A new lease for Kahana Valley residents? - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

A new lease for Kahana Valley residents?

Ervin Kahala Ervin Kahala
Jessica Wooley Jessica Wooley

By Paul Drewes bio | email

KAHANA VALLEY (KHNL) - Families who called Kahana State Park home for generations, had been facing eviction. But now, lawmakers have crafted legislation that will keep the families in their homes, as the residents care for the land around them.

Along with the quiet sounds of tranquil Kahana Valley, the sounds of back breaking work are heard.

"We gonna plant banana trees, ginger and bring it back to life the way it was," said Kahana Valley resident Ervin Kahala.

Kahala and other residents in this small community are now excited about the future of this park.

Quite a change from just 6 months ago, when long time park residents were forced to pack up their homes after getting eviction notices. But now, under a measure moving through the State Capitol, they will be getting new leases, along with a greater role in shaping the future of this living park.

"This is the only living park in Hawaii, its also the only park that is full apua'a. Which allows people to live in the park and care for the park in a very traditional way," said State Representative, Jessica Wooley.

The area residents are working on, used to be covered with dead and dying trees but in the future, the place will be filled with life.

"Kahana was so unique with different nationalities, and everyone learning each other's culture. So I'm going to make an imu and an umu - a samoan imu here," said Kahala.

A mound will also be rebuilt for cultural performances, and there are plans for sweet potato fields along with ti leaf plantings. But just as important, the people who made up the heart of the park will also be here, caring for the land they have grown to love.

"I think it's a win - win. The people work on the park and the cultural way of living. And they maintains the land at the same time," added Kahala.

Kahana Valley residents hope to have the imu and cultural center in place by the end of summer.

Meanwhile, the bill supporting them will next go to the full house and senate for a final vote.

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