Historic Land Protection by the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail
The people of Hawai‘i will forever be able walk the path of South Kona’s ancestors, thanks to the purchase and protection of the 59‐acre Kauleolī fishing village by The Trust for Public Land, the National Park Service’s Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, and lineal descendants of the area. This is the first historic site to be purchased and conserved by the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, a unit of the National Park Service.
The cornerstone purchase extends public access and protection for the half mile section of the trail through Kauleolī and the cultural sites on the makai side of the trail, ensuring the continuation of the stories and traditions of this treasured South Kona landscape. Kauleolī connects to the southern border of Pu‘uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park at the ancient fishing village of Ki‘ilae (added to the Park in 2006 with assistance from The Trust for Public Land). Funding for the $3,500,000 purchase was provided by the federal Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) through the National Rivers & Trails Initiative.
“The deeply rooted ‘ohana of Kauleolī and the neighboring ahupua‘a drove this purchase to forever protect Kauleolī, and I’m proud that this effort is in line with the descendant‐led strategic plan for the trail,” said Dennis Hart, President of the Ala Kahakai Trail Association and Kauleolī descendant. The Ala Kahakai Trail Association, a non‐profit Native Hawaiian Organization, was established to ensure that the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail is well connected to the community, that Hawaiian values are practiced to foster collaborative partnerships, and to provide guidance for the work of managing and sustaining the trail in perpetuity.
The trail, also known as the Alanui Aupuni (old Government Road), King’s Trail, or Ala Loa (long path) once encircled the entire island. The historic King’s Trail connects to inland paths providing mauka to makai access, and creates a network of trails that connect communities and cultural sites. The Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail unit of the National Park Service is focused on preserving and interpreting a 175‐mile corridor of the trail from ‘Upolu Point on Hawai‘i Island’s northern tip down the Kona Coast and around South Point to the eastern boundary of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in Puna.
The property includes a well preserved section of the trail with intricately fitted stone pavers and traditional dryset stone walls bordering its sides, the entire half‐mile shoreline of the Kauleolī ahupua‘a (land division), and numerous ancient sites such as Hawaiian house platforms, traditional agriculture areas, and salt making ponds.
Safeguarding Kauleolī also protects crucial habitat for threatened and endemic species such as green sea turtles, migrating humpback whales, ‘ōpae ‘ula and the orangeblack Hawaiian damselfly that live in unique pools formed in lava basins on the shore. “I wish to thank the descendants of Kauleolī and neighboring ahupua‘a for their trust, confidence and for urging the NPS to acquire this land for the public. We’re now looking forward to the creation of a model for community‐based management at Kauleolī and invite all interested to participate in a planning process to restore the cultural landscape by reconnecting and enhancing the connections of descendants in a manner that is authentic and inclusive of all in the community. Special thanks to The Trust for Public Land for their steadfast assistance with the purchase. What a great way to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service along with celebrating this historic acquisition,” said Aric Arakaki, Superintendent for the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail.
The Trust for Public Land began discussing preservation with the landowner Tom Pace in 2010 to provide Mr. Pace with the option to conserve Kauleolī as an alternative to development. “We work with local and Native Hawaiian communities to protect the places that are most important to their identity. Permanently protecting Kauleolī and removing the development threat allows descendants to reconnect in meaningful ways – they can literally walk the path of their ancestors. Kauleolī’s permanent protection also allows the general public to experience and appreciate the mastery of traditional Hawaiian drystack masons and the rich history and stories of South Kona,” reflected Laura Kaakua, Native Lands Project Manager for The Trust for Public Land.