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The Island Of Kaho'olawe

"Rebirth Of A Sacred Island"

Find Out What Only The Local's Know!

 Discover What You Can And Cannot Do Here On Kaho'olawe While Vacationing Here And What To Stay Clear Of....

From: Hawaiian Joe
Re: The Island Of Kaho'olawe

Kaho'olawe Island Background And History

Kaho'olawe - Rebirth Of A Sacred Island

Kaho'olawe recognizes the Hinahina (native beach heliotrope - Heliotropium anomalum, var. argenteum) as the official island flower. Other names: Hinahina, hinahina ku kahakai, nohonohopuuone, pohinahina (Boraginaceae).


Kahoʻolawe is the smallest of the 8 main volcanic islands in the Hawaiian Islands also know as the Sandwich Islands. It is located 7 miles (11.2 km) southwest of Maui and southeast of Lānaʻi and is 11 miles (18 km) long by 6 miles (9.7 km) across. Total area is 44.6 square miles (115.5 km). The highest point is the crater of Lua Makika at the summit of Puʻu Moaulanui, which is 1,477 feet (450 m) above sea level.


The island is relatively dry because the low elevation fails to generate much orographic precipitation from the northeastern trade winds and it is located in the rain shadow of Maui's 10,023 feet (3,055 m) high East Maui Volcano (Haleakalā). More than one quarter of the island has been eroded down to saprolitic hardpan.


Hanau hou he ‘ula ‘o Kaho‘olawe - Rebirth of a Sacred Island

Archeological evidence suggests that Hawaiians came to Kaho‘olawe as early as 400 A.D., settling in small fishing villages along the island’s coast. To date, nearly 3,000 archeological and historical sites and features—inventoried through 2004—paint a picture of Kaho‘olawe as a navigational center for voyaging, the site of an adze quarry, an agricultural center, and a site for religious and cultural ceremonies. Traditionally, the island has been revered as a wahi pana and a pu‘uhonua.

As modern times rolled in, Kaho‘olawe underwent a harsh evolution. It would be used briefly as a penal colony, for sheep and cattle ranching, and eventually transferred to the U.S. Navy for use as a bombing range. Litigation forced an end to the bombing in 1990 and the island was placed under the administration of the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC). Following a 10-year period of ordnance removal, control of access to Kaho‘olawe was transferred to the State of Hawai‘i in 2003. Today, the KIRC is responsible for the restoration and sustainable management of the island until it can be transferred to a Native Hawaiian entity to manage.




Kaho‘olawe Through Time

Native Hawaiians settle and continue to migrate from the South Pacific to Hawai‘i. Kaho‘olawe is dedicated to Kanaloa, Hawaiian deity of the ocean. The island is also historically referred to as Kohemalamalama O Kanaloa.

Goats are introduced to Kaho‘olawe, a gift from Captain Vancouver to Chief Kahekili of Maui.

As early as 1832, adult men are sent to a penal colony on Kaho‘olawe for various offenses. Headquarters for the penal colony is located at Kaulana Bay. In 1853, the law establishing Kaho‘olawe as a penal colony is repealed.

In 1858, the Hawaiian government issues the first of many ranch leases for the island. Throughout the ranching period, the uncontrolled grazing of cattle, sheep, and goats has a serious impact on the environment of the island resulting in substantial loss of soil through accelerated erosion. By the late 1890s, there are 900 cattle and 15,000 sheep on the island.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. declares martial law, which leads to the use of Kaho‘olawe as a bombing range.

The goat population on Kaho‘olawe reaches about 50,000.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower transfers title of Kaho‘olawe to the U.S. Navy with the provision that it be returned in a condition for “suitable habitation” when no longer needed by the military.

Members of Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana (PKO) begin a series of occupations of the island in an effort to halt bombing. The PKO also files suit in Federal District Court to enjoin the Navy’s bombing activities. In 1977, the Federal District Court orders a partial summary judgment requiring the Navy to conduct an environmental impact statement and supply an inventory of, and protect, the historic sites on the island.

A consent decree is signed between the U.S. Navy and the PKO, which results in a Memorandum of Understanding requiring the Navy to begin soil conservation, revegetation, and goat eradication programs.

Kaho‘olawe is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated the Kaho‘olawe Archaeological District.

As a result of PKO actions and litigation, President George Bush Sr. orders a stop to the bombing of Kaho‘olawe.

Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawai‘i) sponsors Title X of the 1994 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, which authorizes conveyance of Kaho‘olawe and its surrounding waters back to the State of Hawai‘i. Congress votes to end military use of Kaho‘olawe and authorizes $400 million for ordnance removal.

U.S. Navy conveys deed of ownership of Kaho‘olawe to the State of Hawai‘i. The Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission is established to manage activities on the island.

U.S. Navy awards contracts for the removal of unexploded ordnance on Kaho‘olawe. By November 2003, 74 percent of the island’s surface would be cleared. However, only nine percent of the island’s surface has been cleared to a depth of four feet. Ten percent of the island, or 2,936 acres, has not been cleared and is unsafe to access.

Transfer of access control is returned from the U.S. Navy to the State of Hawai‘i in a ceremony at ‘Iolani Palace on November 11, 2003.


Sometime around 1000, Kahoʻolawe was settled, and small, temporary fishing communities were established along the coast. Some inland areas were cultivated, and fine-grained basalt was quarried for stone tools. Originally a dry, mesic forest environment with intermittent streams, the land changed to an open savannah of grassland and trees as a result of vegetation clearance for firewood and agriculture.

People built stone platforms for religious ceremonies, set rocks upright as shrines for successful fishing trips, and carved petroglyphs, or drawings, into the flat surfaces of rocks. These indicators of an earlier time can still be found on Kahoʻolawe.

While it is not known how many people inhabited the island - the lack of freshwater probably limited the population to a few hundred. As many as 100 or more people may have once lived at Hakioawa, the largest settlement located at the northeast end of the island facing Maui.

Violent wars among competing chiefs laid waste to the land and led to a decline in the population. During the War of Kamokuhi, Kalaniopuʻu, the ruler of the Island of Hawaiʻi, raided and pillaged Kahoʻolawe in an unsuccessful attempt to take Maui from Kamalalawalu, the King of Maui.

From 1778 to the early 1800s, observers on passing ships reported that the island was uninhabited and barren, destitute of both water and wood. After the arrival of missionaries from New England, the Hawaiian government of King Kamehameha III replaced the death penalty with exile, and Kahoʻolawe became a male penal colony sometime around 1830.

Food and water were scarce, some prisoners reportedly starved, and some swam across the channel to Maui to find food. The law making the island a penal colony was repealed in 1853.

An 1857 survey of Kahoʻolawe reported about 50 residents, about 5,000 acres (2,000 Hectare) of land covered with shrubs, and a patch of sugar cane. Along the shore, tobacco, pineapple, gourds, pili (pee-lee) grass and scrub trees grew.

Beginning in 1858, the Hawaiian government leased Kahoʻolawe to a sequence of ranching ventures. Some proved more successful than others, but the lack of freshwater was an unyielding enemy. Through the next 80 years, the landscape changed dramatically—drought and uncontrolled overgrazing denuded much of the island, and strong trade winds blew away much of the topsoil leaving the red hard pan.

From 1910 to 1918 the Hawaiian Territorial government designated Kahoʻolawe as a forest reserve in hopes of restoring the island through a re-vegetation and livestock removal program. The program failed and leases again became available.

In 1918, the skilled Wyoming rancher Angus MacPhee with the help of Maui landowner Harry Baldwin leased the island for 21 years intending to build a cattle ranch. By 1932, the ranching operation was enjoying moderate success. After heavy rains, native grasses and flowering plants would sprout, but drought seemed to always return. In 1941, MacPhee subleased part of the island to the Army. Later that year, because of continuing drought, MacPhee removed his cattle from the island.

On December 8, 1941, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Army declared martial law throughout Hawaiʻi and took control of Kahoʻolawe. Soon, Kahoʻolawe was being used as a place to train Americans headed to war across the Pacific. The use of Kahoʻolawe as a training range was believed to be critical to the lives of many young Americans. The United States was executing a new type of war in the Pacific islands. Success depended on accurate, heavy gunfire from ships suppressing enemy positions as Marines and soldiers struggled to get ashore. Thousands of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen prepared on Kahoʻolawe for the brutal and costly assaults on islands such as the Gilberts, the Marianas and Iwo Jima.

Training on Kahoʻolawe continued after World War II. During the Korean War, carrier-based aircraft played a critical role in attacking enemy airfields, convoys and troop staging areas. Mock-ups of airfields, vehicles and other camps were constructed on Kahoʻolawe, and while pilots were undergoing readiness inspection at nearby Barbers Point Naval Air Station, they practiced spotting and hitting the mock-ups at Kahoʻolawe. Similar training took place through the Cold War and during Vietnam, as mock-ups of aircraft, radar installations, gun mounts and surface-to-air missile sites were placed across the island for pilots and others to use for training.

In early 1965, the United States Navy conducted Operation Sailor Hat to determine the blast resistance of ships. Three tests off the coast of Kaho'olawe subjected the Island and a target ship to massive explosions, with 500 tons of conventional TNT detonated on the Island near the target ship USS Atlanta (CL-104); The ship was damaged, but not sunk. The blasts created a crater on the island known as "Sailor Man's Cap", cracking the small fresh water well on the island rendering it incapable of holding fresh water and making the Island all but uninhabitable.

In 1976, a group of individuals calling themselves the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana (PKO) filed suit in federal court to stop the Navy’s use of Kahoʻolawe for military training, to require compliance with a number of new environmental laws and to ensure protection of cultural resources on the island.

In 1977, the Federal District Court for the District of Hawai'i allowed the Navy’s use of the island to continue, but the Court directed the Navy to prepare an environmental impact statement and complete an inventory of historic sites on the island. On March 9, 1977, two PKO leaders, George Helm and Kimo Mitchell, were lost at sea during an attempt to occupy Kahoʻolawe in symbolic protest.

In 1980, the Navy and the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana entered into a Consent Decree which allowed continued military training on the island, monthly access to the island for the PKO, surface clearance of part of the island, soil conservation, goat eradication and an archaeological survey.

On March 18, 1981, the entire island was added to the National Register of Historic Places. At that time, the Kahoʻolawe Archaeological District was noted to contain 544 recorded archaeological or historic sites and over 2,000 individual features. As part of the soil conservation efforts, workers laid lines of explosive charges, detonating them to break the hardpan so that seedling trees could be planted. Used tires were taken to Kahoʻolawe and placed in miles of deep gullies to slow the washing of red soil from the barren uplands to the surrounding shores. Ordnance and scrap metal was picked up by hand and transported by large trucks to a collection site.

In 1990, President George H. W. Bush ordered an end to live-fire training on the island. The Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1991 established the Kahoʻolawe Island Conveyance Commission to recommend terms and conditions for the conveyance of Kahoʻolawe by the United States government to the State of Hawaiʻi.

Transfer of title and Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) cleanup

In 1993, Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaiʻi sponsored Title X of the Fiscal Year 1994 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, directing that the United States convey Kahoʻolawe and its surrounding waters to the State of Hawaiʻi. Title X also established the objective of a “clearance or removal of unexploded ordnance (UXO)” and environmental restoration of the island, to provide “meaningful safe use of the island for appropriate cultural, historical, archaeological, and educational purposes, as determined by the State of Hawai'i.” In turn, the State created the Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission to exercise policy and management oversight of the Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve. As directed by Title X and in accordance with a required Navy / State of Hawaiʻi Memorandum of Understanding, the Navy transferred title of Kahoʻolawe to the State of Hawaiʻi on May 9, 1994.

As required by Title X, the Navy retained access control to the island until clearance and environmental restoration activities were completed, or November 11, 2003, whichever came first. The State agreed to prepare a Use Plan for Kahoʻolawe and the Navy agreed to develop a Cleanup Plan based on that use plan and to implement that plan to the extent Congress provided funds for that purpose.

In July 1997, the Navy awarded a contract to the Parsons UXB Joint Venture to clear ordnance from the island to the extent funds were provided by Congress. After the State and public review of the Navy cleanup plan, Parsons / UXB began their work on the island in November 1998.

The Navy attempted a cleanup of the unexploded ordnance from the island, although much still remains buried or resting on the land surface. Other items have washed down gullies and still others lie beneath the waters offshore. The turnover was officially made on November 11, 2003, but the cleanup was not completed.

Although the U.S. Navy was given $400 million and 10 years to complete the task, work progressed much more slowly than anticipated. As of the time of turnover, access to Kahoʻolawe requires escort and careful attention within areas known to contain unexploded ordnance.

Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve

In 1993, the Hawaiʻi State Legislature established the Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve, consisting of "the entire island and its surrounding ocean waters in a two mile (3 km) radius from the shore". By State Law, Kahoʻolawe and its waters can only be used for Native Hawaiian cultural, spiritual and subsistence purposes; fishing; environmental restoration; historic preservation; and education. Commercial uses are prohibited.

The Legislature also created the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) to manage the Reserve while it is held in trust for a future Native Hawaiian Sovereignty entity. The restoration of Kahoʻolawe will require a strategy to control erosion, re-establish vegetation, recharge the water table, and gradually replace alien plants with native species. Plans will include methods for damming gullies and reducing rainwater runoff. In some areas, non-native plants will temporarily stabilize soils before planting of permanent native species.

Kaho'olawe Culture

Preserving the Foundations of Culture

Kaho‘olawe is a unique place where one quickly becomes aware of the spiritual connection to the ‘āina—the wind, ocean, land, and heavens. When the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) began planning for the restoration of the island, it was understood that cultural awareness would guide the restoration.

The KIRC Culture and Education Program is intended to ensure that experts in Hawaiian culture are on hand to provide cultural assessments prior to and during restoration and ocean management activities, and to perform various protocols, ceremonies, and rituals as appropriate.

Cultural programs are tailored to support the KIRC mission, which is focused on managing the Reserve in trust for a future Native Hawaiian entity to preserve and practice all rights traditionally exercised for cultural, spiritual, and subsistence purposes.

Integrating Culture and Restoration

Cultural integration is emphasized in all facets of Kaho‘olawe’s restoration. Traditionally, the island was considered a sacred place that was closely associated with Kanaloa, the Hawaiian deity of the ocean. Today it is still considered a sacred and spiritual place as well as a cultural treasure with numerous heiau, ko‘a, and ahu on the island. The entire island is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its archeological, cultural, and historic significance.


Kaho‘olawe’s Archeological Importance

Kaho‘olawe is the only major island in the Pacific that has been archaeologically surveyed from coast to coast. There is now a total inventory of nearly 3,000 historic sites and features on the island.

The creation of a comprehensive electronic database of these sites and features provides a unique planning and land management tool. Site maps, descriptions, and photographs are retrievable by grid, site, and geographic area.

The island retains an intact and unique record of all phases of the Hawaiian past from the adze maker’s workshop at Pu‘umoiwi to the fisherman’s camp at Kealaikahiki, from the heiau at Hakioawa to the paniolo bunkhouse at Kuheia. These and other resources will provide education and inspiration for many generations.

Adherence to Cultural Protocols

The KIRC staff maintains the cultural essence of Kaho‘olawe by adhering to the ‘Aha Pawalu, a protocol book written by the Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation specifically for the KIRC. The book details sixteen chants and nine protocols, basic information that the KIRC staff recognizes and acknowledges as guidelines for proper cultural behavior.

A second book that may be used in the future is the Kalai Maoli Ola, which details specific protocols
for different areas of the island.

Traditional Cultural Practices

Various ceremonies and rites are regularly performed on Kaho‘olawe using traditional cultural practices. The annual planting ceremony takes place every October at the beginning of the wet season, and people from both the KIRC and the Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana (PKO) come together to give offerings and open the planting season. Cultural practitioners, usually from the PKO, perform seasonal ceremonies for Kane and Kanaloa during the solstices. Proper burial ceremonies are also held when iwi kupuna are found on the island.


Presentations and Outreach

Thousands of high school and college students, as well as the members of various organizations, receive orientations on the history and culture of Kaho‘olawe as part of the KIRC Culture and Education Program. In addition, materials now being prepared in collaboration with the State Department of Education will result in curriculum to assist public and private school teachers in Hawai‘i in including modules on Kaho‘olawe in their Hawaiian studies programs.

Kaho'olawe Restoration

The Healing of Kaho‘olawe

The healing of Kanaloa (Kaho‘olawe) is a physical and spiritual renewal that is deeply rooted in the revival of cultural practices, traditions, and rituals. As a result, activities conducted by the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) Restoration Program are guided by the need to achieve a more holistic understanding between man and nature and to place strong emphasis on healing as well as environmental restoration.

Cultural integration is a focus within the Restoration Program. Every year, the planting season begins with a ceremony that consists of appropriate protocols, chants, and ho‘okupu given at a series of rain ko‘a shrines that were built in 1997. The shrines link ‘Ulupalakua on Maui to Luamakika, located at the summit of Kaho‘olawe. Their purpose is to call back the cloud bridge that once existed between Maui and Kaho‘olawe. With the clouds come the famous Naulu rains that are associated with Kaho‘olawe.

Revegetation of the Island
Kaho‘olawe is being planted with native species that include trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, and herbs. More than 100 acres have been planted. As revegetation continues, each acre planted would include up to 20 trees, 500 shrubs, and grasses and vines.

Only about 820 acres of the 12,800 most severely eroded acres will be replanted, but 4,300 acres are targeted for restoration. The remaining land is barren hardpan—soil compacted so severely by erosion that it cannot readily absorb water.

Invasive Species Removal
One goal of environmental restoration is to distribute native plant species in abundance and to create a “seed bank” that will enable a native plant community to be assembled. For this to happen, invasive and alien plant species must be removed. Much of the removal is being accomplished using hand and power tools along with herbicide. By reestablishing native species over alien ones, a native Hawaiian dryland forest can be achieved.


Controlling Erosion and Sediment Run-Off
An estimated 1.9 million tons of soil are deposited into the ocean surrounding Kaho‘olawe each year through erosion. The KIRC’s Pu‘u Moa‘ulanui restoration project focuses on reducing sediment flow in stream channels before it reaches the sea by promoting growth of vegetation in those areas.

Many of the erosion control techniques involve the use of pili The pili is grown at the Plant Materials Center, a Moloka‘i facility managed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. It is then baled and transported to Kaho‘olawe by helicopter.

Water Resources
Kaho‘olawe has no standing source of fresh water and groundwater is severely limited. A rain catchment system has been constructed at the island’s highest point, Pu‘u Moa‘ulanui, which collects about 500,000 gallons of water each year. Once established, plants and groundcover will help retain moisture and reduce the need for outside water. Also, reverse osmosis units at Honokanai‘a are capable of processing thousands of gallons of water a day.


Volunteer Efforts
A $1.5 million grant from the State Department of Health will enable about 1,800 volunteers to participate in restoration activities on Kaho‘olawe over the next three years. Volunteer trips typically focus on watershed restoration and revegetation activities. However, the program also includes talk-story sessions on ancient and contemporary history, current events, and future use of Kaho‘olawe. Volunteers visit significant Hawaiian cultural sites, listen to historical stories, learn chants, and practice cultural protocols as part of the KIRC Culture and Education Program.

Kaho'olawe Ocean Resources

Protecting Valuable Ocean Resources


Early Hawaiians considered the ocean a spiritual entity upon which they depended for their survival. The need for a reliable source of fish and shellfish led them to develop a sophisticated understanding of the factors that caused limitations and fluctuations in marine resources. As a result, they devised practices that fostered conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, including the creation of marine sanctuaries—kai kapu—where marine life was allowed to regenerate. Today, these practices are perpetuated in the Reserve.

As caretakers of the Reserve, the mission of the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) includes determining the status of the ocean resources surrounding Kaho‘olawe and improving the health of offshore areas in anticipation of the time the island and its waters are returned to a Native Hawaiian entity.

The KIRC Ocean Resources Management Program is responsible for a number of activities dedicated to enhancing these important ocean resources.

Coral Reef Monitoring
Kaho‘olawe is surrounded by an extensive reef system, which, despite years of bombing, is relatively well intact. The influx of sedimentation is still a problem due to the near-deforestation of the island caused by bombing and feral animals. Due to its intact herbivorous fish populations—which graze on limu—harmful invasive limu species have yet to become established on the reef system as in the rest of the main Hawaiian Islands.

Working with scientific SCUBA divers from the University of Hawai‘i, the KIRC is monitoring the reef to determine the species diversity and health of coral, fish, algae, and large invertebrates. As monitoring continues, decisions will be made to ensure the health of the reef for future generations.

Fish Tagging and Replenishment
The waters surrounding Kaho‘olawe are the closest to a natural ecosystem that exists within the main Hawaiian Islands. Because these waters are off-limits to fishing and commercial activities, this region acts as a fish sanctuary that works to replenish fish stocks throughout the islands, particularly around Maui and Lana‘i.

To fully understand the impact of fish breeding here, the KIRC is monitoring fish habitat, growth rates and—through fish tagging—their travel once they leave the Reserve.


Monitoring by Sea and Air
As a reserve, Kaho‘olawe is rich with marine life that includes mano, nai‘a, hahalua, and kohola. ‘Ilioholoikauaua, honu, and seabirds such as ‘iwa and koa‘e ‘ula also utilize the Reserve’s coastal habitats.

The Ocean Resources Management Program is currently conducting an island-wide inventory of these species—doing visual counts by boat and helicopter—to establish a distribution and abundance baseline that will help determine whether their numbers increase as a result of their protection within the Reserve.

Kaho‘olawe Off-Limits to Fishing
Kaho‘olawe’s waters include resources that can benefit us all. As such, the health and protection of these waters are our shared concern and responsibility. Because Kaho‘olawe is a sanctuary and fishing is off-limits, the relatively intact fish resources are allowed to achieve their optimal breeding sizes, which yields remarkably larger spawning events that help to replenish fish stocks throughout the islands. Unauthorized use or entrance into Reserve waters is subject to penalties under State law. Your kokua is appreciated.


Caught a Tagged Fish?
If you’ve caught an ‘opakapaka that carries a KIRC black tagging transmitting chip, you are encouraged to report your catch to the KIRC Ocean Resources Management Program. Your assistance will enable the KIRC to evaluate the effectiveness of the island as a source of fish stock replenishment for the waters around Kaho‘olawe and all the Hawaiian Islands. Your help will also be greatly appreciated. To report a tagged fish, contact the KIRC at (808) 243-5889.

Kaho'olawe Volunteers

Nā Hoaʻāina


In the healing process for Kahoʻolawe, the KIRC relies on volunteers to get the job done. Through our Restoration, Ocean, and Cultural programs and the supporting Operations program, there are many varied volunteer opportunities that you can participate in. These include reforestation and erosion control projects, fish monitoring and species surveys, historical site restoration and protocol assistance, infrastructure improvements, and a myriad of other projects.

If you're interested in being added to our volunteer team database, send an email stating your name, phone number, email address, availability, and experience/interest information to our Volunteer Coordinator, Jackson Bauer:

Access Waiver Forms

Volunteer Packet
Non-Volunteer Emergency Form

Kaho'olawe Announcements

Open Waters Schedule


Registration Information

Catch Report Form
Map of Catch Report Areas
Vessel Registration Form
Vessel Release of Liability Form
*** Boaters, please note: All vessels must register annually with the Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission prior to Reserve Access and Catch Reports must be filed with the KIRC following each access for all wishing to participate in the Reserve's Open Waters schedule


Kaho'olawe Employment Opportunities

The State Legislature created the Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) to manage the Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve while it is held in trust for a future Native Hawaiian sovereign entity. KIRC establishes policies and controls uses; coordinates the environmental restoration of the Reserve; provides for the perpetuation of Native Hawaiian customs, beliefs and practices.

The Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission is recruiting qualified candidates for the positions described below.

Qualified candidates may submit their resume with a cover letter stating their interest and outlining their salary history via e-mail to or mail to:

The Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission
attn: Kaʻōnohi Lee - CONFIDENTIAL
811 Kolu Street, Suite 201
Wailuku, HI 96793
Submittals for the following position will be accepted through November 26, 2007 or until vacancies are filled.
Postings as of November 9, 2007

Submittals for the following position will be accepted through December 14, 2007 or until vacancies are filled.

Postings as of November 9, 2007
  • Executive Director - Implements cultural, educational, revegetation, and ocean use programs; fund development projects; and volunteer coordination. Other responsibilities include managing day-to-day operations, implementing legislative strategy, and managing contracts and agreements with other organizations. The position, based on Maui, requires a master’s degree or at least ten (10) years of management experience, strategic planning and implementation, effective communications skills, staff development, and cultural sensitivity. Knowledge of archaeology, Hawaiian history, culture, and competency in the Hawaiian language are preferred.

Kaho'olawe Assess And Risk Management


Kaho'olawe Legal


Kaho'olawe Plans

Strategic Plan 2004 - 2008

Vision for Kaho‘olawe
The kino of Kanaloa is restored. Forests and shrublands of native plants and other biota clothe its slopes and valleys. Pristine ocean waters and healthy reef ecosystems are the foundation that supports and surrounds the island.

Na po‘e Hawai‘i care for the land in a manner which recognizes the island and ocean of Kanaloa as a living spiritual entity. Kanaloa is a pu‘uhonua and wahi pana where Native Hawaiian cultural practices flourish.

The piko of Kanaloa is the crossroads of past and future generations from which the Native Hawaiian lifestyle spreads throughout the islands.

Developed & Adopted in 1995.

Core Values
KIRC holds these values to be true to its mission and organization:

  • In our programs and in the way we operate, we embrace Kaho‘olawe’s significant role in perpetuating the Native Hawaiian culture.
  • We recognize Kaho‘olawe as a pu‘uhonua and wahi pana — a sacred place.
  • In our actions, programs, training, and plans, we live and incorporate the values, practices and protocols of the host culture.
  • Our job is to restore the island and its waters, and to increase the culturally appropriate, safe use of the Reserve towards the fulfillment of the vision for Kaho‘olawe.

A Context for the Rebirth of a Sacred Island
In November 2003, the U.S. Navy transferred control of the management of Kaho‘olawe to the State of Hawai‘i. This transfer marked a new beginning in the history of the island and its surrounding waters.

  • Since 1995, there have been five major planning documents developed for the Reserve:
  • Palapala Ho‘onohonoho Moku‘aina O Kaho‘olawe, Kaho‘olawe Use Plan
  • Ho‘ola Hou I Ke Kino O Kanaloa, Kaho‘olawe Environmental Restoration Plan
  • Ola I Ke Kai O Kanaloa, Kaho‘olawe Ocean Management Plan
  • Access and Risk Management Plan for the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve
  • Cleanup Plan, UXO Clearance Project, Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve (by Parsons-UXB Joint Venture for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific Division)

Together, these plans frame the future use and restoration of the Reserve.

Given the enormity of the task, the condition of the island and its surrounding waters, and the limitations of safety and money, what should KIRC’s priorities be over the next five years? This is the question that is pursued in the strategic plan.

Kaho‘olawe faces many opportunities and challenges. In navigating these waters, the strategic plan is a living document that serves as a “compass” in establishing direction, priorities, and actions for hanau hou he ‘ula ‘o Kaho‘olawe, the re-birth of a sacred island.

Key Factors
The primary planning documents previously adopted serve collectively as the foundation for KIRC, especially Palapala Ho‘onohonoho Moku‘aina O Kaho‘olawe (The Kaho‘olawe Use Plan).

  • There is an inherently Native Hawaiian purpose to the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve, as recognized by history, the public, and in State and Federal laws, including but not limited to the statutory framework for KIRC and the constitutional protection of customary and traditional access.
  • The Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana has a historical and cultural relationship to Kaho’olawe.
  • There are kupuna and families that have traditional and historical relationships with Kaho‘olawe.
  • By State law, the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve is to be managed in trust until such time and circumstances as a sovereign native Hawaiian entity is recognized by the federal and state governments.
  • The remote geography of Kaho‘olawe presents its own challenges.
  • The environment is fragile.
  • There are extensive cultural and historical places.
  • There are unexploded ordnance and other hazards.
  • Monitoring and management of the risk is a State responsibility. By federal law, there is a perpetual federal responsibility for the unexploded ordnance.
  • As of January 2004, the Trust Fund has $35 million, which will be insufficient to fully provide for meaningful, safe use of the Reserve unless additional funds are secured.
  • By state law, commercial uses of the Reserve are banned.

Strategic Priorities 2004 - 2008


  • To increase the size, diversity and sustainability of the trust fund and to manage the organization’s budget in a manner that protects the trust fund.
  • To be prepared for the transition of the Reserve to the future Native Hawaiian sovereign nation.

Restoration and Perpetuation

  • To assess and stabilize cultural sites, and provide for appropriate access and cultural practices.
  • To systematically restore the environment.


  • To develop a significant volunteer base, especially in concert with stewardship organizations such as the PKO, for the purposes of cultural, natural resource, and marine resource restoration.
  • To develop and maintain appropriate and sustainable infrastructure (including on-island and inter-island transportation, energy, communication, water, sanitation, and Kihei information center).
  • To develop an enforcement network spanning the community and government, in order to protect Kaho‘olawe and its waters from illegal, inappropriate and unsafe uses.
  • To maintain a significant on-island presence for the purposes of managing and protecting the Reserve.


  • To develop and distribute educational programs and materials towards the public’s understanding of the cultural, historical and spiritual significance of Kaho‘olawe.

The Mission of the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission

Our mission is to implement the vision for Kaho‘olawe, in which the kino of Kanaloa is restored, and na po‘e Hawai‘i care for the land. We pledge to provide for meaningful, safe use of Kaho‘olawe for the purposes of the traditional and cultural practices of the native Hawaiian people, and to undertake the restoration of the island and its waters.

Established in 1993.



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