Pāhala, Hawai'i

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Pahala (Hawaiian: Pāhala[1]) is a census-designated place (CDP) in Hawaii County, Hawaii, United States. The population was 1,378 at the 2000 census.



Pahala is located at 19°12′15″N 155°28′44″W / 19.20417°N 155.47889°W / 19.20417; -155.47889 (19.204109, -155.479005).[2]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 0.8 square miles (2.2 km²), all of it land.


Pahala was created by a sugarcane plantation. The area selected to house the sugar refinery had several key features:

  • a flat plateau on a sloping mountainous region.
  • direct access to a water well
  • a strategic central location to sugarcane fields.

In Hawaiian, Pāhala refers to the ashes of leaves from the hala tree (Pandanus tectorius). Long ago, when cracks were found in the sugarcane fields, workers would stuff them with hala leaves and burn them.

For years, Pahala consisted of a managers house, several plantation homes, a general store and the sugar refinery. Many of the sugarcane workers were housed in small camps in and around Pahala and in camps situated throughout the outer lying sugarcane fields. Many of these camps were self sufficient. They consisted of 8 to 12 plantation dwellings with a small store. Some camps had specialty shops such as a blacksmith or a simple barbershop. As time passed some installed gas stations.

In 1881, the first public school in the district of Kaʻu was established in Kapapala. The humble campus consisted of just two buildings. Some years later the school and its two buildings were relocated to Pahala and called Pahala High and Elementary School. In 1959, as Hawaii Territory became the State of Hawaii, the last class of the Pahala High School held commencement ceremonies. The school then became Kaʻu High and Pahala Elementary School. Kaʻu High and Pahala Elementary School is the second oldest public school in the state of Hawaii, behind Lahainaluna School in Lahaina. Still in use today at Kaʻu High is Kapono Building, the oldest public school building west of the Rocky Mountains. The only other public school in the district of Kaʻu is Naʻalehu Elementary and Intermediate School. Naʻalehu once had a high school. Today, students attend grades Kindergarten through 7th grade at in Naʻalehu.

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