Big Island

Kalaka Nui

I learned the word for “big truck” from my 3-year-old granddaughter long ago. A student at Aha Punana Leo at the time, she often taught her Grandy the finer points of the Hawaiian language. Because her Dad sometimes drives a “Kalaka Nui”, it was a phrase she insisted I know. I had no choice.

Long-time Big Island residents certainly remember when Kalaka Nui frequented our roads releasing sugar cane spears from their beds. Then, as now, it wasn’t easy to pass those big slow-moving trucks.

New Challenges in 2024

Fast forward to 2024 and we find ourselves again behind a different fleet of big trucks along our beautiful highways. Unlike sugar cane trucks, these aren’t a productive part of the revenue stream but will instead move rubbish to the other side of the island.

I don’t pretend to have the solution but to become less a part of the problem. After all, the long haul of rubbish directly impacts our incomparable quality of life. When quality of life is diminished, property values can be affected. This makes the problem far more than just a traffic inconvenience.

Sustainable Solutions

With the Hilo landfill closed, our tax dollars will continue pouring into its maintenance for generations to come. Building a new conventional landfill in Hilo is a challenge because it has to be lined. This, of course, will create a sloshy mess of floating rubbish.

Encouraging Recycling

We can all help by reducing what enters our solid waste stream. In general, we don’t do a very good job of recycling here on the Big Island. It’s inconvenient and cumbersome. Keaau and Hilo transfer stations have reduced capacity to receive recyclables. Receiving Hi5s is about it. The re-use center is a great place to drop off and trade items of value.

The Weight of Waste

One December, I decided to weigh just the magazines and catalogs delivered to my mailbox. The total was over 50 lbs! If every mailbox received that much, the scope of the problem becomes obvious. Anyone visiting any of the landfills on December 27th witnessed the problem firsthand.

We live in a very fragile eco-system. We don’t recover from abuse very easily. Let’s all do everything we can to reduce, re-use, and recycle. After all, a good Kalaka Nui is a terrible thing to “waste”!

Celebrating Family

BTW, congratulations to my favorite Kanaka Nui driver and son-in-law Chris Kraus. Yesterday, he began a new chapter of his life. I’m not sure what to call his new wife, Phaedra, but how about my step Daughter-in-law or Daughter-in-law once removed? Welcome to the family!!

About the Author

Denise Nakanishi

Denise Nakanishi is a REALTOR Broker with Hawai'i Life. Denise Nakanishi is one of Hilo's most acclaimed real estate agents. She reached the rank of Major in the US Army and is now known by many as "Major Mom." The nickname fits–not only does Denise bring the discipline and mission-oriented attitude you'd expect, she's also caring and compassionate, always looking out for her clients like they're her own family. Having made the Big Island her home since 1987, Denise combines her extensive knowledge of the area with a sharp focus on customer service and the results speak for themselves. She's the recent recipient of the Best East Hawai`i, Best of Zillow, Chairman's Circle Award, President's Circle, Top Producing Agent since 2001, and Realtor of the Year awards. Denise stays ahead of the curve because she's passionate about education–she served as Education Chair for Hawaii Island REALTORS® for many years. She's one of Big Island's best real estate resources, known for her weekly article in the Hawaii Tribune Herald. Denise leads Team Nakanishi for Hawai`i Life, who is committed to their family, work, and community. In her little time away from work, Denise is a committed runner and Grandy. She also devotes many hours to various Veterans' Organizations, the East Hawaii Cultural Center, and the Hawaii Island REALTORS®. You can email me at or via phone at (808) 936-5100.

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Beth Thoma Robinson, R(B)

April 19, 2024

Hoʻomaikaʻi to the entire ʻohana, so glad you closed with the bit of good news! We definitely need an expanded set of terms to describe all our relationships.

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