Maui County acquires 1.4 acres in ʻĪao Valley from Hawaiʻi Nature Center
The County of Maui announced today the acquisition of land parcels in ʻĪao Valley from the nonprofit Hawaiʻi Nature Center.
The purchase surfaced for discussion in July when 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 purchase includes existing structures and two parcels that total approximately 1.4 acres.
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.
Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino, Maui County Council members and representatives of the Hawaiʻi Nature Center joined students and faculty of independent Hawaiian Language School Ke Kula o Piʻilani to celebrate the acquisition.
On Aug. 5, 2022, the Maui County Council unanimously adopted Resolution 22-186 to approve the mayor’s requested budget amendment to apply Special Funds from the Economic Development and Cultural Programs Revolving Fund in FY23.
Ke Kula o Piʻilani currently holds a lease on the property through June 30, 2023. Upon conveyance of the property to Maui County, school administrators will negotiate a new long-term lease agreement with the County.
“During the early 1980s, the state restricted this land to educational use only,” said Mayor Victorino. “It’s a forward-looking purchase for Maui County. Helping to protect the home of the world’s only independent Hawaiian language school is both appropriate and pono.”
“We are humbled and blessed by this opportunity for our school community to be conscious stewards of this storied place,” said Kekai Robinson, Poʻo Kula (head of school). “We are deeply grateful for the gracious efforts of the mayor and the Maui County Council to help perpetuate Hawaiian language and wisdom into the future.”
Hawai‘i Nature Center will continue to operate its school break camps and environmental science programs at the property, as a tenant, with its popular Nature Adventure Camp slated for December during winter intercession.
In 1991, the Hawai‘i Nature Center acquired the property to establish a Maui center for place-based environmental science. Over the years, partnerships grew to include approximately 20 Maui schools. More than 20,000 keiki were educated during camps, field trips and weekend learning programs. Local students and visitors were also enriched through its natural science museum.
“We plan to use the proceeds to re-invest in our Maui programs to make environmental science even more accessible to schools and communities islandwide,” said Hawai‘i Nature Center Executive Director Todd Cullison.