Hōkūnui Maui is located in the area of Hamakua Poko Moku (district) in the Makawao Ahupua’a. Two primary gulches define the boundaries of Hōkūnui: Kailua to the southwest and Maliko to the northeast.

Cultural Assessment Study for Hōkūnui Maui
Prepared by Colleen Medeiros – Kua‘aina Consultants
September 2015 – Summary of 203 page Report

This study is an in depth view of historical documents, archeological information, Land Commission Awards and historic maps identifying traditional Hawaiian land use activities, cultural resources, beliefs and practices in this specific area of Hamakua Poko Moku (district of which there are 9 on Maui) in the Makawao Ahupua’a. People from the area with knowledge of past and present cultural practices were interviewed. This research and final report specifically analyzes the cultural impact this proposed project might have on the above mentioned activities.

Pre-contact Hawaiian settlement took place in the lands of Makawao Ahupuaʻa around the year A. D. 1620. Until this time, as early as A. D. 1420, the population is believed to have been concentrated along the coastal reaches of Hāmakuā Poko Moku, in Kūʻau and Pāʻia, and in the broad sections of Māliko Gulch and Kailua Gulch, where ocean resources and freshwater resources were easily accessible and abundant. There are two primary gulches that define the boundaries of Hōkūnui; Kailua to the east and Maliko to the west.

This gap in settlement between the coastal region and the upland region may be defined simply by Makawao’s distance from coastal resources which earlier Hawaiian settlers relied on. Hawaiians likely made occasional treks mauka for the collection of forest resources such as koa and ʻōhiʻa for canoe building and house construction materials, then over time Hawaiians began to settle here. Traditional Hawaiian ceremonies associated with both forest resource collection and dryland agriculture such as ʻuala (sweet potato) and dryland kalo, without a doubt, took place here. Makawao’s rich agricultural soils coupled with adequate rainfall and the freshwater resources of the Waiohiwi, Kahakapao, Māliko and Kailua Streams would have provided those living here with enough food and water, only finding the need to travel down to the coast to barter for fish and other ocean resources as desired.

The cool climate, majestic views, fertile soils, and forest resources also made Makawao a popular location with early foreign settlers, both whaling men and missionaries. Early foreign members of this community, instrumental in the region’s development and land use through history, include Edwin Miner, William McLane, and Rev. Jonathan S. Green. With later members of the community consisting of children of the missionary families; Lorrin Thurston, Samuel Alexander and Henry Perrine Baldwin, to name a few. Houses and workshops of canoe builders remained in existence in the higher elevations during the 1800s-1840s. The above mentioned foreign settlers further developed the area’s sugar plantations, and by 1849 approximately 700 acres in Makawao were planted in sugarcane, with 200 of those acres settled and operated by Hawaiians.

The most significant change in the land-use patterns and land allocation came with the Great Mahele of 1848, when lands of the Kingdom of Hawaii were divided between mo‘i (king), ali‘I (chiefs), konohiki (resident overseers of an ahupua’a), and make‘ainana (tenants of the land) which allowed the land to pass into the Western land tenure model of private ownership. Protestant missionaries became more deeply established and intertwined in Hawaiian politics influencing chiefly decisions in the areas of land ownership, establishment of education centers, the sugar and cattle ranching industry. Approximately 80 tracts of land were offered as an experimental sale leading up to and during the Mahele in fee simple by way of Land Grant Patents in the Makawao region of Hamakua Poko.

McLane and Miner obtained the first government lease of lands (which include the lands of the current project area) for use as a sugar plantation, with possibly the first formal rights to water and access to the coast for raising and shipment of livestock. Rev. Green was instrumental in Makawao’s history as he worked as a dedicated missionary who spread Christianity through the establishment of Poʻokela Church, while also encouraging the Hawaiian population to become more industrious by farming and planting western crops such as wheat and corn. In addition to his other roles in the community, Rev. Green became the land agent for the sale of Makawao lands. Based on the Hawaiian Government Survey maps of these sales, those who purchased lands in Makawao were predominantly Hawaiian. The transitions from traditional Hawaiian spiritual beliefs and a subsistence-based land tenure system, to Christians in the mold established and set out by American Congregationalist missionaries, set the groundwork for significant transitions in the cultural practices of this area. Few other western introduced concepts changed the face of the landscape more than the concept of private land ownership throughout Maui and the island chain.

From the time of the Māhele forward we see fewer and fewer Native Hawaiian tenants and it appears that as the sugar plantations expanded operations, the properties originally purchased by Hawaiians were bought or otherwise acquired by the sugar companies. As history progressed, and the small sugar plantations grew, so did the demand for labor. Chinese, Japanese and Portuguese contract laborers made their way to Makawao. With their arrival came their cultural traditions and spiritual practices. They establish Christian, Buddhist and Catholic religious centers in Makawao and eventually purchased land and established businesses. The sugar companies then diversified with cattle ranching operations and dairy operations.

Eventually, the majority of these early sugar companies and cattle ranches consolidated with two companies, Haleakala Ranch Company and Maui Pineapple Company, dominating the fee ownership of Makawao. While some of the early migrant laborers continued in agricultural farming, others became the cowboys, merchants, and shop owners of Makawao. Cross cultural marriages of Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese and missionary populations has always been common, and continues to this day. The cattle ranching industry and the agricultural industries became the predominant drivers of the economy and established the rural, pastoral, agricultural, and ranching community that makes up contemporary Makawao town. Most recently Maui experienced the end of the large-scale pineapple industry, when Maui Pineapple Company ceased their operations in 2008 and virtually all their pineapple lands were put up for sale. Today, we see tourism as a major driver of Hawaii’s economy, and to accommodate the shift, Makawao caters to this growing visitor industry.

This is the history of the lands of the project area. This land has predominantly been in agriculture since Hawaiians settled here prior to the arrival of Capt. Cook. These lands have been forested lands, traditional Hawaiian agricultural lands, sugarcane plantations, cattle pastures and pineapple fields. Hawaiians and foreigners alike have lived on the lands of the project area, although current generations have never seen housing on these lands. The following are recommendations related to the proposed project impacts to traditional cultural practices.



We strive to marry the traditional Hawaiian practices with our modern day regenerative methods. As a team, we represent a broad spectrum of cultures with the desire to inspire a symbiotic relationship between our natural resources and community.

Recommendation 1:

To maintain the quality of nearby freshwater resources, it is recommended that best management practiced are utilized during all phases of project development to keep all streams and gulches free from construction and agricultural debris and run-off as these sediments may interfere with and contaminate nearby fresh water resources, as well as coastal ocean resources by way of siltation and the addition of an imbalance of nutrients into waterways.

Recommendation 2:

Burial SIHP 50-50-06-5501 is located in the southeastern corner of the current project area.  There is a Burial Preservation Plan in place.

Recommendation 3:

It is recommended that activities associated with the proposed development do not adversely impact the neighboring St. Joseph’s Church and their continued religious practices


Recommendation 4:

Current development plans show 42 housing units (main houses and cottages) clustered on 20 acres adjacent to Piʻiholo Road. The proposal for housing in a location where current generations have never seen housing will alter the viewshed and elements of the viewshed, including cultural and traditional landmarks. It is recommended that considerations to the viewshed be made that retain elements in alignment with the lands traditional forested, agricultural and pastoral character. To minimize the impacts of viewable housing, strategic planting of indigenous and endemic tree and shrub species such as koa, ʻōhiʻa, ʻiliahi, halapepe, etc., to maintain and preserve traditional viewshed corridors is further recommended.

Recommendation 5:

The project area contains a historic access trail, the Bridle Path, which was said to have been important in the movement of people who lived in Makawao, to access neighboring regions including Hāʻiku and Haleakalā Crater. Consideration should be given to re-establishing this historically significant feature of the property. Consultation with the State agency Na Ala Hele is recommended for further guidance regarding historic access trials.


Recommendation 6:

Traditional Hawaiian plant collection and harvesting of forest resources likely took place within and around the project area. It is recommended that plant communities known to have grown here historically be reestablished and that cultural practitioners (artists, traditional healers, hula practitioners, etc.) be allowed to gather such items. Consultation with these practitioners and local botanists will help to establish both the most desired species and the most appropriate plant species for reestablishment.

Recommendation 7:

Due to the community concerns expressed about the impacts of the proposed project on water resources, particularly the availability of water to support this project, it is recommended that the project principals, in conjunction with a recognized hydrological expert, address these concerns with the public.


Recommendation 8:

Based on community concerns and suggestions, it is recommended that farming operations are established prior to the development of housing.