Maui Native Cultural Center Demolished in Fire

Maui Native Cultural, The Na ‘Aikane O Maui, Was Demolished by Wildfire Which Wiped Out Maui’s Lahaina Neighborhood.

Aug 24, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Maui Native
The Na ‘Aikane o Maui Cultural Center, destroyed by the Lahaina fire on Aug. 8, 2023. Photo Credit: Angie Diaz Photography


Maui native cultural center suffered a great loss of artifacts due to wildfires taking place. Overall, this event raised a concert about ancient territory. The Na ‘Aikane O Maui Cultural Center’s goal is to continue to develop a Native Hawaiian history and culture. Also, the center plays an important role in educating youth about art and in fighting for the rights over their ancestral territory.


Maui Native Center Lost Its Valuable Archives

Maui Native


The fire destroyed many cultural archives of this institution. There are wax-stamped, 19-century conveyances of the land, history-important feather cloaks, ancient maps… Also, there are legal records that could aided families in landowner conflicts. “It’s never going to be the same”, center founder, Ke’eaumoku Kapu said.


Kapu feels the struggle of his compatriots, best because he himself fought to recover the land of his ancestors from the investors in West Maui. This battle lasted many decades. The center lies on Front Street in Lahaina’s historic region. An 11,000-square-foot building was a sanctuary for the center. On Tuesday, Kapu attempted to secure the facility’s roof as the 80 mph winds increased, but the flames began to encroach.


Maui Native
Uilani (left) and Keeamoku Kapu run the Na ‘Aikane o Maui Cultural and Research Center. Deanne Fitzmaurice for NPR.


The center was a safe space where the Hawaiian community discussed problems affecting their people, examined artefacts from Polynesia, looked over historical records and provided meals for people. “That is all gone. The place is burnt down to the ground. All I could smell was the smoke and feel the heat. The heat was unreal. I told my wife we had to go”, Ke‘eaumoku Kapu said.

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King Kamehameha III Built His Imperial Palace on These Grounds

A sign “Lahaina Strong” is on a tunnel as you leave Lahaina. Deanne Fitzmaurice for NPR


King Kamehameha III built his imperial palace on the property in the 1800s, earning the area the designation of national historic treasure. The center was not the only community center on this land, but there were other civil organizations. But, together they created a united community for helping the less fortunate. All organizations appreciate Native Hawaiian culture.


Kapu opened the center in 2011. Before this, he had to fight a protracted legal struggle in order to restore possession of his familial land from well-known real-estate developers in the surrounding Kauaula Valley. Despite modest judicial advancement on the island towards the recovery of these ancestral estates, there is now more worry about builders acquiring the burned-out Lahaina homes from residents.


hawaii vineyard
The MauiWine Vineyard in Hawaii, photograph by Randy Jay Braun, via


Kapu and the neighbourhood organised a fundraiser in order to generate money for the cultural center’s reconstruction. Cultural specialists are worried about the loss of this institution of culture as well as many other nearby monuments, as the degree of the damage is still being documented.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.