Tuesday, March 10, 2015

ʻŌlaʻa – Keaʻau

ʻŌlaʻa was formerly called Laʻa, a legendary area for collecting bird feathers.  Forests once covered much of ʻŌlaʻa; they were later (1905-1928) made part of the forest reserve system within the Islands.  Keaʻau is the northern most of some 50 ahupuaʻa (ancient land divisions) found in the district of Puna. Keaʻau extends from the ocean fishery some 26 miles inland, and reaches an elevation of about 3,900-feet - portions of it wrap around the makai point of ʻŌlaʻa.

Construction of centrally-located ʻŌlaʻa Sugar Mill was completed in 1902. This industrial expansion marked the beginning of massive landscape alterations and clearing operations.  A community grew around the plantation.  In 1960, ʻŌlaʻa Sugar Company became Puna Sugar Company.   ʻŌlaʻa Elementary School became Keaʻau Elementary and Intermediate School (later Keaʻau Middle School.)  In the early-1970s, ʻŌlaʻa Hongwanji became Puna Hongwanji.

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