The arrival of Western vessels influenced tremendous cultural change along the Honuaʻula shoreline and mauka areas, yet our kūpuna kānaka maintained active participation in these changes.
- The Māhele ʻĀina shifted Hawaiʻi to a Western land tenure system. However, even as we moved into this new model, we recognize that it is still rooted in a Hawaiian worldview. There is a retention of the ahupuaʻa system and natural boundary lines stretching from the mountain to the ocean, rather than blocks of land.
Traditional agriculture became commercialized to build an industrial economy. The development of Makee Landing was a movement from the Hawaiian government landing at ʻĀpuakēhau, which eventually became a centralized landing now known as Mākena Landing.
Commercial vegetable growing in the Mākena region included the Irish Potato Trade. Māhele ʻĀina documents show claims for ʻuala kahiki (or ʻuala haole), which was the Hawaiian name for the Irish potato. Kānaka either participated directly in the trade themselves or under larger landowners such as L.L. Torbert.
From the end of the 19th century and well into the 20th century, ranching grew a strong presence in Honuaʻula. While ranching is an introduced cultural activity, it would secure a unique space within the Hawaiian framework and introduce the Hawaiian cowboy, also known as paniolo. Paniolo rode horses differently, they integrated familiar Hawaiian practices such as weaving their own materials, lei making, and leather printing.
Development of Christianity
Christianity would play a massive role in community gathering and cohesiveness in the Honuaʻula region. Tūtū Haehae Kukahiko recorded the following moʻolelo of Honuaʻula Church which would become Keawakapu and later Keawalaʻi Church.
In 1854, members of Honuaʻula church gathered at their pili grass church and decided to build a church out of stone instead. Members who lived near the ocean brought coral to use as plaster and members from the mauka regions brought wood to heat the coral to make lime for mortar. Kaupena, a carpenter, was the man designated to build the church.
“Growing up in the late 70s and 80s, I would visit my grandma, who was a pillar of the church. Keawalaʻi was the only place where I hear conversational Hawaiian language. With this, the church became a puʻuhonua within Mākena, but also a kīpuka of ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi at a time when hearing the language was not common. The church was the one place we could learn mele in Hawaiian with the hymns, or Nā Hīmeni. It is the secret spaces like this that become sacred for the people of Honuaʻula.” – Tanya Lee-Greig