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Ha'ena Zones

Map showing the different areas that comprise Ha‘ena ahupua‘a


Three distinct zones are identified by Chipper Wichman, who manages Limahuli Valley's National Tropical Botanical Garden. He shares with us his knowledge about these areas.



The Near-Shore Zone:

"Out in front of the valley, there is a nice alluvial plain, that's perfect for development of a large lo‘i complex--especially down in the Ke‘e area. This zone we tend to believe was probably the primary zone of habitation--where most of the house sites were located, close to the marine resources, often clustered around fresh water sources like Limahuli stream.

"There are a number of springs that come out from the base of this mountain here, along this cliff, as well as springs down here. Manoa stream may have run more perennially in the past, and there are springs long the beach, which come out underwater. And there are some oral traditions that they would actually dive down and get fresh water out from the spring under water."


The Near-shore area: a low, alluvial plain adjacent to Ke‘e Beach. Photo courtesy of the Bishop Museum.



Limahuli Cliffs

The lower portion of Limahuli Valley bends through a narrow gap cut by the stream, and extends up off to the left in this photo.


The Lower Valleys:

"The valley habitat is sometimes referred to as the kula area, although "kula" in many of the other ahupua‘a of the islands refers to really upland areas, especially going up on the slopes of the larger mountains. In this case, we're talking about the valley, and especially the areas bordering the stream and the little tributaries that come down.

"This area was pretty intensely used for lo‘i development, with other types of agricultural work areas where they had some kind of shelters developed. Especially in the back there for harvesting 'olona, wauke, and other products where it would have been actually more efficient to harvest them and do some processing back there, further up in the valley."


"Wauke, and 'olona especially, still grow wild back in the valley, generally along all the waterways and tributaries, but in ancient times it was a cultivated plant, because of its fiber. It produces the strongest fiber of any natural product in the world. In fact, the ship captains used to come all the way to Hawai‘i to get 'olona rope, prior to nylon being invented, because it produces the strongest fiber. Even Swiss mountain climbers were said to prefer 'olona rope. But in the ancient days of course, it was of major importance, especially for producing fishing tackle, because a net made with 'olona, or fish lines with 'olona, would allow you to harvest much greater resources."



The Upper Valleys:

"Up above this zone in the lower valley, which extends all the way up to Limahuli Falls, we then have an upper zone, which is above the Limahuli Falls, and extends from about 1600 feet elevation, up to about 3300 feet, and that's the top of the ahupua‘a.

"In this area we have found banana, taro, growing back up in there. It indicates to us that the Hawaiians were back up in there, utilizing it as a resource area, with no indication at all of any kind of structure or stone work. So whatever dwellings they constructed, they were probably just lean-to types of structures that were perishable and were used for just a week or however long they were back up in there.

"I imagine that area was primarily used by the bird catchers to harvest the birds. And maybe some of the kahuna la‘au lapa‘au, maybe there were some medicinal plants that grew up in that area that they needed. But generally, the plants that grow up in that area, for the most part, grow in the lower valley. Because of the rainfall regime, we have a transition of lowland rainforest that comes nearly down to the ocean."

Limahuli Falls

Limahuli Falls marks the end of the lower valley. Above the falls, the upper valley shows signs of transient use. Photo from the Hawaii Stream Research Center.



This rainfall regime results from the location, configuration, and winds at Ha‘ena.



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