Waimea Valley is one of the last existing, mostly whole Hawaiian ahupua’a (village land tract) on Oahu. Waimea Valley is called, “The Valley of the Priests.” The descendants of Oahu’s high priests lived in the valley until the late 1800’s after caring for the land over 700 years. Waimea Valley was awarded to the the high priests around 1090 by the ruler of Oahu at that time.
The concept of ahupua’a is to divide land into pie slices from the ocean into the mountains. This gives the group living in each ‘slice’ everything they need to live, from fish and salt in the sea to water and wood in the hills. It also makes collecting taxes from each group a bit easier for the king. Much of Hawaii was divided up this way until into the 1800’s.
Today, Waimea Valley has a Hawaiian cultural center in it providing education and activities for both visitors and locals. There are also botanical collections, endemic wildlife, and archeological sites.