Kona Coffee Council cream of the crop winner
The owners knew that they had a very special piece of property when they hired Cultural Surveys Hawai’i, Inc. to conduct an archaeology study and produce a report. I intend to write a series of blogs covering some of these spectacular findings. This blog will address the history of the Ahupua’a.
In old HawaiÊ»i, ahupua’a was the common subdivision of the land. It consisted most frequently of a slice of an island that went from the top of the local mountain (volcano) to the shore, often following the boundary of a stream drainage. Each ahupua’a included a lowland mala (cultivated area) and upland forested region. Ahupua’a varied in size depending on the economic means of the location and political divisions of the area.
Ahupua’a is derived from the Hawaiian language ahu, meaning “heap” or “cairn,” and pua’a means pig. The boundary markers for ahupua’a were traditionally heaps of stones used to put offers to the island chief, which was often a pig.
There may have been two reasons for this kind of subdivision:
- Travel—In many areas of Hawai’i, it is easier to travel up and downstream than from stream valley to stream valley.
- Economy—Having all climate zones and economic exploitation zones in each land division ensured that each could be self-sufficient for a large portion of its needs.
Rule over an ahupua’a was given out by the ruling chief to subordinate members of the aliÊ»i. On the larger mountains of Maui and HawaiÊ»i, smaller ahupua’a extended up to about 6,000-8,000 feet elevation, while the higher elevations of an entire district would be included within a single, large ahupua’a.
These ahupua’a, such as Kaneohe, Keauhou, Kapaapala, Keaau, Keanae, Puu Waawa, and Humuula, were highly valued both for their size and because they allowed control over items obtainable only from high-elevation areas, such as high-quality stone for tools and uau (Hawaiian Petrel) chicks. They were given to high-ranking alii, or often retained by the high chief personally.
Geological survey map showing project area:
Following the Great Mahele in 1848, most ahupua’a were split up. ManukÄ, Puu Waawaa, and Puu Anahulu on the island of Hawai’i, are among the few large ahupua’a that remained nearly intact under single ownership (with the exception of some kuleana lots), because they were crown lands owned personally by the monarch.
In spite of this, the impact of the ahupua’a boundaries can be seen in many areas today. For example, the ahupua’a of KeaÊ»au, near Hilo, was purchased as a single unit by the William Herbert Shipman family to farm and raise cattle. Most of the land, however, was eventually sold off to become the large subdivisions of Puna.
The line between the large northern lots (sold by the state as 30-50 acre farms) and 1-3 acre southern lots in the vicinity of Kurtistown, Mountain View, and Glenwood is the boundary between the laa and Keaau ahupua’a. It is also interesting to note that this boundary follows the edge of the 200-400 year-old Ailaau lava flow, and the ahupua’a of Kea’au was undoubtedly originally created from the land devastated by this flow.
1891 Emerson map (R.M.#1281) showing land grants and the location of the seaward Hokukano/Hokuli’a development (the present project lands fall within Grant 865):