The initial land divisions on the island of Molokai were the Ko‘olau (windward) and the Kona (leeward) districts, or moku-o-loko.
Puko‘o was the first county seat on the island and is located on the Mana‘e, or East End of the island. Kaunakakai, presently the island’s main town, lies centrally along the southeastern coastline.
Kualapu‘u which was once a pineapple plantation town, is situated in Na‘iwa on the slopes above the Ho‘olehua plain. Its sister plantation town of Maunaloa is found on the West End in the ahupua`a of Kaluako‘i.
Large clusters of Hawaiians were living along the shore, on the lower slopes and in the larger valleys. The lands were cultivated and many plants grew strong from the rains of the mountain and water diverted from the streams. The valleys each had their own kalo lo‘i (taro patches), even those that are dry today. Productive, well-kept fishponds were strung along the shoreline.
On the east end, a mile away to the east of the Protestant church compound at Kalua‘aha, was Puko‘o, destined to become the first town in the western tradition on the island of Molokai. Puko‘o had a natural break in the reef with a perfect beach for landing canoes between Puko‘o fishpond and Pipio fishpond at Mapulehu.
The whole island was in a state of excitement when the deposed and beloved Queen Liliuokalani visited Molokai in early 1900s. She stayed at Puko‘o with the Duvauchelle family and Laura Duvauchelle Smith.
The little town of Puko‘o seemed to be thriving. The Aipas’ poi factory was right next door to the Duvauchelles, Ah Soon had the bakery and Ah Sing a store. Another store was started by Akeo and Ah Pun (Chock Pun), along with Apaiona (Lin Kee) who later leased to Chow Kwan.
His innovation was a real gas pump. Okazaki ran the soda works and also the movie theater which he operated with a hand crank until he later learned how to use the car engine. The movies were shown outside with benches for seating, while the equipment was protected by a tent. There was also a bakery over toward the old stone church closer to Kupeke fishpond.
Puko’o lacked the unifying architectural setting of shops in one continuous row. All of these little stores were run by people operating out of their own homes and they were scattered along the main thoroughfare. The set-backs varied much as the homes there do today. The Church was tucked up into a corner on a sharp turn in the road, slightly away from the main cluster of houses. (Salazar)
Then, in March 1912, there was some added excitement on Molokai …
“On her way home from Molokai, Mrs. Emma Nakuina brought proof of snow [hau sano] falling on Molokai, and you can clearly see the whitening of the mountain tops behind Pukoo with snow.”
“In the history of the inhabitation of Molokai, there has never been seen this amazing thing on that island from the beginning, and this is the first time that snow has been seen falling on Molokai. According to Mrs. Nakuina.”
“H. D. Bowen stated that snow fell in great quantities on the mountain behind Pukoo, so that you could see clearly the patches of snow in many places on the ridges as well as down in the valleys.”
You can see the snow all the way from the harbor of Pukoo and the shore, according to Mr. Bowen. He has some land … and while he was there, he saw the snow.”
“I believe this is the first time that man remembers that snow fell on Molokai, said Mrs. Nakuina.”
“So it is perhaps because of the cold we’ve had these past days that snow fell on Molokai. According to the scientists, the time is coming where the tropic zone will become arctic, and will be covered in snow. Could this be the beginning of this?” (Aloha Aina, 3/16/1912, P. 1)
“Mrs. Emma M. Nakuina, who owns land in the region of Molokai above-mentioned, gives the Star [Hawaiian Star Newspaper] the extraordinary intelligence that snow has fallen and rested long enough to have its appearance noted upon that island.”
“‘HD Bowen reports that snow has fallen on the mountain range back of Pukoo, in large enough quantities to show distinct patches in several places on the ridges and in the ravines,’ said Mrs. Nakuina this morning.”
“The snow is quite perceptible from Pukoo harbor and the beach along there, Mr. Bowen states. He lately bought a piece of land adjoining mine in that section, and has been over there looking after his property.”
“‘This is the first time in the memory of man I believe,” Mrs. Nakuina added, “that snow has fallen on Molokai.’”
“And, it is to be remembered, Mrs. Nakuina is one of the recognized authorities on Hawaiian history.”
“Heretofore anyone talking about ‘snowy slopes,’ without making it clear that only the big three mountains of the Island of Hawaii and the vast dome of Haleakala on the Island of Maui were being mentioned, would have been denounced as a traducer of the country. Such a thing did happen, eight or ten years ago, to the author of a bit of promotion literature.”
“Now, however, Molokai is to be included as a snow-supporting island of the group.”
“The evidence of that island’s advent to Arctic-crowned honors, as here given, is authentic and ranks in point of interest not far behind the discovery of the South Pole.”
“Whether the event may be taken as supporting the theory that the earth is going to enter another glacial, period is a question the scientists may be left to consider.”
“Professor W. D. Alexander when informed of the snow on Molokai, said: ‘I have never heard of any snow fall on Molokai before. The elevation of the Pukoo mountains is a little less than 5000 feet.’”
“‘About the early part of February each year snow falls on the south side of Haleakala, the elevation of which Is about 8000 feet.’”
“‘Even on Hualalai, Hawaii, snow rarely settles, although the elevation is only a little under 10,000 feet.’”
“‘The Molokai event is certainly very extraordinary, still the present cold spell is a long one, and may account for the phenomenon.’” (Hawaiian Star, March 11, 1912)
While the article suggests Molokai, for the first time in the memory of man, is decorated with snow, other reporting notes that it was half a century ago when snow first fell on that island. (Kuokoa Home Rula, 3/15/1912, p. 1)