Local nonprofit preserves Hawaii Kai wetlands

By Nana Ohkawa
Published On: Mar 20 2014 07:11:41 PM HST

A heiau in Hawaii Kai is being preserved as a cultural heritage site, and no development will be permitted to take place in the area.

HONOLULU -

It has taken years of battling to preserve acres of land in Hawaii Kai. Now, Hawaii Kai's Hawea Heiau complex and Keawawa wetland will now be community owned and managed as a Hawaiian cultural heritage preserve.

Click here for Nana Ohkawa's report.

The five-acre land is surrounded by homes in Hawaii Kai and a rare green space.

Community members and leaders say they fought hard to make sure the land full of native plants and animals would not be paved over.

"Just an amazing jewel for the community; what was once controversial is now an amazing gathering point for community and generations to come," said Elizabeth Reilly of Livable Hawaii Kai Hui.

The so called jewel would have been turned into a tennis court and swimming pool if prior land owners had their way. The trust for public land purchased the property for $650,000 from the Korean company Hale Ka Lae. That company is putting all of that money back into the park.

"When some issues came about where community was not happy about this community being developed, Honwa wanted to be a good neighbor and make everything peaceful," said Christine Camp of Avalon Group Development.

The land is now managed by Livable Hawaii Kai Hui, a community nonprofit.

The hui has a conservation plan for the area. The nonprofit has already invested $100,000 in the clearing of more than 300 invasive trees and shrubs and replacing them with native ones.

"We are the endangered species capitol of the world. Anything we can do to restore the native habitat for our native animals is wonderful," said Gregory Coob of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

With many ancient Hawaiian walls and structures, an ancient nui groove and wetland are a rare refuge for native wildlife. Experts say it is a place that has an important past to remember and preserve.

"Native Hawaiians growing, planting, fishing, celebrating and honoring and much of that past has been forgotten," said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

A community volunteer service day will be held every second Saturday of the month.

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