MOTHER WALDRON PARK
MOTHER DAY Art Installation
The 1.76-acre site that included the City and County Stables was transferred from the territorial government to the city in 1930. Its central location within densely-developed Kaka‘ako and across Coral Street from Pohukaina Elementary School was optimal for a new playground.
The word MOTHER is to pay homage to the legacy of Mother Waldron and the community of Kakaʻako who gave her a pin with the letters “MOTHER” in her 50th birthday. The park was named in her honor in 1936 after her passing.
Mahalo Honblue for helping with this project.
Moʻolelo: Mother Waldron
One of the chief organizing forces in Kakaʻako from 1912 to 1934 was Mother Margaret (Powers) Waldron, an Irish-Hawaiian who was a Pohukaina Elementary School fourth grade teacher, who resided near downtown Honolulu. Mother Waldron also served as after school playground director and according to a Honolulu Star Bulletin article, is generally credited with being the individual who had most influence in transforming the so-called 'Kakaʻako gangs' into law abiding groups and wiping out the unsavory reputation which at one time clung to the district. She also encouraged a number of Kakaʻako youngsters who would otherwise not have, to continue their education at the University.
Mother Waldron had an uncanny knack for asking for help for others, but never for herself or her own family. She was able to acquire materials, sewing machines, and sports equipment for the Kakaʻako youth. Her philosophy was simple, “Never help anybody who isn’t willing to help someone else. When I help anyone, I make him promise to pay for it. But they don’t pay me directly; they pay me by promising to do just as much or more for the next person in need.” On her 50th-birthday, she was given a bar pin inscribed with the word “Mother.”
Moʻolelo: Mother Waldron Playground
By the 1880s, residential construction began with the filling of fishponds, marshes and mudflats starting with the area closest to downtown Honolulu; Kakaʻako flourished as a residential settlement where immigrant workers joined the Hawaiian community to form areas such as Squattersville, a shantytown which sprang up along the district’s makai border. Back then, much of the makai lands from Honolulu to and including Waikīkī were characterized with lowland marshes, wetlands, coral reef flats and farming of fishponds along with some limited wetland kalo (taro) taro agriculture (and later rice.) In order to accommodate the new Library of Hawaiʻi, after 36-years at King and Punchbowl, Pohukaina School was relocated to Kakaʻako on reclaimed land. Pohukaina School was moved to Kaka‘ako, within the city block bounded by Pohukaina Street, Keawe Street, Halekauwila Street, and Coral Street; the new school opened in 1913. One of the teachers at the Pohukaina School was Margaret Waldron. Mrs. Waldron taught at Pohukaina for 18 years until her retirement in 1934. They called her Mother Waldron.
Following her passing in 1936, when a new 1.76-acre playground was constructed across Coral Street from Pohukaina School, the Honolulu Board of Supervisors authorized the park’s designation as “Mother Waldron Playground.” The playground, designed by Harry Sims Bent, was opened in September 20, 1937 on the site of the former County stables. The Mother Waldron Playground includes a historic one-story comfort station, two basketball courts, a volleyball court, an open field and benches along the historic boundary walls. Pohukaina School remained in operation in Kaka‘ako until 1980, by which time it had developed into a special education facility. The playground and park still live on in her memory to this day.
Kakaako, Honolulu, Oʻahu
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