West Maui’s “hui” roads tell a tale

If you’ve been around West Maui much, you’ve probably run into the “hui” roads, like Hui Road E and Hui Road F. Where did these strange street names come from? I found an answer in a series of essays published in 1932 by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. They were written by Leslie Watson, a civil engineer who worked for Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. His articles included information about the Mailepai Hui, the area where the “hui” roads are located.

This map, on display at Kapalua Resort’s Kukui Room, shows some traditional ahupua`a of West Maui, including Mailepai.

In June 1860, Bernice Pauahi and Charles Bishop deeded this land to a number of individuals. This was the Hui ‘Aina o Mailepai (land partnership of Mailepai), an early example of a system Native Hawaiians established to maintain their traditional lifestyle. The traditional system had allowed people to gather resources from an entire ahupuaa, a land division that often ranged from mountain to sea, rather than being limited to their own little homestead, or kuleana.

This was important because the Mahele of the 1840s had divided the big ahupuaa among various people, ranging from the king to the nobles to the regular folks who received small kuleana parcels. Regarding the impetus for establishing hui ‘aina, Watson wrote:

The communal ideas, which had been developed through the course of centuries, were so deeply a part of the life of the Hawaiians as to make it but natural that the urge to continue such ideas should manifest itself; so shortly after 1850 the Hawaiian land hui was born. Thus it is evident that the fundamental reason for the huis was that ownership of an undivided interest in a large tract of land was far more adaptable to the Hawaiians’ needs and background than ownership in entirety of small parcels.

Watson went into detail about the Mailepai Hui:

Mailepai hui land consisted of a 2,825-acre tract in the district of Kaanapali, Maui, running from the sea up into the forest. The land was originally owned by L. Konia and was inherited by Bernice Pauahi Bishop. A certain Naiapaakai formed “Mailepai hui” for the purpose of acquiring the land. In 1860, the land was conveyed to Naiapaakai and 105 others, each of whom paid $25 for an undivided interest in the land. . . .

Mailepai hui was a well-organized hui and had regular meetings until about 1912, when interest in the hui waned. Ownership of various shares had changed hands over the years, and many owners had left the area. Alexander & Baldwin founder Henry P. Baldwin purchased many small pieces of land from hui members before his death in 1911, and eventually the land became part of Honolua Ranch. All these years later, we still use the names for the roads established back in the days of Mailepai hui.

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2 thoughts on “West Maui’s “hui” roads tell a tale

  1. Mele Ellen Stokesberry

    Jill, thank you for this article. It illuminates the important wisdom of early Hawaii land management and the sad loss of same.
    Mele S.

    • Jill

      Thanks, Mele. There were other land hui around the islands; lucky we have so much info on this one, thanks to the old newspaper articles.

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