Kakaʻako Makai: Envisioning a Kīpuka Where People Live, Work and Play


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After acquiring Kakaʻako Makai in 2012, OHA reached out to Native Hawaiians across the pae ʻāina via a series of “visioning” meetings to discuss ideas for development on these lands. The manaʻo shared by the community at these meetings was foundational to the development of OHA’s vision for Kakaʻako Makai. OHA envisions developing these lands in a way that balances commerce and culture, to ensure that the land will not only generate revenues for the betterment of Native Hawaiians, but that it also creates a Hawaiian “sense of place.”

Create a kīpuka, a cultural oasis, where Hawaiian national identity can flourish and be celebrated; a gathering place for Native Hawaiians and the local community, and a distinctly Hawaiian place where Indigenous leaders from around the world can be welcomed.

The lands now considered to be Kakaʻako were formerly known as Kukuluāeʻo in the east and Kaʻākaukukui in the west. The inland area was known as Kewalo. The coastal lands of Kakaʻako were part of a large complex of fishponds, reefs and extremely productive fishing grounds that once ran along the south shore of Oʻahu from ʻEwa to Maunalua. The rich fisheries drew lawaiʻa (fishermen) while aliʻi and kahuna maintained residences there. Kakaʻako was a place of significance and part of a network of important wahi pana in the Honolulu area.

These lands can again become a source of abundance and pride for our lāhui; a place that embodies a Hawaiian national identity while defining and maintaining a Hawaiian sense of place. Kakaʻako Makai can become a uniquely Hawaiian space in an urban setting; a place where people from around the world can gather and exchange ideas; a place where physical structures harmonize with the environment, connecting to the cultural and spiritual aspects of nohona Hawaiʻi, reflecting both our storied past and our promising future.

Support the development of a cultural marketplace that invests in intellectual capital, seeking possibilities of exploration and innovation in education, health and political leadership.

The concept of hālau ola, a center of life and healing, speaks to the possibility of these lands being strategically developed and utilized to provide direct benefit to the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of Native Hawaiians.

Cultural uses, activities and programming that will draw Kānaka Maoli and local people to Kakaʻako Makai will be encouraged; and the stories, characters and elements of the area will be incorporated into the planning and design of the development. Businesses that focus on the social and economic wellbeing of Native Hawaiians; or those that promote sustainability, food security, alternative energy, and ocean research will be welcomed and encouraged.

Create a cohesive and multi-functional planned community that embraces a transformative ideal of live, work and play.

From the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, the lands of Kakaʻako supported generations of working middle class communities comprised of diverse ethnic groups, each with a rich heritage of their own; a place where people lived, worked and played. After several decades languishing as a forgotten place of warehouses and light industrial activities, today Kakaʻako has re-emerged as a vibrant urban community full of life; a place where people once again gather for recreation, relaxation and reflection; a place people can again call home.

OHA envisions pono and balanced multi-use developments; a residential and working community that complements existing and planned development mauka. Cohesiveness and synergy will balance development on all OHA parcels featuring architecture that identifies Kakaʻako Makai as a Hawaiian place, while using green, environmentally friendly and sustainable technology, and enhancing outdoor spaces by landscaping with Native Hawaiian plants. Woven together, these elements will establish Kakaʻako Makai as a modern Hawaiian landmark in Honolulu’s urban core.

To get more information on development in Kakaʻako Makai visit: www.oha.org/kakaakomakai2021