Ke Ao Maoli

Kalapana Hawaiian Cultural Center

Kaimu, Kalapana, one of the last vestiges of Hawaiian ancestral lands on “Hawai’i Island” is where “Uncle Robert” Keli’iho’omalu and his Ohana have lived for generations. For decades, they have preserved the Hawaiian culture through the spirit of ho’okipa; welcoming the thousands of visitors who come here each year from around the world to witness the awesome power of “Madame Pele” and experience the mystical enchantment of this very special place.

The Hawai’i Island Tourism Strategic Plan 2006-2015 was primarily established to honor and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture while dignifying the host community and ultimately satisfying the needs of the visitor. Without financial assistance from any County, State or Federal agency, the Keli’iho’omalus have strived to meet this directive by using their own limited resources to maintain a clean and safe environment for the hundreds of visitors that arrive daily to the Kaimu area. They have also opened their family home to these visitors; offering food and refreshments, musical entertainment, restroom facilities and other services and activities that would not have otherwise been available to them. Unfortunately, as a result of the economic downturn and the ever-rising cost of extending their heartfelt aloha, the Keli’iho’omalus believe that without additional funding to help them finance their endeavors, it may be necessary to eliminate many of the services that they are currently providing.

The Keli’iho’omalu Ohana has found that operating and sustaining a public service is very costly and therefore has decided to form a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit corporation. With funding from the grants they are hoping to receive as a ‘nonprofit’, they are planning to improve some of the major projects that they have already initiated. These projects include: (1) The Beach Trail Enhancement, (2) Luau House Certification, and (3) Nature Workshop Activity Center. Eventually, the Keli’iho’omalu Ohana would like to expand their Ohana’s facility; emphasizing a Hawaiian Cultural theme and naming their Ohana’s facility under their nonprofit status: Kalapana Hawaiian Cultural Center.

The purpose of the Kalapana Hawaiian Cultural Center will be to perpetuate the Hawaiian culture in the Kaimu, Kalapana area and to create much needed employment for the residents of this part of Hawai’i Island. The Keli’iho’malu Ohana would like to educate our local people about their Hawaiian heritage and provide them with the proper training to cordially interact with the thousands of tourists that visit the Kaimu area annually; as this will be essential in laying down the groundwork for establishing a viable Kalapana Hawaiian Cultural Center. The Keli’iho’omalu Ohana also plan to offer a series of workshops where our local kupuna will have an opportunity to teach the visitors some of the traditional Hawaiian arts and crafts, methods of preparing certain types of foods, and other activities with lots of “hands-on” participation. Tour guides knowledgeable of Hawai’i Island’s history,
especially around the Kaimu, Kalapana area, will be hired to take tour groups across the primeval landscape to experience the sights and sounds of “Madame Pele” at work. The Keli’iho’omalus are optimistic that the local people will invest in themselves and wholeheartedly support their plan to provide sustainable employment for the people on this side of Hawai’i Island. Once the Kalapana Hawaiian Cultural Center comes to fruition, many good jobs will be created; alleviating many of the social issues that are usually associated with a depressed economy.

With the funds the Keli’iho’omalus hope to receive from the various grants that will be made available to them, and the anticipated support from the local tour companies, travel agencies, community leaders as well our county and state officials, “Uncle Robert” and his Ohana are certain that a viable Kalapana Hawaiian Cultural Center will be in operation within the next couple of years.

Kaimu, Kalapana: Black Sand Beach

A descriptive summary of some of the project improvements the Keli’iho’omalu Ohana has planned for the next couple of years is outlined on the following pages. If you would like to help the Keli’iho’omalu Ohana make the Kalapana Hawaiian Cultural Center a reality, please call 808-965-1420 or send inquiries and/or donations to : RR2 Box 4972, Pahoa, Hawaii 96778.

Mahalo nui loa for your kokua,

The Robert Keli’iho’omalu Ohana


Proposed Project Improvements

Beach Trail Enhancement
Initial work on a trail that leads from the Keli’iho’omalu property to the ocean and the newly formed black sand beach has already commenced. Paving the entrance of the Beach Trail still needs to be implemented, and red cinder needs to be spread to improve the trail’s pathway. A plan to have 3 Storyboard Stations along the trail’s path to the ocean is tentative. However, the following ideas are under consideration:

Station 1: will educate the tourists of the history of the Kaimu, Kalapana area by providing archival materials that outline the evolution of the area over the years.

Station 2: will highlight the historical watermen of the area, focusing on the legendary surfers that challenged the big waves of Kalapana before the lava consumed the original black sand beachfront.

Station 3: will detail the amount of work that went into restoring the Kaimu, Kalapana area after the devastating lava flows destroyed many homes in the area and covered over some of the notable landmarks such as Queen’s Bath and the world famous Black Sand Beach.

Before this trail was made available to the public, a number of tourists suffered injuries caused by them walking across the extremely dangerous lava fields. However, since the trail’s construction, there have been no injuries.

Estimated cost of this project improvement: $5,800.00
Luau House Certification
1: Plans to expand the current Luau House will include the construction of a certified kitchen. Additional seating accommodations for the visitors will also be implemented.

2: A luau with all traditional Hawaiian cuisine will be held on the second and last Saturday of each month. Working with the local tour companies and travel agencies to have tour groups attend these luaus will be coordinated 1 month prior to actual luau dates. The luau package includes: complete dinner with a choice of dessert and beverage. Musical entertainment will also be provided.

Estimated cost of this project improvement: $14,500.00
Nature Workshop Activity Center
A variety of workshops will be offered to anyone who comes to the Kalapana Hawaiian Cultural Center. We will have guided tours around our Nature Walk Trail, hold workshops that include all types of lei making, traditional Hawaiian food preparation, imu construction, study of native plants, building process of traditional Hawaiian style hale, Hawaiian slack-key guitar and ukulele lessons, and many other interesting activities.
Estimated cost of this project: $1,500.00

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