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Ex­plore an Ahupua‘a

101 Things to Do (Big Island) - - WATERWORLD -

Early Hawai­ians used a sys­tem of land man­age­ment that was de­fined by wedge-shaped di­vi­sions that stretched from the up­lands to the ocean. Called ahupua‘a, th­ese land di­vi­sions were en­vi­ron­men­tally sound and fos­tered good stew­ard­ship prac­tices among the oc­cu­pants of each di­vi­sion. One of the best ways to grasp ahupua‘a land man­age­ment is to visit La­pakahi State His­tor­i­cal Park, which is lo­cated about 14 miles north of Kawai­hae on Route 270.

Here you’ll find the re­con­structed vil­lage of Koai‘e. Hawai­ians first set­tled in the La­pakahi area dur­ing the 1300s, and the fish­ing vil­lage of Koai‘e served as the cen­ter of ac­tiv­ity in the La­pakahi ahupua‘a un­til the late 1800s. The 265-acre park en­com­passes a va­ri­ety of par­tially re­stored sites, num­bered to co­in­cide with in­for­ma­tion in a free brochure avail­able in the park’s vis­i­tor cen­ter.

Mov­ing through the vil­lage, it’s not hard to imag­ine life in this ahupua‘a: farm­ers grow­ing crops in the moun­tains and fam­i­lies catch­ing fish and trad­ing for other goods closer to the sea. There are ex­am­ples of games like ko­nane (some­times called Hawai­ian check­ers) and ‘ulu maika (a form of bowl­ing us­ing stones) that chil­dren are en­cour­aged to try. Through­out the area, flow­ers, shrubs and trees are iden­ti­fied, and park guides are in at­ten­dance daily be­tween 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

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