Kepā Maly and Onaona Pomroy Maly completed a review of all the original land title records of the Hawaiian Kingdom recorded during the Māhele ‘Āina (Land Division) between the years 1847 and 1855. For the first time, all of the Māhele records have been compiled in one collection, and the original Hawaiian-language documents of the Native Register and Testimony collections were translated by Kepā Maly for this program. The results provide readers with significant documentation coming from those who lived on and knew the land in a traditional manner. The Māhele documents describe land use, residency, and the practices of the families of Honouliuli and its smaller land subdivisions. With this information, we are able better to understand the history and cultural landscape of Honouliuli. While much has changed in the last 170 years, the spirit of place, the named places, and lives of those who came before us are still present on the land. Their history adds value to our own lives and community.

Honouliuli: Proceedings of the Boundary Commission

Following the Māhele ‘Āina, there was a growing movement to fence off the land areas and  control  access  to  resources  that  native  tenants  had  traditionally used. In the 1860s, foreign landowners and business interests petitioned the Crown to have the boundaries of their respective lands—which became the foundation for plantation and ranching interests—settled. In 1862, the king appointed a Commission of Boundaries, a.k.a.

Place Names of Honouliuli in the Māhele

Another important facet of the records compiled as a part of the Māhele ‘Āina are the place names of Honouliuli. Some 182 place names were cited in the claims, testimonies, and surveys of native tenants lands in Honouliuli. The names are often descriptive of i) the terrain, ii) an event in history, iii) the kind of resources a particular place was noted for, or iv) the kind of land use which occurred in the area so named. Sometimes an earlier resident of a given land area was also commemorated by place names.

Names of Residents in Honouliuli Ahupua‘a, ca. 1800–1855

The records of the Māhele are the earliest and most detailed records of Honouliuli, in their documentation of native residents—those people who were the survivors of their ancestors, and those whose iwi (remains) were buried upon the plains (kulāıwi). Following a detailed review of all the Māhele records from Honouliuli Ahupua‘a, at least 208 resident names were found. These names, often modernized surnames, are the people who lived upon, cared for, and were sustained by the ‘āina and kai lawai‘a of Honouliuli.

Buke Māhele, 1848

The Buke Māhele (Division Book) of 1848, copy of 1864, documents the agreements among King Kamehameha III, family members, supporting chiefs, and others who supported Kamehameha I and his heirs in the period between the 1790s and the 1830s. The Buke Māhele also lists the lands granted by the king to the government land inventory—financial returns from sales and leases of such were dedicated to the support of government operations—and for conveyance through Royal Patent Grants to Hawaiians and other parties in leasehold and fee-simple interests.

Honouliuli: Procedures of the Land Commission, 1848–1855

The records of the Māhele ‘Āina are a significant source of firsthand accounts from native tenants of Honouliuli whose residency generally spanned the period from ca. 1800 to 1855. The records describe native Hawaiian residency and land use practices.  They identify specific residents, types of land use, fishery and fishing rights, crops cultivated, and features on the landscape.

The Kuleana Act of 1850

The Kuleana Act remains the foundation of law pertaining to native tenant rights and prescribed the following.

August 6, 1850

An Act confirming certain resolutions of the King and Privy Council passed on the 21st day of December 1849, granting to the common people allodial titles for their own lands and house lots, and certain other privileges.

The Board of Commissioners to Quiet Land Titles, 1845

By the 1840s, the maka‘āinana began making pleas to the king, asking that he not allow foreigners the right to possess land and hold positions in government. A series of petitions from across the islands on this matter went unheeded. With lands from his personal inventory, the king set up a mechanism to lease out and eventually sell large tracts of land for the development of businesses, which, it was hoped, would also benefit the kingdom.