In the minds of many residents there, Maui’s northern shore is the island’s unexpected jewel. They happily leave the fringe of the sun-drenched leeward side to visitors and newcomers, and make their homes and raise their families in the slowpaced communities that dot the lower windward slopes of Haleakalä. There, they find refuge from the constant sun and revel in the frequent rains that make the area a verdant paradise.
But, the story of Maui’s Hämäkua Loa district between Maliko Gulch and Huelo along the island’s north-facing shore is written in three acts, with the final act yet
to be finished.
Act one, scene one begins the story of small Hawaiian villages along the numerous gulches carving their way down the gentle eastern slopes of Haleakalä to the ocean. Kanaka maoli farmed the available flatlands along the streams of plentiful fresh water, planting their wetland kalo (taro), bananas and sweet potatoes on the scant benches near the water, and using the rolling hills and meadows between the gulches to plant their dry-land taro and raise their pigs and chickens. It was a fertile area that supported many subsistence ‘ohana of the Native Hawaiians.
In the beginning, the kanaka lifestyle was little affected by the influx of sugarcane plantations and mills in the early days of sugar in the 1870s. But, it was not destined to continue.
While sugarcane continued consuming much of the land and water to the west, the Ha‘ikü-Pauwela-Kuiaha area lay mostly untouched by the boom, though it had ample water, sunshine and good alluvial soil to sustain farming efforts.
Relics of the glory days of Pauwela, this is all that
remains of the area’s only gas station from a half century ago.