Maui’s Mu`olea Point Protected (HI)

HONOLULU, HI, 2/19/2005 -The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Maui County today announced the permanent public protection of M?’olea Point, an extraordinary historic site and 70-acre coastal property between H?na and K?pahulu. TPL recently conveyed the land—worth over $4,000,000—to Maui County after stepping in to purchase the property last September and holding it in trust for five months. The county contributed just under $1 million to the purchase effort. Other funding for the public purchase came from a combination of private donations, a federal appropriation from the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program secured by Senator Daniel Inouye and the late Congresswoman Patsy T. Mink, a grant from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and a state grant. The property retains significant cultural sites along its long shoreline including a large stand of Polynesian coconut trees directly descended from an original grove planted centuries ago. The gently sloping land has been used for generations of local residents for fishing and swimming in an area characterized by steep cliffs and inaccessible coastline.

“This is a success story for the people of H?na who depend on the land for their way of life,” said Senator Inouye, who helped secure federal funds for the project. “M?’olea Point is an important landscape telling the story of our past, but it is also now a place where future generations will forever be able to carry on those traditions.”

TPL undertook a private fundraising effort over the past six months to raise the final funding needed for the purchase, and extended a warm mahalo to those in the community who stepped forward with pledges and donations. “TPL couldn’t do our coastal and cultural conservation work in Hawai’i without the many individuals who step up to make sure that places like M?’olea Point are saved,” said Tily Shue, Director of TPL’s Hawaiian Islands Program. “When everyone contributes a little, great things can be accomplished.”

Congressman Ed Case also supported the purchase. “I am thrilled that a federal-county-private partnership has allowed us to preserve Muo’lea for future generations,” said Case. “I especially want to acknowledge the essential role played by the Trust for Public Land. Protecting Hawaii’s threatened coastal lands from development is one of my highest priorities in Congress—saving M?’olea Point is a victory we can all celebrate.”

Governor Linda Lingle released funding for the project that had been approved as a State Grant from the Legislature. “Public-private partnerships like this one with TPL, the County, and federal funding make sense,” said Lingle. “This is a model that can help protect coastal lands for other communities throughout our State.”

TPL, a private nonprofit, used its private funds to purchase the property last July to protect it from private sale, and then held it off the market until the private and public funds necessary for permanent protection could be secured. Private and corporate foundations contributing to the effort included the McInerny Foundation, LEF Foundation, Maui Electric Company (MECO), Mellam Family Foundation, Alexander and Baldwin, and the Charles Englehard Foundation. Thanks in large part to private donations from residents throughout the Islands over the past several months, TPL was able to utilize a private matching grant and several sources of public funds to ultimately save the property. The property is now owned by the County of Maui and will be managed with the advice and input of a unique local advisory group from the H?na community. TPL worked with the County, local nonprofit groups, and community members to ensure that the community would have a voice in the management of M?’olea Point, and has also pledged resources to help the advisory group and Maui County develop a stewardship plan for the cultural and natural resource-rich land.

“The acquisition of M?’olea Point was a collaborative effort. It took many hands to secure this highly significant cultural land forever. The people of Maui County, and especially the wonderful people of the H?na Coast, my staff and members of my administration, the Maui County Council, the Trust for Public Land, Governor Linda Lingle, the Hawai’i State Legislature, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, all understood the importance of M?’olea and I am grateful to them all for their insight and action,” said Maui Mayor Alan M. Arakawa. “But as grateful as I am, nothing will ever compare to the gratitude of generations to come, who will have these important coastal and cultural resources available and accessible to them forever.”

Senator J. Kalani English (D-H?na, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka’i, L?na’i, and Kaho’olawe) helped secure a state grant for the project and recently sponsored Senate Bill 1897 establishing a State Land Conservation Fund that could aid Maui County’s future efforts to protect additional shoreline. “As a resident of H?na, I am pleased to offer my congratulations to all who worked together to preserve M?’olea. ” English added, “Future generations will remember this act as one of aloha and great foresight.”

State Representative Mele Carroll worked in the Mayor’s office to secure grant funding for the project and now represents the district where M?’olea is located. “This project was a labor of love for many of us in the H?na community, and I think this success illustrates the importance of having dedicated funding for land protection at both the County and State level to save critical places like M?’olea.”

M?’olea Point plays a prominent role in several Native Hawaiian myths and stories, including the riveting tale of the capture of a half-man, half-shark in ancient times. Remarkably intact Hawaiian structures abound on the land, including evidence of a large undocumented heiau. In the 1880s, King Kal?kaua built a summer home on the land and passed it on to his sister and Hawai’i’s last Queen, Lili’uokalani, after his death. “

This is wonderful news that M?’olea Point has finally been protected.” Said Patrick Kirch, a prominent archaeologist and former director of the Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley who examined the sites on the property. “This land is potentially a treasure trove of information and is quite unique in its mix of ethnobotanical and archaeological sites—even more so because so many local families and their knowledge still have ties to the area.”

Members of the local community have come to M?’olea Point for generations to get limu (seaweed), swim in coastal pools, and teach children to fish. According to k?puna Daisy Lind, “This place helps us maintain our traditional ways with the land and sea, and gives us the opportunity to pass that knowledge on to our children.” The Office of Hawaiian Affairs helped protect the cultural resources and traditional practices on the land by providing a grant towards the purchase and protection of M?’olea Point.

“The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, in accordance with its mission, is pleased to have been able to combine with other organizations and governments to secure for posterity our Hawaiian history, culture, and land,” stated Boyd P. Mossman, OHA Trustee from Maui. “We look forward to similar partnerships in the future in the interests of Hawaiians and others.”

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. With funding from the federal Land & Water Conservation Fund, Forest Legacy Program, state and local open-space funds, and other public and private investments, TPL has helped to protect nearly 2 million acres nationwide. In Hawaii, TPL has protected almost 2,000 acres. For more information, visit TPL on the web at

Posted 2/2005