Waipā, at 1,600-acres, is one of the smallest in a series of nine historic ahupuaʻa within Kauai’s moku (district) of Haleleʻa. Located along the north coast of Kauai, Haleleʻa today is commonly referred to as the Kauai “north shore”.
Haleleʻa is a historic moku, which today encompasses the communities of Kilauea, Kalihiwai, Wanini/Kalihikai, Princeville, Hanalei/Waiʻoli, Wainiha, and Haʻena. Waipā is located between the ahupuaʻa of Waiʻoli and Waikoko.
What started as a fight in 1982 to preserve the valley and stop a development, the Waipā Foundation of Hanalei Valley and Kamehameha Schools (land owner) are now partnering in restoring the ahupuaʻa of Waipā as a cultural complex.
The Waipā Foundation is a community-based 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, whose mission is to restore the health and abundance of the 1,600-acre Waipā watershed, through the creation of a Hawaiian community center and learning center.
The Foundation, and its predecessor The Hawaiian Farmers of Hanalei, have been implementing this mission in their management of the valley since 1986.
One of Waipā Foundation’s core goals is to empower and enrich the communities along Kauai’s Haleleʻa district – with a special focus on the Hawaiian, low-income and at-risk communities.
This is accomplished through the creation of community assets, development and implementation of programs focusing on culture, enrichment, education and leadership and that foster a strong connection with, and love of, the land and resources.
Waipā is a living learning center that hosts organized groups from Hawaiʻi and beyond that are interested in contributing to the work at Waipā, and learning about the Hawaiian culture and environment – and the relationships between the two – through hands-on experiences.
Two of Waipā Foundation’s long-range goals are:
• To restore the health of the natural environment and native ecosystems of the ahupuaʻa, and to involve our community in the stewardship, restoration, and management of the land and resources within the ahupuaʻa of Waipā.
• To practice and foster social, economic and environmental sustainability in the management of Waipā’s natural and cultural resources.
In the mauka area, restoration of the native forest has been an important priority. Upper Waipā was historically deforested by the Sandalwood trade, cattle ranching and forest fire; and today is overrun by non-native grasses, shrubs and trees.
In the past few years, over 2,000 native trees and shrubs have been established in a network of planting sites in the mauka riparian zone at Waipā. Most of the seed for the outplantings was collected from within Waipa, and the surrounding areas.
In the ‘kula’ zone of the ahupuaʻa (where in ancient times was the area for growing food and living,) Waipa Foundation has been creating and restoring wetland and dryland farming areas, for kalo and other food crops.
Waipā’s lo’i is a 2-acre area that is farmed by staff, volunteers and program participants, as a learning site and for kalo production through experimenting with more organic and sustainable approaches.
Waipā hosts a farmers market which makes fresh, local produce and food available to community and visitors. They also grow, make and distribute produce (grown at Waipā) and poi to community and ohana, on a weekly basis.
In the makai area, work has been ongoing to restore the muliwai (estuary,) as well as the Halulu fishpond. Likewise, with restoration and native plant planting along the stream bank, efforts are underway to protect Waiʻoli Stream.
Lots of good stuff is going on at Waipā.