Mahaulepu, Kauai is an irreplaceable heritage place. Revealing 5 million years of continuous history, this undeveloped watershed is a living museum; a research site and habitat for rare and endangered plants and animals where significant events in Hawaiian history played out. It is sacred and legendary to Native Hawaiians, many of whom are connected to this area by ancestral ties and by continuing cultural uses including fishing and gathering. In a rapidly urbanizing region, Mahaulepu is an increasingly important piece of rare Hawaiian wilderness, which is under constant threat of commercial development, industrial agriculture, and resulting pollution.
Vision for Mahaulepu
The Mahaulepu-Paa Heritage Preserve on the south shore of Kauai encompasses 2900 acres including the entire ahupua`a of Mahaulepu and about 200 acres of the ahupuaa of Paa. Mahaulepu is one the few remaining, accessible, natural landscapes on Kauai – a sanctuary of beauty and peace.
People of all ages and backgrounds come from near and far to enjoy Mahaulepu. Treasuring their experiences, they pass along their stories and lessons, ensuring a legacy of respect in future generations for land forms and legends, unique plants and animals, Native Hawaiian cultural activities, and traditional island-style relaxation and recreation.
A Restored Watershed
On-going restoration projects at Mahaulepu combine education and stewardship. Archaeological work continues at Waiopili heiau and in the valley. Waiopili Spring, Kapunakea Pond, and other areas of Mahaulepu’s wetland system are restored. Native plants thrive along the coastal area, and in the upland areas the reforestation efforts are closely coordinated with the recovery of nearly extinct bird species. An historic ditch system supports diversified agricultural farms.
Environmentally Compatible Amenities
New facilities and infrastructure at Maha`ulepu exemplify sound environmental technology. They, along with all signs and other amenities, are minimal and unobtrusive. Maha`ulepu is a largely non-motorized place to visit. Parking occurs in centralized areas, and walking is the main way that people enjoy Maha`ulepu. Well – maintained access roads, bike and walking paths remain unpaved.
Having become a heritage park through the collaborative partnering of private and public interests, government agencies and educational institutions, Mahaulepu is managed in the same cooperative and innovative manner.
A management council, which plans, reviews budgets and oversees uses, is comprised of scientific and cultural experts including:
- The Kaua`i Burial Council
- Alakai or teaching guides
- Local representatives with a vested interest, including fishermen, divers, sailboarders, surfers, hikers, hunters, farmers and ranchers
Along with the management council, the overall konohiki, or manager, is charged with realizing the Mahaulepu vision of:
- Preserving the experience of wilderness and discovery
- Conserving the resources
- Ensuring appropriate, safe, shared use