Kohala Center Receives 150K For Native Hawaiian Support

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The Kohala Center announced Monday, June 7, that it has received a grant award totaling $150,000 through the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ ‘Ohana and Community Based Program Grant for Hawaiʻi Island.

The grant will help to reinforce and strengthen native Hawaiians’ ‘ohana (family), mo‘omeheu (culture), and ‘āina (land and water) in the ahupua‘a of Kawaihae during the year-long project period.

The grant will enable the Center to address the interrelated needs of ‘āina, kānaka (people), and mo‘omeheu in the ahupua‘a (traditional mountain-to-sea land division) of Kawaihae in leeward Kohala, which includes the Honokoa watershed.

Through its “Ho‘olauna Kawaihae: Building pilina through respectful engagement” initiative, the Center will use the grant funds to research, learn, assess, and incorporate ancestral practices to engage respectfully in restoring dryland native forests in the ahupua‘a and strengthening reciprocal relationships between its people and the natural environment.


Most directly impacted by threats to Honokoa’s integrity are the more than 150 families that live in Honokoa on the Kawaihae Hawaiian Homestead. These homesteaders representing the Kailapa Community Association (KCA) call this ‘āina home. Located in one of the driest areas of the Main Hawaiian Islands, KCA needs fresh water, which is of foundational importance to their self-reliance, independence, and resiliency as a Hawaiian community.

A lack of rainfall and freshwater resources present major issues for further community development and sustainability in the low-elevation areas of Kawaihae: without water, about 7,500 acres of designated agricultural land is not viable.

“The Hawaiian worldview ties together the health of ‘āina and the health of kānaka,” said Cheryl Ka‘uhane Lupenui, president and CEO of The Kohala Center.


“More than 90% of Hawai‘i’s original dryland forests has been destroyed, resulting in the loss of native species, culture, ‘ike Hawai‘i, and habitats,” she continued. “This is a key project in our long-term efforts to strengthen ‘āina-kānaka relationships and resiliency as an ahupua‘a-stewarded community.”

The purpose of the ‘Ohana and Community Based Program Grant is to serve the native Hawaiian lāhui in alignment with the strategic foundations, directions, and outcomes of OHA’s 15-year Mana i Mauli Ola Strategic Plan.

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