Hawai‘i’s Paramount Cultural Site:

Moku‘ula Island & Mokuhinia Pond

Lying dormant under a baseball field and parking lot in the historic town of Lahaina on the island of Maui is a special place revered since ancient times. It resides in the crown lands of Ahupua‘a Waine‘e, which follows a freshwater source from the misty slopes of Mauna Kahalawai along the greenbelt of Kaua‘ula Valley to Waiola Church and Cemetery on Waine‘e Street, into 14 acres of now-filled wetlands, flowing out to the ocean at Kamehameha Iki Park on Front Street.

The freshwater pond known as Mokuhinia contained a one-acre sandbar island called Moku‘ula, which was home to the high chiefs of Pi‘ilani since the 16th century and a royal residence for the Kamehameha line in the 19th century.  It was guarded by mo‘o goddess, Kihawahine.  Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III) ruled Hawai‘i from Moku‘ula between 1830 and 1845 when Lahaina served as the kingdom’s capital.

After the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom moved to Honolulu in 1845, sugar plantations sprouted around Lahaina and diverted water from the underground stream on the mountainside into their fields. The freshwater ponds shrank into marsh and became stagnant around Moku‘ula. In 1862, a chant entitled E Ho‘i Ka Nani I Moku‘ula (Let the Glory Return to Moku‘ula) was composed to lament Lahaina’s loss of the royal residence at Moku‘ula Island.

In the early decades of the 20th century, Mokuhinia was filled with coral rubble dredged from the Lahaina roadstead, and by 1918 the acreage was turned over to the County of Maui for use as Malu‘uluolele Park. For nearly 80 years, the beauty of Moku‘ula and Mokuhinia was forgotten.

Today, the Friends of Moku‘ula are dedicated to breathing new life into this sacred site. In a multi-phased project, the nonprofit organization is committed to restoring the royal complex at Moku‘ula and working with governmental entities to revive the pond of Mokuhinia.

Ke ho‘i a‘e la ka ‘opua i Moku‘ula

(The rain clouds are returning to Moku‘ula)

 

Projects

What it’s about – Plans for restoration of the sacred island and surrounding freshwater pond.

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Programs

What we do – Hawaiian cultural/historical tours, educating our community, maintaining the site.

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Donate

How you can help – Keep the vision alive with your support.

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It Takes a Community to Resurrect a Village

The Moku‘ula restoration project, located at the south end of Front Street in Lahaina, is many projects in multiple phases over the next decade:

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  • Archaeological surveys and excavation of the former island, Moku‘ula
  • Demolition of County of Maui tennis and basketball courts
  • Relocation of existing parking lot at corner of Shaw and Front Streets
  • Acquisition of land parcels occupied by the Salvation Army
  • Restoration of Mokuhinia wetlands
  • Reconstruction of Moku‘ula island
  • Construction of buildings and landscaping grounds
Native Hawaiian families from the area, residents of Lahaina, the County of Maui, State of Hawai‘i, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are working on these restoration goals. That may seem like a lot of minds coming together but it’s not enough to get it all done. We still need the creativity, energy, emotional and financial support of individuals like you.

Why We’re Doing It

To get a better picture of the restoration site, its history, the reason for its resurrection and an understanding of what it is to be Hawaiian, watch this video, “Moku‘ula – Let the Glory Return” produced by Michael Moore, Patty Stemmle and Tiffany Taira from Hawai‘i Filmmakers Initiative/USC School of Cinema & Television