Mauna Kea Recreation Area Renamed After Late Sen. Kahele

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The late Hawai‘i Island State Senator, Gilbert Kahele, was a champion for the stewardship and improvement of facilities at the formerly named Mauna Kea State Recreation Area; renamed Mauna Kea Recreation Area when management was transferred from the State of Hawai‘i to the County of Hawai‘i five years ago.

Sen. Kai Kahele and family and friends check out the sign at Gilbert Kahele Recreation Area. PC: DLNR.

On Wednesday, May 15, 2019, during a private ceremony with the late Senator’s family and friends and public officials, on the anniversary of his birthday, a new entrance sign was unveiled changing the name of the popular Saddle Road park to the Gilbert Kahele Recreation Area. The change was initiated by a Senate Resolution and approved by the Board of Land and Natural Resources on April 12, 2019.

The late senator’s son, Sen. Kai Kahele, noted, “My father worked just down the road from the recreation area for 34 years as Director of the Public Works Division at the Pōhakuloa Training Area.  When he served in the state legislature, he was instrumental in achieving park improvements by way of the transfer of the management to Hawai‘i County. He would be deeply honored that a place he dearly loved now bears his name.”

The Gilbert Kahele Recreation Area. PC: DLNR

Attending the sign unveiling, in addition to members of the Kahele family, were DLNR Chair Suzanne Case, First Deputy Robert Masuda, Hawai‘i Island State Parks Superintendent Dean Takebayashi and county representatives.


Chair Case said, “As someone who grew up on Hawai‘i Island, I’ve long been aware of Sen. Gil Kahele’s professional and personal commitment to the people here. It is so nice to see his contributions memorialized in the renaming of the park. It is something the DLNR Division of State Parks and the Land Board supported completely.”

The Gilbert Kahele Recreation Area. PC: DLNR.

An official blessing will follow at a later date when memorabilia from the late Senator’s life will be added to the multi-purpose center at the Gilbert Kahele Recreation Area.


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