‘This is `Opala’ and Other Bloopers

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• “… the triangular island’s southern half…” (p. 3). Was Walters really on the Big Island at all? In what geometric system is it triangular? (A Big Island map does appear as an illustration on page 9 of the book, but it is practically useless for illustrating Walters’ story. The map has cross-hatching scattered across the island, from Kohala in the North, where it seems to indicate valleys, to Puna and Ka`u, where their meaning is unclear – perhaps lava flows? Superimposed on these cross-hatches are diagonal lines covering part of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and parts of South Kona as well. “Ka`u” is spelled out in large letters, but no boundary line is given, nor is any other district name similarly given. Pu`u Wa`awa`a shows up as a dot on the map instead of the 100,000-acre-plus land division extending from the mountain to the coast.)

• “… Roger Tory Peterson … was with a party blessed with the rare experience of witnessing four `alala at once, near the rim of Kilauea Crater…” (p. 65). No. Walters himself contradicts this statement with a quote from an article in `Elepaio recounting the visit of Peterson. The article couldn’t be clearer that Peterson’s view of the `alala occurred at Dillingham Ranch, nowhere near Kilauea Crater.

• “This is `opala, a member of the ginseng family…” (p. 76). Walters here is quoting Peter Harrity, an employee of The Peregrine Fund. Earlier, Harrity is reported to have said, “I eat all the fruit the crows eat.” One can only hope he eats the fruit of the `olapa tree (Cheirodendron spp.), and not rubbish.

• “… Banko’s son Paul, who had just begun high school…” (p. 83). Actually, Paul Banko had just graduated from college when he began helping his father.

• “… Pohakuloa, in northeastern Hawai`i Island…” (p. 87). Northeastern is Laupahoehoe. Pohakuloa is about as dead-center as you can get.

• In 1975, “fewer than 15 birds existed in the wild” (p. 19). In 1980, “by the time the study [of Stanley Temple] ended, fewer than two dozen `alala remained in the wild” (p. 136). In 1984, “fewer than thirty `alala were believed to remain in the wild” (p. 117). So their numbers doubled from 1975 to 1984? Or were the researchers just guessing? In any case, Walters throws out the numbers but doesn’t tell us their source or whether the numbers are credible. The fluctuation remains unaddressed.

• “In late 1976, … in her thirties, Barbara … came to the front entrance of the facility … [H]er first husband had been killed in the Korean War, and she had spent the next twenty years … raising their two children” (pp. 105-106). If Barbara Churchill (later Lee) had married, given birth two children and been widowed by the end of the Korean War in 1952, and by 1976 was still in her thirties, she was precocious indeed.

• Jon Giffin of the Division of Forestry and Wildlife had “shot two wild sheep at Pu`u Wa`awa`a Ranch without the lessee’s permission…” (p. 126). The problem Walters refers to wasn’t that Giffin hunted without the lessee’s permission (Pu`u Wa`awa`a is, after all, a prime hunting area on the Big Island), but that he did so on state time.

• “… the recently appointed head of the Hawai`i Audubon Society … Dana Kokubun…” (p. 143). Kokubun headed up the National Audubon Society’s office in Honolulu; as any HAS member will be quick to point out, the two organizations are separate.

— Patricia Tummons

Volume 17, Number 1 July 2006

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