Kohala on the Island of Hawai‘i was likely settled in its windward valleys about A.D. 1100–1200 and along the leeward shoreline between A.D. 1200 and 1400. The mauka field system was likely established between A.D. 1200 and 1400. Marion Kelly noted dryland field systems were one of the three noted subsistence production intensification techniques initiated by the early Hawaiians (along with walled fishponds and lo‘i kalo (irrigated, terraced pondfields for taro cultivation)).
Farmers found, farmed and intensified production on lands that were poised between being too wet and too dry. Archaeological evidence of intensive cultivation of sweet potato and other dryland crops is extensive, including walls, terraces, mounds and other features. Archaeological evidence indicates a chronology of household expansion (and, by inference, to population growth, as well as increased managerial presence and a desire to produce higher yields) spanning between A.D. 1400 and 1800. The system was abandoned shortly after European contact in the early- or mid-19th century.