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Aerial view, Kiholo Bay, Hawai'i island.
Angus Mitchell, son of the late hairdressing and Awapuhi hair care product icon Paul Mitchell, and current co-owner and artistic director of John Paul Mitchell Systems and owner of the Angus Mitchell Salon, Beverly Hills, has donated a seven-acre Hawaiian coastal property, valued at $6.5 million, to The Nature Conservancy.
The idyllic property, located at Kīholo Bay on the spectacular North Kona Coast of the Island of Hawai‘i, features freshwater-fed pools and native plants and marine life in an area known for the historic fishponds of Kamehameha I. Paul Mitchell, who acquired the land in the late 1980s while battling cancer, intended to build his dream home there, but died in 1989 before realizing his vision.
“My dad shared his love of Hawai‘i with me, and I fell in love with this beautiful land,” said his son, Angus. “This parcel was my father’s Eden—his Shangri-La. He thought it was the most beautiful spot on Earth, as do I. This land evokes a wonderful spiritual energy and beauty, and I believe I can best serve his intentions by having this land protected in perpetuity. Although it is difficult to let this Kīholo land go, it is my love of Hawai‘i that makes it feel right to donate it to The Nature Conservancy. The love for Hawai‘i will live on in the Mitchell family for generations to come.”
Suzanne Case, Hawai‘i executive director for The Nature Conservancy, called the Kīholo Bay property “a rare treasure. We all thank Angus Mitchell deeply for this extraordinary gift to Hawai‘i. The Nature Conservancy is very honored and humbled to play a role in the long-term care of this incredible place,” she said.
The Kīholo property is covered by two large, interconnected freshwater spring-fed pools which contain habitat for native species such as hapawai (mollusk) and `opae (shrimp). The ponds are connected by a 200-foot-long ‘auwai, or stone channel, to Kīholo Bay, which is rich with marine life and has a resident population of green sea turtles, which use the inland ponds to feed and rest.
The Kīholo Bay parcel hosts threatened, migratory shore birds, and abuts Kīholo State Park and a few small private landholdings. It is a culturally important site to native Hawaiians, especially those who continue to live in the area and trace their ancestry back to the land. The area is currently under the stewardship of the non-profit group Hui Aloha Kīholo.
“We are grateful for Angus Mitchell’s generosity and vision for the greater good of our beloved Kīholo,” said Ku‘ulei Keakealani, the group’s representative. “We have always dreamed of restoring these important ponds. We look forward to continuing the enhancement and stewardship efforts in this wahi pana, or storied place, and we welcome The Nature Conservancy and its honorable missions to this effort.”
According to Case, current caretaking of the property will continue, and over the next few years The Nature Conservancy will work closely with Hui Aloha Kīholo, the State and other stakeholders to determine the best long-term stewardship for the land.
Kīholo Bay is located along one of the most beautiful and remote stretches of coastline on the Island of Hawai‘i. Indeed, the area was once coveted by Hawaiian chiefs for its rich marine life—its productive nearshore reefs and offshore fisheries, its fishponds and anchialine pools.
Early Hawaiians developed an important fishpond near the site that was used for food production. According to Hawaiian legend, during the 1801 eruption of Mount Hualalai, lava was advancing toward Kīholo when King Kamehameha I, trying to appease the fire goddess Pele, tossed a sacrificial pig in its path. Pele, who had come in pursuit of ‘awa and mullet in the fishpond, accepted the offering, and the flow ceased. But decades later, in 1859, when Kamehameha was no longer living, Mauna Loa erupted, filling the nearby fishpond with lava.
In the late 1800s, the property was acquired by the Hind family, who cared for the ponds and planted a majestic grove of coconut trees near the shoreline. The Hind family sold the property to Paul Mitchell in the late 1980s, a critical time in his life.
“The property became a comfort to him and a place of healing as he fought cancer,” said Angus Mitchell. “During these months, he spent much of his time and energy planning the construction of his home and the restoration of the fishponds. Sadly, he didn’t live to realize that dream.”
The property was held by the Paul Mitchell Estate for many years until its transfer to Angus Mitchell, the estate’s sole heir. After much thought and contemplation, Angus decided to donate the property to The Nature Conservancy.
This is the second donation of Hawai‘i lands once owned by Angus’ father Paul Mitchell, following an earlier donation of a cultural site to a local non-profit.
Angus Mitchell, now 41, has followed his father into the hair care industry. He is owner of the Angus Mitchell Salons and co-owner of John Paul Mitchell Systems & Schools, a multi-million dollar enterprise that trains future stylists and markets professional hair care products.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.