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Ka’u: Historical & Ecological Perspectives. How has the environment shaped human events?. Geological Stages. Ancient older domes which can still be seen at the north end of the island and form the slopes of Kohala and hills of Pahala

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ka u historical ecological perspectives

Ka’u: Historical & Ecological Perspectives

How has the environment shaped human events?

geological stages
Geological Stages
  • Ancient older domes which can still be seen at the north end of the island and form the slopes of Kohala and hills of Pahala

“Makanau and Pu’u ‘Enuhe” from which flowed the basalt found beneath the deep soil at Kamao’a and Ka Lae

  • Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa which rise over 13,000 feet above sea level
The soil is almost entirely ash or pumice dust from Mauna Kea laid on drifted dune sands and basalt.
  • Fertile soils that support diverse ecosystem and later cultivated crops
original flora climate
Original Flora/Climate
  • Endemic flora provided continuous cover of forest and brush between spots of prairie where grasses grew
  • Good rainfall from winter storms, mist and dew
  • Winds off the ocean over flank of mountains in trade wind season (March-November)
  • Cold mist laden breeze from snow covered Mauna Loa (125 years ago snow covered ML through July!)
underground water
Underground Water
  • Percolation into and from lava tubes which fed springs like Wai-o-Akukini and deep rock pools such as Wai-a-Palahemo near Ka Lae (South Point)
  • Earthquakes and Eucalyptus trees have changed these areas
favorable habitat
Favorable Habitat
  • Fertile Soil
  • Favorable Climate
  • Water Supply
  • Ko Kaha Kai (along shore) 8 endemic plants
  • Ko Kula Kai (on seaward slopes) 20 endemic plants
  • Ko Kula Uka (on upland slopes) 23 endemic plants
  • Ka Wao (upland forest) 50 endemic plants
  • Mary Kawena Pukui concludes that first settlement occurred three thousand years ago with settlers from Kahiki (foreign land)
  • Earliest settlement at Manuka (western ahupua’a or district of Ka’u
  • Adjacent areas of Kahuku and Pakani are also know to have extensive cultivation
  • Towards to east is the Kamao’a district where Pukui’s ohana originated
Kauwa (outcasts later used for sacrifice) kept in an area like a reservation near Ninole.
  • Possible descendents of conquered local group who resisted colonizing ali’I duriing early settlement.
first contact
First Contact
  • Punalu’u
  • Ka’iliki’I west of Ka Lae
  • Ka’alu’alu north east of Ka Lae
  • All three open into the plains and valleys of Kamao’a, Pakini and Waiohinu
  • Honu’apo landing gave favorable access into Na’alehu and Waiohinu
  • All areas are plains, lower forested hills and lush sheltered valley
polynesian plants livestock introduced
Polynesian Plants/Livestock Introduced
  • Taro, Sweet potato, yam, banana, sugarcane, breadfruit, coconut, gourds, ti, kukui, pineapple, awa, bamboo, kou, hibiscus, hala, milo, hau, olona and kamani
  • Pig, edible dog, chickens
impact of settlement
Impact of Settlement
  • Pakani, Kamao’a and other areas were cleared for cultivation
  • Koa trees used for canoes and utensils
  • In times of drought and famine fern tree cores, edible ferns, weeds and nuts gathered. Whole forests cleared in this manner.
  • Livestock eat plants, roots and all. Many areas cleared in this manner. Bird population also reduced by both hunting and livestock.
  • The great current, Ke Au a Halali’I swept southwest from Ka Lae
  • The au moana (ocean flow) came together east to west and pushed by tradewinds created great areas for deep sea fishing;
  • Ahi, aku, ‘a’u, ulua, mahimahi and opelu
  • Area lacked reefs and few coves for squid, mullet, shellfish and limu
destruction of cultivated areas
Destruction of Cultivated Areas
  • Lava flows 1868, 1881, 1926 and 1950
ka u and impact of colonization
Ka’u and impact of colonization
  • 1841 French Catholic Marechal had 900 converts in three months
  • 1842 Presbyterian Rev Paris and settled in Waiohinu

“I was taken up by a great strong native dressed in a malo and tattooed from head to foot”

population changes
Population Changes
  • 1833 census listed 5-6,000 residents of Ka’u
  • By 1866 the land was considered desolate
  • How and why did this happen?
conflict and cultural changes
Conflict and Cultural Changes
  • Kamehameha I conquered their native ali’i Keoua

Ka’u Makaha (ka’u the fierce) was humiliated and many despondent

In 1820 Ka’ahumanu ordered the destruction of the Ki’i and end to the ai’kapu

The abandonment of old cultural practices, its reciprocal duties and benefits, its fixed seasons for fishing, planting, harvesting, ceremonial and warfare had a devastating impact on the people.

introduction of capitalism
Introduction of Capitalism
  • Under Kamehameha II new ali’i lines who sought luxury items were indifferent to the needs of the ohana that they administered on the ahupua’a
  • Demanded that everyone go to harvest Sandlewood to trade for needless luxury items and alcohol
  • Fields and Fishponds abandoned and many began to starve
Warfare with its rigorous disciplines ceased
  • Lono no longer honored in the great winter festival Makahiki (athletic competition and dancing)
  • Kapus ignored causing depletion of resources (fishing etc)

Venereal disease (sterility) and alcoholism became problems

  • Measles, whooping cough, fevers, TB compounded physical decline of population already weakened by lack of food and healthy exercise
  • Christian ideas about nudity led to wool clothes. Heavy sweating followed by chills. Many died!
natural disasters
Natural Disasters
  • 1830-31 and 1846-47 wildfires destroy large areas of settlement and cultivation
  • 1867 Drought and Famine
  • 1868 Earthquakes and Tidal Waves destroy villages from Punalu’u to Ka’alu’alu
  • Earth opened and swallowed homes, thousands of livestock and entire families
  • Lava Flows cover Wai-o-ahu-kini
  • Most unable to recover from these events and relocate
pulu trade 1859 1885
Pulu Trade 1859-1885
  • Rainforest of Mauna Loa depleted of hairy down (pulu) which encases the stems and the young opening fronds of the tree fern.
  • Pulu used to stuff mattress in Honolulu and California
  • Further abandonment of cultivated areas to work gathering pulu. Continued starvation
the great mahele 1848 the rise of sugar
The Great Mahele 1848 & The Rise of Sugar
  • Land Division opened way for foreign ownership of land and ushered in the sugar plantation era.
  • 1870 near Na’alehu 225 acres was purchased by Alexander Hutchinson and John Costa which became the first sugar cane plantation in Ka’u
  • By 1879 there were three mills in operation
  • Many immigrants recruited from China, Japan, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Portugal and Korea to fill labor demands
population change
Population Change
  • 1872 1829/1865 were Native Hawaiian
  • 1884 1543/3483 were Native Hawaiian