The ancient Hawaiian village Kāneiolouma Heiau, located steps away from world-famous Poipu Beach on the southern coast of Kaua’i, is currently being restored.
The village, which has been hidden by overgrowth for years, is in phase three of a four-part renovation that will include cultural events, rock wall reconstruction, traditional house sites, fishponds and taro patch restoration.
“This particular place, Kāneiolouma, is a very special, spiritual, and sacred place here on our island. This place was once hidden, and now it’s coming to life,” says Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho.
The Kāneiolouma complex of 13 acres contains numerous habitation, cultivation, sporting, assembly, and religious structures dating back to at least the mid-1400’s. Near its center, the complex contains the sacred spring of Waiohai, and what may be the only intact Makahiki sporting arena in the state. Once completed, Kāneiolouma will be a cultural center and an educational resource for residents of Kauai and the world.
The completed phases of the restoration plan included a security wall and protective signage, assembly of cultural stone masons and volunteers, a drainage plan and flood mitigation and removal of hurricane debris. Phase three, which is currently in fundraising, will consist of internal rock wall reconstruction, rebuilding the traditional house sites, a traffic plan and fishpond and taro patch restoration. The final phase will include pathways and viewing points, cultural activities, integration with the beach park and an interpretive center.
The first sign is dedicated to Henry Kekahuna, the Hawaiian surveyor who mapped the Kāneiolouma complex in 1959. The second sign is the Polynesian triangle. The third is the Hawaiian moon calendar. The fourth talks about Kauai’s heritage, and the last sign tells the history of the restoration project. Each sign is written in both English and Hawaiian language, and measures three feet tall by four feet wide.
In 2009, Kauai locals started a non-profit organization called Hui Mālama O Kāneiolouma, with thousands of volunteers putting in restoration work since 1998. In 2010, a landmark agreement with Kauai County formally granted stewardship of Kāneiolouma Heiau Complex to the Hui.
Photos courtesy Hui Mālama O Kāneiolouma