238-Acre Purchase Doubles Kona National Historical Park

Honolulu, HI – The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the National Park Service announced today that the fragile and culturally rich lands of Ki’ilae surrounding the popular Pu’uhonua o H?naunau National Historical Park (also known as the “City of Refuge”) have been permanently protected for public enjoyment. In the face of certain development, TPL stepped in to purchase and hold the property nearly five years ago, allowing the National Park Service the time required to obtain the necessary funding. ?

“We are really pleased that these historic lands are now in the right hands,” said TPL-Hawai’i Director Lea Hong. “The lesson of Ki’ilae is that patience and partnership pay off.” TPL acquired the 238 acres from a developer in 2001 and held the property while the complex process of re-drawing the park boundary and securing the funding for final protection finally became a reality.” ?

The nonprofit Trust for Public Land lauded Senators Daniel K. Inouye and Daniel Akaka, as well as the late Representative Patsy Mink for the ultimate success of the acquisition. Both Akaka and Mink introduced bills in 2001 to include the Ki’ilae lands within an expanded park boundary, and Mink”s bill eventually became law after her passing, capping a legacy of environmental protection by the late Representative. “This is the final step in a long journey and a fitting tribute to Patsy,” said Senator Akaka. “We worked very hard together to make sure that these South Kona lands would remain protected for the people.” ?

Senator Inouye, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, added: “It is increasingly important that we seize opportunities to protect crucial cultural lands like H?naunau.? Acquisition of this area will protect extraordinary early Hawaiian cultural sites, and expand the public understanding and interpretation of cultural traditions and Hawaiian subsistence patterns.”?Akaka and Inouye led the Hawai’i delegation’s effort to secure the $4.6 million in federal funding required to preserve the land. ?

“We can’t say enough about the determination of our delegation to see this through,” said Hong. “We’re thrilled that the risk that TPL took to get this land off the market when subdivision loomed, ultimately paid off for the community on the Big Island.” ?

Representative Ed Case, congressman for the area, lent support from the House in the effort to secure funding.” This is an important place that speaks to the special history of Hawai’i,” said Representative Case. “Our coastal lands and historic sites need all the protection we can muster, and this partnership with?The Trust for Public?Land and the Kona community?has protected one of the crown jewels of our state.

“Geri Bell, superintendent of Pu”uhonua o H?naunau NHP, welcomed the land to its new home. “”We”re so pleased that the entire Ki’ilae Village is now part of the park and we can begin to protect, preserve, and interpret one of the most culturally significant areas in the Nation.” A 1977 master plan for the Historical Park originally contemplated expansion in the culturally significant Ki’ilae area, and recent studies have identified over 1,000 archaeological sites within the 238 acres. Bell continued, “So many people worked so hard on this, not just the congressional delegation and TPL but also the local community members, two of whom went so far as to travel to Washington DC to urge the protection of their ancestors” fishing village.” ?

The acquisition means that Pu”uhonua o H?naunau NHP will grow from 182 acres to 420, and encompass more coastline as well as an ancient agricultural field system in the mauka lands. The historical park was established in 1961 and currently receives approximately 500,000 visitors a year. The immaculately restored coastal park features a sacred compound that serves as the most famous example of a Pu’uhonua” in Hawai’i, an area of safe haven for those who broke the kapu system under traditional native Hawaiian law and sought clemency.

A dedication ceremony for the Ki”ilae addition is planned for early January and will be held at the National Historical Park.

The Trust For Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization founded in 1972 to conserve land for people. In Hawai”i, TPL works side by side with land trusts, community groups and public agencies to protect lands important to the people of Hawai’i.