BREAKING: 33 acres of Hāna Coast now permanently protected at Mokae II

Moka II. VC: Hawaiʻi Land Trust / Music: Ua Kea O Hāna – Makana

Another 33 acres along the Hāna Coast in east Maui are now permanently protected thanks to the efforts of multiple partners.

Ke Ao Hāliʻi, a Hāna-based non-profit community organization, partnered with the State of Hawaii, County of Maui and the Hawai’i Land Trust to protect the area designated Mokae II for future generations.

The protection of Mokae II marks the completion of one of the final phases of a decade-long effort to conserve over 150 acres along a 1.5-mile stretch of shoreline south of the town of Hāna, stretching from Hāmoa Beach in Mokae to Makaʻalae Point and Waioka Pond extends.

“These coastal areas are critical to the conservation of Maui’s agricultural land, open space and biocultural resources,” the partners said in a joint press release.

The County of Maui contributed a grant of $2,469,300, while the State of Hawaii’s Legacy Land Conservation Program contributed $1,194,000 to this effort. Hawaiʻi Land Trust and Ke Ao Hāliʻi raised private funds from the Freeman Foundation and many others to fill the last needed purchase funds. Many in the community also made donations in kind towards a successful acquisition.

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The project spans two decades of collaborative efforts by Hāna Ranch Partners, the Maui County Open Space Program, State LLCP, the Hawaiʻi Land Trust and members of the Hāna community.

PC: Hawaii Land Trust.

Timeline:

  • 2002 & 2014 – Initial Conservation of the Hāna Coast in Maka’alae: In 2002, the Hāna Land Trust worked with landowner Hāna Ranch Partners on HILT’s first conservation easement in Hawai’i, permanently protecting 46 acres in Maka’alae from what the Hāna families know as Pōhakuloa Bay. In 2014, HILT was able to protect an additional 14 acres in Makaʻalae with conservation services.
  • 2018 – Members of the Hāna community have formed “Save Hāna Coast” and founded Ke Ao Hāliʻi, an organization dedicated to protecting undeveloped, open Hāna land and a community-based commitment to both ownership and management this coast is headed.
  • March 2020 – Acquisition of Mokae I (Phase I): In 2020, after nearly three years of effort, Ke Ao Hāliʻi completed its first purchase of 27 acres in Mokae overlooking Hāmoa Beach. This was accomplished in collaboration with HILT, the State LLCP and the County of Maui’s Open Space Program. These 27 acres in Mokae are now permanently protected as vacant land under a conservation easement held jointly by the Hawaii Land Trust and the County of Maui. Protecting Mokae I provides permanent open space, community-based stewardship for historic burial and cultural sites, and vital access for community livelihood and assembly practices. Hāna Ranch Partners then donated an adjacent 2-acre parcel to Ke Ao Hāliʻi, referred to as Puʻu Hele, along Haneoʻo Road.
  • November 2021 Acquisition of Maka’alae (Phase II): In 2021, Ke Ao Hāli’i, again in cooperation with HILT, the State LLCP and Maui County’s Open Space Fund, acquired an additional 30 acres at Maka’alae Point. The acquisition of this iconic shoreline expanded the open space protected by a protection easement jointly held by HILT and the County of Maui.
  • June 2022 – Mokae II Acquisition (Phase III): Ke Ao Hāliʻi, Hawaiʻi Land Trust, the State LLCP and the County of Maui’s Open Space Program have partnered to acquire an additional 33 acres to fill the conservation gap of adjacent and between the protected lands to close in 2020 and 2021.
  • Future – Phase IV (Makaʻalae, Kākiʻo and Puʻu Hele): Ke Ao Hāliʻi, Hana Ranch Partners and Hawaiʻi Land Trust are working to have Hana Ranch Partners generously donate to Ke Ao Hāliʻi the underlying fee ownership of the 56 acres previously protected in 2002 and 2014 (Initial Conservation) and a 7-acre property along Hāna Hwy. Ke Ao Hāliʻi and HILT are committed to working together to ensure the continued protection of all lands acquired by Ke Ao Hāliʻi through conservation easements. Phase IV will complete a more than 20-year effort to permanently protect over 150 hectares of contiguous Hāna coastline.
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The groups note that the land is sacred (wahi pana) because of the Native Hawaiian peoples who live and are buried there and the area’s significant Hawaiian mythology and legends.

“The open lands include historical sites from ancient times and the eras of sugar plantations and the early days of cattle ranching. This stunning coastline is now forever protected for its food, cultural, agricultural and open values,” say the partners.

“Growing up in Hāna was all about family, togetherness, freedom and survival. The ehukai refreshes, energizes and empowers. It is for this reason that I am a part of Ke Ao Hāli’i, to ensure that all of our Hāna families have the opportunity to feel purified, empowered, safe, loved and empowered. Ke Ao Hāli’i’s coastal security gives Hāna Hawaiians a place away from the eyes of the world where we can be ourselves,” said Sam Akoi IV, a livelihood collector, practitioner and Ke Ao Hāli’i board member.

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“The success of Ke Ao Hāli’i and his partners in safeguarding the integrity of the land at Mokae II and saving the Hāna Coast for future generations is a powerful example of community-based land conservation for our islands being publicly and privately supported can fund,” said DLNR Chair Suzanne Case. “Working together, DLNR, Maui County, Ke Ao Hāli’i and Hawai’i Land Trust have now completed three of the five previous land acquisitions on Maui supported by LLCP grants, with more on the way. These achievements exemplify practices that align with and reinforce proverbial wisdom, such as:

“Hāna is one of Hawaii’s few remaining Hawaiian communities, so preserving 30 acres of shoreline is absolutely right,” said Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino. “So the County of Maui has contributed a grant of $2,469,300 to make this dream a reality. The relationship between Native Hawaiians and the ‘āina is eternal, so this is a precious gift to all, including past and future generations.”

“Protection facilitation will prohibit subdivision and development, protect native marine food systems and Hawaiian foraging practices that support local agriculture, and perpetuate community access,” said Laura Kaakua, president and chief executive officer of the Hawaii Land Trust. “When you feel the sea breezes, see the native fish, and walk past ancient sites in Mokae, you can’t help but be thankful that Mokae is still here. We are grateful for the generous support of our public and private partners and our local communities who have come together to permanently protect this irreplaceable Wahi Kupuna (place of ancestors).”

To learn more about this effort, visit savehanacoast.org/campaign.