A man made beautiful feature of Hawaii are the sturdy, yet elegant rock walls that snake across many areas of Hawaii. Crossing pastures and defining ancient coastal sites, dry stack stone walls are a functional part of our beautiful landscape. From keeping cattle in check to property boundaries, dry stack rock walls are common place in Hawaii.
The Hawaiian name for dry stack stone walls is Uhau Huma Pohaku. The foundation stones are set into the ground about a half foot deep. I watched a stone mason build a dry stack wall on my property. It was mesmerizing to see the craftsman hand pick rocks of different shapes and fit them together like a puzzle rising up from the solid foundation stones. The Hawaiian name for the two exterior walls is Kululu. The wall is completed by wedging smaller stones in between the rocks to secure and create a solid dry stack wall.
The miles of elegant free standing rock walls were built to withstand the tides of time without the help of mortar. Masons are patient with their creation selecting the right pohaku for the right spot, twisting and turning it until it fits into the perfect place. Those who build and repair these walls are accomplished craftsmen. Often quiet, looking and listening to where the stone will rest.
Rock walls that are cemented have a different look because the mortar is visible on the sides and surfaces. I much prefer the look and feel of a dry stack wall. Part of the beauty of dry stack is the story it speaks, stone to stone layered to work together.
I was told that ancient walls have the identifying trait of large corner stones. In the La Perouse area of South Maui, the trail that hugs the coast line is dotted with remnants of ancient walls where the impressive corner stones still stand today.
Stones are sacred according to many cultures and I certainly feel awe in the presence of the beautiful rocks that grace our aina.