The first koa tree was brought to the islands by the ancient Polynesian voyagers. The ancient voyagers settled in the Hawaiian island chain once known as the Sandwich Islands. The Hawaiian archipelago was named in 1778 by Captain James Cook, who named the islands after the British Earl of Sandwich [https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/5014763.pdf]. Koa wood was used to make weapons and tools by the ancient Hawaiians. The wood was also used to build canoes and furniture [https://www.nps.gov/hale/learn/historyculture/hawaiian-tools.htm]. Koa wood is still prized by Hawaiians today.
The koa wood is solid and was used to make weapons such as spears, bows, and arrows. The koa tree is also a very important tree to the Hawaiian culture and is considered to be a sacred tree [http://nativeplants.hawaii.edu/plant/view/acacia_koa/]. In addition to weaponry, koa wood is so strong that it was applied in making a canoe, the gunwale. The gunwale is a typical boat building component to build and secure the widened edge at the top of a canoe or boat hull [http://npshistory.com/publications/nhl/theme-studies/hawaii-aboriginal.pdf].
The once abundant koa trees of Kona were used to make large ocean-worthy canoes by expert Hawaiian canoe carvers known as kahuna kalai wa'a [https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED198032.pdf]. In addition, the koa wood was used to make paddles for canoes, spears for fishing and hunting, and weapons for warfare [https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/882877]. Besides locations known as wao koa, a sacred and highly revered area of the forest where koa trees grew large enough to be made into suitable canoes [https://espis.boem.gov/final%20reports/5621.pdf]. Koa was also used to construct religious temples, and the wood was believed to have magical and spiritual properties. Koa was so valued that only royalty and the highest chiefs were allowed to use the wood, and koa forests were carefully managed and protected under the ancient Hawaiian monarchy ahupua‘a land use system http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/pubs-online/strm/04-Mueller-Domboisr.pdf.
Hawaiian koa wood ring
Acacia koa trees are ecologically, economically, and culturally significant to the Hawaiian Islands. Koa wood is one of the most valuable species in the world. The sale of koa products represents a majority of all the Hawaiian wood products sold by Hawaiian retailers [https://www.fs.fed.us/nrs/pubs/jrnl/2017/nrs_2017_wiedenbeck_002.pdf]. The market value of koa wood may appear to be much more variable than expected because the value of koa wood is highly dependent on the color of the heartwood and whether the curly figure is present in the milled cut To date, the most valuable koa wood product has been estimated at $16,000 per ton [https://www.environment-hawaii.org/?p=516].
curly koa wood
The value of koa wood can skyrocket, especially for the Hawaiian hardwood's deep rich colors and varied grain patterns, which are masterfully carved into artisan pieces are appraised as valuable cultural artifacts such as an ancient Hawaiian umeke poi calabash bowl valued between $20,000 to $30,000, back on August 26, 2006 [https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/season/11/honolulu-hi/appraisals/umeke-poi-calabash--200606A22/]. Koa wood is a tropical hardwood found in Hawaii and is a prized material due to its unique coloration. Its popularity grew after approximately 1870, with the construction of the Hawaiian royal family’s Royal Mausoleum. In 1930, the king of Hawaii commissioned noted architect Robert Charles Lee to build a tomb for Queen Liliuokalani. The king’s ring, a koa wood ring valued at more than $200,000, is the only remaining artifact from the mausoleum.
Hawaiian koa wood watch
The Hawaiian Islands have long been known for their beauty and culture, but not everything is rainbows and lollipops there. Hawaii's forests are under threat, and Hawaiian koa wood is in great danger. The wood comes from a tree that grows in abundance in Hawaii, but wood from Hawaiian koa trees is on the critically endangered list, with fewer than 5,000 trees left.
The koa tree (Metrosideros polymorpha) is an evergreen tree, native to Hawaii. The name "koa" means "hard wood" in Hawaiian. The koa tree is the national tree of Hawaii. The koa tree is not new but is very popular as a woodworkers hard wood project for Hawaiian themed heirloom items.