An additional 33 acres along the Hāna Coast in East Maui are now permanently protected through a multi-partner effort.
Ke Ao Hāliʻi, a Hāna-based nonprofit community organization, in partnership with the State of Hawaiʻi, Maui County, and Hawai’i Land Trust, has partnered in the protection of the Mokae II Designated Area to the future generations.
The protection of Mokae II represents the completion of one of the final phases of a decades-long effort to conserve more than 150 acres along a 1.5-mile coastline south of the town of Hāna, s’ extending 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 biocultural resources,” the partners said in a joint press release.
Maui County provided a grant of $2,469,300, while the Hawaii State Legacy Lands Conservation Program contributed $1,194,000 to the effort. Hawaiʻi Land Trust and Ke Ao Hāliʻi raised private funds from the Freeman Foundation and many others to fill the last funds needed for purchase. Many community members also donated in-kind services for a successful acquisition.
The project spans two decades of cooperative efforts by Hāna Ranch Partners, Maui County Open Space Program, State LLCP, Hawaiʻi Land Trust and members of the Hāna community.
- 2002 & 2014 – Initial Hāna Coast Conservation Protection in Makaʻalae: In 2002, Hawaiʻi Land Trust worked with landowner Hāna Ranch Partners on HILT’s first conservation easement in Hawaiʻi, permanently protecting 46 acres in Makaʻalae from this known to Hāna families as Pōhakuloa Bay. In 2014, HILT was able to protect an additional 14 acres at Makaʻalae with conservation easements.
- 2018 – Members of the Hāna community united to “Save Hāna Coast”, creating Ke Ao Hāliʻi, an organization dedicated to the protection of undeveloped and open Hāna lands, guided by a community commitment to the ownership and management of this coastline .
- March 2020 – Acquisition of Mokae I (Phase I): In 2020, after nearly 3 years of effort, Ke Ao Hāliʻi finalized its initial purchase of 27 acres in Mokae overlooking Hāmoa Beach. This was accomplished in partnership with HILT, the State LLCP and the Maui County Open Space Program. These 27 acres at Mokae are now permanently protected as undeveloped open space under a conservation easement jointly owned by Hawaiʻi Land Trust and Maui County. The protection of Mokae I provides permanent open space, community management of historic burial grounds and cultural sites, and vital access for community subsistence and gathering practices. Hāna Ranch Partners then donated an adjacent 2-acre parcel, called Puʻu Hele, along Haneoʻo Road, Ke Ao Hāliʻi.
- November 2021 – Acquisition of Makaʻalae (Phase II): In 2021, Ke Ao Hāliʻi, again in partnership with HILT, the State LLCP and the Maui County Open Space Fund, acquired an additional 30 acres at Makaʻalae Point. The acquisition of this iconic coastal land expanded the open space protected by a conservation easement jointly owned by HILT and Maui County.
- June 2022 – Acquisition of Mokae II (Phase III): Ke Ao Hāliʻi, Hawaiʻi Land Trust, the State LLCP and the Maui County Open Spaces Program have partnered to acquire an additional 33 acres, closing the gap in the conservation of adjacent lands 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 to have Hana Ranch Partners generously donate to Ke Ao Hāliʻi the underlying property 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 provide permanent protection through a conservation easement of all lands Ke Ao Hāliʻi has acquired. Phase IV will complete a 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) due to the Native Hawaiians who lived and are buried there, as well as significant Hawaiian mythology and legends of the area.
“The open lands include historic sites from antiquity, the eras of sugarcane plantations and early ranching. This stunning coastline is now forever protected for its subsistence food gathering, cultural, agricultural and open space values,” according to the partners.
“Growing up in Hāna was about family, unity, freedom and survival. The ehukai is refreshed, energized and strengthened. That’s why I’m part of Ke Ao Hāli’i, to make sure all our Hāna families are given the opportunity to feel purified, empowered, safe, loved and capable. Ke Ao Hāli’i’s securing of coastal lands gives Hāna Hawaiians a place away from the eyes of the world to be ourselves,” said Sam Akoi IV, subsistence harvester, practitioner and board member of Ke Ao Hāliʻi.
“The success of Ke Ao Hāli’i and its partners in securing land integrity in Mokae II and saving 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 President Suzanne Case. “Working together, DLNR, Maui County, Ke Ao Hāli’i and Hawaiʻi Land Trust have now completed three of five Maui’s land acquisitions to date that have been aided by LLCP grants, and 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 the few remaining Hawaiian communities in Hawai’i, so preserving 30 acres of shoreline is absolutely the right thing to do,” said Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino. “That’s why Maui County provided a grant of $2,469,300 to make this dream a reality. The relationship between Native Hawaiians and the ‘āina is eternal, so it is a treasured gift for all, including generations past and generations to come.
“The conservation easement will prohibit subdivision and development, protect native ocean food systems and Hawaiian foraging practices, support local agriculture, and maintain community access in perpetuity,” said Laura Kaakua, President and CEO. management of Hawaiʻi Land Trust. “When you’re in Mokae feeling the ocean breeze, seeing the local community fish and passing ancient sites, you can’t help but be grateful that Mokae is still here. We are grateful for the generous support of our public and private partners, and our local communities, who have come together to permanently safeguard this irreplaceable wahi kupuna (place of the ancestors).
To learn more about this effort, visit savehanacoast.org/campaign.