Kawailoa on O‘ahu’s North Shore encompasses thousands of acres of ‘Āina Pauahi stretching from mauka to makai. Historically, the region nurtured and sustained generations of Native Hawaiians, serving as a major hub for food production. Kuleana Lands records show that from the mid-1800s, farmers established lo‘i (taro pond fields), ‘auwai (water courses and ditches), and kula (dryland planting fields). The people grew staple crops like taro, ‘awa, hala, ipu (bitter gourd), kukui, koa, mai‘a (banana), noni, kō, (sugarcane), ‘uala (sweet potato), and wauke. As early as 1836, sugar became an established agricultural crop.
Today, the land is primarily preserved for agriculture and conservation uses. Kamehameha Schools is investing in several ‘āina-based community and educational programs in Kawailoa to restore the land, support the community and build a resilient, local economy.
For example, KS is working on the cultural restoration of waiwai in Kawailoa by restoring the connections between Loko Ea fishpond Uko‘a wetland and the ocean. Said to be spiritually connected, these waterbodies are home to Laniwahine, the mo‘owahine female water guardian of the two fishponds. Learn more about Loko Ea and how you can get involved.
1 of 9
2 of 9
3 of 9
4 of 9
5 of 9
6 of 9
7 of 9
8 of 9
9 of 9
The view from upper Kawailoa captures the beauty of O‘ahu’s North Shore, where rich agricultural lands meet the cool waters of the coast as it stretches west toward Ka‘ena Point.
Loko Ea (pictured here) is one of two distinct loko pu‘uone, sand-dune ponds near the ocean shore connected to the sea by ‘auwai, stream or ditch, in the moku of Waialua.
The ponds are joined physically through the streams and freshwater springs, and together, they are a part of the third-largest existing wetland on the island of O‘ahu.
‘Uko‘a is a large pond that was once a part of a loko i‘a pu‘uone connected to Loko Ea. KS is currently managing threats on site in hopes native species will become re-established and thrive.
The wind and solar projects at Kawailoa produce a combined 118 megawatts of electricity, or enough energy to power approximately 60,000 homes.
Mauka unirrigated lands are designated for multiple and layered uses, including livestock, orchard, forestry and renewable energy.
The sun breaks through the clouds above the Ko‘olauloa mountain range in Kawailoa.
In partnership with the community, KS cleared and actively stewards Kahōkūwelowelo heiau so students can practice navigational observation.
KS stewards and maintains Kūpopolo Heiau, which is on the National Register. We also partner with the University of Hawai‘i and others to conduct ‘āina-based research and education on site.
Learn more about our other collaborations by visiting the links below:
Read on to learn more about how KS stewards the agricultural and conservation lands of Kawaioa.
KS continues to restore and improve aging infrastructure – investing more than $17 million so far – in order to support farmers and preserve the historic agricultural lands in Kawailoa.
Diversified agriculture is the primary agricultural use in Kawailoa now, but KS may lease lands for pasture and cattle operations in the future.
KS stewards over 20,000 acres of forested watershed on the island of O‘ahu in collaboration with the Ko‘olau Mountains Watershed Partnership.
The uplands of Kawailoa contain more than 1,200 acres of relatively intact native cloud forest teeming with rare native plants and animals, including endangered snail species, which KS is working with the Department of Land and Natural Resources to protect from predators.
An extensive water irrigation system – established more than 100 years ago and improved by KS – provides a steady water supply for agricultural use.
The region also receives an average of 35 to 80 inches of rain annually.