Saturday, January 30, 2010

Heiau in Hawaii Kai

Pahua heiau, at the end of Makahuena Place, offers some evidence that this area may once have been a center of fishing and agriculture in what is now Hawaii Kai. The structure, estimated to be about 600 years old, is thought to have been an agricultural heiau or fishing shrine used by ancient Hawaiians planting sweet potatoes and dryland kalo (taro) or harvesting from fishponds that once lined the coast.

Pahua heiau sits on land gifted to OHA (Office of Hawaiian Affairs) by Kamehameha Schools in 1988. The heiau was partially restored by the Outdoor Circle in the mid-1980s, but remains relatively obscure to any but Hawaiian cultural practitioners and hikers, who reference the heiau as the starting landmark of the Kamiloiki Ridge Trail.

OHA conservation land manager Kevin Chang believes that the site can be a vehicle for community dialogue about sustainable land use and stewardship over a culturally significant resource. Chang applied for, and received, a $10,000 national conservation grant from Audubon and Toyota. This TogetherGreen Fellowship is meant to engage local residents in conservation and environmental health practices at the community level.

"Among OHA's goals for real estate is this idea of bridging the ancient use of land with future land use patterns," said Jonathan Scheuer, land management director for OHA. "As Hawai'i continues to change and develop, we want to do so in a way that the historic presence of Hawaiians is not obliterated from the landscape."

Chang is using the resources of OHA to assess the full historical relevance of Pahua heiau and the best way to revive the site's cultural significance within the surrounding community. "I'm going about it slowly. We want to be good neighbors and also culturally appropriate," said Chang. "It's balancing the past and the present and also breathing life into something we tend to see as only existing in the past."

Hawaii Kai is truly a special place. Request my free Relocation Guide and contact me about becoming a resident of our East Oahu paradise.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

(resource: Honolulu Advertiser)

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