In 1848, as a result of the Mahele, all land in the Hawaiian Kingdom was placed in three categories: The Lands of His Majesty King Kamehameha III which became the Crown Lands (for the preservation of the crown), the lands of the Chiefs and Konohiki, and the Government Lands, which was later to be awarded to Hoaʻaina (native Hawaiians who cultivated the land they live on) known as Kuleana Lands.
The crown lands constitute a trust created by King Kamehameha III out of his personal and individual estate of nearly one million acres to maintain the state and dignity of the crown. The income is used for the sole prerogative of the reigning sovereign and has never belonged to the Hawaiian government.
It was the intention of His Majesty King Kamehameha III to protect the lands which he reserved to himself out of the domain which had been acquired by his family through the prowess and skill of his father, King Kamehameha the Great, the conqueror, from the danger of being treated as public domain or government property. It was also his intention to provide that those lands should descend to his heirs and successors, the future wearers of the crown which the conqueror had won.
The 1865 law noted that the Crown Lands “shall be henceforth inalienable, and shall descend to the heirs and successors of the Hawaiian Crown forever”.