HISTORY OF HE`EIA

In traditional times, Heʻeia, represented one of the most extensive areas of wetland taro cultivation on Oʻahu (Handy, Handy & Pukui, 1972). Through the mid-1930s, the Heʻeia wetlands were a thriving agricultural landscape, producing volumes of kalo, a nutrient-dense dietary staple for Hawaiians, and creating opportunities for social and economic advancement for the families of Heʻeia and Kāneʻohe. 

As shown in a 1928 aerial image, the Heʻeia Wetlands once supported over 300-acres of wetland kalo and contained at least three commercial processing facilities (poi mills). The active, ongoing cultivation of kalo at Hoi also served a critical role in the hydrology of the Heʻeia Watershed, mitigating the effects of terrestrial runoff on adjacent estuarine and inshore coral reef ecosystems of Kāneʻohe Bay.

Right: An aerial photo of the 400 acre parcel.  Mid 1928ʻs

In the decades since the 1930’s, developers sought to build luxury homes, a marina, a resort and golf course at the Heʻeia Wetlands, actions that were met with strong opposition from local area kūpuna and other community members. In July of 1991, approximately 405 acres within the Heʻeia Wetlands were acquired by the Hawaiʻi Community Development Authority (HCDA).  In 2010, Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi was granted a 38-year lease from the HCDA for the 405-acre parcel to implement activities related to and supportive of cultural practices, agriculture, education, and natural-resource restoration and management.

 

Left: Approximately 3 acre of farmland utilizing cultural and sustainable practices

 

 

Since 2010, Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi has restored productivity to approximately six acres of loʻi kalo (irrigated terraces for the production of kalo) and has cleared an additional twenty acres for mala (dryland) for diversified agriculture.  

Right: A look from the ocean toward the mountains today