Maui News

Mayor proposes to buy former ʻIao Valley Lodge from Hawaiʻi Nature Center for $1.5M

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PC: Ke Kula ʻO Piʻilani.

Mayor Michael Victorino transmitted a proposal to the Maui County Council to purchase the acreage and the structure that was the former ʻĪao Valley Lodge in ʻĪao Valley for $1.5 million from the Hawaiʻi Nature Center.

The property will be leased to the Ke Kula ʻo Piʻilani, Hawaiian Language and educational program, which currently uses the site for Hawaiian immersion education.

Students of Ke Kula ʻO Piʻilani PC: Kim Thayer (file 2019)

Ke Kula ‘o Pi’ilani is a nonprofit, private and independent elementary school, founded in 2016, that is grounded in the language, values, and wisdom of kūpuna.


“Pi’ilani strives to inspire a life long love of learning by cultivating an enriching environment in which diverse students grow to be united, confident and globally competitive servant leaders, who think critically and creatively to contribute to the betterment of Maui, Hawai’i and the world,” school administrators said in a past school announcement.

Ke Kula ʻO Piʻilani utilizes place-based cultural education to revive ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi and shape students through the innovation and ingenuity of Hawaiian culture.

“We want to ensure that this program continues,” said Mayor Victorino in a press briefing announcing the proposed purchase on July 29.

PC: Ke Kula ʻO Piʻilani.

Kekai Robinson, Poʻo Kula for Ke Kula ʻo Piʻilani, said this will allow the school to become longterm stewards for the site.

Kekai Robinson speaks at a County of Maui press briefing on Friday, July 29, 2022. PC: County of Maui / Akakū

“We will do our very best to be the best stewards in that place that we call home. We will build a home for our keiki into the future. ʻĪao means so much to the people of Maui, and especially to us, and we’d like to ensure that we can build pilina (connection/relationship/union) between our keiki and ʻĪao for many generations to come,” said Robinson.

Kaponoʻai Molitau, cultural advisor to the school said, “Definitely a wonderful day to stand before you folks with gratitude and with humble hearts and humble naʻau. Growing up in Hawaiʻi, my dad would always say nānā i Hawaiʻi kuʻu mau maka. Look at Hawaiʻi through my eyes, through the sense of my kūpuna.”


“Having the opportunity to have Ke Kula ʻo Piʻilani allows for that process to continue–to allow for our keiki to look at Hawaiʻi through the lens of our ancestors. This amazing program–Ke Kula ʻo Piʻilani, this amazing school–allows for the students to be raised in an atmosphere that they get to see these places for many generations to come,” said Molitau.

“It’s my wish and prayer that we continue to grow this legacy,” said Mayor Victorino.

Ke Kula ‘o Pi’ilani Open House, Friday, Feb. 7, 2020.
Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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