Visiting Kaho’olawe is a fantastic way to get to know the history of the fairly deserted island. Though only about seven miles from Maui’s south shore, few actually visit the island because by law it can be used only for native Hawaiian cultural, spiritual and subsistence purposes, fishing, environmental restoration, historic preservation and education. Now, locals and visitors of Maui will have a place to learn about Kaho’olawe’s history thanks to two grants that will help the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) shine a light on the island.
The first project to benefit from a grant will be the “Hale Hooulu Mea Kanu and Kalamalama: Building Bridges Between Kaho’olawe and Kihei.” The project will prepare an eight-acre parcel of land in Kihei for KIRC’s Kaho’olawe Cultural Center. The grant program responsible, “Kukulu Ola: Living Hawaiian Culture,” will finance the project, which will be built on land set aside by Governor Linda Lingle in 2002. The area will feature an information center, boat house/storage facility and a native Hawaiian plant nursery. The area also will feature a traditional hale for educational programs.
“Hawaiian Culture has always been preserved and maintained through the many stories passed down from generation to generation,” says KIRC Executive Director Michael Nāho‘opi‘i. “The ‘Hale Hooulu Mea Kanu and Kalamalama’ will tell these stories.”
KIRC is also benefiting from the Hawaii Community Foundation/Hawaii Tourism Authority’s “Natural Resources” grant program, which supports projects that help to improve both the visitor experience and resident enjoyment of Hawaii’s natural resources, while also ensuring that the heart of Hawaii’s resources are protected, respected and perpetuated. This grant program will fund the “Kumeheu” trail, a walking trail with native plants and interpretive educational experience about Kaho’olawe. The trail will be located on the same eight-acre Kihei property, giving visitors a unique glimpse of ancient Hawaii and an understanding about Kaho’olawe today without having to travel to the island.
“The South Maui coast is a natural resource, as is Kaho‘olawe,” said Cultural Resources Project Coordinator Kuiokalani Gapero. “This project will enhance public access to this natural coastal resource in an environmentally friendly and respectful manner while adding to the understanding of the natural resources of Kaho‘olawe–in turn–assisting in their protection, restoration and perpetuation.”
The Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) was established by the Hawai‘i State Legislature in 1993 to manage the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve while it is held in trust for a future Native Hawaiian sovereign entity. The KIRC establishes policies and usage of the island and its surrounding waters through comprehensive restoration and monitoring programs. The organization is managed by a seven-member Commission and a committed staff. For more information, call 808-243.5020 or visit kahoolawe.hawaii.gov.
Photo courtesy of KIRC