It was “a desolate land, a land of famine.” (Kamakau)
Aia ke ana ko‘i i Kaluako‘i
At Kaluako‘i is an adze quarry (Gon)
Kaluakoʻi (the adze pit) is the largest ahupuaʻa on Molokai, containing an area of 46,500 acres. It’s on the western portion of island.
It’s in the rain shadow of east Molokai making the area very arid (thus the first line.) The upland of Kaluakoʻi was well known for the fine grained basalts used for adze manufacture (thus the latter.)
“Kaluakoʻi was probably permanently occupied late in prehistory, and that its access to fishing grounds and adze quarries meant that it was integrated into island-wide society …”
“Presence of extensive occupations in the uplands and of major specialized features such as heiau (temples) and holua (sledding courses) in the lowlands holua provide evidence that the Kaluakoʻi area had permanent, perhaps socially stratified, occupants.”
“Traditional wisdom among archaeologist has also concluded that this region would have been settled only after sweet potato was available, and after population densities had risen in the wetter areas, probably no earlier than about ad 1500.” Cultivation of ʻuala (sweet potato) and offshore and deep sea fishing provided the primary sustenance. (Dye)
Kaluakoʻi was returned and retained by the Government at the Māhele. (Ulukau) Then, “Minister Gibson, read memorando from the records regarding the sale of certain lands in 1874-5, and that the sales had been made to meet current expenses of Government.”
“On March 5, 1874, there was a deficiency, and it was proposed to borrow $47,000. On May 15, 1874, it was proposed to meet the deficiency by selling the land of Kaluakoʻi, on Molokai. A resolution, however, was adopted, which read: ‘Resolved, Not to sell the land of Kaluakoʻi to Mr. Bishop at present.’”
“On May 26, 1874, the Cabinet approved of selling Kaluakoʻi to Mr. Bishop for $5,000, the King withholding his decision till next day.” The 46,500 acres was sold to Bishop, on January 26, 1875, by Royal patent 3,146. (Report of Hawaiian Legislative Assembly, 1886)
Bishop ranched the land; then in 1893, all the land, leaseholds and livestock were transferred by Charles Bishop to the Trustees of the Bernice P Bishop Estate and in 1897 Molokai Ranch was formed and bought Kaluakoʻi from the Estate.
Maunaloa is a former pineapple plantation town built in 1923 by Libby, McNeill and Libby (later a Dole corporation). After pineapple operations ended in 1976, the former pineapple fields surrounding the town became grazing land for Molokai ranch. (Dye)
In 1977, Molokai tourism was enhanced with the opening of the 198-room Kaluakoʻi Resort and condo complex on the West End. However, by the early 1980s it was virtually abandoned. (Brady)
Many hoped that the opening of the Beach Village in 1996 and the Lodge in 1999 would resuscitate Kaluakoʻi, attracting tourists and adding jobs. Later announcements of renovations provided further hope. (Brady)
The hotel and the golf course were permanently closed in January of 2001; the 149 privately owned condominium units continued to operate, some of them under the “The Villas” rental group and some rented by the individual owners.
In 2006, the company announced that it would renovate the hotel as part of a master development plan that included the sale of 200 homesites (at $600,000 each) along Laʻau Point on the southwestern tip.
Local reaction was negative, forceful, and immediate. The most visible display of residents’ opposition to the plan was the hand-painted signs reading ‘Save Laʻau’ that were posted across the Island. (Brady)
With that project failure, in May 2008, the Ranch reduced its operations on the island. Today, Molokaʻi Ranch encompasses about 53,000-acres which is roughly one-third of the island.
In 2012, under new management, Molokai Ranch announced plans to develop a new strategy focusing on four strategies: animal husbandry, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy and green improvements to existing infrastructure.
In a statement related to this, a Ranch representative noted, “Our focus is currently on ensuring the success of our newly re-launched ranching operations and our efforts to re-open existing facilities, such as the Maunaloa Lodge, in an effort to create opportunities for the island.”
Their website notes, “Molokai Ranch is working toward responsible tourism, creating an authentic cultural experience of Molokai and building the foundation for a thriving local economy.”