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King Kamehameha III's Royal Residential Complex
Mokuʻula excavation site 1.jpg
Archeological site at Mokuʻula, September 2012.
Mokuʻula is located in Hawaii
Location Front and Shaw Streets, Maluʻulu o Lele and Kamehameha Iki Parks, Lahaina, Hawaiʻi
Coordinates 20°52′24″N 156°40′39″W / 20.87333°N 156.67750°W / 20.87333; -156.67750Coordinates: 20°52′24″N 156°40′39″W / 20.87333°N 156.67750°W / 20.87333; -156.67750
Built 1837
NRHP Reference #


Added to NRHP May 9, 1997

Mokuʻula is a tiny island now buried beneath an abandoned baseball field in Maluʻulu o Lele Park, Lahaina, Hawaiʻi. It was the private residence of King Kamehameha III from 1837 to 1845 and the burial site of several Hawaiian royals. The 1-acre (4,000 m2) island was and continues to be considered sacred to many Hawaiians as a piko, or symbolic center of energy and power.[2] According to Klieger, "the moated palace of Mokuʻula...was a place of the "Sacred Red Mists," an oasis of rest and calm during the raucous, rollicking days of Pacific whaling."[3] When the capital of Hawaiʻi moved from Lahaina to Honolulu, Mokuʻula fell into disrepair. By 1919, the county turned the land into a park. Efforts are currently underway to revive the site.[4]


It was added to the Hawaiʻi State Register of Historic Places on August 29, 1994, and to the National Register of Historic Places on May 9, 1997 as King Kamehameha III's Royal Residential Complex.

Loko o Mokuhinia[edit]

Mokuʻula was surrounded by Mokuhinia, a 17 acres (6.9 ha) spring-fed, wetland pond. The pond was reported to be the home of Kihawahine, a powerful moʻo or lizard goddess. According to myth, the moʻo was a reincarnation of Pi'ilani's daughter, the chiefess, Kalaʻaiheana. Hawaiians cultivated loʻi, or taro patches, and fishponds within Mokuhinia.[5]


Moku‘ula Restoration Projects, Lahaina

The Friends of Mokuʻula, a non-profit organization dedicated to restoration of the sacred site, formed in 1990. Members lead tours of the area. From 1992–1995 and in 1999, archaeologists from Bishop Museum and Heritage Surveys surveyed the site and documented its features and boundaries.


  1. ^ National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Becker, Nancy; Leonard Becker (1999). "Mokuʻula A Native Hawaiian Sacred Site is Being Restored". Preservation. Sacred Sites International Foundation. Retrieved 2008-07-14. 
  3. ^ Klieger, P. Christiaan (Jan 2003). "Mokuʻula: The King's Island". Maui No Ka ʻOi i Magazine. 6 (4). Retrieved 2009-08-17. 
  4. ^ Kubota, Gary T. (2003-07-10). "Group works to restore islet". Hawaiʻi News. Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 2008-07-14. 
  5. ^ Schonwalter, Helen Anne (2007-02-22). "Mokuʻula Reawakens". Features. Maui Weekly. Retrieved 2008-07-14. 

Further reading and resources[edit]

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