that’s something we can again go back to history and say what has been done in the past, but nobody can be sure of what the outcome would be.

 

Why has that flow been going for more than thirty years?

 

That’s a very good question.

 

You don’t know the answer?

 

No. It’s been going long enough that the people that I started working have retired, and that’s been their whole career. And in that time, we’ve all guessed. Well, you know, we’ve made guesses about what’s going to shut the eruption off. Could it be a big earthquake, you know, shifts the plumbing around, and kind of cuts the magma supply off. Any number of things. And all of those things have happened, and there’s just been no effect. You know, we’ve had several larger earthquakes, magnitude five and six, and … nothing.

 

I always feel that everyone in Hawai‘i who can, should go look at it, because you know, even though it’s been going for so very long, many people haven’t made it out there. And it’s something that you may never see again.

 

Oh, absolutely.

 

For those of us lay people.

 

I agree, totally. You know, that’s how our islands were formed, it’s a rare thing to be able to see. And access isn’t great right at the moment, but it has been really excellent in the past. And just to see the glow from the summit vent now, the one that opened in 2008, I see that every morning as I drive in. It’s incredible. This is from a lava lake that’s, you know, glowing so much and putting out so much gas, that you know, you can see that it’s lit up by a lava light. You know, how incredible is that?

 

What have you learned in your studies about what’s happening with volcanic activity in Hawai‘i now, and what the prospects are for future activity?

 

It looks like Kilauea goes through centuries of explosive activity, and then centuries of effusive activity. And within the explosive centuries, there may be a few lava flows; within the lava flow centuries there might be a few explosions. But in general. And so, when you realize that, and you think that maybe Hawaiian volcanoes in general do this, not just Kilauea, but Kilauea is important because there’s so much right on and near the summit of Kilauea that it’s possible, and it’s certainly likely that at some point, Kilauea will go back into being an explosive volcano. Which has big ramifications for our building and the Parks Service, and the people that live close by. So, you know, if you’d asked me that question, say, fifty years ago, I would have just talked about the possibility of future lava flows impacting communities and things. And now, there’s this possibility of a resumption of explosive activity. And these are fairly large explosions. It would probably affect air traffic, at least into the Big Island, if not into Honolulu too, because it would throw up ash and things much higher than the volcanoes themselves. They’d be troublesome.

 

James Kauahikaua stepped down as Scientist In Charge in 2015. At the time of our conversation in 2016, he’s at the Observatory doing research, which he says he enjoys a lot more than managing. And he likes to volunteer, sharing the wonder of volcanos with Hawaiian children in the enrichment program, Na Pua Noeau. Mahalo to volcanologist and cancer survivor, James Kauahikaua of Hilo for sharing your story with us. And thank you, for joining us. For PBS Hawaii and Long Story Short, I’m Leslie Wilcox. Aloha, hui hou.

 

For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit PBSHawaii.org. To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTunes Store or visit PBSHawaii.org.

 

You know, sometimes, you don’t know how important somebody is in your life, until much later. As you look back, who’s been the most influential in your life? People.

 

I would be remiss not to mention my wife, Jeri Gertz. She’s very much a people person, always looking for fun things to do and stuff, which I can’t say is my strong suit.

 

So, we make a good team, I think. But she inspires me every day.

 

How does she inspire you?

 

By being happy, you know, and finding the good things in everything.

 

[END]

 

INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAI‘I
State House District 22 / State House District 3

 

In State House District 22 (Waikiki-Ala Moana-Kaka‘ako), Democratic incumbent Rep. Tom Brower is seeking his sixth term and faces a challenge from Republican Kathryn Henski, a retired businesswoman. Brower is the lawmaker who suffered injuries in an assault last year at a Kaka‘ako homeless camp where he was videotaping. In this district, homelessness is a top concern.

 

Some of the prominent issues in State House District 3 (including Hilo, Kea‘au, Kurtistown and Volcano on the Big Island) are the Thirty Meter Telescope controversy and GMO crops. Incumbent Democratic Rep. Richard Onishi has opposition from Green Party candidate Kealoha Pisciotta and Libertarian Gregory Arionoff. Arionoff has declined to appear on INSIGHTS because of his work schedule.

 

Your questions and comments are welcome via phone, email and via Twitter during the Live Broadcast.

 

Phone Lines:
462-5000 on Oahu or 800-238-4847 on the Neighbor Islands.

 

Email:
insights@pbshawaii.org

 

Twitter:
Join our live discussion using #pbsinsights

 



PBS HAWAI‘I PRESENTS
The Pahoa Flow

 

Pahoa residents Josh Ballauer, Jeremiah Lofgreen and Matt Tavares document the 2014 Kilauea lava flow that threatened their Hawai‘i Island neighborhood of Kaohe Homesteads, and how their community came together during the crisis.

Why do this film?
Jeremiah: We were at a friend’s house; he was really close to the lava coming down. We saw the national news media was here covering the story. We saw one of our friends get interviewed and then we saw their cut later on, and we realized that it didn’t portray what we were going through and what we witnessed. It was kind of an off the cuff thing and we just said, “You know what, we’ve got cameras – why don’t we just do this ourselves?”

 

When did the lava flow really start to threaten the community?
Jeremiah: It must have been around August 23, 2014. It was kind of shock, mostly to our neighborhood, because we were closest in proximity to the flow at the time. There was Civil Defense coming up into the neighborhood and informing us. At that time, the rest of the community had only heard what was on the news. We were hearing firsthand from the Civil Defense and other members of the [Hawai‘i] County. It was kind of a shocker to a lot of people here. It seemed like there was a couple of weeks that went by until the rest of the community caught on to what was coming down the hill.

 

Was the story that the media was portraying very different from what you were experiencing yourselves?
Jeremiah: Absolutely. I think the fear that was portrayed was very short-lived. I think a lot of us realized that we all knew we came to this place on the side of a volcano. I think without it in your face all the time, you tend to forget about it, but once we were brought to the awareness that it’s right there, it’s only a mile away, it reminded a lot of people that, yes, we live on the side of a volcano.
My experience was, a lot of people at first, for about a week, it was kind of a shocker, and then the acceptance started to happen pretty quickly. A lot of people in the neighborhood moved out, Josh being one of them. My wife and myself, we were expecting a baby, and she was two days late on her due date when we found out about the lava. We had so much going on in our minds that there wasn’t a lot of energy that we could put into that, even though we needed to. It was a very surreal time already, and that just made it, for myself, even more surreal.
Josh: The media only focused on the fear aspect of it all. Of course, being a part of the community down here, all we saw was camaraderie happening. The aloha was so high. We’ve never seen aloha like that, really, and it’s too bad that it takes a disaster like that for aloha to come out like that, but everybody was so nice and friendly. The media should have been covering that.
Jeremiah: That’s the importance we saw right away. Unless this is shown from a local’s perspective, someone that’s actually witnessing it first-hand, that the story wouldn’t be told in the right kind of way.

 

Was there ever a point where you were like, “Screw this film – I gotta take care of my family”?
Jeremiah: It was an internal battle for sure. When I would go out to work on the film, I wanted to be back with my family. When I was with my family, there was only so much I could do, but I was thinking about moving forward. I went back and forth with myself a lot. I’m pretty sure I told Josh about 20 times, “I’m not sure I can do this.” And then I would turn around and say, “Let’s go do this.” There was definitely a personal battle there, and it was really hard on my family to do it. Once we had come up with a plan of what to do with our stuff, and make sure we were safe, I felt that I needed to go out and help people out. We offered up our help for moving, and the people that we asked, they just wanted us to document, in case the town was taken, in case their place was taken. They wanted something to remember it by. That’s kind of the premise that we started off with – just to document what we were going through, and if people lost their places, they wanted to see what they had built, what they had.

 

Il Volo:
Live from Pompeii

IL VOLO: Live from Pompeii

 

Soar with the perfect harmony of the charming trio as they pay homage to their home country. The young tenors perform classic Italian favorites and original songs in this new concert special filmed in the spectacular ancient ruins of Pompeii. Songs include “Grande Amore” and “Volare.”

 

Italy’s Mystery Mountains

 

Behind Italy’s cultural abundance is the diversity and turbulence of its geology: the continuously erupting volcanoes, the violent earthquakes, the clash of mighty tectonic plates, and the rising of the mountains from which Michelangelo quarried his famous Carrara marbles. Follow two international teams of geologists ― one working near Bologna and the other in southern Italy, where Sicily’s famed volcano, Mt. Etna, erupts in brilliant showers of lava ― as they fill in the story of how the Italian peninsula was first created and whether the famed Apennine Mountain range running down Italy’s spine is still alive and growing.

 

 

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