This coastal land is a crucial part of what keeps the Hawaiian culture alive in Hāna.
Origin of name
The Hawaiian gallinule (Gallinula galeata sandvicensis) is an endangered chicken-sized water bird in the rail family (estimated current population 300 birds with, restricted distributions on Oahu and Kauai) is commonly known as a mudhen, and in Hawaiian as the `alae `ula (“burnt forehead” - for its prominent red frontal shield). Maka'alae is Hawaiian for "the mud hen's eye."
In Hawaiian mythology the alae'ula was regarded as deity and was the keeper of fire for the gods. There are two legendary versions of how this bird brought fire from the gods to the people. One tells of the trickster Maui forcing the alae to release its secret of fire; the second, more generous, is that the alae took pity on humans and stole fire from the gods giving it to humans for warmth and cooking. Both versions associate the red frontal shield to the effects of fire. The origin of naming the point "Maka'alae" is unknown.
Maka'alae Point is commonly regarded as the coastal lands located between the Kapia and Waiohonu streams. It is composed of majestic open fields bordered on the south by Waioka pond (now under Hawaii State land title), on the west by the Waiho'i Valley coastal escarpment and the north by the Kapia Stream. On the east the shoreline includes a geologically sunken black lava beach, rocky cliffs, numerous tidal pools, and a stand of Cook Pines which gives the area its local name, "the pines or pine trees".
Historically it was part of the sustained Hawaiian subsistence agri-marine culture from 800 AD until the land tenure transition (1850-1860) when sugar became a commercial export commodity. In the 1940's sugar profits declined eventually resulting in discontinuation of cultivation. Today, the only remnant of this era is the unrestored concrete foundation of the Maka'alae sugar mill in brush overgrowth. Since 1947 the area has been used commercially for cattle ranching and local cultural uses. Today it is beloved by local residents for shoreline fishing, diving, gathering and walking. As well as connecting and paying respect to past generations that have done the same.
Over the years, Maka'alae has been depicted in artwork, of which here are some examples:
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