The Lâna’i Culture and Heritage Centre is a non-profit charitable community organisation that seeks to inspire people to be informed about Lâna’i’s natural history by preserving, interpreting and celebrating it.
In 1862 there was a population of around 600 living on Lâna’i. A missionary named Walter Murray Gibson arrived on the island, along with other followers of the Mormon church, to establish a colony. The native New-Zealander was a leading ornithologist and a self-trained botanist. Three years after his arrival he was excommunicated for allegedly misusing church funds and he turned his focus to ranching. He consolidated 26,000 acres of land to form the Lâna’i Sheep Ranch in the area of Keole.
During his time on the ranch Munroe noticed that a Norfolk pine dripped water onto the roof of the ranch house and realised that these trees collected water from the fog and clouds. As a result he planted pine trees across the island to restore its watershed and improve the ground-water supply. These trees are now the island’s landmarks and are visible from Maui.
In 1899 James Drummond Dole arrived in Hawaii. He had recently gained his degree in Business and Agriculture at the University of Harvard and was eager to prove that Hawaii could take part in the boom times for farming that were sweeping across America. He bought 61 acres of land in Wahiawa, Oahu and established the first pineapple plantation. Although he was not the first person to grow pineapples in Hawaii, he was the first to realise their tremendous potential and he soon became known across America as the Pineapple King.
As the demand for pineapples grew so did the need for more land and Dole purchased Lâna’i in 1922. He transformed the island into the largest pineapple plantation in the world, with 20,000 farmed acres and a planned plantation village to house over 1,000 workers and their families. For nearly 70 years Lâna’i supplied more that 75% of the world’s pineapples and became widely known as ‘Pineapple Isle’.