Hana coastal lands and ocean are protected and full of life that provides for our 'ohana. Kanaka Maoli and the community work together to manage the 'āina. Our kupuna 'iwi are at peace and our culture is alive and passed to future generations.
The purpose of Ke Ao Hāli'i as established in our bylaws, is to protect and preserve the natural and cultural resources of the Hāna moku and the customary and traditional practices of Native Hawaiians of the region; to hold title to and own interests in real property or to hold easements; to preserve and manage the area's natural, cultural, scenic, historic and marine resources for the benefit, education and enjoyment of our community and future generations.
Our history & background
On March 1st, 2018, our humble community of Hāna received a wake-up call; it came in the form of a prospective buyer, eager to purchase approximately 46 acres of pristine coastline along Makaʻalae, four miles south of Hāna town. While plans for the property were unknown and the buyer was open to community input, the reality of the situation was clear: Hāna’s coastline could soon be developed.
This coastline in particular protects private coves, borders some of our community’s most coveted fishing locations, and has been open pastures owned by Hāna Ranch and then Hana HRP LLC for the last three generations. What made this wake-up call different from all the rest though, was that thanks to a handful of dedicated community members, a foundation of time, energy and research had already been built. The community had made their decision. They were against the sale. A community meeting was held, filling Helene Hall with residents sharing their passionate plea for this land, including many Hawaiians with lineal ties to the area. The buyer ended up backing out.
With this event as a catalyst, Ke Ao Hāliʻi was formed soon thereafter. In April 2018 we registered as a nonprofit organization with the state of Hawai‘i, and in June 2018 our 501(c)(3) nonprofit tax-exempt status was approved by the IRS.
Ke Ao Hāliʻi literally means "The Blanket of Clouds." A few years ago a group of us who had been meeting regularly to discuss ways to protect the precious coastal lands of Hāna that were on the market, made a site visit and walked along with members of the families from Maka’alae. We did a Hi‘uwai, a traditional dawn cleansing in the ocean at Hamoa beach, and then shared an 'awa (kava) ceremony to come up with our visions for a name. One of the visions that came to a kupuna of the area was Ke Ao Hāli‘i, a blanket of protective clouds over the land. This also connects to one of the sayings of Hāna, Ka ʻĀina o Ka Lani Haʻahaʻa, the land of the low-lying clouds (lit. ʻhumble heaven) which refers to the way that the clouds sit on the hills over the Hāna area, or come all the way down to form Ka Ua Kea Noenoe, the white misty rain of Hāna. This blanket of clouds protects the land from the intensity of the sun, and provides life-giving moisture that keeps our region green and lush.
In the same way that the blanket of clouds protects the land, so do we as the supporters of Ke Ao Hāliʻi wish to protect the land from unwanted development, from abusive practices, and from self-serving interests that will cut off access for native families of the area. We wish to ensure that the land thrives, remains open and lush, protects the shoreline and reef, and allows the families who have deep ancestral ties to these areas to continue their traditional and customary practices and subsistence lifestyle along the Hana coast. To us, it is much more than just a name, Ke Ao Hāliʻi is a spiritual blessing of Ke Akua and our ancestors. It is our kuleana to protect this land for future generations.
Our Board Members
John O’Hara aka Irish, Chair
Sunnie Makua, Vice-Chair
Sunnie is a lineal descendant of Maka'alae.
Lipoa Kahaleuahi, Secretary
Lipoa is a Hāna native who grew up in the Haneoʻo area. She credits her passion and drive to protecting Hāna’s lands for future generations to her upbringing in and around the ocean there. Lipoa holds degrees in Global and International Studies and Teaching from UC Santa Barbara and Chaminade University of Honolulu, respectively, and now works as the Executive Director for local nonprofit Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻIke. She has spent considerable time traveling and living abroad, always drawn to experiencing other cultures, their traditions and their connections to land and sea.
Michelle Horen, Treasurer
Michelle grew up in Hana, across the street from the legendary Maka'alae coastline. Her grandparents instilled in her the importance of gratitude and giving back to the community. Her connection to the environment and culture comes from being a hula practitioner for close to 30 years. She has traveled and studied around the world which has greatly broadened her perspective and increased her appreciation for Hana.
Born and raised in Hana, Mavis Oliveira-Medeiros' ohana lineage goes back to Ho'opai, Kalalao, Oliveira, Cabral. Originally from Honokalani & Ulaino, she now lives in Haneo'o, Hamoa Village, where she and her husband Earle raised their three children. They spent some years living in Seattle and watched as rural areas grew into full fledged suburbia almost overnight. Mavis has taken many college classes inc. Hawaiian, Business management, Planning, Budgeting, Accounting, Appraisal, Real Estate Principles & Procedures, even took a log home building class, among others. She worked in the hotel industry, several Office Manager jobs, School Bus Driver, Executive Secretary, served as Hana School’s Health Aide for over 18 years. She recently began working for Hana District Council Services under Hanaʻs Council Member Shane Sinenci.
Scott has been a resident of Hana for over 25 years, and has worked with many nonprofit organizations in Hana and Kipahulu related to cultural traditions, environmental sustainability and land and coastal conservation and management. He currently works as the Director of the Maui Marine Program for The Nature Conservancy. Prior to that, Scott worked as the Executive Director for the Kipahulu Ohana since 2002. He also serves as the Secretary for Na Mamo O Muʻolea since 2006, and is on the board for the Hana Cultural Center & Museum and the Hana Chapter of the Hawaii Farmers Union. Scott grew up in Colorado, graduated high school from Seabury Hall and earned a BA in English and American Studies from Tufts University.
David Ka’eo Kaimanaokealoha Prais
Kai is an Active Lineal/Cultural descendant to nā ahupua’a O Mokae, O Hāmoa, O Haneo’o, O Aleamai.
Chad Meyer, MD
Sam Akoi IV
Sam traces his family history back seven plus generations on both his mother's and father's sides: from Kaupo to Kipahulu to Keanae. He graduated from Hana High and Elementary School. After nearly twenty years living outside of Hana to work for local conservation groups, USDA Federal Wildlife and commercial ranches; he has returned home to Kipahulu. Sam is an avid Hawaiian Practitioner from mauka to makai; a paniolo, farmer, hunter, gatherer and fisherman. Above all he is a conservationist at heart. He was given the kuleana as an early teen by his grandfather and granduncles, to protect and preserve these ancestral lands for the generations to come. Sam is a husband, father and grandfather to nine mo'opuna; and takes the kuleana given to him very seriously. In the last five years, he has seen these Hana 'Aina threatened by sales to mainlanders and proposed commercial ventures. In addition to being a Ke Ao Hali'i board member, Sam is a board member of the Kipahulu Community Association, President of the Wai Hui Kipahulu water system, leads the Aha Moku for Hana District, and supports the Kipahulu 'Ohana and the Lawful Hawaiian Government.
Mary Ann Kahana
Mary Ann Kahana was born and raised on Oahu, she continuously visited Hamoa Village throughout her lifetime and today she feels blessed to live on generational land at Haneo`o, Hamoa Village. She earned a BS in Nursing from University of Hawaii and MSN from University of Phoenix, Family Nurse Practitioner. Mary Ann directly commissioned into the Air Force in 1997 and retired in 2017. Her deployment experience includes tours to Qatar, Djibouti, Balad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She represents the Pi`ilani Ohana of Hamoa and she expects to continue her grandpa George Kanawai Pi`ilani’s legacy of protecting, loving and respecting these lands that need to be left in conservation which will be held for the generations and descendants yet unborn.