History & Culture

Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park was designated in 1978. As described in its enabling legislation, the park was established “to provide a center for the preservation, interpretation, and perpetuation of traditional native Hawaiian activities and culture, and to demonstrate historic land use patterns as well as to provide a needed resource for the education, enjoyment, and appreciation of such traditional native Hawaiian activities and culture by local residents and visitors.” In the legislation Congress further directed the National Park Service to manage the new park “generally in accordance with the guidelines provided” in the Spirit Report. To this day, the Spirit Report remains the park’s primary guiding document

spirit report
“There was a spirit in Kaloko, Honokō-hau. The Hawaiians who first came to the area felt its presence in every rock and tree, in the gentle waters of the shallow bays, and in the tradewinds..."

The Spirit of Ka-loko Hono-kō-hau,1974, (pages 2 and 3.)

On May 18th, 1974, The Honokōhau Study Advisory Commission, a group of concerned Hawaiians, submitted a study named the The Spirit of Kaloko-Honokōhau to send to the Department of Interior.The 70ʻs marked the time of the second Hawaiian Renaissance, a time when there was a renewed interest in everything Hawaiian, language, hula, traditional crafts, traditional wayfinding practices, just to name a few. The Advisory Commission envisioned, "a special place where Hawaiians could and would recapture, restore and relive the finest hours of their ancestors... a place that was primarily projected to be THE place for the rejuvenation of our rapidly diminishing traditional cultural beliefs and practices..." (Cachola 2014). As a result, "The Honokōhau Study Advisory Commission and the U.S. Department of the Interior found it feasible and desirable that the Kaloko-Honokōhau vicinity and adjacent waters be preserved by the United States for the benefit of the Hawaiian people and the nation" (The Spirit of Kaloko Honokōhau, pg. 25).The Honokōhau Study Advisory Commission was composed of many well-known Kūpuna (Hawaiian Elders). It is because of these individuals' efforts that this place is now protected as a National Park.
Lono pole
The lono makua or "lono pole" which symbolizes the return of the god Lono during the Makahiki season, a time of harvest and celebration in Hawaiian culture.

NPS photo

Within its approximately 1,200-acre boundary, the park protects the site of an ancient Hawaiian settlement, the coastal portions of five different ahupua‘a (traditional Hawaiian land divisions extending from the mountains into the sea), and a great concentration and variety of tangible and intangible resources that attest to the Hawaiians’ presence on the land. Kānaka maoli (Native Hawaiians) who once lived in this settlement possessed in-depth knowledge of their natural environment and demonstrated great ingenuity in adapting this seemingly inhospitable environment to their use. The people employed ingenious fishing and agricultural practices, and built large ponds to raise fish as a source of food. Some of the coastal pools provided an underground water source to support a settlement of people. The spirit of the poe (people) and the knowledge of the kūpuna (elders) created a tradition of respect and reverence for the area. Among the park’s diverse resources are loko i‘a (two fishponds and a fishtrap that were used for food production), kahua (house site platforms), ki‘i pōhaku (petroglyphs), heiau (temples), graves, and a network of historic trails. As expressed in the Spirit Report, these resources are “not just a few token archeological representations of the Hawaiian culture, but the historic site of an entire community that existed as an entity within the boundaries of the ahupua‘a but tied as well to adjacent communities of similar structures. It is a stage upon which the Hawaiian way of life was first performed centuries ago.” This distinctively Hawaiian way of life persisted for centuries, but almost disappeared after European contact and settlement. Today Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park provides opportunities to learn about Hawaiian culture and offers a much-needed venue for the practice and perpetuation of traditional skills and knowledge. The park’s rich natural abundance and diversity further draw people to this special place, where they may spot rare native plants and wildlife. The endangered ae‘o (Hawaiian stilt) and ‘alae ke‘oke‘o (Hawaiian coot) make their home in the ‘Aimakapā Fishpond. Several species of migratory waterfowl visit the park every year to overwinter at ‘Aimakapā Fishpond. Along the shoreline, local residents and visitors may watch for juvenile honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles) feeding in the shallows and migratory shorebirds foraging along the shore, or on occasion may encounter an ‘īlioholoikauaua (Hawaiian monk seal) basking on the beach. Vibrantly colored corals and fish are seen by those who explore the park’s waters offshore. Although Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park is a place that all people may visit and appreciate, it has particular significance to Hawaiians. As expressed in the Spirit Report, the park provides an opportunity to “restore the cultural identity” of Hawai‘i. Through its preservation and management, the park enlarges “the horizons of people throughout the state, nation, and beyond.” Today the Hawaiian spirit is strong again and is celebrated and nurtured at Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park.

Uncle Fred
Uncle Fred Cachola talks about the creation of the park (Click on photo)

NPS photo

Learn about the founding of the park from Uncle Fred Cachola!

advisory commission
Honokōhau Study Advisory Commission


Last updated: May 15, 2021

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73-4786 Kanalani St. #14
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740


808 329-6881 x1329

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