Dating to a time when spring-fed canals flowed through Lahaina, and much of the area was a wetland, Moku’ula was a man-made island in the center of a pond that served as the cultural and spiritual center of the Hawaiian kingdom.
While the island was home to Hawaiian kings and queens, it was also said that a deity, Mo’o Akua Kihawahine, made her home in the surrounding waters. The site remained occupied – at least by people – until the 1890s.
The ponds and canals were eventually drained by the West Maui sugar plantations, and in 1914, the entire complex, including royal homes, mausoleum, canals, taro patches and fishponds, was buried. Today the site is considered one of the most important in Hawaiian archaeology.
The nonprofit Friends of Moku’ula is seeking to restore the site to the way it appeared in the 1840s.