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
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.