Plantation: Mahele
In Mahele (land division), we examine the change in attitude towards the 'aina (land). Traditionally, Hawaiians regarded the 'aina as a relative, an elder sibling. Europeans saw the 'aina as a commodity to be bought, sold, and exploited. How did this change in attitude affect the ahupua'a at Nawiliwili Bay?
Mahele draws from the thought of Lilikala K. Kame'elehiwa in Atlas of Hawai'i; also Kauai: The Separate Kingdom by Edward Joesting, and personal communication with Carlos Andrade.

In 1848, under extreme pressure from foreign advisers, Kamehameha III agreed to the private ownership of land. This mahele(division) was a disaster for the Hawaiians, because it quickly led to ownership of land by foreigners. The majority of government land was sold to foreigners, and by 1893, foreigners controlled 90% of the lands in Hawai'i. Once they controlled the lands, these same foreigners wanted to control the government as well. They overthrew the kingdom in 1893.
(Lilikala K. Kame'eleihiwa)
Kamehameha III

Although there were land awards to a few maka'ainana, many did not understand the mahele and became homeless. Traditionally, access to resources from mauka to makai was the right of ahupua'a residents. After the mahele, native planters who received land commission awards were tied to only one piece of land, with their access rights to the ahupua'a resources denied by the private ownership of others. In addition, planters no longer had the option of changing ahupua'a if they were dissatisfied with a chiefs' rule.
(Carlos L. Andrade)
Two bedroom hale (house), thatched with pili grass.
Ha'upu is the mountain behind.
photo courtesy of the Kaua'i Historical Society
In the ahupua'a at Nawiliwili Bay, Hule'ia lands, first sold in 1850, became the property of sugar planter George Wilcox in 1870, and were known as Grove Farm. In 1850, a group of businessmen obtained 2-3000 acres of land to raise sugar at Lihu'e, the beginning of Lihu'e Plantation. In 1879, William Hyde Rice bought the makai section of the ahupua'a of Kalapaki from Princess Ruth, later buying the ahupua'a of Kipu from the same chiefess. She in turn built the palace at right in Nu'uanu with money from the sale of her lands at Nawiliwili Bay. (Joesting)
In the ahupua'a of Nawiliwili Bay, 118 total land claim awards (LCA) were made to maka'ainana who could prove historical use of their land. These awards were customarily 3 acres in size.

Ha'iku - 38 LCA

Kipu - 29 LCA

Niumalu - 24 LCA

Nawiliwili - 18 LCA

Kalapaki. - 9 LCA
Above, a section of the map showing land claim awards along the Hule'ia River. The outlined pieces are mostly lo'i. Map courtesy of the Kaua'i Historical Society.

The mahele placed Hawaiian lands in foreign hands. It was the beginning of the plantation era. What was the European attitude towards the 'aina? How did they treat the land at Nawiliwili Bay"
Photo courtesy of the Baker Collection, Kaua'i Historical Society
Created June 2001