To learn more about the Hui o Maunalei heritage program and how to volunteer, please call the Culture & Historic Preservation Branch of Pūlama Lāna‘i at 565.3301, or email La‘ikealoha Hanog – lhanog@pulamalanai.com .


“A‘ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia!” (It is no great task when done together by all!)

•    Growing kalo (taro), ‘uala (sweet potatoes), ‘ulu (breadfruit), kō (sugarcane), ‘awa (Piper methstycium), māmaki (Pipturus spp.), hō‘i‘o (Diplazium arnottii), wauke (Broussenetia papyrifera), and other native Hawaiian plants to feed our kūpuna and families, and to perpetuate traditional Hawaiian practices.


•    Engage in other cultural activities and stewardship: 


a)    Documenting cultural resources through archaeological field schools.

b)    Restoration of selected cultural sites. 

c)    Surface removal of invasive species (e.g. Christmas berry, ironwood, bamboo).

d)    Promoting regrowth of kalo, kukui, maile, wauke, māmaki, palapalai, ‘uala and other native plants.

e)    Opening lo‘i kalo in areas around the pump house complex, and irrigating them with well-source water.

f)    Making poi to feed Lāna‘i elders and ‘ohana.


Restoring Life to the Kalo Lands in the Maunalei Pump House Vicinity (2014)


A New Hui (Organization) For Stewardship of Maunalei

In 2013 the Hui o Maunalei was formed with native families and long-time residents of Lāna‘i. The goal of the Hui is the ecological and cultural restoration of Maunalei Valley, using the ahupua‘a system of resource management as a template for this work. Through diverse programs, traditional and contemporary Hawaiian culture will be practiced and perpetuated. The rich natural resources of the valley will be restored, and a living history will be passed on to future generations. Key concepts and program directives include, but are not limited to:


  • The Maunalei pump house and historic garden complex will be restored as a living history center—a place that will serve as a class room in sustainability on the ‘āina (from mauka to makai) using Hawaiian practices, science, and technology in program development. 
  • Programs will partner with experts in the fields of: (1) anthropology to document Maunalei’s cultural landscape through archaeological and ethnographic surveys; (2) geology; (3) hydrology; (4) native plant community restoration; and (5) erosion control programs; as well as other sustainable initiatives and programs. A program of ungulate control will be developed to ensure success of natural and cultural resource management programs.  
  • Development of an interpretive/resource manager program to ensure informed and safe visitation to Maunalei, and to facilitate stewardship project opportunities.
Kūpuna taught us that Maunalei is a storied and sacred place. Most of the ahupua‘a is now private property, but the vision is that it will be a place where anyone who wants to can visit and get involved in stewardship activities. It is the goal of the ‘ohana and many partners to make Maunalei a place of living cultural practices and sustainability, open to all who want to visit. This is a “kākou” activity, not just something for a select group. The heritage program is being planned with many partners to ensure that the 
​cultural landscape and well-being of the land come first, and that the actions on the land be pono.

Weed-filled Planting Ground in the Maunalei Pump House Vicinity (2013)

abandon their lo‘i kalo because goats and sheep had destroyed the forest above the valley, and rock slides began killing people who worked in the lo‘i and agricultural lands.


A few native Lāna‘i families maintained fee-simple title to kuleana in Maunalei until around 1929, when they agreed to exchange their irrigated lands with lots near the shore. Development of water resources for pumping to Keōmoku Village and up to the ranch at Kō‘ele was begun in the late 1890s. In the early 1920s Hawaiian Pineapple Company developed wells, a pump house and caretaker’s residence on the valley floor, and began pumping water up to the newly developed Lāna‘i City in late 1924. From that time through the close of the plantation in 1992, access to Maunalei was limited, and gates installed to minimize traffic in the valley.


In the early 1990s Maunalei was almost entirely closed off. The primary access was available to the water company, selected employees, and their guests. 

Maunalei – is one of 13 ahupua‘a that form Lāna‘i. It once had a stream that flowed from mountain to sea. The native residents of Lāna‘i developed a sophisticated system of ‘auwai (irrigation channels), lo‘i kalo (taro pond fields), and māla (dry land planting fields). In 1853, a visitor to Maunalei observed that “Water karo [kalo] is raised in it, than which none is sweeter.” In the early 1870s, the elder families of Maunalei reported that at one time, the valley supported 1,000 residents. By 1875, the population of Lāna‘i had dropped to less than 300 people, and residents  of upper Maunalei were forced to

Remnants of an Ancient Lo‘i Kalo in Maunalei (1912)


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