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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Kona preservationist David 'Mauna' Roy Jr.

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

HILO, Hawai'i — David "Mauna" Kahelemauna Roy Jr., a historian, teacher and consultant on Hawaiian culture and arts, died Wednesday at Kona Community Hospital of complications from a hip injury. He was 79.

Roy led the effort to preserve and restore Ahu'ena Heiau, next to King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel, the personal heiau of Kamehameha the Great. Roy became kahu of the heiau and continued to work as a historic preservation specialist for the hotel. Roy later restored the Hikiau and Ku'emanu heiau and was a longtime advocate of Hawaiian language revival who taught adult education classes in his native language.

He served on the study commission that led to the establishment of the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, and founded a nonprofit group to assist the park.

Lawyers with the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., which called on Roy as an expert witness in the landmark Hokuli'a land-use case, said he was instrumental in protecting pieces of Kona's past in the face of development. "He was just so generous with his knowledge," said staff attorney Moses Haia.

Roy was born April 26, 1925, and was the eldest of seven children. He was raised in Kawa Nui, Kona, between Honalo and Kainaliu, in a home where Hawaiian was spoken and elders in the family and the community were important teachers to the young. "He was fortunate to have been able to experience the day-to-day feeling and customs of our Hawaiian heritage," said his daughter Mikahala Roy.

Roy attended Kamehameha School for Boys on O'ahu and graduated from Konawaena High School in 1942. He later graduated from the University of Hawai'i Teacher's College and served as an Army radio operator during World War II.

Returning to Kona after the war, he went into the fishing business, operated one of Kona's first ice businesses and worked as a construction superintendent.

Even though a stroke left him largely paralyzed on his left side and in a wheelchair, he joined a 2003 protest of a construction project at Kailua Pier that he believed would damage Ahu'ena Heiau. That kind of determination was an inspiration to many younger Hawaiians, said Alan Murakami, litigation director for Native Hawaiian Legal Corp.

He is survived by his wife, Verda Leialoha Roy; daughters Lauren Mikahala, Lyall Moana Kuma and Lisa Leialoha Roy-DeAguiar; brothers Corbett, Charles, Robert and Carlton; sister Heather Minton; sons-in-law Lowell Kalani Ching and Teiko Kuma; eight grandchildren and two-great-grandchildren.

Visitation will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday at Kamakahonu near Ahu'ena Heiau, with a celebration of Roy's life at 4 p.m. The family requests aloha attire. Borthwick Hawai'i Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.