Land And Community 1850s-1878
In addition to greatly influencing the economic, religious and educational practices of native Hawaiians, Westerners also transformed the ancient Hawaiian land system. The Great Mahele of 1848, implemented by Kamehameha III, established a system of private land ownership for the first time in Hawai`i. Over time, land was divided up between the king, the government, chiefs and native Hawaiian commoners.
By 1855, the deadline for commoners to apply for land grants, Hawaiians in Olowalu had legally claimed 50 of what were termed kuleana
parcels, consisting of approximately 115 acres of valuable arable land. Hawaiians utilized these kuleana
s to continue traditional agricultural practices, though sometimes in a more Western manner. For example, a hui
(group) of Olowalu kalo
growers, formed the Taro Planting Company. Other Olowalu residents never laid claim to land they occupied or lost kuleana
land by selling it to non-Hawaiians eager to accumulate property. A law enacted in 1850 had granted foreigners the right to own title to land. By the time a census was taken by the Hawaiian government in 1866, only 13 Hawaiians stated they owned kuleana
land in Olowalu.
The 1866 census indicated the population of Olowalu had further decreased to 169, a 76 percent drop from 1836. Every resident was full-blooded Hawaiian, except one hapa haole
(half-Hawaiian, half haole)
. The predominant occupation reported on the census was mahi`ai
, or someone involved in agriculture. The census also indicated the presence of 21 head of cattle.
The 1878 census conducted by the Hawaiian kingdom counted 231 people living in Olowalu, a 37 percent increase since 1866. Although Olowalu's overall population had increased, its Hawaiian population had decreased. Only 118 Hawaiians and nine part-Hawaiians lived in the valley.
Demographically, Olowalu also shifted in favor of males; 77 percent of the population was men because of the import of Chinese plantation laborers. Hawaiians remained the majority population by only a small margin, as they comprised 55 percent of the total. Most native Hawaiians practiced agriculture; some worked in skilled or other occupations; and only nine worked for the plantation as laborers.