Townscape worked with Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL) planners, DHHL beneficiaries and kamaʻāina and kupuna connected to Kaʻū to develop a resources management plan to guide future actions to steward the land and resources at South Point—or more commonly referred to as Ka Lae by local people. Townscape’s work contributing to this project included extensive community outreach with DHHL beneficiaries, community members, and government agencies.
Community consultation process included a series of “talk story” sessions, community meetings, and an interactive community SpeakOut event.
South Point is a special and unique place for the people of Kaʻū and for residents from other regions of Hawaiʻi Island. Its significant cultural landscape tells of the very early native Hawaiian settlement of the area. It is believed that Ka Lae is the site where Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands first arrived in Hawaiʻi. Recognizing its historical and cultural importance, approximately 710 acres of this area has been designated as a National Historic Landmark because it provides “the longest and most complete record of human occupation in the Hawaiian Islands.” Cultural sites include Kalalea Heiau, Lua o Palahemo, canoe mooring holes, and Lua Makalei. Lua o Palahemo is also a unique natural resource, providing a home to several types of anchialine pool shrimp.
Moʻolelo shared by kūpuna depict South Point as a place of remarkable beauty and great cultural significance. Sadly, however, over the years South Point has been desecrated and exploited by off-road vehicle enthusiasts, thoughtless actions of visitors, and sports fishermen despite the presence of iwi kūpuna and sacred sites. Unrestricted vehicular access has resulted in miles of deep, wide, and extremely severe erosion scars, ranging from several feet to over eight feet in depth. There are no bathroom facilities for the hundreds of people who visit South Point daily – to visit Green Sand Beach (or Mahana Bay) and to go cliff diving.
Townscape completed the Resources Management Plan in October 2016 and Environmental Assessment was completed in 2018 for the Resources Management Plan.