The Paukukalo Coastal Wetlands are bordered by Iao and Waiehu Streams. This area was once filled with ancient taro patches, native flora and fauna, productive fishponds, two streams of fresh clean water, fresh water springs throughout the property, a bountiful ocean with plenty of limu (seaweed), and fish and ocean wildlife. There are significant cultural sites, including Makahiki grounds, throughout the property and this area was known for the “sacred lauhala grove”. This area was a playground for the aliʻi and was deemed kapu, sacred.
For the past 30 years, community organizations have been coming to this area with youth and families of Maui to restore ancient taro patches, clean the area, land restoration, maintain overgrowth, and provide team building exercises that integrate cultural education. Maui Youth and Family Services, Maui Economic Opportunity MEO, and Neighborhood Place of Wailuku utilized the area for cultural and team building activities for their clients since the early 1990ʻs. The 64-acre property was owned by Wailuku Sugar Company and purchased by North Shore at Waiehu LLC in 2004 and then went into foreclosure in 2009.
In 2009, community members requested assistance from the Trust for Public Lands to secure the parcel to avoid future development of high-end homes and or hotels. With help and support from Hawaiian Homesteaders, community organizations and leaders, politicians, and cultural practitioners, in 2012, The County of Maui and Trust for Public Lands worked together to secure the Ka'ehu Bay 64-shoreline acres in Paukukalo, Wailuku, Maui. The Paukukalo Coastland Wetlands is an undeveloped parcel that is rich in natural and cultural resources, along with native flora and fauna. The offshore area is an estuary necessary for spawning fish, a place for monk seals to rest and play, and a birthing place for green sea turtles to nest and lay their eggs.
The property provides ocean access and resources for traditional and cultural practices for the community. The streams and springs provide water flow to help sustain the area. It is our goal to restore the traditional lo'i and native plants that once filled this area. The fresh water springs are believed to have healing powers and are used by the areas kupuna (elders) and cultural groups to hi'uwai (cleanse) or heal. This area also includes popular surfing spots famed since the days of ruling chiefs.
Over the past 30 years, board members of Kaʻehu and Kauahea Inc., along with the Trust for Public Lands, have collected data and input from the community regarding the area. The community input will help guide the planning and development process of this pristine area.
In July 2017, Kaʻehu partnered with Hawaiian nonprofits and businesses to help restore the area and promote cultural practices. Our partners include Kauahea Inc., Hale Hoʻolana, MAA (Makahiki Athletic Association), and PIKO (Planning Innovative Kommunities & Opportunities).