Mary and Sam Cooke

Celebrating Hawai'i's Natural, Historic, and Cultural History

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Mary and Sam Cooke have long given their time, energy, and financial support to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, as well as countless local efforts to protect the diverse historic and cultural treasures in their home state of Hawai'i.  They are also bringing their deep, shared commitment to historic places to a landmark linked to their own family's history, through the Manoa Heritage Center

Founded in 1996, the Mānoa Heritage Center's mission is to promote the thoughtful stewardship of the natural and cultural heritage of Hawai'i. The unique site consists of Kūka'ō'ō Heiau (an ancient Hawaiian temple), a Native Hawaiian garden and the historic home Kūali'i. A valuable educational resource in the community, the Center is visited frequently by school children, university students, community members and tourists. 

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Mānoa Heritage Center

The historic home, Kūali'i, tells the fascinating story of a kama'āina family in Hawai'i. Built in 1911 by Lila and Charles Montague Cooke Jr., Samʻs grandparents,  and named for a great O'ahu chief, the home and gardens evoke the graciousness of Hawai'i's past. The Tudor-style residence, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was designed by Honolulu architects Emory and Webb and built with stone quarried on the site. For nearly a century, Kūali'i has been a grand residence and significant Mānoa Valley landmark.

For hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, Kūka'ō'ō Heiau has watched over Mānoa Valley. Said to have been originally built by the Menehune, a legendary group of early settlers, this Heiau reflects the long and dynamic history of the Hawaiian Islands. Historical evidence suggests that the Heiau eventually became an agricultural temple of the māpele class dedicated to the rites and rituals surrounding food productivity. Restored in 1993, Kūka'ō'ō Heiau survives as the last intact Hawaiian temple in the greater ahupua'a of Waikīkī and remains an extraordinary link to the past.

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Kukaoo heiau

Surrounding Kūka'ō'ō Heiau is a Native Hawaiian garden featuring endemic and indigenous plants as well as Polynesian introductions. Many of the plants in the garden are on the endangered species list, and others are threatened or at-risk species. Through the Native Hawaiian garden, the Mānoa Heritage Center preserves native species and promotes an understanding of the useful and beneficial properties of plants.

Thanks to the vision and strong leadership of Mary and Sam Cooke, along with the support of friends and philanthropic leaders, the Center will preserve and interpret the natural and cultural history of Mānoa Valley for generations to come.