Keeping Hawaiian Lands in Hawaiian Hands

In September 2022, the American Planning Association (APA) Hawaii Chapter recognized the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands with its Outstanding Planner award for DHHL’s Puu Opae Kuleana Homestead Settlement Plan.

The winning plan, developed with partner G70, provides a roadmap for future homesteading in Waimea, Kauai. Included in the project team are Keala Pono Archaeological Consulting, Hui Ku Maoli Ola, Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, Sustain Hawaii and Resource Mapping Hawaii.

“All were instrumental in creating this plan, which will ultimately result in Native Hawaiians settling on lands that have been in the Hawaiian Home Lands trust since the beginning,” says DHHL’s Tyler Iokepa Gomes, deputy to the agency’s chairman.

Planning began in 2011 when the DHHL’s West Kauai Regional Plan identified the Puu Opae area as a priority project and called for the development of an agricultural and water plan. Situated on the mauka Waimea lands of west Kauai, the area’s physical characteristics include suitable topography, drainage, accessibility, proximity to natural and cultural resources, management of wildfire risk, and beneficiary preferences for subsistence agricultural lot size and configuration.

DHHL’s Kuleana Homestead Program is designed to rehabilitate Native Hawaiians by providing opportunities for self-sufficiency and self-determination by offering raw land for beneficiaries to live on, grow food to sustain their family and for community economic purposes.

Says Kawika McKeague, principal at G70, “This award by the APA Hawaii chapter is a significant milestone that lends merit in recognizing community perseverance toward Maoli governance and self-determination.” 

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