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The Promised Lands

A century after Prince Kuhio sought to reconnect his people to their aina, what's become of these Hawaiian Home Lands?

a person standing near a barrel with smoke
(ABOVE) Kekama Helm begins the hours-long process of roasting a pig in the imu (underground oven) on his homestead in Kalamaula, Molokai. Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole chose Kalamaula as the pilot homestead settlement in 1921.


Nanakuli, in the lee of the Waianae Mountains, is a beautiful but parched landscape. The beach here is so dry it fairly crackles with static electricity. According to an old moolelo (story), the first Hawaiians living here had little food or water to offer visitors and felt so embarrassed they pretended not to hear people passing by. One translation of nana kuli is "to look deaf."

Annie Au Hoon was born and raised here, but far from pretending to be deaf, she greets everyone with a huge smile and a hug. She's the resident manager at Hale Makana o Nanakuli, an apartment complex just mauka (toward the mountain) of Farrington Highway. Her wellspring of positive energy helps her juggle many tasks: organizing rides for homebound kupuna (elders), listening to teens practice oli (chants) and reminding the landscapers to save lauhala (pandanus leaves) trimmings for weavers.

"It's a village raising a village here," she says. "Everyone is auntie and uncle. Your kids are my kids." Au Hoon, who has been at Hale Makana since it opened in 2013, still feels a thrill when introducing new renters to their homes. The spacious two- and three-bedroom units have bamboo floors, granite counters and bedrooms overlooking the mountains and ocean. "Moving a family into a place like this changes minds," she says. "We give them the best and tell them, 'You are worthy of this life. Here's your opportunity to build your foundation.'"

a city with persony houses and trees

The first homesteaders in Nanakuli, on Oahu's Leeward coast, built their homes without any existing infrastructure; many of these houses now desperately need repairs. The community’s efforts to build low-income housing were realized when Hale Makana o Nanakuli opened in 2013.


Hale Makana o Nanakuli is one of the few affordable housing developments built on Hawaiian Home Lands (HHL)-lands set aside a century ago for Native Hawaiians. The urban complex and its attached shopping center don't match most peoples' idea of HHL, which started as agricultural homesteads. And yet multifamily and transitional housing are some of the modern features of the hundred-year-old initiative, which has both supported and frustrated Hawaiians throughout its checkered history.

Au Hoon cracks open the door to Hale Makana's resource center, where residents can attend financial workshops and pick up Foodbank boxes. Today parents have brought their keiki (children) to an early childhood development class. The toddlers wriggle in their moms' laps as the teacher demonstrates how to make shark finger puppets. Behind them on the wall hangs a black-and-white portrait of a handsome Hawaiian man with a handlebar mustache. "It's because of him we have this," says Au Hoon.

Securing land for Hawaiians in Hawai'i was harder than it should have been. On December 14, 1920, Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole sat biting his tongue in yet another US Senate committee meeting. As a young man, the heir to the throne of the Hawaiian kingdom had witnessed the overthrow and imprisonment of his aunt, Queen Liliuokalani. He spent a year in prison himself for attempting to reinstate the monarchy. A decade later he went to Washington to represent Hawaii- by then a US territory-in Congress.

As a territorial delegate, Kalanianaole did not have a vote. His success relied purely on his power to persuade those who did. He endeavored to educate his colleagues-many of whom couldn't even locate Hawaii on a map-by hosting four congressional tours of the Islands between 1907 and 1917. He built relationships. He brokered deals. He did not bristle when people called him by his childhood nickname, Prince Cupid. Many came to defer to him simply as "the Prince."

a wall with graffiti on it

The mural at Kalanianaole Beach Park in Nanakuli celebrates Kuhio’s legacy: No ka āina hoopulapula … E o Kuhio Kalanianaole/E mau loa no! “For the lands of rehabilitation … Victory to Kuhio Kalanianaole/Always and forever!” (BELOW) Kanohowailuku Helm plants māmaki and awa at Anahaki Farm, the homestead he inherited from his grandparents in Hoolehua, Molokai.
a person holding a plant

During his ten terms in Washington, Kalanianaole secured millions of dollars for harbors, highways, government buildings, hospitals and the first national park in Hawaii. But the accomplishment for which he is most remembered was his last: the establishment of permanent homelands for Native Hawaiians. 

The need was dire: According to the 1920 census, the number of Native Hawaiians had dropped to 23,723 from an estimated 680,000 in 1778. In less than 150 years, 96 percent of Native Hawaiians had perished from foreign disease and displacement. On top of this, control of Hawaii's land and water had shifted almost entirely to white sugar plantation owners and cattle ranchers, driving Hawaiians out of their ancestral loi kalo (taro patches) and into squalid tenements in Honolulu.

"The Hawaiian race is passing," Hawaii's last living alii (monarch) told Congress. "If the conditions continue to exist as they do today, this splendid race of people, my people, will pass from the face of the earth." Kalanianaole knew that several leases on former crown lands (i.e., lands owned by the Hawaiian monarchy) were set to expire. He proposed that Congress revert these to the Hawaiian people, along with $3,000 loans to help them start homesteads. "The legislation seeks to place the Hawaiian back on the soil, so that the valuable and sturdy traits of that race, peculiarly adapted to the islands, shall be preserved to posterity." 

The House passed the bill. The Senate would have followed suit but for a delegation of dissenting lawyers. And so Kalanianaole listened as Alexander Robertson, a retired territorial Supreme Court justice now representing Parker Ranch, spoke at length about "full-bloods" and "half-bloods" and how the five-hundred-thousand-acre ranch couldn't survive losing ninety-nine thousand acres to this initiative. Kalanianaole interjected only to correct factual errors (eighty-eight thousand acres, actually) and advocate for further benefits. But at the end of the hours-long meeting, the prince unleashed a furious and convincing rebuttal.

"This demagogism on the part of Judge Robertson should be condemned," he declared. "Such a statement is entirely uncalled for, vicious, unwarranted and un-American, and as it comes from one who is paid a high fee ... should be condemned in the most uncompromising terms and not even considered by your committee."

Kalanianaole's decades of diplomacy paid off. In July 1921, Congress passed the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, awarding 203,500 acres to Native homesteaders and creating a commission to administer ninety-nine-year leases for $1 per year. But the opposition had seriously undercut the program. The acres assigned to the commission were of the lowest quality, class C agricultural lands. And while Kalanianaole intended the program to benefit anyone of Hawaiian ancestry, legislators added a "blood quantum" requirement: Lease applicants had to demonstrate at least 50 percent Hawaiian ethnicity. 

Six months after the act became law, on January 7, 1922, its champion died. Members of Congress filled an entire book praising the prince's noble spirit, sincerity and passion for his people. Kalanianaole's widow, Princess Elizabeth, took his place on the commission and continued his work. 

Now, a full century later, what has become of the soil Kalanianaole primed? While they constitute only a fraction of the state's seven million acres, these Hawaiian Home Lands symbolize the still-extant Hawaiian lahui, or nation. The land inventory is piecemeal but diverse, including lots for farming, ranching and aquaculture as well as commercial, industrial and conservation use. There are several suburban neighborhoods-such as Nanakuli on Oahu and Keaukaha on Hawaii Island-but most of the acreage is remote and utterly devoid of infrastructure, such as the sea cliffs above Kalaupapa on Molokai and the lava plains of Kahikinui on Maui. Less than five percent of the land has been developed for housing. 

To date, roughly ten thousand residential lots have been leased. Close to twenty-nine thousand Hawaiians remain on the waiting list. Since its inception the program has been chronically underfunded, burdened by bureaucracy and hamstrung by controversy. This was particularly true after 1959, when the newly formed State of Hawaii assumed responsibility and created the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL). Over the ensuing years, multiple beneficiaries sued the state to force compliance with the law. Many died waiting for resolution.

a person driving a tractor in a field two women sitting on chairs outside a house
(LEFT) The challenges of obtaining and maintaining a homestead lease are particularly onerous for kupuna (elders) such as Effie Kawaauhau (left) and Eleanor Davis (right), who live in Nanakuli.
(RIGHT) Homesteaders continue to struggle for access to water, and farmers must choose crops accordingly. Here, Kanohowailuku Helm tills soil at Anahaki  Farm, Molokai.


Still, homesteaders settled these aina hoopulapula, or "lands to rehabilitate." They created communities, found work-arounds and pushed back against pressures that have in many ways grown, not eased, over time. Looking back over the last one hundred years, the fifty-plus settlements on five islands have a lot to celebrate. 

Especially now. With the program's centennial came big changes and reason for cautious hope. In July 2022, Governor Ige signed the Waitlist Reduction Act, authorizing a $600 million payment to DHHL-reparation for decades of neglect. In March 2023 the Senate confirmed a new DHHL director, Kali Watson, who seems uniquely suited to navigate this chapter. And finally, a bill working its way through the Legislature lowers the blood quantum requirement for the descendants of leaseholders. If passed, more Hawaiians than ever will be eligible.

Kekama Helm lives in Kalamaula on Molokai. The site of the first homestead settlement, Kalamaula is likely the closest to what Kalanianaole envisioned. "This place produces the sweetest fruit," says Helm, picking a mango from his tree and cutting off a juicy slice. "With a little salt, the fruits come ono [delicious].

Before Kalanianaole passed, he chose the most promising location and handpicked the first homesteaders for a five-year trial. Twenty families were selected from a pool of seventy-nine applicants. Prior to their arrival in 1922, the commission cut roads, cleared rocks and kiawe (mesquite) trees and pumped water from an old spring. Within two years the pioneer homesteaders could show off thick fields of corn, alfalfa and watermelon and thriving herds of cattle, hogs and poultry. This promising start didn't last. By 1930 the spring had turned saline. Homesteaders battled insect pests and had difficulty marketing their produce. Many couldn't support themselves and sought outside employment. But by then the program was up and running. The commission had launched settlements on other islands, and Hawaiians eagerly added their names to the waiting list for leases.

a person raking leaves in a field a person and person working on a machine
(LEFT) Lifelong Keaukaha homesteader Mona Ubedei tidies her yard adjoining Hilo International Airport. 
(RIGHT) “Sweet potato has always been in my family,” says Molokai homesteader and State Senator Lynn DeCoite. “It’s healthy and it was a staple  for Hawaiians.” Her father George Mokuau  (foreground) cultivated his own sweet  potato variety, Mokuau Red, on his homestead farm.


Helm's grandparents were among the second wave of homesteaders. His tutu (grandmother) received a lease for forty acres: five acres in Kalamaula to live on and another thirty-five acres in Hoolehua to farm. While today the Helm surname is synonymous in the Islands with Hawaiian music and Native rights, the family is also an example of successful multigenerational homesteading. Helm's father and brother live on tutu's thirty-acre lot, where they farm awa (kava). Kanoho Helm wrote a song about growing up on the homestead: "Kalamaula, when they till the soil, e ho alii i ka lepo popolo [the people of the black soil will rise like the crest of a wave]. Hoolehua, they go kanu [cultivate] the soil. E huli huli i ka lepo ulaula [turn the red soil]."

Kekama Helm and his partner Ane Bakutis moved onto the five-acre parcel fifteen years ago. They leaned heavily on friends for help renovating tutu's old house. They built an addition, installed new plumbing and electricity and planted an orchard. The salt that plagued the pioneers brings out the sweetness in the mangoes, oranges and limes. Three dogs run laps around the tidy property as Helm shows off what he calls "the retirement plan": a greenhouse full of vanilla orchids. "I believe that if you give people the land, they'll find a way," he says. 

Farming isn't his main occupation. He leads Hawaiian cultural programs for the Liliuokalani Trust, while Ane cofounded the popular local clothing company Kealopiko. Their children attend Hawaiian-language immersion school. When their 11-year-old daughter comes home from paddling practice, she brags that they hulied the waa out in the bay-flipped the outrigger canoe and set it right again.

Across the street, a dozen huge pigs snort in their pen. Helm regularly prepares kalua pork in his imu (underground oven). His neighbors borrow space in the imu and help with the process, which takes eight to twelve hours. "Our people need to be able to do this-build one imu, grow food to eat," he says. "There's a connection between aina [land], meaai [food] and people. It's part of our essence as a people.

a person and child sitting on a porch"I'm grateful for the legacy that Kalanianaole left for us. Without it I wouldn't be able to raise my kids the way I want to," he says. "I want them to experience the aina feeding them, not just physically but spiritually, and to appreciate that their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents put their blood, sweat and tears into this land."

The second Hawaiian Home Lands settlement, Keaukaha, hides in plain sight on Hawaii Island. Of the 1.2 million people who annually pass through Hilo International Airport, few visit the jewel-box neighborhood on the opposite side of the fence-or even know it exists. Residents prefer it that way. 

Back in September 1926 a critic of "Prince Kuhio's Bill" disparaged the area in the Hawaiian-language newspaper Ka Hoku o Hawaii: "It is just a land full of rocks, cats could not even live there." But fifty-two families took on the challenge of carving homes out of what was then barren pahoehoe lava. More followed and built churches and schools within the grid of one-acre suburban lots.

Luahiwa Namahoe grew up on her grandparents' lot and attended Keaukaha Elementary. The school, built in 1930, remains the heart of the neighborhood. Hawaiian parents who live outside of Keaukaha jockey to send their kids there. In 1989 it became the first public school with a Hawaiian-language immersion program. Namahoe recalls learning fractions and decimals in the fourth grade by calculating her blood quantum. "Today that might raise eyebrows," she says. "But we're homesteaders. It's personal to us. We're raised to know it." 

a store front with a sign

The beloved Keaukaha General Store serves plate lunches,  coffee and locally produced snacks—roasted macadamia nuts, dried lilikoi and smoked fish. (BELOW) Kelii “Skippy” Ioane Jr. built his house in King’s Landing, a squatters’ village next to Keaukaha. For decades he advocated for his community at every Home Lands Commission meeting held on Hawaii Island. His daughter Ainaaloha has assumed that kuleana (responsibility).
a person with tattoos on his chest

A single road leads in and out of Keaukaha. Kalanianaole Street runs parallel to Puhi Bay. This stretch of coast is pure enchantment: Black islets jut out of sandy coves, sea turtles paddle in turquoise lagoons and herons stalk the edges of mirrored fishponds. The often snowcapped summit of Mauna Kea rises to the west; to the east, smoldering Kilauea sends up plumes of smoke. But getting here requires passing through an industrial gauntlet: Keaukaha is bordered on one side by auto repair shops, oil and gas refineries, a power plant and a seaport. On the other side are the airport, a sewage treatment facility and the county dump. 

The reason is money. Kalanianaole had promised that the homestead program wouldn't cost taxpayers. Initially it was financed with fees the territory collected from sugar plantation leases and water licenses. But infrastructure and administrative costs quickly depleted the reserves. As the commission ran out of money, it was forced to sell or lease land. Keaukaha's prime oceanfront lots were sold early on to fund the neighborhood's construction. The surrounding lands were later leased to the county, state and federal governments and to private businesses. Namahoe waves in the direction of the airport runway not far from her back door. "That's all Home Lands," she sighs.

In 1956, Namahoe's grandparents sued the commission to open agricultural lots on the south side of the airport. They also sued for permission to dwell on a farm lot. Thanks to their efforts, Namahoe lives on her father's former lot, one of the approximately three hundred agricultural parcels in the Panaewa settlement. Still, she wouldn't have been eligible to take over her dad's lease had it not been for a rule change in 1984. DHHL lowered the threshold for leaseholders' descendants so that people like Namahoe, with at least one-quarter blood quantum, could "succeed," that is, inherit a relative's lease. 

Namahoe is grateful-and frank about the disadvantages of the program. "It's hard when you're given lease land. How deep can you plant your piko [umbilical cord] in that ground and raise your family? To be a lessee, you got to be able to pay a mortgage, pay your taxes, be an industrious citizen. But I can't borrow against my house. I can't get an ag loan. I build no equity. We're not even on county sewer," she says. "It's not a one-dollar-a-year deal." 

Neither Keaukaha nor Panaewa benefits from basic county services, but they do bear the burden of nearly every public utility. The near-constant roar of airplanes, sewage fumes and periodic spills into Puhi Bay and the threat of gas leaks or explosions take their toll on residents, who have high rates of cancer and autoimmune disorders. What makes it worth it?

"I understand why others leave," Namahoe says. "I'm sticking it out so I can keep a bird's-eye view. That's what my grandparents wanted. They believed in fighting for our people." She also cherishes the community. "You'd be surprised at the breadth of brilliance and bust-assery here. I don't know if I would get that anywhere else." Hawaiian Home Lands have produced Polynesian voyagers, world-renowned scholars, musicians and artists. The instructor who teaches Hawaiian culture at Keaukaha Elementary is none other than Iwalani Kalima, who began her hula studies at age 8 under the tutelage of George Naope, founder of the Merrie Monarch festival, which occurs annually around the corner. 

One thing is certain: This community knows how to throw a paina (party). For the 2023 May Day celebration, Kalima led Keaukaha students in an homage to Kalanianaole and other alii with ornate costumes and lei. Next year, Keaukaha will celebrate its centennial with a huge festival. Along with live music and lei making, there will be booths discussing genealogy and public safety plans. As Namahoe says, it's personal.

Visitors have, in fact, discovered Keaukaha. Those beachfront properties sold long ago have quadrupled in value in the past decade. Thirteen of the sixteen homes at the end of Kalanianaole Street now operate as vacation rentals. Tour buses clog the beach parking lots, presenting a huge problem for the small community.

a person standing in a field of plants

“The homesteads are the last stronghold that we have,” says Bobby Alcain, a homestead farmer seen in his loi kalo (taro patch) on Molokai. “It’s only two hundred thousand acres, but it gives us a door to walk through, where we have an identity and can be who we are.”


Ainaaloha Ioane and her husband, Logan Carvalho, intercept snorkelers, cautioning them about the rough ocean conditions. The waters beyond Leleiwi Point are called kai aikanaka, "the sea that eats men." Ioane knows all the local lore; she was born just up the hill in another Hawaiian settlement-one that's truly hidden. 

King's Landing dates back to the 1970s, when a few independent-minded HHL beneficiaries decided for themselves what rehabilitation looks like. Unwilling to die waiting for a lease, they occupied DHHL lands designated as "special use." 

Kelii "Skippy" Ioane Jr. moved here in 1980. He had planned to split his grandfather's lease in Keaukaha with an aunt but didn't have the financing to build a house within a year-a DHHL requirement. Instead he hiked past the end of the road, cleared the dense brush and built his home. "My first house cost me two gallons of aama [black crabs] and two gallons of opihi [limpets]," he laughs. "That's what I paid for the tin roof. The lumber I got from a broken-down old house."

King's Landing feels a little like Robin Hood's hideout. A rutted, rocky road leads into thick brush interrupted here and there by a driveway or makeshift dwelling. The Better Homes real estate sign tacked to Ioane's gate indicates his sense of humor. His bare plywood house sits high up on stilts. Spidery antennas on the roof catch a few television channels. 

Ioane's rebellious streak is tempered by his love of the aina (the land, for which he named his daughter) and his devotion to the lahui. He was a plaintiff in the 2007 Nelson lawsuit that forced the state to meet its financial obligations to DHHL. He and his wife raised six children in King's Landing. Ainaaloha remembers driving out each day to attend the very first Hawaiian-immersion classes at Keaukaha Elementary. "We were the homeless kids who spoke Hawaiian when even Keaukaha wasn't ready for that. It's hard to be a pioneer," she shrugs. "But I am my father's child."

a group of children in hawaiian attire holding sticks

Keaukaha Elementary School students pay homage to Hawaiian monarchs during the 2023 May Day celebration.


Ainaaloha now leads the effort to legitimize King's Landing. The village is fifty-plus years old and has its own community association, elected board and website. The two dozen families who live here don't want to comply with what they feel is onerous bureaucracy, but they don't want to be evicted, either. Ainaaloha plans to meet with the new DHHL director to discuss making King's Landing official. The department recognizes the demand for subsistence living sites; it approved a similar settlement on Maui. But Ainaaloha hopes to establish a few rules before welcoming any new homesteaders into the fold. "Otherwise, city people might come and want paved roads."

City people are a top concern for Kali Watson. While beneficiaries on the rural islands clamor for more agriculture and subsistence leases, the greatest need is on Oahu, where the majority of Hawaiians now live. Many families there experience conditions similar to what Kalanianaole saw in the early 1900s: overcrowded or dangerously dilapidated homes and houselessness. "Native Hawaiians make up about a third of the homeless in the state of Hawaii," says Watson. 

This is Watson's second term as DHHL director. Soft-spoken and ambitious, he has big plans for the department's $600 million windfall. Prior to his confirmation, he predicted that "the department will be one of the largest developers in the state in the coming years." During his previous tenure from 1995 to 1998, he oversaw the passage of the Hawaiian Home Lands Recovery Act, which restored sixteen thousand acres to DHHL's inventory, and the disbursal of another substantial payout. "When I was here the first time, we added 3,100 homesteads with $150 million. So now with $600 million, let's see if we can get 10,000," he says. This would double the number of existing homesteads.

DHHL already has a strategic plan for 20 projects involving roughly 2,700 new units. Watson hopes to add to this, incorporating new land purchases and various types of housing products: turnkey homes for Hawaiians who can qualify for mortgages, loan assistance for those who can't, special units for kupuna and vacant lots for owner-builders.

a person with long hair wearing glasses

Office of Hawaiian Affairs representative and fierce advocate for Native rights Mililani Trask has devoted herself to finding sustainable revenue for the chronically underfunded Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.


"By offering a variety of models and funding, we can avoid what has historically been a major problem: bypassing people on the waitlist because they don't have financing to build a house," he says. "For those that don't need that three-bedroom home, our product mix will include townhouses, multiplexes and high-rises." One high-rise is already in development: The old Bowl-a-Drome in Moiliili will soon be available to homesteaders as low-income condos. "I'm optimistic about the program moving forward," says Watson. "I think people will be surprised by some of the new projects that come into play." 

These developments excite State Senator Lynn DeCoite. The third-generation Molokai homestead farmer is hopeful that Watson can leverage DHHL's resources to address Hawaii's housing crisis. "Hawaiian Homes is the easiest way to do affordable housing," she says. "It's land-rich and cash-poor." Meanwhile, DeCoite is one of several politicians working to lower the blood quantum requirement for successors from one-quarter to one-thirty-second. That will open the door for many more Hawaiians to apply for homesteads.  

Over at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, lifelong activist and current Hawaii Island trustee Mililani Trask is determined to help fill DHHL's funding gaps. "I don't have lands to give to [Watson]. But if I can get a revenue stream," she says, "we'll have the money we need. My fiduciary obligation is to get commercial property and develop it to the max-because I have twenty-nine thousand homes to build at today's prices. I need $7.3 billion. I'm 72 years old. I will not see it come to fruition. But if I can put in place revenue streams from commercial properties, I know when I die, that revenue will come in every year. And we'll build affordable housing."

Other Hawaiian beneficiaries-particularly those on the rural islands-remain skeptical. They don't want to see what started out as forty-acre plots become rental units, high-rises and what one homesteader calls "cardboard boxes." Watson is clear: Accepting a rental won't compromise anyone's place on the waiting list for a leasehold property. He directs critics to a West Oahu project he worked on as a private developer: Hale Makana o Nanakuli. 

The affordable housing complex sits at the base of Nanakuli, the oldest homestead settlement on Oahu. The neighborhood dates back to 1931, when there were just six roads and a handful of houses. The infrastructure is only marginally better now; many of the original houses desperately need repairs. For two decades the Nanakuli Hawaiian Homestead Community Association wanted to build affordable housing but struggled to find funding. In 2010 Watson stepped in and helped the association leverage federal subsidies and tax credits. Hale Makana opened three years later. The forty-eight-unit complex offers transitional and long-term rentals for Hawaiian families earning less than 30 percent of Oahu's median income.

a group of people in dirt a group of people digging in the dirt
Passing wood hand to hand, Kekama Helm and friends build the fire for the imu, preserving a centuries-old tradition. The imu is covered with soil while the fire-heated lava rocks slowly cook the food within.


"We've had lots of successes here," says Au Hoon. "People graduate to homeownership, successorship or have to move because their income gets too high." Much of that success is due to the community partnerships Au Hoon and others have cultivated over the past decade. Kamehameha Schools built a gorgeous community center just below Hale Makana. Residents can walk there and to the adjoining Nanakuli Village Center, which has a dialysis center, drugstore, several fast food restaurants and a locally owned surf shop. "I want this duplicated on every homestead," says Au Hoon, "because it works."

Born on Nanakuli's Third Road, Au Hoon grew up hearing stories about the old days, when residents fished for their dinner and collected drinking water from a spigot at Kalanianaole Beach Park. "I'm rooted," she says. "My koko [blood] and my first breath is from here. I always said I would come back to serve people."

She intends to pass her legacy of service onto her five children and seventeen grandchildren-along with a homestead lease. "I get to succeed my tutu's house when my uncle passes. I am preparing myself and my kids to be mortgage-ready. I'm going to build an 'ohana unit so my kids always have a place to come back to. I'm going to use every loophole I know."

She stops to chat with the maintenance worker, a former Hale Makana resident who now works here. "We have to prepare the next generation," she says. "It's about love. It's that simple. That's what we are."

Story By Shannon Wianecki

Photos By PF Bentley

a road with people running on it V26 №6 October- November 2023