Ahupuaa


 

It wasn't possible for ancient Hawaiians to own land nor did they really think about it. They actually believed that the land was for everyone like we think of air. The whole idea of land division did not even exist. Ahupuaa is an old Hawaiian term for a large subdivision of land. There were four hierarchical levels:

mokupuni (whole island)

moku (largest subdivisions of an island)

ahupuaa

ili (two or three per ahupuaa)

Each ahupuaa was ruled by an ali`i or local chief and administered by a konohiki.

The ahupuaa usually encompassed a piece of land that went from the  the top of the mountain (volcano) to the shore, which was usually bounded by a stream. Each ahupuaa included a lowland mala (cultivated area) and an upland forested region. As the native Hawaiians used the resources within their 'ahupua'a, they practiced aloha (respect), laulima (cooperation), and malama (stewardship) which resulted in a desirable pono (balance). The Hawaiians believed the land, the sea, the clouds and all nature had a certain interconnectedness. Sustainability was maintained by the konohiki and kahuna--priests who restricted the fishing of certain species during specific seasons. They also regulated the gathering of plants. They were so ahead of their time in many ways. The Hawaiian people had more time to become one with nature and to nuture nature because they lived in a friendly weather climate and didn't need to use their time and energy for survival of harsh weather conditions.