Posted by: The Amoeba | September 7, 2007

Ferry Tales, Hawai’ian Style

The big news here in Honolulu right now, almost as big as the start of the football season (just what this place needs: a nationally-ranked college football team), is the brand spanking new, big, fast, and cheap Superferry service that you … um … can’t take to the neighboring islands of Maui and Kaua’i right now.

Why not? Well, the environmentalists are screaming “foul”, and that doesn’t mean they’ve made a sighting of the rare native Hawai’ian goose. A hundred and forty million dollars of taxpayer money, they holler ($40 million of it from a Federal grant), and nobody bothered to file an Environmental Impact Statement?? They got a judge on Maui to agree with them and file an injunction barring the Superferry people from landing the boat there. On the very day it was supposed to make its first voyage with paying customers, no less. It never left the docks in Honolulu. I’m sure that did wonders for the Superferry company’s stock price.

The protesters on Kaua’i, lacking judicial sympathy, took their case to the streets – or, more precisely, to the beach. The boat actually sailed to Kaua’i, with a passel of fare-paying people and cars, but it didn’t land on Kaua’i because it couldn’t plow a path through all the people swimming in front of the dock carrying picket signs. Even the Coast Guard hasn’t figured out a way to clear them away. They could, I suppose, declare them all terrorists and ship them to Gitmo, but they haven’t. Some Republican trusty must have IMed the Pentagon with a warning that Hawai’i is close enough to seceding from the Union and restoring the Hawai’ian monarchy as it is. That’s a public relations hit not even Karl Rove could … no, wait, he’s gone now, isn’t he? Hmmm …. I reckon, right now, there are a couple of Washington, DC manager types (see “$40 million Federal grant”, supra) who can’t for the life of them turn the air conditioning in their offices down low enough.

What I’d like to know is, where were all these environmental protesters in 2003 when we needed them? Maybe if we’d called it “Operation Iraqi Albatross” …

So what are these people complaining about? The usual suspects.

Pollution! Bogus. B O Gus. The guy should bathe more regularly. As if the Superferry would contribute more grime per passenger than the Boeing jets that are landing on these islands now.

Damage to coral reefs! Riiight. They should have thought of that before they ripped up thousands of hectares of reef to build the dock and dredge the channel. The damage’s been done … Besides, the worst damage to coral reefs is coming from the greenhouse gases that are being spewed by (see) those damned jets.

Invasive species! Please. As if this isn’t going to happen with all the commercial planes, and private planes, and private boats, that are already trafficking between the islands? Unless you shut them down too, you’re not going to have much luck keeping out the verminous wildlife …

Oh. Wait. I forgot the ones on two legs. My bad …

Y’see, we live in a place called Wai’anae. The slums of O’ahu. Yes. Hawai’i has slums. Not exactly obvious from the travel brochures, now is it? Well, we got ’em. Along with the racial prejudice that goes with ’em. “Don’t go to Wai’anae”, we were told. On the campus of the University of Hawai’i. “Don’t go to Wai’anae, you’ll never see a white face.”

Yeah, well, so far all we’ve seen are the most open, honest, and friendly people, of all colors, on this whole island. Sure, it’s a little grimy in spots. Working the real jobs for what the fancy people in their stretch Lexuses are prepared to let slip from their chromium-steel fingers will do that to a person.

It’s also the only place on the island where one can rent any kind of domicile for less than the proverbial king’s ransom.

Or, it was.

Y’see, it’s been discovered now. People are increasingly prepared to wear the hour-plus-long commute to the city, and the gang sign on street corners at home, for the privilege of having a little more space to live in than a tinned sardine, for less than the price of the caviar from an extinct species.

And the locals know it.

Properties that just a year or so ago housed a laboring family for $300 a month are now being rented to migrating professionals for $1500. The laboring families? They live on the beach. Or they did, until the Governor signed an executive order putting a stop to it, and claimed dictatori… er, special powers to ensure that these people stay off the beach. We can’t be making the tourists nervous …

I don’t know where they’re taking the beach people. I’m not sure I wish to know. Because Wai’anae was the last place on O’ahu where you could get a patch of sand for less than four figures monthly. Everything not prohibited, or vertical, is taken. There’s no place else to go. Except a boat. Or a blimp.

Or Kaua’i. But you couldn’t get to Kaua’i unless you were one of those fancy people who can afford plane fare. Which adds up real fast if you have to travel often. Like, if you’re commuting.

But the Superferry? Hey, it’s cheap. And you can take your car. It opens possibilities. With rents on O’ahu running at gangland extortion levels, putting up a shack on Kaua’i or Maui and commuting to Honolulu via this big boat starts looking very attractive.

Unless you already live on Kaua’i or Maui and don’t want to have to share your island with any of this verminous O’ahu wildlife. Rich mainland tourists we can take. We’ll take ’em for all we can. Commuters? Environmental damage!! Get out the protest signs …!

I’m told that, before Captain Cook came along with his ships full of verminous wildlife, whose vermin decimated the Hawai’ian peoples (along with the peoples of just about every other place they visited), there were about 900,000 Polynesians living on O’ahu. About the same population as is on the island today. In Polynesian history and cultural identity, pride of place is taken by the waka (in Hawai’ian, wa’a), or ocean-going canoes, which set out from Home (literally, Hawai’i), probably early in the second millenium of the Common Era, to colonize practically the whole Pacific Ocean, from Easter Island in the East to New Zealand in the West. The wa’a set out to find new lands, the old lands having no space remaining but grass shacks in Wai’anae being rented out at gangland extortion levels. And they had to be new lands, as in “uninhabited” – for if they landed on an inhabited place, they would be driven off. Or, invited to (ahem) dinner …

The Superferry is a modern wa’a. Except that it’s being driven off, not by spears and haka, but by injunctions and protesters screaming Save the whales!!

But I suppose I shouldn’t be too harsh. After all, the activists on Maui and Kaua’i who are creating so much trouble for the Superferry are, I am certain, genuinely concerned about the environment.


– O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2007 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions are mine as a private citizen.



  1. I had always hear that living in hawaii could be very expensive. Didn’t know there was anywhere that was remotely reasonable. But as you say, it won’t stay that way, once it is discovered. I think the Superferry sounds like a wonderful idea, but of course it has a lot of protest,,,,,probably from the people who fly the planes……..they won’t make as much money…..I can’t think it would polute anymore than the boats and planes already there. But enviormentalist aren’t usually reasonable….they often have tunnel vision.

  2. “A hundred and forty million dollars of taxpayer money, they holler ($40 million of it from a Federal grant), and nobody bothered to file an Environmental Impact Statement?? ” This statement right here just amazes me… How on earth could they *not* have done an environmental impact study prior to spending that amount of money??? I don’t get it.

  3. Special Interest Groups are so “special” in the “short bus” sort of way.

  4. So – things go on about the same in ‘paradise’, as anywhere else, huh? I’ll be interested in hearing about how the Superferry deal comes out. Sure sounds like it would be advantageous.

  5. Congrats O.C. you’re on the front page of WordPress with this post. 😀

  6. I fear, nea, that most of us have tunnel vision. Why else would we have Operation Iraqi Albatross …?

    Brooke, the Government of Hawai’i thought it had gotten an exemption from EIS requirements – which is not an uncommon thing to happen with large public works projects, in this state and elsewhere. I reckon 99% of such exemptions never come to public notice. This one, however …

    Too true, nessa …

    Deep inside we’re all the same, jackie. I’m betting on the government, eventually. But financially and politically, it might be a Pyrrhic victory.

    Thanks, Brian. Tell ’em not to applaud, just throw money … 😉

  7. I think the government.” OF…..BY…..and FOR the people” will always make sure that they and their business friends are always put BEFORE the welfare of common folk in need of a cheaper way to work. (

  8. (All governments windup with too much power.)…..Judy

  9. The problem is, Judy, government of, by, and for the people is a lot of work. When “the Great Experiment” was new, in the years BiP (Before iPod), people were, by and large, willing to do the work.

    Now, only the special interests are so willing. The rest of us just want what we want when we want it, and will vote for the person who promises to get it for us, regardless of how nonsensical the promise is.

    It is for precisely this reason that Thomas Jefferson, the great “architect of democracy”, feared “one person, one vote”. Why Jefferson considered that the person without property, the common laborer (to say nothing about women and the non-white), contributed just as much to “good government” as sores do to a healthy body.

    We are proving him, and, still more, those who favor absolute monarchies, correct.

  10. […] Amoeba has already posted his opinion on some of the Superferry issues; since those opinions haven’t changed much, they […]

  11. […] first arrived in Hawai‘i, nearly two years ago now, there was lots of talk about ferries. The big one (indeed, they called it Super) that ran between the islands – well, two of them, anyway – and the […]

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