Discovering Hawaii’s Paramount Cultural Site: Moku’ula Island & Mokuhinia Pond on Maui

At FEH we know the importance of preserving history. However, sometimes history gets lost or even buried–whether it is intentional or not. In some instances, this lost history is rediscovered years later. This is where preservation and adventure meet. We recently caught up with the Friends of Moku’ula and were amazed at their story, which we will be following until the restoration is completed.

For nearly three-hundred years one of Hawaii’s most significant archaeological sites in Moku‘ula, which was the kingdom’s capital until 1845 when the capital seat moved from Lahaina to Honolulu and where historic documents like the Mahele (the great land division of the 1840s) and Hawai‘i’s constitution were drafted has literally been buried under a county park. Once the capital moved many people left Lahaina and the site fell into disrepair. Sugar plantations moved in and the diversion of water for cultivation dried up this former royal fishpond, which became a mosquito and reed infested health concern.

Mokuʻula is a tiny island now buried beneath an abandoned baseball field in Maluʻulu o Lele Park, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii. It was the private residence of King Kamehameha III from 1837 to 1845 and the burial site of several Hawaiian royals. The 1-acre island was and continues to be considered sacred to many Hawaiians as a piko, or symbolic center of energy and power. After years of neglect, Moku‘ula is slowly being restored, thanks in part to the dedication of a nonprofit organization called Friends of Moku’ula and a Lahaina cultural tourism company called Maui Nei.

Maui Nei tour guides are masterful at telling the story of this ancient site during their walking tours through Lahaina. The guides provide information spanning 1,700 years of Hawaiian history told in mo‘olelo (stories) and oli (chants). Profits from the tours help to fund Moku‘ula’s restoration and if you are traveling to Hawaii are well worth the visit.

For more information on The Friends of Moku’ula and how you can contribute to this amazing preservation and restoration project click here.

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