When James Cook made landfall on the island of Hawai‘i in 1778, he found a society ruled by the king Kalani‘ōpu‘u. Within this kingdom were six political districts, or moku, each with its own ruling nobility: Kohala, Hāmākua, Hilo, Puna, Ka‘ū, and Kona. These moku were subdivided into numerous ahupua‘a, named land sections that were the basic units of agricultural production and the home to the great majority of makaʻāinana, the commoners who farmed the land.
Most of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park falls in portions of two of the traditional districts of the island of Hawai‘i: Puna and Ka‘ū. The park encompasses all or a large portion of four ahupua‘a of Ka‘ū district, including the high altitude areas of Mauna Loa and Kīlauea volcanoes. It includes ten ahupua‘a in southwestern coastal Puna district.
Last updated: February 18, 2021