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New Maui book reveals untold history of Māʻalaea with rare photos, maps, illustrations

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A rare photograph showing troop landing ships in Mā’alaea waters practicing for their invasion of Saipan during World War II are among many archival items displayed in the book “Mā’alaea: The Untold Story of Maui’s Historic Crossroads.”

What began as a slide show three years ago at a community event has turned into a gem of a book about Maui history: “Māʻalaea: The Untold Story of Maui’s Historic Crossroads.”

“The slide show was just so amazing,” recalled Lynn Britton, president of the Māʻalaea Village Association. “It’s really a treasure trove of history. I said we just have to have it in a book.”

The result is a 190-page book with more than 240 photographs, illustrations and maps—some of which will be on display at a book release celebration at the Maui Ocean Center on June 29, from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

Registration is required at the Maui Ocean Center or the public can watch the celebration on livestream at by clicking on the “live” tab.


Author Lucienne De Naie, who presented the slide show, and editor Rita Goldman will be on hand with the many people who rallied behind the book project. De Naie will sign books at the Maui Ocean Center’s Ocean Treasures gift shop from 7 to 8 p.m.

Lucienne De Naie

De Naie, chairperson of the Sierra Club Maui Group and vice president of Maui Tomorrow, has an interest in a the history of Maui and its environment. She said Hawaiian expert Ed Linsey was the first to get her interested in looking at the history of Māʻalaea. De Naie has helped to research other histories of Maui regional areas such as Mākena, but this is her first published book.

The book is a delicious slice of natural history and the human migration upon a fertile land that had koa trees in the upslope of Kealia Pond 1,000 years ago, taro paddies in mountain valleys, an airfield, a harbor where seaplanes delivered mail and beaches where marines practiced landings before their invasion of Saipan in World War II.

Just as importantly, it has profiles of distinguished area residents, including renowned botanist Isabella Iona Abbott, the first Lady of Limu of the Bishop Museum, A&B executive Robert Bruce, Territorial Judge Wendell Crockett, Shinto Revs. Masao and Torako Arine, and hapa-Hawaiian descendants of Irish-born attorney George Richardson.


De Naie said a major challenge was to gather information during the COVID-19 pandemic when libraries and other institutions were closed. She credited Britton with helping her open doors to archives and working with then Councilwoman Kelly King to secure $15,000 in Maui County funds to help get the book published.

Divers examine a bomber sunk in Māʻalaea Bau during World War II. Photo Courtesy of UH Marine Option Program and Kuwabara.

There are nuggets of facts that bring a deeper understanding of Hawaiian culture, including an explanation by researcher Hokuao Pelligrino of the boundaries of the traditional ahupua’a land division of Waikapu, which included the coastal lands of Māʻalaea—a sustainable system from the mountains to the sea.

Part of the name of Māʻalaea refers to the red clay “alae” that was once gathered from its rocky formations on land, and in the sea.

Copies of the book will be provided to schools and libraries in Maui County.


For more information on “Māʻalaea: The Untold Story of Maui’s Historic Crossroad,” contact the Māʻalaea Village Association at

The book, with graphic design by Patti Narrowe and book cover by Cynthia Conrad will be sold at the Ocean Treasurers gift shop and online at

It also will be available at the A&B Sugar Museum, Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Māʻalaea General Store and the Lahaina Restoration Foundation. Native Books on Oʻahu also will carry the book.

Gary Kubota
Gary Kubota, an associate writer with, has worked as a staff news writer with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and The Maui News. He lives on Maui. He’s also been an editor/business manager with the Lahaina News. He’s received national and regional journalism awards — a National Press Club Citation of Merit and Walter Cronkite Best In The West, among them.
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