The Hawaiian Homestead of Keaukaha is Born
In 1924, Keaukaha became the third Hawaiian homestead to be established. 52 Hawaiians received land parcels within Keaukaha. A few months later in 1925, 89 more applicants received confirmation to move to Keaukaha. By the year 1926, over 40 homes were built within the community. The demographics of this community consisted of Hawaiians who were from all over the Hawaiian Islands.
As lessees built their homes and established a new Hawaiian community, skeptics were quickly provided negative criticism about the HHCA. Some believed that the 200,000 acres of land that were set aside as Hawaiian Homelands were unproductive lands that nobody wanted.
Akoi, Rhea. Kuʻu Home i Keaukaha. Hilo: Hui Hoʻomau o Keaukaha Panaewa, 1989
Ka Hae Hawaii. "Ka Hele Kaapuni Ma Hawaii." October 15, 1856: 1.
Pukui, Mary. Place names of Hawaiʻi. 1st ed. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press.1974
Ka Hoku o Hawaii.
“He Hana Maikai Maoli Keia.” February 23, 1926, 3.
"Ka Aina Home Hoopulapula o Kuhio." March 30, 1926.
“E Hoea ana ke Paipuawai i Keaukaha.” April 20, 1926, 3.
“E Loaa ana na Ponowai ma Keaukaha”. December 10, 1929
"Ka Luau ma ka Home Hoopulapula." August 3, 1926: 2.
“Ke Hoala ia nei ka Manao ma Kai.” March 16, 1926, 3.
"Ko Kakou Manawa Keia e Ala ai na Hawaii." April 13, 1926: 2.
"Na Hana o ke Kalapu Hooholomua o ka Aina Hoopulapula o Kuhio." April 13, 1926: 3.
"Na Home Hoopulapula o Keaukaha." Malaki 16,1926: 2.
"No ka Pomaikai o ka Lahui Hawaii."September 7, 1926: 2.
“O ka Holoholo Olelo Hookaa wale ia i na Hoaloha” July 12, 1927.
‘Āina Pōhaku: Prior to the Hawaiian homelands
Verdant home in the hala groves
- line from "Kuʻu Home ʻO Keaukaha" written by Albert Nahaleʻā
"…aohe waiwai he aina pohaku, aole e ola na popoki, aole wai, aole ulu na mea kanu, a nui no ka hailuku ia o keia bila a ke Alii Kuhio."
(There is no value in these rocky lands, cats could not live there, there is no water, plants will not grow, and there is much negativity towards Prince Kuhio’s Bill.)
- Ka Hoku o Hawaii, September 7, 1926.
As the descendants of those who first settled the Hawaiian homestead community of Keaukaha, we also recognize those ʻohana (family) that called Keaukaha their home decades, and probably even centuries, earlier. Keaukaha, literally translates to “the passing current" and is geographically situated on the Southern flank of Mauna Kea, within the ahupua’a of Waiākea in the district of Hilo. The coastline is primarily rocky with a few pockets of white and black sand beaches. Numerous springs feed into the coast, creating rich brackish water environments for marine life. Fish ponds are a major cultural asset in the community; the most prominent of them being Loko Waka, located near the current Seaside Restaurant and a part of the ʻili aina (land section) of Honohononui.
From what limited resources that we have access to, the Native Hawaiian population within Keaukaha prior to the
establishment of the Hawaiian homestead community remained relatively small.
"I keia la nae[,] o kela aina i manao ia he “Aina hoohenehene i na poe Hawaii”, eia ke noho ia nei e na poe Hawaii, eia ke hoolilo ia nei kela pahoehoe inoino… i mau wahi ulu o na mea kanu maikai. Eia he poe lawe Home ke noho nei me ka hauoli maluna o ua mau “Aina Pahoehoe nei” me ka hauoli, a ke pii ae nei ka aina pahoehoe i paradaiso no kekahi mau ohana."
(Nowadays, those lands that were thought of as being a joke to ridicule the Hawaiian people, Hawaiians reside there, and are transforming those harsh pāhoehoe lands…into places where plants grow heartily. Here are some lessees living happily on these pāhoehoe lands, and these pāhoehoe lands are being regarded as a paradise for these families.)
- Ka Hoku o Hawaii, March 16, 1926
Despite the criticisms, our kūpuna, with their barehands, cultivated the land and made Keaukaha into the Paradise that we see today. Here are some quotes from the Hilo-based Hawaiian language newspaper, Ka Hoku o Hawaii that describes their success:
1874 Tax Ledger with the names of Keaukaha Residences. Courtesy of the Hawaiʻi State Archives. To access, click here
Ka ʻĀina Hoʻopulapula o Keaukaha.
The Hawaiian homelands of Keaukaha.
"Ua hoopiha pono ia keia mau papaaina elua me…na ia maka like ole, i lawaia ia aku no e ka poe o ka Home Hoopulapula ma ka lawaia huki lau ana ai i hoopiha la na kino nunui me na ia o na ano like ole. Ua hoolawa pu ia no hoi keia mau papaaina me na opihi, na papai aama…"
(These two dinner tables were completely filled with a variety of raw fish that were caught in the hukilau style of fishing by the Hawaiian homesteaders and filled their large bodies with numerous different types of fish.)
- Ka Hoku o Hawaii, August 3, 1926
"O makou kekahi i ai iho la i ka hua maikai o ka hana a kekahi ohana Hawaii, ai hoea mai hoi mai ka hana hoikaika ana, ae hoopuupuu liilii ana i na hunahuna lepo no na makalua lau uwala. Ua hoohua mai ka hua maikai oia lawelawe hana ana, a ke hoomaikai nui loa aku nei i keia poe Paionia o na Home Hoopulapula ma Keaukaha."
(We were some of the few who ate the wonderful products cultivated by a Hawaiian family. When the time came to further improve [the land], small piles of dirt were made within pits for growing sweet potato. The crops were bountiful from this constant care, and we greatly appreciate the pioneers of the Hawaiian Homestead of Keaukaha.)
- Ka Hoku o Hawaii, March 16, 1926