Perpetuating kuleana to place through protection of cultural landscapes and family lands
This place will feed you, if you know how to take care of it
Young Hāʻena Fisherman, 2009
Long time families continue to live in, take care of and share the practices and history of every ahupuaʻa on Kauaʻi.
Perpetuating kuleana, ahupuaʻa based natural resource management and connection to place through the protection of cultural landscapes and family lands.
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 a presence, connection & fulfill kuleana to their home.
Kīpuka Kuleana works to nurture contemporary models of relationships to place-based kuleana as “authority and obligation based in interdependence and community” (Goodyear-Kaopua 2011, 131).