Folks describe different ‘phases’ or ‘periods’ of human settlement and agricultural development in the Islands over time. Different people use different terms for each of these (some use varying timeframes, as well,) but they seem to generally fall into Settlement, Development, Expansion and ultimately Post-Contact. It is believed that initial Polynesian discovery and settlement of the Hawaiian Islands occurred between approximately AD 1000 and 1200. (Kirch) This effectively started the ‘Settlement’ phase.
Then came Development- AD 1400-1650 – As the ancient Hawaiian population grew, land use and resource management also evolved. The traditional land use in the Hawaiian Islands evolved from shifting cultivation into a stable form of agriculture. The Expansion – AD 1650-Contact (1778) occurred as population peaked, or shortly before, when Hawaiians began to inhabit less favorable coastline areas and barren zones between the coast and upland agricultural sites and to develop extensive dryland agricultural systems in marginal regions. At the time of Captain Cook’s arrival (1778-1779) ‘Contact’, the Hawaiian Islands were divided into four chiefdoms.