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Then & Now

In search of new opportunities to establish community, ancient Polynesians first settled the lands at Hokuli‘a nearly 1,000 years ago. They were drawn here by calm fishing waters and an abundant fresh water supply. It was here that the ali‘i (Hawaiian royalty) established the first royal centers, beginning an era of extensive development and agricultural innovation for the Hawaiian people.

History of Hokuli‘a

The First Polynesians landing at Hokuli'aThe first evidence of settlement at Hokuli'a appears just inland of Nāwāwā Bay. There are a number of reasons the Polynesians may have chosen this place. It was the best canoe landing zone in the area, providing access to marine resources, marine transportation and fresh water near the shore. It is also close to Pu‘u Ohau, the most visible landmark on the site, providing a clear orienting landmark and excellent observation post.

Finally, it is intersected by the Stepping Stone Trail providing direct access to an important communication and resource route. Although this trail is not yet dated, it is assumed likely that it was in use during this period.

aRS8804_CP20_6-1During this period there was a dramatic increase in the establishment of inland habitation and agricultural sites, as well as the earliest evidence for sweet potato in the ahupua‘a that make up the project area. A common interpretation of the move inland and increase in agricultural activity is that the population was growing, resulting in an increased demand for food production. This interpretation is supported by the development of other infrastructure to support a growing society, one such being the development of a larger monumental heiau and Hokukano Village, remains of which are still present on the site today.

SustainableAgriculture technology advances during this period intensified at Hokuli‘a with the advent of practices like the Kona Field System, a complex network of stone structures built in a variety of designs intended to capture and direct moisture between and upon land which a range of crops were grown. The Ke‘eke‘e and Hōkūkano Agricultural Preserves present on the site today exemplify the sophistication of design adaptation to account for the different growing conditions in these locations. It is likely that agricultural production during this time would have included u‘ala (sweet potato), ‘ulu (breadfruit), lauhala (pandanus, used for weaving), wauke (paper mulberry, used for kapa), and some kalo (dryland taro).

Rock Wall at Hokuli'aOver the next 100 years, the lands of Hokuli‘a were used extensively for growing sugar and, thanks to the introduction of kao (goats) and hipa (sheep) by Captain Cook in 1778, ranching. These animals were originally allowed to roam freely but by the early 1800’s Hawaiians had begun to construct walls and enclosures to contain the animals that had started to cause significant damage to crops, homes, and indigenous forest. Hokuli‘a is home to one of the more famous of these walled constructions built to protect life and property. Referred to variously as pā nui (Great Wall), pā Kuakini (Kuakini’s Wall), pā ‘āina (Land Division Wall), and pā pipi (Cattle Wall) this wall extends 15 miles from Lanihau to Onouli. Hokuli‘a continued to be a significantly populated area over the course of this time period, seeing the introduction of schools and increased settlement along the Kona coast and in the Mauka communities of Keahauo and Kealakakua.

The True Hawaii

Hokuli‘a is the furthest thing from the engineered vacation resort. There are no chain restaurants, no strip malls and no tour buses. Members and visitors will experience what it is like to live like a local in Hawai‘i.

You can feel the heartbeat of Hawai‘i in Hokuli‘a. Surrounded by vibrant farming communities, historical sites (Captain Cook landed just around the corner at Kealakekua Bay) and numerous cultural landmarks.

Poke stands and family run restaurants dot the high road from Kailua-Kona to Kealakekua offering tasty locally grown (or caught) food, stunning views and a chance to tune into the “coconut wireless” with the locals. Cafes offer the chance to taste the area’s local coffee varietals. Kailua-Kona itself is just 15 minutes away offering a wealth of shopping and dining experiences, yet a totally different vibe that you get from a tourist town or resort.