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Aftermath of the



An unidentified family at Ke‘e in the early 1900s.
Bishop Museum photograph.


“By drawing artificial boundaries,” Carlos writes, “the division of the land under the Mahele and Kuleana Act began a process that restricted the ability of maka‘āinana to access and sustain themselves through resources within the ahupua‘a. Maka‘āinana were even more constrained when ownership of ahupua‘a came into the hands of foreigners, which happened in a large majority of cases.

“From this point in history on, ahupua‘a inhabitants not awarded a kuleana would have to purchase or rent the means to produce their livelihood, most often compelling them to enter the cash market economy. Many abandoned the land and moved to port towns. Even those awarded kuleana would have to “rent” the land from the government by paying real estate taxes in cash in perpetuity. Failure to pay these taxes meant forfeiting the land. The maka‘āinana had no choice: they were forced to enter the cash economy. Bringing the cultivated fruits of the land no longer guarantee their ability to live upon the lands. Currency would now be the only acceptable form of balancing out responsibilities to society and government.

“Taxation not only coerced people into earning cash, it undermined the traditional relationships ali‘i and maka‘āinana had enjoyed over centuries. Traditional checks and balances in the ahupua‘a serving to curb abuses of power and promote relatively egalitarian relationships between ali‘i and maka‘āinana were displaced by foreign concepts of law necessitating judges, lawyers, and legal paraphernalia. The imposed market economy and Euro-American systems of jurisprudence/land tenure in which the Native people were now enmeshed would unravel and erode traditional familial relationships they enjoyed with the land, its creatures, and each other.

“In Hā‘ena, the situation evolved in a slightly different way than happened elsewhere. Here, Native Hawaiians, by pooling their resources, were successful in acquiring ownership and most of the control over land considerably longer than in other areas. This contributed greatly toward their ability to exercise traditional customs and practices, at least until the 1960s.

“About 2,500 acres of Hā‘ena had been granted to Abner Pākī, which he kept until his death in 1855. Pauahi, his daughter, inherited Hā‘ena ahupua‘a; her husband, Charles Reed Bishop, was the first successful banker in Hawai‘i. A very powerful figure during this period, he was well versed in the skills necessary in the new system of capital and property instituted by the Mahele. In 1866, W. H. Pease, a surveyor of the period (later identified by some as being the most inaccurate surveyor of the time), bought Hā‘ena for $1,200 from the Bishops.

“In 1872, the ahupua‘a was then conveyed by deed from the administrators of Pease's estate (who apparently had passed away) to William Kinney of Hanalei, Kaua‘i, who successfully bid $1,200 at the estate auction. In January 1875, Kinney, who in the interim had moved from Kaua‘i and was living in Onomea, Hawai‘i island, conveyed/covenanted with Kenoi D. Kaukaha and thirty-seven others known collectively as the Hui Kū‘ai ‘āina o Hā‘ena, the “organization to purchase land in Hā‘ena.” The land from that point on was owned and held in common by this group for close to a hundred years.

“The hui was one of many associations formed by maka‘āinana throughout the islands to buy land in post-Mahele/Kuleana Act times. Although not well known, the story of this movement gives voice to a short-lived counteroffensive against the ongoing alienation of land and dispossession brought on by the new regime of private property and real estate. Although the Kuleana Act entitled subsistence gathering, access, and water use rights to maka‘āinana awardees, in many cases, this was not enough to guarantee the means of survival provided by their former, cooperative practices: customary rights to the resources of the ahupua‘a and the traditional system of reciprocal responsibility.”

“The Hui lands beecame Abner Pākī’s as a result of the 1848 Mahele,” Carlos explains. “This is all of Hā‘ena, the whole ahupua‘a—except the kuleana lands; those are exclusions. Those are not Abner Pākī’s lands. The Hui Kū‘ai ‘āina was made up of all the people that put the money into the Hui in order to buy this ahupua‘a from Alexander Pease, who was a surveyor and who purchased Hā‘ena after Abner passed away. Pease purchased it from Pauahi Bishop, who got it from her father Abner Pākī."


Hui Kū‘ai ‘Aina Original Holders:

Kenoi Kahuhaka
Kale Wahine





“The Hui had a charter, I guess you would call it a corporation today,” Carlos continues. “If you were a member of the Hui, you had the right to have so many head of cattle on the common lands. And the Hui had a sort of a directorial board that would have meetings, and (for example) if somebody needed a place to live, they would agree that ‘Okay, so and so, you can put your house over here.’ And there were common lands where they let the horses and cattle go onto, and lo‘i lands which were assigned to different families.”

The elected Head of Hui Kū‘ai ‘Aina was called the “Lunanui.” Members owned a percent interest (which translated in shares) in the Hui. Notes from one meeting state that “A holder of one share was entitled to 2.5 acres of kula or house lot land and 2.5 acres of wet agricultural land.” Members held shares in the total land area, and the land was used collectively. That is, unlike the kuleana lands, Hui lands were not divided into individual parcels.

“Formed at the time when maka‘āinana felt constrained by foreign-inspired legalities,” Carlos writes, “early hui suffered from their members’ limited experience with the new legal and economic system, especially the workings of capitalism. In fact, as indicated in their bylaws, hui generally seemed committed to customary and traditional practices. In many cases, members of the original hui were born before the Mahele, and from the records they left behind, seem to have been attempting to reassert some of the life ways of pre-Euro-American times by articulating them in the bylaws of their organizations. A fundamental precept for hui was sharing, collectively, a large tract of land. The opportunity offered by hui ownership of ahupua‘a was far more adaptable to Hawaiian needs, customary uses, and traditional practices than Euro-American-inspired ideas of individual ownership in small disconnected parcels.”

The Hui allowed for a new situation in which residents had use of the land without having to actually own it. This was much more in keeping with traditional Hawaiian land tenure than is the privatized system spurred on by the Mahele. Here at Hā‘ena, people fenced their houses in—to keep out the roaming livestock—while the land remained open and un-partitioned.


Over the next century, changes that were affecting the rest of the Hawaiian Islands gradually reached Hā‘ena. Among the most important of these were changes that eventually brought about the break-up of the Hui Kū‘ai ‘āina and resulted in the partitioning of the lands that had been held in common. These changes are part of the memories of Hā‘ena.



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