Park changes names

  • Sen. Kai Kahele, left, and members of his family helped post a sign at Maunakea in honor of Kahele’s father, late Sen. Gilbert Kahele. Also present were DLNR Chair Suzanne Case, DLNR deputy Robert Masuda, Hawaii Island State Parks Superintendent Dean Takebayashi, and county representatives. Courtesy photo

HILO – The late Hawaii Island State Sen. Gilbert Kahele was a champion for the stewardship and improvement of facilities at the formerly named Mauna Kea Recreation Area.

During a private ceremony with the late Senator’s family and friends and public officials on the anniversary of his birthday Wednesday, a new entrance sign was unveiled changing the name of the popular Saddle Road park to the Gilbert Kahele Recreation Area.


“My father worked just down the road from the recreation area for 34 years as director of the Public Works Division at the Pohakuloa Training Area,” The late senator’s son, Sen. Kai Kahele, noted in a press release. “When he served in the state Legislature he was instrumental in achieving park improvements by way of the transfer of the management to Hawaii County. He would be deeply honored that a place he dearly loved now bears his name.”

The change was initiated by a Senate Resolution and approved by the Board of Land and Natural Resources on April 12.

Attending the sign unveiling, in addition to members of the Kahele family, were DLNR Chair Suzanne Case, First Deputy Robert Masuda, Hawaii Island State Parks Superintendent Dean Takebayashi, and County representatives.


“As someone who grew up on Hawaii Island, I’ve long been aware of Senator Gil Kahele’s professional and personal commitment to the people here,” Case said. “It is so nice to see his contributions memorialized in the renaming of the park. It is something the DLNR Division of State Parks and the Land Board supported completely.”

An official blessing will follow at a later date when memorabilia from the late Senator’s life will be added to the multi-purpose center at the Gilbert Kahele Recreation Area.

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