Mānoa Heritage Center is a non-profit organization, whose mission is to promote stewardship of the natural and cultural heritage of Hawai‘i. The site consists of Kūali‘i, a Tudor-style house built in 1911, Kūka‘ō‘ō Heiau and a Native Hawaiian garden.
The site is the former home of Charles Montague Cooke, Jr. Charles Montague Cooke Sr gave the land to his son in 1902. On it his son established Kaimi dairy.
In 1911, Emory & Webb, a major architectural firm in Honolulu, designed this house, and it stands as one of their major works from this period. Other works of theirs from this time include the YMCA and the First Methodist Church.
Amos Starr Cooke came to Hawai‘i in 1837 as a missionary. He and his wife Juliette, were selected by King Kamehameha III to educate the next generation of Hawai‘i leadership (including Kamehameha IV and V, Lunalilo, Kalākaua, Lili‘uokalani and others)
Cooke later founded the firm of Castle & Cooke in 1851, which became one of the ‘Big Five’ sugar companies, which dominated so much of Hawai’ i’s economic, social and political history up through World War II.
Charles Montague Cooke Jr. was the grandson of Amos Starr Cooke and the son of Charles Montague Cooke. His father was the President of both C Brewer, another of the ‘Big Five’ firms, and the Bank of Hawai’i.
Dr. Charles Montague Cooke Jr. was born in Honolulu in 1874, and attended Punahou and Yale. In 1901 he received his PhD and went to Europe to do scientific work in London and Paris.
In 1902 he returned to Hawai’i to work at the Bishop Museum, where he made valuable contributions to the field of malachology, the branch of zoology that deals with mollusks, especially with regards to the study of Hawaiian land snails. He headed a number of scientific expeditions throughout Polynesia and was the author of 45 scientific works. (NPS)
Kūali‘i, the house on the site, is a two-story Tudor revival style house. It is situated at the top of a hill in Mānoa Valley and has a large front lawn gracefully landscaped with several mature monkey pod and shower trees. The front of the house is separated from Mānoa Road by a stone wall, and a circular drive provides vehicular access to the property. (NPS)
The lava rock basement and first floor support half-timber and stucco second and third floors. The home has three bays with a large 2-story porte cochere off the center bay. Two stonewall chimneys anchor the outside bays. The stone was quarried in the front year where the driveway now circles between two stone pillars of the front rock wall.
The house was originally going to be sited where a heiau (temple) was situated – and use the stone from the heiau as the foundation. Instead, the house was located so as not to disturb the heiau. (Ferraro; Pōhaku) The heiau was later restored.
According to legends, the menehune built a fort and heiau at the top of the hill ‘Ulumalu. They were driven away from their fort by the high chief Kūali‘i during his reign (sometime in the 1700s). Kuali‘i rebuilt it after his seizure of the fort. (Cultural Surveys)
This heiau was the center piece of a string of heiaus that strung across the Kona district. The existence of such an important heiau at the mouth of the valley could be taken as an indication of the early importance of Mānoa.
Another legend says that the menehune were driven from their fort and temple by the owls, who became their bitter enemies.
The legends say that the fairy people, the Menehunes, built a temple and a fort a little farther up the valley above Pu‘u-pueo, at a place called Kūka‘ō‘ō.
Surrounding Kūka‘ō‘ō Heiau is a Native Hawaiian garden featuring endemic and indigenous plants, as well as Polynesian introductions.
In addition, a Polynesian Introduced Garden offers an array of ‘Canoe Plants’ representing those that may have come with ancient seafarers from the Marquesas, Tahiti, Samoa and other South Pacific archipelagoes.
The first settlers of Hawaiʻi arriving by canoe, brought many of their favorite plants for food, seasoning, medicine, making household items and implements to farm, build structures and use for clothing.
Taro (kalo) became the staple of the Hawaiian diet and they developed hundreds of varieties, adapted to suit diverse terrain and weather conditions. Sweet potato (uala) was sometimes substituted for taro in the drier areas.
Tumeric (ʻolena) was used to produce a brilliant yellow orange dye for clothing, coconut (niu) for bowls, drums and roof tops, and kawa (ʻawa) to ease a painful headache were treasured supplies. (Mānoa Heritage Center)
The house, heiau and gardens are part of the Mānoa Heritage Center, a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote stewardship of the natural and cultural heritage of Hawai‘i. It was the home of Sam and Mary Cooke and the restoration of the property was through their efforts.
Currently, Kūka‘ō‘ō Heiau and garden tours are available, guided by volunteer docents. Reservations are needed with two-week advance notice preferred.