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Hawaii's rich cultural history, & profound values are at the heart of everything we do. 

For hundreds of years, Hawaii's once-fertile reefs were once well managed by resource managers known as Konohiki. These leaders were the heads of land divisions under a chief (Ali’i). The Konohiki would manage land and ocean rights within a designated area. Experts in the land-ocean interface of their ahupua’a, the Konohiki would ensure the prosperity of their local resources. As a result of this careful stewardship,  healthy reefs and thriving fisheries helped sustain a self-sufficient Hawaiian population for more than a thousand years. KCR is seeking to re-establish the essence of this robust stewardship system through their work.

Culture &


Seaturtle laying on top of coral and sunlight above the waves

Culture & Values

“Hanau ka ‘Uku-ko’ako’a, hanau kana, he ‘Ako’ako’a, puka”

“Born was the coral polyp, born was the coral, came forth”

Our values are grounded in Hawaiian culture and the traditional knowledge shared across generations to mālama 'āina. These principles guide how we engage with communities, develop projects, and inform restoration.  


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Click to add your own text. To customize it click Edit Text. You can upload custom fonts, scale text, change heading tags and so much more. Get the exact look you want.


Click to add your own text. To customize it click Edit Text. You can upload custom fonts, scale text, change heading tags and so much more. Get the exact look you want.

Our Core Values
  • Kuleana (reciprocal responsibility) is established out of a deep relationship that exists between the natural world and kānaka maoli (native peoples of Hawai‘i).

    For kānaka, this kuleana starts at the very beginning and it starts with coral. In the Kumulipo (Hawaiian Creation Chant), coral is not only the first organism to be birthed, but it is – most importantly – one of the first ancestors to be birthed.


    Because the coral is an ancestor, kuleana is established. It is the kanaka’s responsibility to care, nurture and love the coral as any would a human ancestor, and it is the coral’s responsibility to protect, feed and love the kanaka. That is the reciprocal responsibility. That is the kuleana. 


    This kuleana doesnʻt just exist with the coral, but with all living things, even those others may deem inanimate, such as the wind, rain or earth. Everything contributes to and is a part of the functioning of their world, which is why the wind, rain and earth are seen as ancestors and named. It was like the natural world was being brought into their space. 


    Because kānaka lived in communion with their ancestors, the natural world, it was essential that they understood them for survival and daily life. This is where the practice of kilo arises.

  • Kilo (to watch closely, examine, forecast) is the practice of taking meticulous and detailed observations of the natural world around you and deeply understanding how all the elements, both above and below, work together to form this seamless ecosystem in front of you.


    In this way, kānaka can see the make-up of a thriving ecosystem and mitigate any problems when dysfunction erupts. This also allows kānaka to forecast, not through divine tellings, but through pure dedication to observation. Although, that is divine in itself – being so attune to your environment, you just know what needs to be done or what is coming.


    This same attention to detail is seen within the development and implementation of the ahupua‘a system of land resource management.

  • Ahupua‘a are pie-shaped land divisions that extended from the tip at the mountain top and broadened out into the sea, encompassing fringing reefs and sand-bordered bays. Not all ahupua‘a were divided or cut in the exact same way, however, each ahupua‘a were designed to sustain a flourishing population. It was believed that all the resources you needed were within your ahupua‘a. 


    Ahupua‘a were governed and managed by konohiki (head land stewards) who oversaw and directed the daily happenings within an ahupua‘a. They were the ones who pulled the community together for large scale projects, such as building or restoring lo‘i (irrigated terrace, especially for taro) or implementing orders from the chief. Although the konohiki governed these ahupua‘a, it was the maka‘āinana (people of the land) who farmed, fished and lovingly worked these ahupua‘a to bring about these abundant resources.


    Early estimates in 1778 predict that as much as 1 million kānaka thrived across this Hawai‘i pae ‘āina (Hawaiian islands) due to this flourishing and abundant ahupua‘a system. When the land is managed to maximize food production without depleting or destroying neighboring ecosystems within the larger ecosystem, you know that these kānaka paid attention to detail. 


    This detail and care was naturally placed in the flow of water through these ahupua‘a. The rain collected and gathered at the high mountain peaks, forming these source streams that flowed down the mountain. A small rivulet of that stream was then directed into lo‘i. The rivulet filtered through the individual lo‘i, providing nutrients and minerals from the uplands to their crops then was returned back into the larger stream to continue its natural flow down to the ocean to the reefs and fishponds.


    This simple process of water diversion is significant because it demonstrates kānaka understanding of the interconnectedness of ecosystems. Kānaka didn’t divert the entire stream into their lo‘i, but only a small rivulet. They understood that the crops, fishponds, and reef ecosystems below also needed the delivery of minerals and nutrients from above. Other plants and animals needed sustenance. Furthermore, when the small rivulet was returned into the larger stream, it added more to the water. Kānaka didnʻt just take for their crops, but made the water nutrient and mineral density better for those downstream. Everything fed off of each other, and kānaka understood that if their ahupua‘a thrived, they thrived. 

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