Kohala today stays a location of agriculture, together it was in ancient times, also if modern-day farmers are increasing a much greater selection of food. Above: Ala lindsey of Ulu Mau Puanui stands near a petroglyph in what was as soon as a substantial system of grew fields.

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Early on one October Saturday in 2010, numerous Kohala residents acquired out of bed and also formed a person chain follow me Akoni Pule Highway. They placed their best hands in, lock passed a book on down. They placed their ideal hands in, and this occurred through the route. That’s right. They did the “huki-pokey” (huki, Hawaiian for “pull together”), and also when lock turned around, the new library’s shelves to be stocked. That’s what the was all about.

Local historian Boyd Bond, the key organizer, speak up and down the 1.3-mile stretch in between the brand-new North Kohala windy Library and the old link Memorial public Library, i beg your pardon was called for his great-grandfather and philanthropist, Dr. Benjamin Bond, and also built on land donated by his great-aunt Caroline. Boyd to be on his bicycle, cheerleading and also smoothing out any type of hiccups. The huki-pokey to be inspired, the explains, by King Kamehameha’s 1791 construction of Puukohola heiau, one of the last and also largest temples on Hawaii Island—the heiau to be built stone by stone, each moved hand to hand through a person chain that extended fourteen miles.

The huki-pokey participants journey from everywhere the island to loan a hand. The Lions Club, the zip-line staff and also members that the fire room all verified up. Moms swung babies onto their backs and also loaded your strollers with books. The Kohala High school football team, in full uniform, fill in the gaps. They responded quickly, prefer a great defensive line should, once the crowd urged, “Plug that hole!”

The books moved with a receiving line that started with kupuna (elders), followed by high, middle and elementary school students—symbolizing the passing on of understanding from old come young. At the end of this particularly effort, the brand-new library—itself a trailblazer, the first library in the state to attain LEED yellow certification—was filled v books. The Kohala-born King Kamehameha would have actually been proud.

“A most what occurred was ~ above faith,” states Boyd. “We asked human being to sign up, and the day prior to we had 430. Any kind of event organizer in their right mind would have canceled.” The optimum number of participants, that says, would have been twenty-two hundred, the minimum necessary twelve hundred. “But i knew this to be Kohala. We never sign up. We just show up.” In the end fourteen hundred people showed up to help.

“There’s ‘town’ Kohala and also there’s ‘country’ Kohala,” says Lehua AhSam as we run in the auto together and start driving. It to be the student in a class she taught at Kohala middle School, she says, who reiterated the distinction, telling her, “Ho, Miss, you live in da country!”—which makes her laugh, because compared with Hilo, wherein she grew up, every one of Kohala would be taken into consideration rural sufficient to be “country.”

I’ve recognized Lehua only an hour, but the young Hawaiian has already earned my admiration. Lehua “married right into Kohala,” and her deep attachment to the community—her substantial knowledge that its history and family genealogies—makes a vast impression. She has just come from tending three lo‘i (taro patches) that have been in her husband’s family due to the fact that 1926. The back of her pickup van is filled with trashcans full of greenwaste. Our conversation about Kohala flows effortlessly, some of it thoughtful reflection, some of it pidgin-fueled banter.

First we pass with “town,” which has Hawi and Kapaau, Kohala’s two centers of commerce. Hawi’s main strip is a collection of brightly painted, plantation-era storefronts, largely gift shops and also galleries. Tourists trickle in and also out. In front of the Aloha male store is the turnaround spot because that bicyclists in the Ironman Triathlon. We drive past Shige’s, the gas station and the Nakahara Store, where you deserve to buy everything from char siu to fishing tackle. Proceeding east, Lehua points out Takata’s, a ninety-two-year-old institution and Kohala’s biggest grocery store, and Fig’s, a roadside plate lunch place that makes burgers sourced from local ranchers. Kapaau offers an ext community services—the bank, hospital, police and fire departments, and also hardware store. In prior of the civic center is the King Kamehameha statue, a popular photo op for visitors.

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Kohala, the northernmost district of Hawaii Island, has actually been contoured by winid, rain, and also sea over millenia. Top top the summit the Kohala Mountain—the island"s oldest volcano—upwards of two hundred inch of rainfall a year create streams that circulation to the coast through valleys like this one., Honokane Iki. Kohala"s lush valleys, well-off in both coastal and farming resources, to be prized areas of settlement in pre-contact times.

As huge buildings disappear, the road picks up much more curves, and also the hues of green come to be richer. We discover ourselves in the “country,” passing forested gulches the were once residence to countless ali‘i (chiefs) and where your descendants quiet live. The highway end at Kohala’s main visitor attraction: the Pololu lookout. A handful of visitors and surfboard-toting locals room making their means down the Awini Trail, which leads to a rocky coastline backed by ironwood and also hau trees.

From the ridge I acquire a genuine appreciation for the district’s allure as a final frontier. As much as the eye have the right to see, over there is virgin earth. Pololu clues the east boundary of Kohala, and also it is the an initial in a series of seven windward valleys that have seen very few human footsteps. The cathedral-like valleys, v walls rising to 2,500 feet, were carved out of Kohala Mountain—the earliest of Hawaii Island’s 7 volcanoes—by wind, rain and also sea. In ~ the mountain’s summit two hundred inches of rain loss annually, developing waterfalls and streams that circulation through a shore of boulders and black sand.

“Kohala is special because it has actually direct accessibility to windward and also leeward resources, along with mauka (mountain) and also makai (ocean) resources,” Lehua clues out. She lists the resources of the district’s historical abundance: taro manufacturing on the valley floors, pig farms and iliahi (sandalwood) tree on the hill slopes, spot of olona (a plant used to do strong, lightweight cordage) in the rainforest and ‘uala (sweet potato) areas in southern Kohala.Culturally, too, the valleys hold great significance. Wakea and Papa, the god that created Hawaii, compliment from Pololu. And also it was to the valley referred to as Awini that Chief Naeole stole away through the child Kamehameha to protect him from jealous chiefs who sought to kill him after prophesies foretold that he would certainly unify the Islands and establish the Hawaiian kingdom.

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The bear of Kamehameha was a definitive moment in Kohala’s history, and to today much ar pride is tied to the area’s association through the king, who epitomizes the leadership, heart of independence and sense of stewardship still lively in the community. Even countless Kohala ar names are acquired from vital points throughout Naeole’s flight: Hawi, “to breathe v a squeal,” whereby the hungry infant cried without his mother’s milk; Kapaau, “swimming kapa,” whereby the bark cloth swaddling the baby was lost in the stream; Makapala, since the warriors’ eyes—maka—became pala, or swollen, following their effective search because that the infant.

Kohala, Lehua notes, was a major staging allude for Kamehameha’s battles versus the Maui chiefs. “Kohala is the southerly keeper that the channel the separates Hawaii indigenous the remainder of the islands,” she says. Indigenous the northernmost reminder at Upolu, the present flows most favorably; when Kamehameha’s warriors were returning native Maui, a canoe would certainly be sent ahead come tell the people, “Paiai! Paiai!”: pound the kalo (taro) therefore the warriors can eat. “Kohala was always a favored location for alii come go and be themselves and not deal with the rigors the court life,” states Lehua. “In many ways, i think that is what do Kohala for this reason proud—because the civilization walked among the chiefs.”

To complement the production that irrigated wetland kalo, Hawaiians developed rain-fed solution to flourish uala, dryland taro and also other crops. These field systems, distinctive to Hawaii, to be all yet abandoned after europe contact, and also the expertise of just how they were managed eventually lost. At an early stage a Saturday morning, I accomplish up v Kehaulani Marshall and also Ala lindsey of Ulu Mau Puanui at their task site ~ above Kohala’s leeward slope. Inspired by the research of ecologist Peter Vitousek, Ulu Mau Puanui was created in 2010 to continue studying rain-fed farming and to learn exactly how Hawaiians were able to feed much more people than we perform today.

Our adventure starts with a quick but arduous fifteen-minute hike 2,250 feet as much as the optimal of Puu Kehena because that a bird’s-eye view. From here it’s feasible to see nine mountains. The rest is ranch land—vast, rolling eco-friendly pastures that stretch indigenous Waimea inland every the way to the coast, interrupted by occasional patches the shrubs where heavy rains collect. Across the landscape, herds of livestock loll and also graze, a perfect picture of the see you suppose to view along Kohala hill Road. The to mark panorama renders me inhale a little more deeply. This, i realize, is cowboy country.