KAʻEHU is a nonprofit organization with the goal to restore the land and perpetuate traditional Hawaiian culture using community-based, inclusive, family-oriented approach to environmental stewardship and sustainable agriculture. Our mission statement is to 1) promote the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of the land area and natural resources at Kaʻehu Bay, and 2) utilize the land and natural resources, in conjunction with other agencies and cultural organizations to promote, preserve and perpetuate traditional Hawaiian cultural activities.
Kaʻehu continues to work with community organizations, the MPD Juvenile Crime Prevention Division and other agencies to provide team building activities, land restoration and cultural opportunities at Kaʻehu Bay. Volunteers and staff work together to restore and maintain ancient taro patches, harvest taro, taro leaf, ulu, noni, and other traditional foods and medicinal plants. We will continue our work with youth to provide a healthy environment and place of learning.
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)
Ka’ehu Bay is located in Paukukalo, which is one of the last remaining undeveloped shoreline parcels. This was once a famous and vast network of wetlands and fishponds, located between the mouths of Waiehu and ‘Iao streams and consisting of coastal wetlands, springs, sand dunes, cobble and sandy beaches, and fringing coral reef that currently serve as habitat for native and migratory waterbirds and numerous freshwater and marine aquatic species, many of which are endemic tothe Hawaiian islands.
Of the property’s 64-acre shoreline, over half are coastal wetlands classified as Palustrine (system), Emergent (class), and Persistent (subclass) that can be seasonally flooded. One of the greatest benefits of Hawaii’s wetlands is their ability to protect and maintain water quality in other near-shore habitats. This is particularly true for coral reefs occurring seaward of coastal wetlands. Wetlands protect these reef areas from sediment, turbidity and pulses of fresh water during periods of heavy rain. The protected coral reefs are very important for commercial and recreational fisheries as well as the ocean recreation industry. The cultural/historic values of Paukukalo are outstanding and contributes to a much larger important cultural landscape. Paukukalo is an ‘ili within the ahupua’a of Wailuku and Waiehu. Paukukalo can be translated as “section of kalo,” a likely reference to the numerous lo’i (taro patches) which once filled the area.
According to an archaeological inventory survey, the property includes 41 archaeological sites, including ancient lo’i (taro patches), ‘auwai (traditional irrigation ditches), habitation sites, walls and enclosures, a fishpond remnant, and ancient burials. The property continues to be play an important and significant role in the continuation of customary and traditional fishing and gathering practices of Hawaiians, families and community members that continue to access the ocean. Many Hawaiian cultural groups use the property regularly to gather, educate, learn and teach about Hawaiian customs and practices.