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ABOUT US

Learn more about who we are and what we do.

What We Do

  • Enhance pilina, connections to place and between area ʻohana.

  • Build a community archive of knowledge of Kauaʻi lands, cultural practices, and ʻike to guide future restoration, caretaking, education, and governance.

  • Provide support to families working to keep ancestral lands.

  • Connecting ʻohana to legal, counseling and hoʻoponopono, financial, genealogy, and other resources.

  • Assist families in organizing family trusts or other entities to continue to hold ancestral lands within the ʻohana.

  • Conduct genealogical, archival and Hawaiian lands research to assist families while also providing them with training to conduct their own.

  • Work with government on policies to protect ‘ohana and their lands.

  • Hold lands in trust as kīpuka, spaces of community caretaking, family reunions, workdays, cultural workshops, education and resurgence.

  • Discourage sale and development of vulnerable properties.

  • Serve as a community based land trust where needed. 

  • Encourage local level, community-based natural resource management grounded in cultural approaches.

  • Promote contemporary models of relationships to place based on kuleana.

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We always use the word kuleana to refer to land, but kuleana is really your responsibility to that land.

Kīlauea Community Member, January 2016

Our Why

Prior to 1850, kuleana were “plots of land given, by the governing aliʻi of an area, to an ʻohana or an individual as their responsibility without right of ownership.” (Pūkuʻi & Elbert, 1975)

 

Under Hawaiian land tenure, families could stay and pass this land to their descendants, even as ruling aliʻi changed, as long as they cared for it well. Awarded to Hawaiian makaʻāinana families who lived on and tended the land.​ When land was privatized in 1850, less than 1% of all lands in Hawaiʻi were less than 28% of the eligible population of adult males was awarded.


Extensive information was recorded about these parcels including family and place names, information on surroundings, hydrology and cultivation. These lands are house sites, taro patches, some fish ponds or salt pans & often contain iwi.

Lands where Hawaiian families continue to care for and live on lands in the same areas as their ancestors are increasingly rare. Those families which continue to hold kuleana and other family lands on the north shore of Kauaʻi are finding they no longer can due to rising property taxes tied to value, forced partitions by family members or others who acquire one of many shares, outstanding debts and focused efforts at acquisition by surrounding property owners.


Many families no longer own or live on their properties but continue to gather there, fish, teach children and grandchildren, care for family parcels and surrounding area, visit burials and seek ways to maintain presence, connection & fulfill kuleana to their home.

Contemporary models of relationships to place based on kuleana as “authority and obligation based in interdependence and community” (Goodyear-Kaopua 2011, 131).

We feel, we have kuleana, responsibility for the land, for the people.Thatʻs what this is all about.

Kūpuna raised in Wanini, March 2015