Kahumana Permaculture Sanctuary Part I: History & Legends

Preface - Home Page

Part I: History & Legends
The History

Part II: The Vision
Different Streams Come Together
The Vision
The Intention

Part III: Structure & Plans
The Preliminary Permaculture Design
Projects And People
The Intentional Community
Building Intentional Community
The Location
The Physical Structure
1. Structures (Prioritized A-C)
2. People On The Land
Activities Within The Structure
Organizational Structure

Part IV: Community Integration
Community Vision
Cultural Heritage Recuperation

Part V: Finances & Legal Structure
Financial Outline
Managerial Outline
Progression of Planning/Completion Phases
Legal Format

Part VI: Contact Info. & Appendix
Pertinent Stakeholders
Letters Of Intention


In the center of Pu'u Kapoho crater lies Ka wai a Pele or Green Lake as it is known today. It lies in the district of Puna, on the southeast side of the Island of Hawai‘I (Big Island). This is the most volcanically active area of the island with lush and varied vegetation.

19.5 degrees N latitude runs from Cape Kumakahi through Green Lake to Kealakekua. Puna rests on Kilauea. Mauna Loa lies at 19 degrees 28 minutes N, 155 degrees 37 minutes W. Mauna-Kea, the largest shield volcano is at 19.6 degrees north. see appendix

Green Lake is one of only two natural lakes on the island, surrounded on 3 sides by the crater which is covered in primal foliage.

There is only one crater-lake in Hawai`i. Green Lake occupies part of the floor of Kapoho Crater. This cone in lower Puna was formed by magma, erupting through groundwater 300-350 years ago. The lake developed soon thereafter; it was known to Hawaiians as Ka Wai a Pele, according to Ellis' 1823 account.

Crater lakes have inherent beauty, perched on volcanoes and surrounded by rugged cliffs. Often a crater-lake forms an oasis amid desolation.

(By the way the other one is Lake Waiau, located atop Mauna Kea, at 13,020 feet elevation is the highest lake in the United States. In relative recent geologic time, Mauna Kea had . In fact, at one time, the mountain had an icecap covering the summit as low as 11,000 feet. The last glacier disappeared 9,000 years ago, during the Pleistocene era, but the effect of the glaciation is clearly seen at the summit. The action of the glacier and the melt-water created Lake Waiau.)

The cinder/ash mixture found at Kapoho Cone is ideal because there is sufficient cinder in it to allow water to drain and enough ash to make it cohesive and allow compaction. With the numerous volcanic cones on the island, one would think that this mixture is readily available, but Kapoho Cone is unique. It is an ash and tuff cone.

Unlike cinder or spatter cones that form around eruptive vents from lava fountaining, ash and tuff cones are the product of the explosive contact between magma and water at
a shallow depth. This hydromagmatic activity results in a lower, broader cone with abundant sand- and silt-sized particles. If the particles are not cemented together, it is an ash cone. Weathering and oxidation often turn the gray ash particles to a light-brown reddish color, cementing them to form a rock called tuff. The resulting edifice is a tuff cone. Because of the explosive origin of the deposits, large angular blocks are also commonly found in them.

Based upon the geologic stratigraphy of the area, the eruption that formed Kapoho
Cone probably took place less than 400 years ago. Green Lake, a depression within
Kapoho Cone, is thought to be one of four vents that erupted explosively to produce
the ash.

During the early stages of the 1960 Kapoho eruption that formed Pu'u Laimana to the north of Kapoho Cone, seawater entered the magma conduit system, and wet, black ash containing salt erupted for three days. Subsequent cinder and spatter deposits have covered this ash layer, but small steam explosions continued sporadically to the end of the eruption.

The low elevation of the Kapoho region, with the resulting shallow depth to the water table, is the reason for the explosiveness of the eruptions in that area. More famous tuff cones in Hawai'i are also found at lower elevations. These include Diamond Head, Koko Head, Punchbowl, and Salt Lake tuff cones on O'ahu.

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The History

How William Ellis found Green Lake
Green Lake is located inside a crater on Green Mountain near Kapoho. It's a short trek up a gentle slope across private land and then a steep, rugged hike down inside the crater to a beautiful, deep, spring fed lake surrounded by lush jungle foliage. Elevation -- 3 feet above sea-level. Here is some interesting history about how William Ellis found Green Lake:

“July 15, 1823, Reverend William Ellis, along with other missionaries, Thurston, Bishop, Harwood and Goodrich and guides left Kailua-Kona on foot and at times by canoe to explore the Big Island and arrived in Hilo about six months later. The following are excerpts from "The Journal of William Ellis" by William Ellis as published by the Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc.:

Anxious to gain a thorough acquaintance with the circumstances of the people, and their disposition relative to missionary operations, we agreed to travel on foot from Kairua (Kailua-Kona)- through the villages on the southern shore, to pass round south point, and continue along the southeast shore, till we should arrive at the path leading to the great volcano, situated at the foot of Mouna Roa (Mauna Loa), about 25 miles distant from the sea, which we thought it improper to pass unnoticed.

We proposed, after visiting the volcano, either to descend to the shore and travel along the coast through the division of Puna, or across the interior to the division of Hiro
(Hilo), as circumstances might then render most expedient.

…. the smoke and vapors …. and the scent of the fumes of sulfur …. indicated our proximity to Kirauea (Kilauea). In the way we saw a number of low bushes bearing beautiful red and yellow berries in clusters, each berry being about the size and shape of a large current. The native name of the plant is Ohelo. The berries looked tempting to persons experiencing both hunger and thirst, and we eagerly plucked and ate all that came in our way. They are juicy, but rather insipid to the taste.

As soon as the natives perceived us eating them, they called out aloud, and begged us to desist, saying we were now within the precincts of Pele's dominions, to whom
they belonged, and by whom they were rahuiia (prohibited), until some had been offered to her, and permission to eat them asked. "We are afraid. We shall be overtaken by some calamity before we leave this place." We advised them to dismiss their fears, and eat with us, as we knew they were thirsty and faint. They shook their heads, and perceiving us determined to disregard their entreaties, walked along in silence.

Though we left our encampment at daybreak, it was eleven o'clock in the forenoon before we took our final leave of Kirauea. The path by which we descended towards the sea was about southeast-by-east. On the high lands in the vicinity of the crater, we found the ground covered with strawberry plants. Strawberries, as well as raspberries, are indigenous plants, and are found in great abundance over most of the high lands of Hawaii; though we do not know of their existence in any other islands of the group.

As we approached the sea, the soil became more generally spread over the surface, and vegetation more luxurient. We …. arrived at a village….stopped at the first house we came to, and begged some water ….we drank most hearty draughts, though it was little better than water of the sea. It barely quenched our thirst …. but it was the best we could procure …. After walking about a mile along the beach, we came to a house, which our guide pointed out as our lodgings. It was a miserable hut …. and he thought the most comfortable one we could procure.

The village is populous, and the natives soon thronged around us. To our great regret, two-thirds of them appeared to be in a state of intoxication, a circumstance we frequently had occasion to lament, in the villages through which we passed - - - generally the effect of an intoxicating drink made of fermented sugar-cane juice, sweet potatoes or ti root.

…. we passed through Pulana, where we saw a large heiau (temple) called Wahaura (Wahaula). Human sacrifices, we were informed, were occasionally offered here.
Leaving this interesting place, we passed on to Kalapana, a small village on the sea-shore ….. we approached Kaimu. This was the birthplace of Mauae (one of their guides), and the residence of most of his relations. (Big party followed). The extent of cultivation in the neighborhood, together with the decent and orderly appearance of the people, induced us to think they are more sober and industrious than those of many villages through which we passed.

At daybreak on the 6th, Mauae ….. walked with us through the village, pointed out the best road, than gave us his parting aroha (aloha), and returned to his house.

Ellis and his group passed through the villages of Keouohana, Kehena, Kamaili, Opihikao and Keahialaka to Pu'ala'a where the county now has a park surrounding a large spring fed hot water swimming pond. And on to Kapoho.

A most beautiful and romantic landscape presented itself on our left, as we traveled out of Pu'ala'a. We soon left this beautiful scenery, and entered a rugged tract of lava,over which we continued our way till about two p.m., when we reach Kapoho.

A hill, overhung with trees and clothed with herbage, standing in the midst of the barren lava plain, attracted our attention. We walked through the gardens that encircled its base, till we reached the S.E. side, where it was much lower than on the northern parts. Here we ascended and were agreeably surprised to behold a charming valley opening before us. It was circular, and open towards the sea.

The outer boundary of this natural amphitheater was formed by an uneven ridge of rocks covered with soil and vegetation. The sides of the valley, which gradually sloped from the foot of the hills, were almost entirely laid out in plantations, and enlivened by the cottages of their proprietors.

In the center was an oval hollow, about half a mile cross, and probably two hundred feet deep, at the bottom of which was a beautiful lake - - - whose margin was in a high state of cultivation, planted with taro, bananas and sugar-cane.

The steep perpendicular rocks, forming the sides of the hollow, were adorned with tufts of grass, or blooming pendulous plants, while, along the narrow and verdant border of the lake at the bottom, the bread-fruit, the kukui, and the ohia trees, appeared, with now and then a lowly native hut standing beneath their shade.

We walked to the upper edge of the rocks that form the side of the hollow, where we viewed with pleasure this singularly beautiful scene.
The placid surface of the lake, disturbed only by the boys and girls diving and sporting in its waters. We viewed the serpentine walks among the luxuriant gardens along its margin, the tranquil occupations of the inhabitants, some weaving mats, others walking cheerfully up and down the winding path among the steep rocks, and the smiling gaiety of the whole, contrasted strongly with the panorama we had recently beheld at Kirauea (Kilauea).

They told us the name of the place was Kapoho and of the lake, Ka wai a Pele (the water of Pele). Today we call it Green Lake.” Adapted from Don & Glenna Jacobs http://www.aloha.net/~donj/

Letter from William. Dec. 23 2000
Pele was a real human according to King Kalakauas in his book Legends and Myths of Hawaii. She was from Tahiti and had lived on the volcano for a long time with no mishap. Then a chief from Oahu, named the Pig Chief, desired her and set off to capture her. She was away when he raided her home compound and killed all the males. When she discovered this she ran and barricaded herself in a lava tube. While the Pig chief and his men were trying to did her out the volcano erupted and covered them all. The people the volcano welcomed her and have since deified her.

Auntie Ulu Kanakaole Gorman, Edith Kanakaole's daughter and whose family graves are nearby, knew only one legend concerning Green Lake, and that was that the lake was guarded by a female Mo'o that had never been conquered. And that anytime a chief got close to doing so she transformed herself into a beautiful woman and distracted him.

Auntie Ulu knew a lot of legends about everything else around the place but thought the lake was conspicuous in its lack of legends and therefore truly so sacred that it was really kept. For the common people to call the lake Ka wai a Pele would be a natual assumption given its location. But it must be remembered the common never knew the sacred or even their own History (That was the domain the Alii and the Kahuna exclusively).

Aina-i-Kaupo-o-Kane just happens to be one of the oldest names for the waters of Kane (and because legends fit and the word Kapoho has no meaning in Hawaiian). It seems natural that the word Kapoho might be a bastardization of Kaupo-o. I like the way Keiki Aloha, who built the village next to the hot pond, put it, when his girlfriend call the Lake Kawai a Pele, No! No! Kane come first, before Pele.

Historian June Gutmanis:

“Puna’s history has been a rich one, with many twists and turns. The first events in that
history relate to a supernatural being named `Ai La`au or Forest Eater. True to his name,
he frequently started fires that “ate” the lands between his home in Kilauea and the shores
of lower Puna. At a time when `Ai La`au was away from his home, the foreign woman,
Pele, with many members of her family, arrived on the island and took over his home in
the volcano. `Ai La`au never returned. From that time, Pele’s sports competitions, her
angry confrontations with Puna residents and her tumultuous love affairs became the
principal themes of stories told about Puna. Many place names are memorials to these
events, and numerous lava formations area said to contain the spirits of those whom she
covered with lava in her anger”
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