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Hawaiian Homeland Security

Homeland Security. To the native people of the Hawaiian Islands, it’s more than just a buzzword thrown around by the Bush Administration to justify the creation of another branch of government. For Native Hawaiians, like many indigenous people around the world, the story is the same – foreign occupation resulting in loss of homelands and culture.


Traditional Hawaiian Gardening at Kapahu Farm on Maui (www.kipahulu.org)

In 1921, in an effort, led by Prince Kuhio Kalanianaole, to right these wrongs and help native Hawaiians reclaim their ties to the ‘aina (land), the United States Congress passed the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. The Act set aside 203,500 acres of public lands for those with at least 50 percent Hawaiian blood.

Unfortunately, after almost 90 years, many are still on the waiting list to receive their lands. And, those lucky enough to get lands still struggle with a myriad of critical obstacles that make it difficult to effectively homestead them. Some of these obstacles include limited water supply, soil infertility, pests, inefficient planting techniques, high energy costs, reliance on imports, battles over resources with non-homesteaders and the lack of a sustainable business plan. The good news is that most of the solutions are contained within traditional Hawaiian knowledge. A perfect blend of science and tradition, Permaculture can link this ancient knowledge to the modern world.


Ancient Hawaiians designed sustainable living systems
based on mountain to sea land divisions called Ahupua’a

In early 2009, the Permaculture Research Institute USA will begin a 3-year project known as the Hawaiian Homelands Permaculture Center (HHPC). The HHPC is a project to set up a model working Permaculture farm and education center, on 39 acres of Hawaiian Homelands on the Ho’olehua Homestead (Moloka’i, Hawaii). Ho’olehua and other Moloka’i homesteads were the first homelands to be settled after the passage of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. The seeds of Permaculture were first planted in Moloka’i in the 80’s and 90’s with Bill Mollison’s work on the isolated Kalaupapa Peninsula. The aim of this project is to expand on the original effort by making a replicable model for other Homeland sites to aid beneficiaries in the ecological and economical setup of their lands.

PRI USA and its partners will set up the farm in five phases (for more details, and to donate, please see our full project profile):

  • Phase I – Detailed Site Design: A detailed master design for the site Initial Infrastructure
  • Phase II – Initial Infrastructure and Water harvesting Earthworks
  • Phase III – Inner Zone Plantings
  • Phase IV – Animal Systems & Outer Zone Plantings
  • Phase V – Traditional Hawaiian Gardens and Hale

PRI USA will hold education courses for locals and non-locals relating to the project throughout all the phases. We will also be recording the project for various documentaries, including one on how to set up an education center.

In 3 years, the site will be completely sustainable without the aid of outside funds. At that point, PRI USA will turn the site back over to the lessee and Homestead Community to maintain the farm and education center.

Check back soon for updates and information on this project, including upcoming courses, internships and teaching opportunities. Contact Nichole Ross for questions related to the project at nichole.ross (at) permacultureusa.org.

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