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Mauna Kea

By Kepa Maly

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Book Id: WPLBN0002096907
Format Type: PDF eBook:
File Size: 16.18 MB
Reproduction Date: 5/19/2011

Title: Mauna Kea  
Author: Kepa Maly
Language: English
Subject: Non Fiction, Geography, Anthropology, Recreation, Hawaiian Geography
Collections: Authors Community, Education
Publication Date:
Publisher: Kumu Pono Associates Llc
Member Page: Hale Kuamoʻo Hawaiian Language Center


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Maly, B. K. (2005). Mauna Kea. Retrieved from

At the request of Stephanie Nagata, on behalf of the University of Hawaii-Office of Mauna Kea Management, Kumu Pono Associates LLC undertook research, compiled a detailed collection of archival-historical records, and conducted oral history interviews with kupuna and elder kamaaina, pertaining to the ahupuaa (native land divisions) of Kaohe, Humuula and neighboring aina mauna (mountain lands) of Mauna Kea, on the island of Hawaii. This work was undertaken as a part of on-going archival and oral historical research conducted by Kumu Pono Associates LLC, since 1996, and builds upon the accounts published by Maly in 1997, 1999, 2002, and 2003. The study is multifaceted, and includes detailed verbatim accounts and descriptions of Mauna Kea, the larger Humuula-Kaohe lands, and aina mauna, covering the periods of Hawaiian antiquity and traditions, to first-hand accounts of travel on and around Mauna Kea, dating from the early 1820s to the 1960s. One of the primary goals of this study has been to bring a significant collection of historical resource material, describing—native Hawaiian traditions, traditional and customary practices and beliefs; early descriptions of the landscape, land use, and access; changes in the environment; efforts at conservation of the mountain landscape; and the events leading to development of observatories on Mauna Kea—into one manuscript. Such a manuscript will provide readers with access to the diverse, and at times, difficult to locate, historical narratives that document the cultural landscape, and history of land use on Mauna Kea. It being believed that this information may in turn serve as a platform for informed discussions—in the field of cultural and historical resources—in planning for the future well-being of Mauna Kea as a cultural, natural, and scientific resource. Because of the nature of the Hawaiian system of beliefs and land management, this study looks not only at the upper regions of Mauna Kea, but also at the lands which lie upon the slopes of Mauna Kea. In the traditional and historical setting, the people living on the lands which rested upon, or even viewed Mauna Kea, shared ties to the upper mountain regions as well. The historical records—including oral testimonies of elder kamaaina of the mountain lands—provide readers with detailed descriptions of traditional and customary practices; the nature of land use, and the types of features found on the mountain landscape; and early efforts in conservation on Mauna Kea and the adjoining aina mauna. The descriptions of land use and subsistence practices range from antiquity to the 1970s, and represent the knowledge of generations of life upon the land. It is important to note that in the summit region of Mauna Kea (from approximately 11,000 feet and above) and on the lower mountain slopes are found several features named for, or associated with Hawaiian gods and deity. These associations are indicators of Mauna Keas place in the culture and history of Hawaii as a scared landscape. With each part contributing to the integrity of the whole cultural, historical, and spiritual setting.

As early as the 1820s, introduced cattle, sheep, goats, and wild dogs had made their way up to the mountain lands, and were bothersome to those who traveled the aina mauna. In 1834, Scottish naturalist, David Douglas was killed by a wild bullock at Keahua-ai (now called Douglas Pit or Kaluakauka), near the boundary of Humuula and Laupahoehoe. By 1850, the natural-cultural landscape of the aina mauna was being significantly altered by the roving herds of wild bullocks, sheep and other ungulates, and ranching interests were being formalized in the region. In 1857, the Crown and Government mountain lands of Humuula and Kaohe—including the summit of Mauna Kea—were leased to Francis Spencer and the Waimea Grazing and Agricultural Company, which established ranching stations and operations around the mountain lands. Portions of the land of Piihonua were leased to native bird hunters in the middle 1860s, and subsequently to native and foreign bullock hunters. As a result, Humuula and the larger aina mauna have been intensively ranched for more than 150 years.


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