An additional 33 acres along the Hāna coast in East Maui is now permanently protected thanks to a multi-partner effort.
Ke Ao Hāliʻi, a Hāna-based nonprofit community organization, in partnership with the State of Hawaiʻi, County of Maui, and Hawai‘i Land Trust, joined in protecting the area referred to Mokae II for future generations.
The protection of Mokae II represents the completion of one of the final phases of a decades-long effort to conserve over 150 acres along a 1.5-mile coastline south of Hāna town, stretching from Hāmoa Beach at Mokae to Makaʻalae Point and Waioka Pond.
“These coastal lands are critical to preserving Maui’s food-producing lands, open spaces, and bio-cultural resources,” the partners said in a joint press release.
The County of Maui contributed a grant of $2,469,300, while the State of Hawaiʻi Legacy Land Conservation Program contributed $1,194,000 toward this effort. Hawaiʻi Land Trust and Ke Ao Hāliʻi raised private funds from The Freeman Foundation and many others to fill in the last purchase funds needed. Many in the community also donated in-kind services for a successful acquisition.
The project spans two decades of cooperative efforts by Hāna Ranch Partners, the County of Maui’s Open Space Program, the State LLCP, Hawaiʻi Land Trust, and members of the Hāna community.
- 2002 & 2014 – Initial Conservation Protection of Hāna Coast at Makaʻalae: In 2002, Hawaiʻi Land Trust worked with landowner Hāna Ranch Partners on HILT’s first conservation easement in Hawaiʻi, permanently protecting 46 acres at Makaʻalae fronting what Hāna families know as Pōhakuloa Bay. In 2014, HILT was able to protect an additional 14 acres at Makaʻalae with conservation easements.
- 2018 – Members of the the Hāna community united to “Save Hāna Coast,” establishing Ke Ao Hāliʻi, an organization dedicated to protecting undeveloped, open-space Hāna lands that is guided by a community-based commitment for both ownership and stewardship of this coastline.
- March 2020 – Mokae I Acquisition (Phase I): In 2020, after nearly 3 years of effort, Ke Ao Hāliʻi completed its initial purchase of 27 acres at Mokae overlooking Hāmoa Beach. This was accomplished in partnership with HILT, the State LLCP, and the County of Maui’s Open Space Program. These 27 acres at Mokae are now permanently protected as undeveloped open space under a conservation easement co-held by Hawaiʻi Land Trust and the County of Maui. Mokae I’s protection provides permanent open space, community-based stewardship for historic burial grounds and cultural sites, and vital access for community subsistence and gathering practices. Hāna Ranch Partners subsequently donated an adjacent 2-acre parcel, referred to as Puʻu Hele, along Haneoʻo Road, to Ke Ao Hāliʻi.
- November 2021 – Makaʻalae Acquisition (Phase II): In 2021, Ke Ao Hāliʻi, again with in partnership with HILT, the State LLCP and Maui County’s Open Space Fund, acquired an additional 30 acres at Makaʻalae Point. Acquisition of this iconic coastal land extended the open space protected by a conservation easement co-held by HILT and the County of Maui.
- June 2022 – Mokae II Acquisition (Phase III): Ke Ao Hāliʻi, Hawaiʻi Land Trust, the State LLCP, and the County of Maui’s Open Space Program partnered to acquire an additional 33 acres, closing the gap in conserving the lands adjacent and between those protected in 2020 and 2021.
- Future – Phase IV (Makaʻalae, Kākiʻo and Puʻu Hele): Ke Ao Hāliʻi, Hana Ranch Partners and Hawaiʻi Land Trust are working toward Hana Ranch Partners generously donating to Ke Ao Hāliʻi the underlying fee ownership of the 56 acres previously placed under conservation easements in 2002 and 2014 (Initial Conservation), and a 7- acre parcel along Hāna Hwy. Ke Ao Hāliʻi and HILT are committed to working together to ensure permanent protection via conservation easement of all lands that Ke Ao Hāliʻi has acquired. Phase IV will complete a more than 20-year effort to permanently protect over 150 contiguous acres of Hāna’s undeveloped coastal lands.
The groups note that the lands are sacred (wahi pana) because of the Native Hawaiians that lived and are buried there, and the significant Hawaiian mythology and legends of the area.
“The open-space lands include historic sites from ancient times, and the eras of sugar plantations and the start of ranching. This stunning coastline is now foreever protected for its subsistence food gathering, cultural, agricultural, and open-space values,” according to the partners.
“Growing up in Hāna was all about family, togetherness, freedom and survival. The ehukai refreshed, energized, and empowered. This is why I’m a part of Ke Ao Hāli‘i, to ensure all of our Hāna families have the opportunity to feel cleansed, empowered, safe, loved, capable. Ke Ao Hāli‘i’s securing of the coastal land gives Hāna Hawaiians a place away from the eyes of the world to be ourselves,” said Sam Akoi IV, a subsistence gatherer, practitioner, and board member of Ke Ao Hāliʻi.
“The success of Ke Ao Hāli‘i and its partners to secure the integrity of lands at Mokae II and save the Hāna coast for future generations is a powerful example of how community-based land conservation for our islands can be supported with public and private funding,” said DLNR Chair Suzanne Case. “Working together, the DLNR, Maui County, Ke Ao Hāli‘i and Hawaiʻi Land Trust have now completed three of the five Maui land acquisitions to date that were assisted with grants from the LLCP, with more on the horizon. These accomplishments exemplify practices that align with and amplify proverbial wisdom, such as Hoʻomoe wai kāhi ke kāoʻo, Let all travel together like water flowing in one direction (Mary Kawena Pukui, ʻŌlelo Noʻeau 1102).”
“Hāna is one of Hawai‘i’s few remaining Hawaiian communities, so preserving 30 acres of coastline is absolutely the right thing to do,” said Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino. “That’s why the County of Maui contributed a grant of $2,469,300 to make this dream a reality. The relationship between Native Hawaiians and the ‘āina is everlasting, so this is a precious gift for all, including past generations and generations to come.”
“The conservation easement will prohibit subdivision and development, protect indigenous ocean food systems and Hawaiian gathering practices, support local agriculture, and maintain community access in perpetuity,” said Laura Kaakua, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hawaiʻi Land Trust. “When you are at Mokae feeling the ocean breeze, seeing the local community fish, and walking past ancient sites, you canʻt help but be grateful that Mokae is still here. We are thankful for the generous support of our public and private partners, and our local communities, who came together to permanently safeguard this irreplaceable wahi kupuna (place of the ancestors).”
To learn more about this effort, visit savehanacoast.org/campaign.