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  • Kīpuka Kuleana | Protection Of Cultural Landscapes

    KīPUKA KULEANA 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 On Kauaʻi, long-time families are losing connections to ancestral lands due to escalating land values, rising taxes, restricted access, development pressure and other challenges that threaten identity and perpetuation of cultural practice across generations. ​ ​ Established in 2018, Kīpuka Kuleana is a 501(c)(3) Hawaiʻi nonprofit organization and community land trust that protects ancestral lands under threat and revitalizes relationships between people and ʻāina (lands and waters) on Kauaʻi. ​ We strive to grow kīpuka (places of community caretaking and cultural restoration) grounded in kuleana (responsibility) in every ahupuaʻa (traditional land division from mountain to sea) on Kauaʻi. Vision Kupa ʻāina (long-time Hawaiian) ʻohana (families) continue to thrive in, share the history and practices of, and care for every ahupuaʻa (traditional land division from mountain to sea) on Kauaʻi. Mission ​Perpetuating kuleana, ahupuaʻa-based natural resource management and connection to place through protection of cultural landscapes and family lands. About us WHO WE ARE Programs SUPPORT

  • Kīpuka Kuleana | Kākoʻo- ʻOhana Support

    Kākoʻo ʻOhana Support We provide direct, tailored support to families working to keep ancestral lands. How we support ʻohana ​ ​ We con nect ʻohana with resources to keep their ancestral lands, including: Hoʻoponopono : to help ʻohana come together in discussions about ʻāina ​ Genealogy research : to help ʻohana research their ancestry to qualify for tax exemptions, claim land, register iwi kūpuna Legal assistance : to address probate, title challenges, access issues, quiet title defense, partition action, etc. Tax exemptions and payment plans : to work with the County of Kauaʻi tax office to reduce the financial burden of taxes Conservation resources: to protect ʻāina using tools like the cultural conservation easement and models like descendent-led nonprofit organizations Family land trust set-up: to keep land within the ʻohana for generations to come Trust and estate planning : to set up wills and trusts (revocable, irrevocable, etc.) Homeowner's financial assistance : to receive grant fun ds and loans through Hawaiʻi Community Lending ​ Where families have lost lands, we help them to negotiate access and stewardship agreements so they can continue to care for ʻohana ʻāina. We work with ʻohana to craft respectful solutions tailored to particular ʻāina and circumstances, while also connecting area ʻohana to one another. 1/4 Projects and Events Inaugural ʻOhana Workshop (2016) With support from Native Voices Rising, our founders brought together 20 community members at QLCC to discuss the protection of kuleana and ʻohana lands in 2016. The manaʻo from this workshop planted the seeds for the formal establishment of Kīpuka Kuleana from 2017-2018. Wawa's Legacy (2017) We advised and supported an ʻohana that successfully protected their ancestral land through a conservation purchase in 2017. ​ ʻĀpana ʻOhana (2020) We co-hosted an online workshop series with nonprofit Huliauapaʻa and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs that reached over 200 community members in 2020. This workshop provided resources for families and others seeking to protect kuleana and ʻohana heir properties. Resources ʻOhana ʻĀina Workshop (2023) On January 21, 2023, we hosted an in-person workshop at Liliʻuokalani Trust for 65 community members that provided resources for protecting ancestral ʻāina. Resources ʻOhana ʻĀina Workshop (2024) On February 10, we gathered again at Liliʻuokalani Trust for our annual ʻOhana ʻĀina Workshop. 65 community members, including 12 facilitators, shared manaʻo and resources for protecting family lands.

  • Kīpuka Kuleana | What we do

    We always use the word kuleana to refer to land, but kuleana is really your responsibility to that land. - Kīlauea Community Member, January 2016 Aʻo: Education & Research We assist families, community groups, land owners and government agencies with cultural, historic and archival lands research to aid in care and protection of ʻāina today Resources & Projects Mālama: Stewardship We support community care of lands and waters across the island of Kauaʻi Resources & Projects Kākoʻo: ʻOhana Support We provide tailored support to families working to keep ancestral lands Resources & Projects Hoʻomalu: Policy and Protection We work with government on policies to protect ʻohana and their lands Resources & Projects Back to top Top- What we do

  • Kīpuka Kuleana | Who we are

    We feel, we have kuleana, responsibility for the land, for the people. That's what this is all about. - Kūpuna raised in Wanini, March 2015 Our Why Keeping ʻohana lands in ʻohana hands sustains communities. ʻĀina, meaning “that which feeds,” is the Hawaiian word for lands and waters. ʻĀina encompasses all that feeds us, from heavens to earth to ocean, especially relationships between places and the people who call them home, who have fed their families here across generations. Traditionally in Hawaiʻi, ʻāina, an embodiment of our Gods and ancestors, could never be bought, sold or owned, but was held in trust by the governing aliʻi of an area, who gave it to area ʻohana as their responsibility without right of ownership. 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. ​ Today, long-time families from the island of Kauaʻi are finding it increasingly difficult to continue to live here and care for the lands that feed them. Under western and American law, people from other parts of the world, many of whom vacation on the island, can buy lands on Kauaʻi for vacation homes, real estate investments, or residence in a place that feels like paradise. The land here has become some of the most coveted and expensive on the planet, with over a million visitors a year recreating across the island. Meanwhile, long-time residents struggle, working multiple jobs to pay for food, rent, and rising property taxes tied to escalating land values; simultaneously, they face the loss of homes, decreased access to ʻohana fishing and gathering areas, and increased pressure to move from their communities and the island. Most who buy land on Kauaʻi have no idea they are displacing long-time area families, have no way to learn about the ʻāina they are becoming caretakers of, and have no connection to surrounding communities. Kīpuka Kuleana restores relationships between people and ʻāina by restoring land and the ability of local communities to care for it.

  • Kīpuka Kuleana | Protection Of Cultural Landscapes and Family Lands

    Our Team Kīpuka Kuleana was formally established in 2018 by four mothers living and raising their children on the island of Kauaʻi. These women include an associate professor, a lawyer, a GIS specialist and an archival researcher, and a non-profit director with expertise in conservation easements - all dedicated to perpetuating kuleana and connection to ʻāina across generations. Board of Directors Mehana Blaich Vaughan President and Co-Founder Mehana Blaich Vaughan grew up in Namahana and Kalihiwai, Kauaʻi, on the border of the moku of Haleleʻa and Koʻolau. A graduate of Kīlauea Elementary School, Mehana went to high school on Oʻahu, then studied sociology and secondary education at Harvard University. After a decade of teaching middle school in Hawaiian charter schools, developing ʻāina-based education programs on Kauaʻi, and training teachers in culturally grounded education, Mehana returned to school herself to pursue a doctorate in environmental studies at Stanford University. Mehana is an associate professor at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management and U.H. Sea Grant College program. Her research, teaching and outreach focus on understanding and nurturing community care and governance of land and waters in Hawaiʻi. She loves to dance, make lei in the wili style of her grandmother, Amelia Ana Kaʻōpua Bailey, and share moʻolelo shared with her by beloved kūpuna. Mehana's first book Kaiāulu: Gathering Tides was published in 2018. She lives in Kīlauea with her husband Kilipaki, mother Beryl, and three children - Pikomanawa, Piʻinaʻemalina, and Anauleikupuna - who, along with her father, Gary Blaich, inspire this work. More Christina Aiu Vice President and Co-Founder Tina Aiu grew up in Wailua, Kauaʻi, where her family roots go back several generations. Her work with Kīpuka Kuleana is inspired by her kūpuna and stems from her 14 years of experience working with land trusts and other grassroots organizations to protect 'āina for communities across Hawai'i. ​ After earning her Bachelor's degree in Biology from Loyola Marymount University, Tina returned to Hawaiʻi and worked to connect high school youth to ʻāina as a Team Leader with Kupu's Hawaiʻi Youth Conservation Corps. The experience inspired her to pursue a career in land conservation. Tina earned her J.D. and Environmental Law Certificate from William S. Richardson School of Law in 2013 and then worked as a Food Systems Planner for Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services. She worked alongside the Kalihi community to establish the first farmers market and community garden in Oʻahu's largest public housing neighborhood. Tina then served as O'ahu Island Director with Hawai'i Land Trust, managing conservation real estate transactions and mālama ʻāina projects, including the purchase and permanent protection of Maunawila Heiau in Koʻolauloa, Oʻahu. After practicing as a civil litigation attorney, Tina returned to the conservation sector to manage conservation easement, ʻāina-based education, and community stewardship projects in Maunalua for Livable Hawaii Kai Hui. Working in partnership with Maunalau community leaders, Tina was instrumental in establishing a community ʻohana garden and mala kalo for families residing in Honolulu's urban core. She has also taught Conservation Transactions as a Lecturer in Law at William S. Richardson School of Law. In 2020, Tina's heart called her home to Wailua, Kauaʻi where she currently resides with her husband Franz and daughter Makaʻalohi. Tina is the co-owner of Modesta Media, a digital media production company that primarily services the environmental sector. She maintains a consulting business helping clients to manage community land protection and mālama ʻāina efforts, and she is also a High School Social Studies Teacher at Island School. Having spent much of her career establishing kīpuka for communities of Oʻahu, Tina is glad to bring her expertise home to Kauaʻi through her work with Kīpuka Kuleana. She has volunteered her time to establish and grow Kīpuka Kuleana since 2016. Tina enjoys spending time in the mountains, playing with her 5 year old, and practicing martial arts. More Jennifer Luck Co-Founder Jennifer Luck is the Chief Operating Officer for Common Ground Kauaʻi. She previously served as Executive Director of the Kauaʻi Public Land Trust, Kauaʻi Island Director of the Hawaiʻi Land Trust, and Managing Director of the Porter Trust and Wai Koa Plantation, where she oversaw the perpetual conservation of a 4-mile walking trail, multi-stakeholder negotiations for a dam remediation project, tenancy contracts and master plan renovations of 500+ acres of agricultural land. In addition to Kīpuka Kuleana, Jennifer sits on the boards of the Hawaiʻi Land Trust and Namahana Charter School. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Southern California. Jennifer lives on the north shore of Kauaʻi with her husband Jason and daughters Midge and Frankie. She is happiest when she is spending time with them and her extended ʻohana, surfing, running and making lei. More Elif C. Beall Treasurer Elif Beall is a licensed attorney, community advocate, and budding writer. Elif was founding Executive Director of the Hawaiʻi Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA), and has served in many non-profit positions including executive leadership, development, and communications. Elif lives on the north shore of Kauaʻi with her husband, where she has resided since 2004. In addition to Kīpuka Kuleana, Elif also serves on the Kauaʻi Island Council for the Hawaiʻi Land Trust. She's happiest when in nature, or when practicing hula or lei-making, or discussing good questions and hopeful futures with family and friends. Malia Akutagawa Board Member Malia Akutagawa is from the island of Molokaʻi, Hawaiʻi. As a Kanaka ʻŌiwi, she was raised in a traditional, subsistence lifestyle; learning to fish, crab, gather limu (seaweed), prepare traditional foods and lāʻau lapaʻau (traditional herbs for medicinal healing). Malia was influenced strongly by her mākua (parent generation) and kūpuna (elders) in the aloha ʻāina movement to protect traditional lands from developers. This inspired her to become an attorney. Malia focuses her legal advocacy work on Native Hawaiian access, gathering, and religious rights; historic preservation and native burials protection; land use and environmental law issues; climate change law, policy, adaptation, and action planning; indigenous governance; native landback; and peacemaking utilizing traditional hoʻoponopono principles. Malia is an Associate Professor of Law and Hawaiian Studies and is part of Hui ‘Āina Momona, a consortium of scholars at the University of Hawaiʻi - Mānoa charged with addressing compelling issues of Indigenous Hawaiian knowledge and practices. Program Staff Dominique Leu Cordy Co-Founder and Consultant Dominique Leu Cordy grew up all over Oʻahu and now lives and farms kalo with her kāne and their two keiki in Haleleʻa and Koʻolau, Kauaʻi. She does freelance research across the pae ʻāina. Focusing on land in Hawaiʻi, she specializes in archival research and GIS mapping. She has a BA in Cultural Anthropology from University of California at Davis and an MA in Pacific Island Studies from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She has over 17 years of experience in the field of Cultural Resource Management (CRM) in Hawaiʻi, archaeology, EA and EIS review, community ethnography, historic land and historical research, and GIS research. She has guest lectured for six years for the Wahi Kūpuna Internship Program (WKIP) as well as the University of Hawaiʻi West Oʻahu. Ms. Cordy has managed and developed cultural and historical GIS databases for government agencies, including the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE-POH), the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and the Department of Hawaiian Homelands. She engages actively in community organizations that seek to protect, preserve, and educate about Hawaiʻi's precious wahi kūpuna (cultural resources) and is a participating member of the Kaliʻuokapaʻakai Collective, the Waioli Taro Valley Hui. She is a co-founder of Kīpuka Kuleana. More Sarah Barger Director of Programs Hired as the nonprofit's first staff person in 2021, Sarah Barger leads Kīpuka Kuleana's operations - including grant writing, development, research, strategic communications and program oversight - and provides direct support to families working to keep their ancestral lands using creative land protection strategies. As a newcomer to Kauaʻi, Sarah planted roots in the community through organic farming, working at local farmers markets, and participating in ʻāina restoration and climate resilience projects with HILT, Mālama Māhāʻulepū and Surfrider . Through mālama ʻāina workdays, Sarah came to know the amazing women of Kīpuka Kuleana and stumbled into her dream job of building capacity for the nonprofit and supporting Landback efforts on Kauaʻi . Sarah has a BA in Psychology, a BA in American Indian and Indigenous Studies, and a minor in Medical Anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her lens is shaped by teachers and mentors around the world - from Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Chilean Patagonia to Hawaiʻi - where she's had the privilege of living and working alongside indigenous leaders and allies who are restoring health and balance in community ecosystems. She has over a decade of experience conducting stakeholder engagement in public health research, leading community advisory boards, developing grant proposals, and managing community research projects. A throughline of Sarah's work is stewarding relationships and fostering collaboration across stakeholders to improve the holistic health of communities. Her research projects have ranged in topic and scale - including smoking cessation in Māori and Pacific Islander communities, nutrition education and diabetes management in Lumbee Tribe communities in North Carolina, and cancer care delivery research in Washington State. Through Kīpuka Kuleana, she collaborates with tribal leaders and allied groups in Louisiana, California and Borikén (Puerto Rico) working to rematriate and protect indigenous lands and waters and perpetuate cultural practices, which build resilience in the face of climate change. Based in the Pacific Northwest and on Kauaʻi, she is happiest on the water and in the mountains, especially when paddling, running, hiking, biking and climbing with friends.

  • Kīpuka Kuleana | Partners

    Partners He Wahi Mahalo Mahalo to all the individuals, community partners, and organizations who help support our work. Aloha Collection Common Ground Hawaiʻi People's Fund LiKEN: Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network Kapaʻa Ship, Print & Storage Dr. Mehana Vaughan, UH Mānoa Native Voices Rising National Science Foundation

  • Donate | Kīpuka Kuleana

    Donate to Kīpuka kuleana Kīpuka Kuleana is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that accepts tax-deductible donations. To donate by credit/debit card or bank transfer, please complete the form below. Checks can be mailed to: Kīpuka Kuleana. PO Box 1304. Kilauea, HI 96754. ​ Mahalo for supporting our work on Kauaʻi!

  • Kīpuka Kuleana | Hōʻahu - Annual Contribution

    Hōʻahu to set aside for the future About Hōʻahu Hōʻahu Lands Fund The Hōʻahu Lands Fund supports the protection and restoration of vital ʻohana ʻāina on the island of Kauaʻi. Make A Contribution Inquire about Hōʻahu Hōʻahu means to set aside for the future. The word refers to hale hōʻahu, houses where area residents brought regular offerings of their harvest, gathered, then saved to care for the needs of the entire community. This practice allowed for the sharing of abundance amongst those with plenty and those in need. Hale hōʻahu also provided collective security for times of unstable weather, drought or famine, preparing communities for uncertainty. ​ Hawaiʻi is ʻāina kulaiwi: the only homeland of the indigenous people of Hawaiʻi, land in which the bones of our ancestors are buried. The lands of Hawaiʻi are the source of all Native Hawaiian cultural practices and language and also some of the most coveted and high value real estate in the entire world. Anyone visiting, buying or living upon lands in Hawaiʻi shares a kuleana to care for this place, leave it better than we found it, and work to address historical legacies of injustice. The Hōʻahu Lands Fund directly supports protection and restoration of family lands threatened by sale and development. Hōʻahu is part of a larger global "Landback" movement to restore ʻāina to indigenous peoples and ensure they have the authority and cultural independence to steward, govern, and protect the places they call home - places vital to us all.

  • Volunteer | Kīpuka Kuleana

    Support Kīpuka Kuleana First Name Email Last Name Phone (optional) Where are you from / Where do you live? How would you like to kōkua (support) Kīpuka Kuleana? Volunteer time and skills Host a training workshop or presentation Partner with Kīpuka Kuleana on a project Fund or support Kīpuka Kuleana What skills or passions would you like to share? (e.g, bringing communities together through educational workshops, ʻāina research, social media/blogging, educating people about place, etc) Is there a place that you are interested in protecting? How did you find out about us? Questions or comments? Back Submit Mahalo nui for your kōkua! We'll reach out as opportunities arise.

  • Kīpuka Kuleana | Partners

    History Kuleana are rights and responsibilities, both based in relationship to land. Kuleana also refers to particular parcels of land. Prior to 1850, kuleana were: ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ Under Hawaiian land tenure, families could stay and pass this ʻāina to their descendants, even as ruling aliʻi changed, as long as they cared for it well. When the land was privatized in 1850, less than 1% of all ʻāina in Hawaiʻi, called kuleana, were awarded to Hawaiian makaʻāinana families who lived on and tended the land.​ Less than 28% of the eligible population of adult males was awarded. Extensive information was recorded about these kuleana 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 and often contain iwi (bones). ​ Places where Hawaiian families continue to care for and live on ʻāina in the same areas as their ancestors are increasingly rare. Those families which continue to hold kuleana and other family lands on the island of Kauaʻi are finding they no longer can due to rising property taxes tied to exorbitant area sales prices, forced partitions by family members or others who acquire one of many shares, debt, and focused efforts at acquisition by realtors and 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 and connection while fulfilling kuleana to their home. ​ Kīpuka Kuleana nurtures contemporary models of relationships to place rooted in kuleana as: 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] authority and obligation based in interdependence and community [Goodyear-Kaopua 2011, 131]

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