A large parcel fronting Honokōhau Bay in Kā‘anapali, Maui has been purchased by the Honokōhau-based nonprofit Nā Mamo Aloha ‘Āina o Honokōhau. The $2.5 million deal was completed in partnership with the County of Maui, which contributed $500,000, and the Hawai‘i Land Trust, which holds a conservation easement on the property.
The land will be permanently protected and used by Nā Mamo for culture and ‘āina-based education programs, lo‘i kalo wetland taro farming, and fostering connections within the ahupua‘a (traditional land division encompassing both mountain and sea).
Said Hawaii county mayor Mitch Roth:
“We are thrilled to announce that 642 acres at Mahukona will be protected in perpetuity. We are deeply grateful to Hawai‘i Land Trust, Nā Kālai Waʻa: Makaliʻi Voyaging ʻOhana, lineal descendants, and our collaborative partners for working together to secure the perpetual protection of this sacred and historic place. This was a huge undertaking and ensures the safeguarding of cultural sites, fosters environmental resilience, and highlights community-based stewardship on a truly massive scale. Mahalo to all who have dedicated, and continue to dedicate, their efforts to preserving our island’s rich ‘āina and vibrant cultural history. Your contributions are instrumental in shaping a Hawaiʻi Island where our keiki can thrive and succeed for generations to come. This is a huge win for our County and our community.”Mitch ROTH
The property was originally granted during the 1840s Māhele land redistribution to the ali‘i (chief) Moses Kekuāiwa when it was still an abundant landscape filled with fish, seaweed, and expansive taro fields watered by mountain streams. Over the next 175 years, the parcel changed ownership several times, eventually becoming the site of a long-neglected beachfront mansion.
Despite the area’s extensive development over time, families with generational ties are now returning to restore traditional relationships with the ‘āina. The acquisition represents a rare space for community to connect to land, heal, and uplift one another after the devastating tropical storm and Lāhainā wildfires this past August.
The protected shoreline and wetlands will also help buffer inland areas from flooding and improve marine ecosystem health.
The Land Trust will co-hold the conservation easement on the property with the county, legally limiting uses to those consistent with resource conservation and the nonprofit’s cultural and agricultural mission. The County of Maui contributed $500,000 towards purchase of the land.
The property contains multiple archaeological sites and anchors the eastern mouth of Honokōhau Valley. Kūpuna Yong recalls the area as emblematic of a thriving ancient Hawaiian ahupua‘a, with the valley feeding a healthy population through extensive kalo lo‘i (taro ponds) while the coast provided ample fishing. The name Honokōhau translates to “the bay drawing dew.”
Over the generations, outside influences of plantation agriculture and private ownership eroded traditional communal lifeways, access to resources, and relationship with ‘āina for many local families.
The community’s vision is for the newly protected land to help restore balance through culture and agriculture. The nonprofit plans to work with Hawaiian language immersion students from preschool through high school in regular hands-on learning.