STAR-BULLETIN / JUNE 2001
Children visiting Mookini Heiau in Kohala approach the walled enclosure across the surrounding lawn.
Hawaiian sites protected
Kamehameha Schools buys two landmarks in Kohala
Kamehameha Schools has purchased 163 acres in Upolu, Kohala, on the Big Island for $5.2 million to protect the area around the birthplace of King Kamehameha and a major heiau from development.
"These purchases are of ancestral significance to Kamehameha Schools," said Neil Hannahs, director of the schools' land assets division, in a news release issued yesterday.
"The Mo'okini Heiau and the Kamehameha birth site are cornerstones of our institutional identity and the history of Hawaiian people. By purchasing these parcels, we essentially protect these areas from encroachment by commercial and residential developers and create a staging area to launch educational and cultural programs," Hannahs added.
Both sites are on the National Historic Register.
The Mookini Heiau on the slopes of Kohala is more than 1,500 years old and about the size of a football field. The heiau, dedicated to the god Ku, is one of Hawaii's oldest and largest historical sites.
The heiau and Kamehameha's birthplace are in a remote area of Kohala, but the Kamehameha Schools said sales of subdivided agricultural land in the area have been increasing.
Kamehameha Schools and surrounding residents have been increasingly concerned about development creating "an inappropriate ambiance around these sacred and unique monuments," the release stated.
Kamehameha Schools officials have been meeting with Kohala residents and the Mo'okini Foundation to discuss the development of educational programs on the recently purchased land. Potential plans include having stewardship opportunities, which would involve the planting of native coastal plants and trees.
"The purchase of the land surrounding these historic sites is a long-term strategy to honor our ancestors, serve our people and perpetuate our culture," Hannahs said.
The property was purchased from Surety Kohala Corp. and EWN Investments.