On Thursday, May 16, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) held a community meeting at the Keawala'i Congressional Church to announce its stewardship of the Palauea Cultural Preserve and to seek community input with regard to the creation of a long-range management plan for one of Maui's cultural treasures.
Located in the heart of the Wailea Resort Complex, the Palauea Cultural Preserve contains numerous important pre-contact cultural sites, including habitation sites, fishing shrines, ancient anchialine wells, heiau and rare native plants. The 20-plus-acre cultural preserve was once the focal point and ceremonial center of a robust fishing community with ties to Kaho'olawe.
Formally conveyed to OHA by the Dowling Corporation in April 2013, OHA Trustee Carmen "Hulu" Lindsey announced alongside University of Hawai'i Maui College (UHMC) Chancellor Clyde Sakamoto that OHA is partnering with the UHMC Hawaiian Studies Department to create a culturally appropriate management plan for the preserve.
Palauea’s anchialine wells may have been similar to those just down the coast at ‘Āhihi Kīna‘u.
Photo: Janet Six
OHA C.E.O. Dr. Kamana'opono Crabbe pointed to UH Hawaiian Studies faculty in attendance--Kahele Dukelow, Kalaikoa Kaeo and Kiope Raymond--as those tasked with creating culturally based educational programs utilizing the preserve as an outdoor classroom. The UHMC faculty members spoke passionately about their desire to step up to this challenge.
The vast majority of the over 30 community members in attendance are kanaka maoli.
Because the conveyance of the Palauea Cultural Preserve took nearly 13 years, there were a few in the audience with specific questions about long-promised community access, the implementation of the Phase I Preservation Plan, Historic Sites status, and other concerns.
Chairperson Colette Machado fielded these questions and made it clear to all those in attendance that OHA was more than up to the task.
According to Machado, there are plenty of resources in place. She said OHA and UHMC faculty would review and revise the original Phase I Preservation Plan created for the Dowling Corp. in 2002. She asked community members to be patient just a little longer as OHA and UHMC get up to speed on this project.
Machado also indicated that the UHMC faculty would be taking the lead in this process and called for the college to create a permanent position stating that the development and implementation of a long-range, management plan for the Palauea Cultural Preserve would be a full-time job.
As the meeting closed, there was genuine sense of joy among the participants who mingled outside while the sun set--for after years of neglect at the hands of developers, they had at long last reclaimed one of their wahi pana (celebrated place).