Kīpuka Kuleana is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and community land trust that perpetuates kuleana, ahupua’a-based natural resource management and connection to place through protection of cultural landscapes and family lands on Kaua’i.
There is no just, sustainable future for Hawaiian communities without ‘āina (lands and waters or that which feeds). Hawaiian identity is rooted in rights and responsibilities to care for specific ‘āina, our kuleana. Kuleana is also the word for lands handed down by generations of ‘ohana (families) as long as they fulfilled their responsibility to care for these lands, keeping them productive and feeding community. Ability to care for, make decisions about and restore connections to land is foundational to Hawaiian sovereignty, self-determination and thriving ahupua’a (traditional mountain to sea land divisions).
On Kaua’i, long-time families struggle to hold on to ancestral ‘āina. Lands on Kaua’i have become some of the most coveted and expensive in the world. Local families face escalating land value and taxes, pressure to sell, encroachment of lands, and lawsuits by new foreign owners to force sales and block historic access ways. During the pandemic, an influx of new residents seeking a safe haven for remote work exacerbated these problems, as reflected in the 57% increase in median house prices between November 2020 and November 2021. One in eight homes on Kaua’i sits vacant, purchased as luxury second homes, vacation rentals or investment.
Kīpuka Kuleana supports ‘ohana in defending their lands, developing restored and new connections to ‘āina, and decolonizing through return of ancestral lands to communities and communities to land.