A Bit of PMKCA History
PMKCA was founded in the mid-1980s by residents of the mauka areas of Pa’auilo and Kalōpā who felt that they needed a community organization that could lobby the county government for services in our neglected area. Our current president, Joe Clarkson, was one of its founding members. At the time of PMKCA’s creation, almost all of the area below the highway, and some areas above the highway, were controlled by the Hāmākua Sugar Company. Pa’auilo Camp belonged to the sugar company, which controlled all the village infrastructure. The areas above the sugar cane fields were more often privately owned by farming and ranching families in the homestead tracts of Pa’auilo, Pohakea, Ka’apahu and Kalōpā. Hāmākua Sugar cared little about the upcountry area except to use the roads that gave them access to the smattering of sugar fields there. None of the roads in the association's area had names (often known only by the families who lived along them). In order to receive county services (road and bridge maintenance, improved electricity and water line maintenance), the roads needed to be officially named. The effort of naming the roads in our area became one of the first major projects of the newly formed PMKCA. Repaving of the roads followed, along with many other road improvement efforts, culminating in the association’s biggest road project, the Sand Gulch bypass road, now known as Apelahama Road, named after founder Abraham Ramos. Over the years, the original ranching families, especially the Ramos ohana (Eugene and Abraham) were actively involved with the association, overseeing the improvements in infrastructure for the mauka communities. Dolores Ramos, who passed away in February 2019, served as PMKCA’s president for many years. The years following the collapse of sugar cane production on the Hāmākua coast brought many changes to our communities, sometimes threatening the livelihoods and critical infrastructure that families relied upon, but often encouraging self-reliance and neighborliness. PMKCA played an important role in bringing the attention of local governmental agencies and public utilities to the needs of mauka communities. In addition to many smaller acreages that were a legacy of the early coffee industry in Hawaii, the established ranching and farming families continued a trend toward subdividing pasturelands and selling property to new residents who valued the clean air and beautiful vistas. Our communities have become a delightful blend of different ethnicities, traditions, and family histories. While some families have been here for generations and some for many decades, other families have joined our community only recently. PMKCA has always done its best to support the interests of the entire community. Our oral history DVD “Traditions and Family Values” (available for purchase) seeks to showcase the heritage of our community and to give new residents an appreciation of the generations of lives lived in mauka Pa’auilo and Kalōpā.