Thursday, March 29, 2012

Luluku Agricultural Terraces

Unbeknown to many, land within the loop in the off-ramp road from H-3 connecting to Likelike Highway holds evidence of an inland component of the prehistoric settlement in Kāneʻohe.

This area is a small part and representative example of what constitutes the most extensive early wetland agricultural complex known on Oʻahu and has evidence of a long period of continued use and that probably began by 500 A.D.

The ‘ili (a smaller land division within an ahupuaʻa) of Luluku, located in the ahupuaʻa of Kāneʻohe, district of Koʻolaupoko, is where these numerous agricultural terraces are located.  The site is currently inaccessible to the public.

Luluku is one of five upland ‘ili (Luluku, Punalu‘u Mauka, Kapalai, Pa‘u and Kea‘ahala) that are within the traditional boundaries of Kāneʻohe.

The terrace system in Luluku followed the stream channels and utilized all of its tributaries to irrigate the various loʻi kalo (taro,) forming a continuous mosaic of lo‘i from the inland slopes to the lowlands along the coast.

As late as 1940, especially in the lowland terraces, Kāneʻohe ahupua’a was still one of the most active communities in planting commercial taro.

In modern times, uplands were planted in bananas and papaya; lowlands were planted with rice and taro.

I remember this upland area known as the "Banana Patch."  Large-scale banana plantations began in 1930s; rice and taro farmers also planted bananas in areas unsuitable for their main crop.  (There’s even a “Banana Patch” boat design from this area.)

The lo‘i kalo complex of agricultural terraces were initially divided by the construction of the Likelike Highway.  The terraces were further impacted by the construction of the Interstate H-3 and are now located within the Kāneʻohe Interchange.

As part of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) Highways Administration and H-3 Cooperative Agreement, Hawai’i Department of Transportation and Office of Hawaiian Affairs are undertaking a project that would preserve and interpret the cultural resources at the Luluku Terraces in Kāneʻohe.

To date, an Interpretive Development Plan has been prepared, a Hālawa-Luluku Interpretive Development Working Group has been formed, and mitigation measures and actions are identified.  These efforts will restore a small portion of the once extensive loʻi kalo in Kāneʻohe.

The vision of the program is, "The Luluku Agricultural Terraces shall be restored through the perpetuation of culturally appropriate science, engineering and agricultural practices.  Research will be demonstrated through the planting of primarily native Hawaiian kalo using ancient and contemporary techniques in water resource management and sustainable agricultural practices.  The relationship between the land and its people are of both historical and cultural importance in the context of interpretations which emphasizes Luluku’s ability to feed many people in the Kāneʻohe district and areas beyond."

Find more here:

I’ve added some additional images of the Lukuku site and other agriculture in the Kāne‘ohe area in a folder of like name in the Photos section.  In some, you can see that rice replaced the former taro lo‘i; likewise, pineapple replaced other agriculture in this region.)

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