Kamehameha Schools is the incredible 125 year-old legacy of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. Their ambitious goal is to educate children of native Hawaiian ancestry from preschool to 12th Grade. They have private school campuses on Oahu, Maui, and The Big Island of Hawaii. Public Schools also benefit from the trust’s largess.
Kamehameha Schools is Hawaii’s largest private landowner with some 365,000 acres on The Big Island, Maui, Molokai, Oahu, and Kauai. They own the choice land in Waikiki that is the site of the iconic Royal Hawaiian Hotel and the associated upscale Royal Hawaiian Center retail complex.
Over 181,000 acres of this land is agricultural. 88,000 acres represents high-potential agricultural lands that require respectful stewardship. One of their new initiatives is to support value added agriculture with entrepreneurial leaseholders of their land. Two out of three coffee estates in the Kona area, for instance, are on Kamehameha Schools leased land.
Les Apoliona, is the land asset manager for the north Kona district for the Land Assets Division of Kamehameha Schools. One of his objectives in managing the Kamehameha Schools agricultural land is to encourage farmers and ranchers to grow and raise basic foodstuffs efficiently thereby making The Big Island more self sufficient in the production of food. Les has a background in food service and hotel management and is well-known in the restaurant community of The Big Island. Les has lived in Kona for over 21 years and is a KS alumnus.
On the North Shore of Oahu one of their pilot projects is on former sugar cane land in Punalu’u. KS has created a basic infrastructure there for the farmers including irrigation. One enthusiastic young farmer is growing taro and selling all he can produce/harvest at the local farmers’ market. He also has a test project raising tilapia in clean fresh water ponds on the property.