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Windward // Windward Oahu Coverstory
Carol Chang

Hauula Heiau To Be Protected Preserve

Stakeholders gather at the site of Maunawila heiau, which recently was purchased by Hawaiian Islands Land Trust from the McGregor ohana. The 9-acre property in Hauula is said to be one of Koolauloa's last relatively intact heiau. Photo by Franz Schmutzer.

Stakeholders gather at the site of Maunawila heiau, which recently was purchased by Hawaiian Islands Land Trust from the McGregor ohana. The 9-acre property in Hauula is said to be one of Koolauloa’s last relatively intact heiau. Photo by Franz Schmutzer.

Once the home of a Hauula Elementary School principal, the 9-plus acres that surround Maunawila heiau are now in the hands of Hawaiian Islands Land Trust as its first public preserve.

As funding permits, the nonprofit conservation group intends to design and install infrastructure, such as trails, signage and parking that would open the treasure up to the public so it can connect to the land. In recent years, HILT has partnered with Hau’ula Community Association (HCA) and Ko’olauloa Hawaiian Civic Club to develop these plans, and the site, which overlooks the sea, has become a valuable teaching tool for schools and universities. The two civic groups now steward the land and hold community workdays at the heiau once a month.

HCA president Dotty Kelly-Paddock calls it a source of inspiration. “As our community works to preserve Maunawila heiau,” she said, “its spirit heals us.” In fact, oral history indicates it was likely a healing temple.

Working with community volunteers to remove the overgrowth, archaeologist Rosanna Thurman has observed that the roughly 1,000-square-meter structure has two platform terraces with a surface of well-preserved stone paving, alignments and stone features.

Louise Aoe McGregor bought the property as a homestead in 1906 — about 400 years after people began erecting the heiau. For a decade, she taught and led the Hau’ula school while she and her husband raised their children at the Maunawila home, before a fire destroyed it and they moved away.

Since the 1920s, it has remained unoccupied, with weeds and other vegetation taking over the site. Granddaughter Lurline McGregor noted that her grandparents “would be very honored to have this aina shared with the entire community as an educational and cultural resource.”

Funds for the $1.3 million purchase came from the state Legacy Lands Conservation Program and the city Clean Water and Natural Lands Fund. For more information on volunteer opportunities and HILT conservation projects, call HILT Oahu director Tina Aiu at 244-5263.

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