It’s melted away;
This Buddha of snow is now
Indeed a true one
(Yamazaki Sokan (1464-1553))
A traditional Haiku is a three-line poem with seventeen syllables, written in a 5/7/5 syllable count.
Wait … that’s not what this is about. However, this is about a place (Haʻikū) at about the time the Haiku above was written.
According to oral tradition, Piʻilani unified the entire island of Maui, bringing together under one rule the formerly-competing eastern (Hāna) and western (Wailuku) multi-district kingdoms of the Island. In the 1500s, Chief Piʻilani (“stairway to heaven”) ruled in peace and prosperity.
Among other accomplishments, Piʻilani built interconnecting trails. His son, Kihapiʻilani laid the East Maui section and connected the island. This trail was the only ancient pathway to encircle any Hawaiian island (not only along the coast, but also up the Kaupō Gap and through the summit area and crater of Haleakalā.)
“Hāmākua Poko (Short Hāmākua) and Hāmākua Loa (Long Hāmākua) are two coastal regions where gently sloping kula lands intersected by small gulches come down to the sea along the northern coast line of East Maui.”
“Stream taro was probably planted along the watercourses well up into the higher kula land and forest taro throughout the lower forest zone. The number of very narrow ahupuaʻa thus utilized along the whole of the Hāmākua coast indicates that there must have been a very considerable population.”
“This would be despite the fact that it is an area of only moderate precipitation because of being too low to draw rain out of trade winds flowing down the coast from the rugged and wet northeast Koʻolau area that lies beyond.”
“It was probably a favorable region for breadfruit, banana, sugar cane, arrowroot; and for yams and ʻawa in the interior. The slopes between gulches were covered with good soil, excellent for sweet-potato planting. The low coast is indented by a number of small bays offering good opportunity for fishing.” (Handy)
At the boundary of Hāmākaupoko and Hāmākualoa (within the Hāmākualoa moku) is the ahupuaʻa of Haʻikū (lit. speak abruptly) and Haʻikū Uka (inland.)
At the time of Captain Cook’s arrival (1778-1779), the Hawaiian Islands were divided into four kingdoms: (1) the island of Hawaiʻi under the rule of Kalaniʻōpuʻu, who also had possession of the Hāna district of east Maui; (2) Maui (except the Hāna district,) Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi and Kahoʻolawe, ruled by Kahekili; (3) Oʻahu, under the rule of Kahahana; and (4) Kauaʻi and Niʻihau, Kamakahelei was ruler.
In the battles between Kalaniʻōpuʻu and Kahekili, “Kalaniʻōpuʻu decided to go on to Koʻolau, Maui, where food was abundant. He went to Kāʻanapali and fed his soldiers upon the taro of Honokahua….”
“At Hāmākualoa Kalaniʻōpuʻu landed and engaged in battle, but Kahekili hastened to the aid of his men, and they put up such a fierce fight that Kalaniʻōpuʻu fled in his canoes. Landing at Koʻolau he slew the common people and maltreated the captives”.
Of the wars, it was noted, “Like the fiery petals of the lehua blossoms of Pi‘iholo were the soldiers of Kahekili, red among the leaves of the koa trees of Liliko‘i or as one glimpses them through the kukui trees of Ha‘ikū.” (Kamakau)
During Kamehameha’s later conquest of Maui at Wailuku and ʻIao Valley, his canoe fleet landed at various places along the Hāmākua coast.
A notable feature along and through Haʻikū is Maliko Gulch; it apparently had a pre-contact canoe landing at the mouth of the gulch. (Xamanek)
“Maliko is a place with a good stream, it is also an anchorage for seafaring boats, and there is a wharf on one side. The cliff is quite steep, but the flat lands below, are beautifully adorned with groves of kukui.” (A Journey, 1868; Maly)
By 1858, The Haʻikū Sugar Plantation was formed, at the time, there were only ten sugar companies in the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. Five of these sugar companies were on the island of Maui, but only two were in operation. The five were: East Maui Plantation at Kaluanui, Brewer Plantation at Hāliʻimaile, LL Torbert and Captain James Makee’s plantation at ʻUlupalakua, Hāna and Haʻikū Plantation.
The Haiku Mill, on the east bank of Maliko Gulch, was completed in 1861; 600-acres of cane the company had under cultivation yielded 260 tons of sugar and 32,015 gallons of molasses. Over the years the company procured new equipment for the mill.
(In 1853, the government of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i had set aside much of the adjoining Hāmākuapoko to the Board of Education. The Board of Education deeded the Hāmākuapoko acreage which was unencumbered by native claims to the Trustees of Oʻahu College (Punahou) in 1860, who then sold the land to the Haʻikū Sugar Company (Cultural Surveys))
In 1871 Samuel T Alexander became manager of the mill. Alexander and later his partner, Henry Perrine Baldwin, saw the need for a reliable source of water, and started construction of the Hāmākua ditch in 1876.
With the completion of the ditch, the majority of Haʻikū Plantation’s crops were grown on the west side of Maliko gulch. As a result in 1879 Haʻikū mill was abandoned and its operations were transferred to Hāmākuapoko where a new factory was erected, which had more convenient access to the new sugar fields.
Other ditches were later added to the system, with five ditches at different levels used to convey the water to the cane fields on the isthmus of Maui. In order of elevation they are Haʻikū, Lowrie, Old Hāmākua, New Hāmākua, and Kailuanui ditches. (They became part of the East Maui Irrigation system.)
Although two missionaries (Richard Armstrong and Amos Cooke) established the Haʻikū Sugar Company in 1858, its commercial success was due to a second-generation missionary descendant, Henry Perrine Baldwin. In 1877, Baldwin constructed a sugar mill on the west side of Maliko Gulch, named the Hāmākuapoko Mill.
By 1880, the Haiku Sugar Company was milling and bagging raw sugar at Hāmākuapoko for shipment out of Kuau Landing. The Kuau Landing was abandoned in favor of the newly-completed Kahului Railroad line in 1881, with all regional sugar sent then by rail to the port of Kahului.
Brothers Henry Perrine and David Dwight Baldwin laid the foundation for the company in the late-1800s through the acquisition of land. Experimentation with hala kahiki (pineapple) began in 1890, when the first fruit was planted in Haʻikū.
In 1903 the Baldwin brothers formed Haʻikū Fruit & Packing Company, launching the pineapple industry on Maui. Maui’s first pineapple cannery began operations by 1904, with the construction of a can-making plant and a cannery in Haʻikū.
1,400 cases of pineapple were packed during the initial run. In time, the independent farmers for miles around brought their fruit there to be processed.
Haʻikū Plantation remained in operation until 1905 when it merged with Pāʻia Plantation, to form Maui Agricultural Company. (In 1948, Maui Agricultural Company merged with HC&S (Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company.))
At the outbreak of WWII, the Army rented 1,600-acres from various landowners in the Haʻikū area. Buildings went up for offices, tents for living quarters; mess halls were constructed and roads carved out. Post Exchanges opened up; movie screens and stages were built and baseball diamonds were laid out.
The 4th Marine Division was deactivated November 28, 1945. In April 1946, the Camp Maui land was returned to the owners. Today, the grounds are now a public park named “Kalapukua Playground” (“magical playground”;) Giggle Hill has a large children’s playground (and some claim they can still hear the laughter of Marines and their girlfriends on dark nights.) The centerpiece of the park is the memorial to the Fourth Marine Division.