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Hui Ku‘ai ‘Aina


"Ha‘ena Ohana"

"Ha‘ena ‘Ohana," painting by Pierre Boulet. Used with permission.



Changes that were affecting the rest of the Hawaiian Islands gradually reached Ha‘ena. Among the most important of these were changes that eventually brought about the break-up of the Hui Ku‘ai ‘Aina and resulted in the partitioning of the lands that had been held in common.

The path to this break-up was one whereby, over time, shares in the Hui were sold, transferred , or auctioned off away from the original members and their families, and into the hands of newcomers from outside. How did families lose their shares? Many people who had once lived there had moved away, to other places in the Islands or even to the U.S. Mainland.

Carlos explains that the land was easily acquired by outsiders "because of members not paying their taxes. These newcomers bought up the shares bit by bit, by paying the taxes due. In other cases the people moved away, and since they were not really used to taking care of the business of managing land finances, they did not know that they were going to lose their shares." The taxes at that time were often very low, like 15 cents in the 1920s. But if you were living elsewhere and were and not paying attention, and did not pay, your shares were eventually auctioned off. It was easy for someone else to buy them up. In other cases, if the head of the household died, the wife received half the shares, and the heirs split the rest. There might have been inheritance taxes too, that people could not afford to pay, so their shares got sold.



The people from outside who came in and became major shareholders held a different interest in the land than the residents. John W. Gregg of Monticello, Illinois was one such person. He came to Ha‘ena and was "adopted" by a man named Allerton. Eventually Gregg changed his name to John Gregg Allerton. He built a house next to Ke‘e beach, and summer homes became an increasingly prevalent land use in Ha‘ena. But the old-time residents were still using the land for production: cattle was the major industry in the first half of the century. Carlos describes the resulting situation:

"A lot of these new people didn't actually live out at Ha‘ena. Allerton didn't live out there--he had a place out there that he went to once in a while. They just owned it. But people like the Mahuiki's lived out there. They had their cattle and their horses running all over the place, so it's a good deal for them: they get the use of the land but they don't own it. But these other people, they own the land but they're not there using it. They cannot use it, because most of land is not fenced off. Around the houses it's fenced off, to protect the houses. But the majority of the land is held communally. So what these outsiders want to do is to be able to parcel it off, to fence off the land so that they can use it exclusively, either to rent, or for whatever reason. They can say "this is mine, and I'm going to exclude your animals from it."



In the early 1950s, John Gregg (Allerton), who by then owned almost 14% in the Hui, and Paul Rice (about 7%), petitioned for partition of the land--to break up the Hui Ku‘ai ‘Aina. Everyone who held shares had to claim them in specific acres of land. It was, in a sense, a new mahele (partitioning), in which the communally-owned whole was to be fragmented into private parcels. The Kuleana lands did not figure in this--they had been separate all along.

Since between the two of them Atherton and Rice controlled only about 21% of the whole Hui, how could these two men bring about the break-up of the organization? Carlos explains that "It didn't matter how much they control. The land is held in common, and anybody who is a member can sue to partition the land, because they want their share. In some cases, like in a family today, the land is so small and there are so many 'owners,' they wouldn't be able to partition the land to use--they would have to sell the land at auction and divide the money. But in this case there was enough land to go around, to divide for everybody, so they did that."

The petitioners asked the court to appoint a "commissioner in partition." A lengthy legal process began, to assess the land and determine values and to what each member was entitled. An aerial survey was done 1952. Preliminary plans for partition were drawn up in 1962, and a final plan 1967.

With land values assessed, members drew up a list of preferences for lots. Here is an example of the estimated land values, 1952.



Ha‘ena Land Values, 1952

6¢/square foot

House lots on Road

4¢/square foot

Good interior house lots

2¢/square foot

Poor house lots

1¢/square foot

Very poor house lots

10¢/square foot

Good beach lots

4¢/square foot

Shore or poor beach lots


Good wet land


Medium wet land


Medium pasture


Poor pasture




With this new privatization of land, the forces that had elsewhere affected the Hawaiian Islands back in the 1848 Mahele now took root here: land became increasingly concentrated in fewer hands, and many families left the area. This exodus of people became even more pronounced after Ha‘ena was clobbered by two tsunami.



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