The End of Sugar: Land and Water Use Then and Now on the Hilo-Hamakua Coast

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Hakalau Jodo Mission

29-2271 Old Mamalahoa Highway

Hakalau, HI 96710

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As the first presenter in the Hakalau Jodo Mission's Aloha and Malama `Aina Series, sugarcane industry expert and Hakalau resident John Cross will provide the history for the land and water issues we face today from Hilo to Ninole. His background gives him a unique perspective. Consider this: it took the plantations a 150 years to amass the land and only 3 years to sell it to other owners! John Cross was involved in the industry before its demise and instrumental in the three year sell-off of cane lands afterwards.

He will cover the start of sugarcane cultivation at Amauulu, Hilo and then the expansion along the coast to Hakalau Plantation Company, including the history of land acquisition and the eventual re-distribution after the plantations closed, and how cane was cultivated, harvested, and then transported to the mills by flumes. He will share maps and photographs that show the array of stream intakes and diversions used to divert water into the transportation of cane, while none of the water was used for irrigation. Many of these intakes are still intact and of use today. He will briefly summarize ancient trails, government paper roads and the vast network of sugarcane easement roads that crisscross private lands. Finally, he will describe the modern day uses of the coastal lands, from Marijuana growing facilities, hydroelectric production, Botanical gardens, and adventure-tour attractions such as Ziplines and ATV tours.

John Cross was born in Hilo Hawaii, attended St. Joseph High School and graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with degree in Horticulture. He has spent decades in the sugarcane industry starting at Puna Sugar Company, then to Lihue Plantation, then to Mauna Kea Sugar where he stayed until the end of cane cultivation in 1994. After sugarcane he was retained by C. Brewer & Company to manage the real estate asset along the Hamakua Coast and in the Ka'u district. When C. Brewer & Company announced it would be liquidating all its operating companies and selling its land base, John was part of the sales team to transfer lands to others. After C. Brewer, John went to work for the Edmund C. Olson Trust as its land manager. In 2016 he left the full time employ of the Trust and is currently an independent land planning consultant. He continues to manage the Olson Trust Archives in Papaikou which contain all the land documents from C. Brewer & Company Ltd. from its inception in 1826 to its dissolution in 2008.

A donation of $5 to the Hakalau Jodo Mission is recommended.

Date and Time

Location

Hakalau Jodo Mission

29-2271 Old Mamalahoa Highway

Hakalau, HI 96710

View Map

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