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From the Mountains to the Sea
One of Hawaii's Greatest Natural Treasures.
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a living classroom

The Punalu`u Cultural Preserve will extend from the coastal ceremonial centers at Punalu`u and Ninole to the top of Makanau Pu`u rising over 1,800 feet above sea level, in the Moku (District) of Ka`u, on the Island of Hawai`i. This area is comprised of portions of several adjacent ahupua`a that – even in their present impacted condition – are largely undeveloped. Researchers from around the globe as well as local cultural practitioners continue to utilize this area rich in both biological and cultural diversity. This area contains thousands of cultural features both pre- and post-contact, including four major hieau (temple) – three makai (coastal) and one mauka (upland) and their concomitant burials. The proposed preserve is also home to some of the most endangered species in the world including the Honu `ea (Hawaiian Hawksbill turtle) and the Hawaiian Monk seal. While it is important to preserve both cultural features and natural resources, this preserve will also help protect the increasing endangered lifestyle of its human inhabitants. The preservation of this “living classroom” will ensure that the 2,000+ year old Hawaiian teaching tradition, Ho`o hana lima (hands on learning), continues to thrive.

A Better Future for Ka'u

The Punalu`u Cultural Preserve will create better jobs through educational careers and a stronger economy for Ka`u and the island of Hawai`i by building partnerships with leading educational institutions around the world. The Living Classroom Outdoor Campus will offer "hands on learning" in:

  • Animal Science
  • Aquaculture
  • Forestry
  • Plant Pathology
  • Plant Physiology
  • Soil Science
  • Recreational Management
  • Astronomy
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Geology
  • Marine Science
  • Natural Sciences
  • Physics
  • Anthropology
  • Geography and Environmental Studies
  • Hawaiian Culture and History
  • Hawaiian Studies
  • Hawaiian Arts
  • Hawaiian Language
  • Pacific Islands Studies

The Campus, designed as "outdoor" Hawaiian style pavillions would include a Visitors Program that would be centered around a state-of-the-art Cultural Center, Theater and Cultural Marketplace that would offer foods, arts and unique home-grown products from the people of Ka`u. This would create additional job opportunities and a revenue stream for local farmers, entrepreneurs and aritisans. Visitors from around the world will be able to become part of the "living classroom" experience.