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To give life to Koaʻekea

Hōʻola Iā Koaʻekea

Stewardship & Education at Koaʻekea, a historical ʻāina preserved in perpetutity through the Hawaiʻi County PONC program


Pōhāhā I Ka Lani has been humbly awarded the first ever Hawaiʻi County Public Open Spaces and Natural Resource Preservation Commission (PONC) Stewardship Grant for the Waipiʻo Lookout PONC Property, also known as Koaʻekea. Pōhāhā I Ka Lani began stewardship in 2016, and through volunteer efforts of Pōhāhā I Ka Lani members, community members, and also contracted services, Koaʻekea transformed from an overgrown grass, complete canopy of invasive trees, and profuse amounts of trash & debris strewn all over to an inviting cultural & community place.


Koaʻekea is an ʻili (small land section) that has deep cultural history and sits at the gateway to Waipiʻo Valley. Hōʻola Iā Koaʻekea, which means to revive Koaekea, is an innovative, community-based project designed to revitalize Koaekea, located above historic Waipio Valley and honor, nurture and perpetuate Hawaii’s native language, culture and traditions.


This will be accomplished by revegetating the area with native & indigenous plants and creating a cultural learning destination offering diverse educational experiences that are respectful to Hawaii’s native culture and accurately share Hawaii’s native culture with local residents and visitors.


  1. MAINTAIN: Maintain the property.

  2. REVEGETATE: Revegetate Property with native, indigenous and other beneficial species and reducing invasive species.

  3. CULTURE: Increasing Hawaiian language and cultural skills and practicing Hawaiian culture as a way of life, including:

    • Engaging in Hawaiian protocols, revegetating Koaekea with Hawaiian plants, maintaining the existing landscape, harvesting and utilizing existing resources, and learning information about Koaekea and its relation to Waipio

  4. EDUCATION: Provide classes, workshops, weekend camps, community gatherings & events.

Koaʻekea Logo by Haley Kailiehu

Artwork by: Haley Kailiehu

KOAʻEKEA: Significance of the Name

The cultural place name of Koaʻekea returned through Pōhāhā I Ka Lani stewardship of the Waipiʻo Valley Lookout PONC property.


The name “Koaʻekea” comes from multiple sources:

  • Koaʻekea, the indigenous white-tailed tropic bird bird (Phaethon lepturus dorotheae) that frequents the area.

  • Koaʻekea is a specific ʻili (a small land section) within a larger ahupuaʻa (land division from mountain to sea). [NOTE: Lālākea is another name for this land section.]

  • Koaʻekea is described in ancient mele (song) & moʻolelo (oral stories).

  • Koaʻekea is a place of significance to the story of Waipiʻo’s most famous aliʻi (chief), ʻUmi-a-liloa

Connecting the history and moʻolelo of Koaʻekea, at a place entry & significance for famous chiefs of Waipiʻo Valley.


Koeakea is the last property at the Waipio Lookout before descending into the valley.  Koaekea is mentioned in many mythical and historic accounts as the gateway to Waipio, a place to prepare for the descent into the sacred valley of the kings.  In an effort to protect this important area from development, Koaekea became the first parcel purchased, as a result of intensive community lobbying, by the County of Hawai'i using Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Commission (PONC) funds. 

The program utilizes the Hawaiʻi County Public Open Spaces and Natural Resource Preservation Commission (PONC) Waipiʻo Lookout Property. The property was purchased by the Hawaiʻi County PONC program funds  through efforts of Waipiʻo Valley and Kukuihaele community members, who advocated for the purchase of the property with the established community intent to protect and preserve the cultural and scenic integrity of the Waipiʻo and Kukuihaele area. The 1.804-acre property was purchased by the County in 2006 for $900,000 plus closing fees.

The long range vision of Pōhāhā I Ka Lani is to transform and integrate TMK 4-8-04:06, and possibly lands in the Waipiʻo Preservation Buffer, into a permanent Hawaiian Preservation Buffer and Learning Zone, which preservers the rural, Hawaiian character of the Waipiʻo Lookout and Kukuihaele area and protects historic Waipiʻo Valley.  

The exact future of the property is still to be determined, needing to align with Hawaiʻi County Charter Section 10-15 (c) (1) [see opposite panel of brochure}

Draft Re-Vegetation, Education, & Property Usage Guidelines for the property were developed through community surveys in 2016 by Pōhāhā I Ka Lani.


PONC stands for Public Access, Open Spaces, and Natural Resource Preservation Commission, a Hawaiʻi County voter initiative that funds the purchase and maintenance of community identified lands. The PONC program is funded currently by 2% of property taxes, and was established by a voter referendum.

Purpose of PONC Properties

(A) Access to beaches and mountains;

(B) Preservation of historic or culturally important land areas and sites;

(C) Protection of natural resources, significant habitat or eco-systems, including buffer zones;

(D) Preservation of forests, beaches, coastal areas, natural beauty and agricultural lands; and

(E) Protection of watershed lands to preserve water quality and water supply.

~ Hawaiʻi County Charter Section 10-15 (c) (1)

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