The Ke’anae Peninsula was created from an immense lava flow originating from Haleakala Crater. Today it is home to a few local residents, taro fields, animals grazing and world class fishing. It’s known for it’s striking photo opportunities of the North Shore’s powerful waves crashing against Maui’s black, jagged lava rocks.
The Church that Survived a Tsunami
The old stone church is called “Ihi’ihio Iehowa o na Kaua” church in Hawaiian. It was built in 1856 and is the sole surviving building of the April 1st, 1946 killer tsunami which wiped out the entire village at Keanae Peninsula. The 8.6 monster earthquake that caused this devastating tsunami originated in the Aleutian Islands chain off the coast of Alaska.
The waves hit Maui hard, topping 35 feet, (or 12 meters), as they came ashore. However, near the tsunami’s epicenter the waves topped 35 meters, or over 100 feet. There was no tsunami warning system in the Pacific at the time, so Hawaii was caught completely off-guard. Absolutely no one saw it coming. Sadly, there were 20 children and 4 teachers stolen by the wave, a huge loss for such a small village like Ke’anae.
The most positive outcome from this tragedy was the development and implementation of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center which was, and still is, headquartered on Ewa Beach on Oahu, Hawaii. The system is still in place today, keeping the residents of Hawaii safe.