Stewardship of the Honouliuli Preservation Areas

Feb 19, 2013 by Kepa & Onaona Maly

Through a partnership between Haseko and the State of Hawaii, the Hoakalei Cultural Foundation serves as the steward of nearly 25 acres of land along the Honouliuli coastal zone. The land comprises three preservation areas, which include traditional Hawaiian house sites, shelters, dry-land agricultural features and walls, and historic structures such as the ruins of a piggery and chicken farm.

Due to changes in long-term land use practices as early at the mid 1800s, many of the sites and features on the land deteriorated over time. The traditional knowledge of place has also become fragmented, but through detailed research in native Hawaiian language accounts and historical records, we are finding important histories recorded by elder Hawaiians of the 1800s to help answer some questions about life on the land.

Further, the personal memories of kamaaina of the land—those who have lived in Honouliuli Ahupuaa through their lives—helps us piece together facets of the history of the area. Today, some of the cultural sites look like rubble piles, reflecting more than 100 years of ranching, sugar plantation development and a period of military occupation and use of the land for training operations in the years prior to and following World War II.

The three preservation areas include

1. The Kauhale Preserve – this 6.2-acre preserve includes the remnants of a wetland feature as well as traditional sites interpreted as having served as residences; dry-land agricultural sites where crops such as uala (sweet potatoes), ipu/hue (gourds), ko (sugar cane), hala (pandanus) and other important plants would have grown; workshop areas; and other features associated with daily life in ancient times. The preserve is also home to several endangered native water birds.

2. The Ahu Preserve – the largest and best-preserved site found within the three preservation areas. Most notable is the single most impressive feature in size and form of the three areas – a platform of dry-stacked coral cobbles measuring roughly 36 feet by 32 feet that may have served some ceremonial purpose in ancient times.

3. The Kuapapa Preserve – home to several sites which supported both short and long-term recurring residency, possibly animal husbandry, and dryland agricultural activities.

The Hoakalei Cultural Foundation is charged with ensuring good stewardship of the land, and our vision is to enable future generations to understand, value and respect the spirit, natural resources and heritage of the Ewa Plain and most importantly, to use it to guide their lives. Current activities include the development of preservation and educational programs as well as ongoing clearing and care of the preserves.

Blog Topics: Land, Heritage