(BIVN) – 2,013 acres of land makai of Na‘alehu that includes the historic fishing village of Waikapuna could soon be part of Hawai‘i County’s public land inventory.
The land, owned by Ka‘u Mahi, LLC, is listed as the highest priority for purchase in the 2017 Annual Report of the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Commission. On Tuesday, the Hawai‘i County Council Finance Committee met to consider Resolution 650-18, which would authorize the administration to enter into negotiations to buy the parcels.
Several members of the Kaʻū community and open space advocates testified in support of the measure.
The Resolution delves into the reasons the land was listed as the top priority in 2017:
A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE DIRECTOR OF FINANCE TO ENTER INTO NEGOTIATIONS FOR THE ACQUISITION OF LAND OR A CONSERVATION EASEMENT FOR ALL ORA PORTION OF THE PROPERTY IDENTIFIED AS TAX MAP KEY 3) 9- 5- 007: 016 IN THE AHUPUA‘A OF KAHILIPALI‘IKI AND KAHILIPALINUI, DISTRICT OF KA‘U, PURSUANT TO CHAPTER 2, ARTICLE 42, HAWAII COUNTY CODE 1983 (2016 EDITION, AS AMENDED).
WHEREAS, Ka‘u Mahi, LLC owns the property identified as Tax Map Key: (3)9-5-007:016, which comprises approximately 2,013. 142 acres, in the Ahupua’a of Kahilipali‘iki and Kahilipalinui, District of Ka‘u, which is located makai (oceanside) of Na‘alehu Town and includes the historic fishing village of Waikapuna, hereinafter referred to as the ” Waikapuna Property” or the “Property”; and
WHEREAS, Chapter 2, Article 42, Hawai‘i County Code provides for a Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Fund; and
WHEREAS, Section 2- 215, Hawai‘i County Code, established the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Commission ( hereinafter ” Commission”); and
WHEREAS, Section 2-217, Hawai‘i County Code, provides, in pertinent part, that the Commission’ s first duty and responsibility is, “to develop and submit to the Mayor an initial islandwide prioritized list of qualifying lands worthy of preservation …” and for the priorities to be “listed on an island-wide rather than district basis”; and
WHEREAS, the 2017 Annual Report of the Commission listed the Waikapuna Property and assigned it the highest priority for acquisition of any property listed in the 2017 Annual Report; and
WHEREAS, Communication No. 72.2 from the Mayor, dated January 18, 2018, recommended that the Council accept the prioritized list presented in the 2017 Annual Report of the Commission, pursuant to Section 2- 218( a) ofthe Hawai‘i County Code; and
WHEREAS, the Waikapuna Property has exceptional cultural, historical, environmental, and natural significance and value as it contains 2. 3 miles of coastline that includes the ancient Alaloa footpath which once encircled the island, also known as the Alanui or Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, and the Property is presently used by local fishermen, Native Hawaiian descendants, and gatherers of various natural and marine resources for subsistence, recreational, and cultural purposes; and
WHEREAS, there are numerous and well-preserved cultural sites on the Waikapuna Property in addition to the coastal Alaloa, including an ancient village consisting of heiau, burials, lava tubes, house foundations, ahu (altar), habitation caves, petroglyphs, papamu (stone for the game konane), salt-gathering ponds, agricultural terraces, canoe sheds, a stone- lined spring, kamala (three- sided wind shelters walled with stone) and mauka-makai trails connecting the village with Na‘alehu and Waiohinu; and,
WHEREAS, the resonant history and stories of Waikapuna have been preserved and passed on through the intimate knowledge and experience of revered Hawaiian scholar Mary Kawena Pukui, who was raised by her grandmother, Nali‘ipo‘aimoku from Waikapuna, who was a kahuna la‘au lapa‘au, midwife, and hula dancer in the court of Queen Emma. Kawena spent her childhood summers at Waikapuna with her
grandmother. Knowledge passed down from Nali‘ipo‘aimoku to Kawena at Waikapuna provided a considerable amount of the foundation upon which the 20th century Hawaiian cultural renaissance and beyond has relied. Most notably informed by Kawena’s experience and time spent on the Ka‘u coast and Waikapuna is the critical cultural contribution of “The Polynesian Family System in Ka‘u.” Some of the sites and areas Kawena describes in her book can still be clearly seen and experienced today on the Waikapuna Property; and
WHEREAS, the Waikapuna Property includes the makai portion oftwo ahupua‘a, and its protection will have a significant positive continued impact on the immense resources of Waikapuna Bay and the ocean waters. Marine and coastal resources include a lagoon and intertidal pool complex at Waikapuna Bay which is a nursey and refuge area for numerous marine invertebrates and fishes. The nearshore area is home to Hawksbill and green sea turtles, whales, Hawaiian monk seals, diverse fish, limu, crustacean, shark, and urchin populations. Many in the Ka`u community still rely on these diverse marine resources for subsistence; and
WHEREAS, native and endangered bird and plant species thrive on the Waikapuna Property. A massive sea cave is home to hundreds of indigenous Noio (black noddies) and Noio Kaha (brown noddies). Sea cliffs provide habitat to colonies of endangered ‘Ua‘u (Hawaiian petrel), indigenous ‘Ulili (wandering tattlers), indigenous Koa‘e Kea (whitetailed tropic birds), and Federal-candidate species ‘Ake‘ake (band rumped storm petrels). Vegetation along the coast, covering sand dunes, and on the cliff of Manienie Pali is primarily native and includes nohu, nehe, ilima papa, maiapilo (limited remaining specimens at last survey), pili, pohuehue, kauna‘oa. The pasture lands include remnants of a lowland dry forest through occasional native and Polynesian-introduced trees – alahe‘e, lama, wiliwili, ‘ilima, naio, and noni; and
WHEREAS, The Trust for Public Land and Ala Kahakai Trail Association are in the process of raising funds to purchase, preserve, and protect the Waikapuna Property, and Ala Kahakai Trail Association desires to grant a conservation easement to the County of Hawai‘i in order to complete the conservation purchase, permanently protect the Property, and provide public benefits; and
WHEREAS, in the interests of 1) preserving cultural and natural resources, 2) facilitating public access and preserving portions of the Alaloa (Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail), 3) protecting open space, 4) ensuring recreational opportunities, 5) maintaining Ka‘u’s rural lifestyle, and 6) preserving the historical character of Ka‘u, the County desires to acquire a property interest in all or a portion of the Waikapuna Property, such as a conservation easement; now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE COUNTY OF HAWAII that the Director of Finance is authorized to enter into negotiations for the acquisition of land or a conservation easement in all or a portion of the Waikapuna Property as described above, pursuant to the terms of this resolution.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Director of Finance is authorized to initiate any funding mechanisms required for the acquisition of land or a conservation easement in all or a portion of the Waikapuna Property, in accordance with Chapter 2, Article 42, Hawai‘i County Code, relating to the Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Fund and Commission, and may utilize any other funds from any other sources, private or governmental, as said funding is available.
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the County Clerk shall forward a copy of this resolution to the Honorable Mayor Harry Kim, the Director of Finance, the Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Hawai` i State Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Hawai‘i State Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and the Hawai‘i County Public Access, Open Space, and Natural Resources Preservation Commission.