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Before Mid 1800s

Hawaiian Era

Makena of yesterday exemplifies the proper balance of people, land and ocean resources. Dry land agriculture and aquaculture lived and thrived in this place and allowed for hale and halau settlement structure walls, which supported many of the early residents.


The native Hawaiians divided each island into moku, or districts, and each moku was further subdivided into ahupua'a. Makena lies in the moku of Honua'ula, on the island of Maui. For many generations, Makena provided food, shelter, and spiritual enrichment to support a sizable population. The industrious people of Honua'ula managed these precious ocean and land resources with reverence, nourishing both to create a truly sustainable balance of man and nature. Makena was on the leeward flanks of Haleakala and extended from the coastal village of Keawakapu (South Kihei) to Kanaloa point, seven miles south of Keone'o'io (La Perouse Bay).


Mauka: On Land

On the drier leeward slopes of Haleakala, dry land agriculture practices allowed for settlement structures that supported a thriving community. Mahele land claims refer to many water sources including the streams of Keawanui, Mohopilo Paepaehuaiwa, Palau'ea, and Waipao. Uala (sweet potato) was the primary crop in Makena.

  • Traditional crops included varieties of sweet potato, banana, and kalo

  • Permanent housing structures appeared around 1100 A.D.

  • Unique farming techniques in ʻgarden holesʻ in ʻaʻa lave were employed

  • Makena includes the ahupuʻa of Papaʻanui, Kaʻeo and Malaya

  • Trails existed throughout the mauka region

  • There were several noted Kilo iʻa

Makai: By Sea

Traditional Hawaiian coastal habitation of Makena is well documented in the testimony of the Mahele. Out of the 20 pāhale or house lot claims, 15 were identified as either bound by the sea or located makai, three of which specifically mentioned family canoe landings on their property, similar to those found at Makena landing, as a bordering landmark. Makena's fisheries were well known and protected by Kingdom law, including the waters of Molokini and Kaho'olawe. 

  • Honuaʻula was known as a sacred fishery

  • The Shark was known as an aumakua (family guardian)

  • Seasonal fishing gatherings took place in Makena, Kahoʻolawe and Molokini

  • Traditional fishponds of the Hawaiian gods Kane and Kanaloa were maintained

  • Keawalaʻi Church was built near the shore

  • ukilau and palu were common fishing methods

  • Kaʻalamikihau was a famous shark god of Makena

  • King Kamehameha landed 10,000 canoes at Keoneʻoio (La Perouse Bay) during his invasion of Maui

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