History of the Waimea Valley
The history of the Waimea Valley on the north
shore of the island of Oahu in Hawaii.
In January of 2007 it was announced that the Audubon
Society had pulled out of negotiations with the Office
of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) over the awarding of a long term
lease to continue managing the Waimea Valley. One of the
conditions the Audubon Society would not agree to was that the
OHA would have hiring and firing authority over the park's
director. The Audubon Society's lease was scheduled to expire in late
2007 or early 2008 so that gave the OHA about a year
to arrange for new management of the valley.
The Waimea Valley Audubon Society employed about 40 people and had
a volunteer staff of about 500.
The last private owner of Waimea Valley lands, Christian Wolffer,
agreed to accept $14 million from a partnership of five government agencies and
non-profit groups and the OHA became the legal owner of the
A hearing was held on Wednesday, December 7, 2005
at the Honolulu Hale at 2:00 pm, so the Honolulu
City Council could vote on whether or not to accept
a settlement with a land developer that would
subdivide the Waimea valley and split it between
the developer and the city. Under the agreement,
the mountain section of the Waimea valley could
be used for building luxury estates and for the
development of an "eco resort". The city council
had previously been 5 for and 4 against in a vote
but at the December meeting they voted 9-0 in
favor of having an open trail.
In July of 2003 the National Audubon Society assumed management of
the Waimea Valley and they opened the Waimea Valley Audubon Center
within the valley. The City and County of Honolulu leased
Waimea Valley land to the Audubon Society and they also awarded
them a $500,000 grant to fund a cultural and archaeological
survey of the valley.
For more information see the
Audubon Society Waimea Valley Proposal. Earlier in
2003 the City and County of Honolulu began condemnation proceedings
against Christian Wolffer, the last private land owner of
the Waimea Valley lands.
The city and county of Honolulu took possession of the Waimea Valley
land, depositing $5.1 million in escrow with the courts to begin
When Christian Wolffer got no offers on buying Waimea Falls Park and
Sea Life Park, he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to
prevent the bank from foreclosing on the parks. The City and County
of Honolulu attempted to exercise eminent domain by condemning the
property and offering to buy it for $5.2 million.
Christian Wolffer put the valley land up for sale for $25 million. Later
he dropped the price to $19 million.
Christian Wolffer assumed a majority ownership of
Waimea Falls Park and Sea Life Park by assuming a $12 million
mortgage previously owned by a member of the Pietsch family.
He envisioned building 120 cabins on the valley floor along
with a wellness center and an aerial tram. He renamed the park
"Waimea Valley Adventure Park" and started offering
adventure activities such as all-terrain vehicle rides, paintball,
mountain biking, cliff diving, horseback riding, and other
adventure sports. Many north shore residents felt these activities
in the park violated one of Hawaii's most sacred and culturally significant
Waimea Valley Park opened to the public in 1974. That same year
the Bishop Museum conducted a survey and review of
cultural and archaeological sites in the valley.
The Bishop Corporation purchased land in the Waimea Valley
for $355,000 and established Waimea Falls Park.
The Mahele ended that control
Castle and Cooke purchased the land in Waimea
Canyon and leased it to cattle ranchers.
A flood destroyed the homes and crops of 1000 Hawaiians living in the valley.
King Kamehameha, who at the time was chief of Oahu, Maui, and
the Big island, gave control of the Waimea Valley to Hewahewa,
his top kahuna nui
Introduction to the Waimea Valley
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