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Kohala Community Nonprofit Purchases Historic 27.5-Acre Coastal Property

The Kohala community nonprofit Maika‘i Kamakani ‘O Kohala, Inc. announced that it purchased more than 27.5 acres of undeveloped shoreline at Kauhola Point, located in Hala‘ula, North Kohala.

Making the $1.3 million purchase possible was a public-private partnership of the state Legacy Land Conservation Program under the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, The Trust for Public Land, Maika‘i Kamakani ‘O Kohala, Inc., Malama Kai Foundation’s Ocean Warriors Program, the Dorrance Family Foundation, the Freeman Family Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, the HEI Charitable Foundation, the Hawaii Electric Light Company, The Trust for Public Land’s Advisory Council Member Edmund Olson, the Zirinsky family (a Trust for Public Land donor), and many community members and stakeholders.

The spectacular property encompasses the vast majority of the peninsula known as Kauhola Point. The property affords Kohala families a safe and beautiful place to spend quality time together and engage in healthy outdoor activities, is a recognized model of community stewardship, and connects the people of Kohala to their rich Hawaiian history.

Kauhola Point has been used as a community-gathering place from wā kahiko (ancient times) to present day. King Kamehameha I, who united the Hawaiian Islands, rested here after warfare and focus on peacetime activities — recreation, marriage and agriculture. Kamehameha taught his most beloved wife, Ka‘ahumanu, how to surf in the waters of Maliu off the property’s shores. As noted on an 1893 Hawaiian government map, the property was the site of Kamehameha’s Taro Patches and Kamehameha’s Fishpond.

The remains of Mulei‘ula heiau, possibly Ohau heiau, and another unmarked sacred site, are thought to be places of worship of Kamehameha and other chiefly lines that existed prior to the Kamehameha dynasty.

During the sugarcane era, this was the official recreation area for plantation families, and the site of numerous company and ethnic organizations’ picnics and softball games. To this day, children in North Kohala grow up exercising with their kupuna (elders), fishing, swimming, and learning how to surf at “lighthouse,” a loving nickname given to the property and surrounding area due to the iconic Kauhola Point Lighthouse that once stood guard there.

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County Of Hawai‘i Acquires Pāo‘o Partnership With State and Trust for Public Land Conserves Shoreline Kohala Land

Media Release:

The County of Hawai‘i, the Trust for Public Land (TPL), and the State of Hawai‘i Legacy Land Conservation Program announced today the County’s successful acquisition of Pāo‘o, a 10.67-acre coastal parcel in Kohala near the County’s recent Kaiholena acquisition.

“With the acquisition of Pāo‘o, in addition to our earlier purchase of Kaiholena, we are putting together the largest and most significant shoreline access park in the state, rich in local historic and cultural significance, and with tremendous recreational opportunities for the benefit our Hawaii Island families,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “I’m extremely pleased that our partnership with the Trust for Public Land and state Legacy Land Conservation Commission has resulted in this acquisition of Pao`o, which demonstrates our commitment to work closely with state and private agencies to preserve our important lands for future generations.”

The property at Pāo‘o includes over 27 cultural and historical sites that are part of an extensive series of traditional Hawaiian fishing villages located along the Kohala coast, including the villages at the nearby Lapakahi State Historical Park listed on the State and National Historic Registers. The Hawai‘i County Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Commission (PONC) ranked this property #2 on its priority list for acquisition. The property is also located along the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, a network of trails stretching 175 miles along the coastline of the island of Hawai‘i.

Funds for the $1.89 million purchase price came from the State of Hawai‘i Legacy Land Conservation Program administered by the State Department of Land and Natural Resources and the County PONC fund. $945,000 of the purchase price came from the State Legacy Land Conservation Program, which was created in 2005 and sets aside 10% of the state conveyance tax for real estate sold in Hawai‘i for land conservation. $945,000 of PONC monies were tapped for the County’s purchase. The PONC fund was created in 2006 and sets aside 2% of real property taxes for land conservation.

Laura Thielen, Director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, which administers the State Legacy Land Conservation Program, stated, ” It is part of DLNR’s mission to protect Hawaii’s unique natural, cultural and historic resources; as a funding partner in this acquisition, the State has helped to place the lands in the hands of a partner that will work with surrounding community to steward and protect these resources..”

In cooperation with the County, the TPL secured private financing and purchased the property in April 2010 from the private landowner, Aloha Properties, LLC, in order to take the property off the market and ensure that the County would be able to acquire the property. TPL also assisted the County in applying for $945,000 from the State Legacy Land Conservation Program. TPL’s Hawaiian Islands Program Director, Lea Hong, stated: ” Pāo‘o is an amazing cultural legacy for the Big Island and the entire State of Hawai‘i. The Trust for Public Land was happy to work with the landowner, the County, and the State Legacy Land Commission, to voluntarily conserve Pāo‘o where the public can enjoy continued access to the shoreline, and where important cultural sites can be treasured and conserved. We look forward to continuing to work with the County and the State to conserve special places throughout Hawai‘i Island.”