Hookuaaina Rebuilding Lives From The Ground Up

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Hoʻokuaʻāina Blog

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Hoʻokuaʻāina Blog

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Hoʻokuaʻāina Blog

Moʻolelo: No Na Wahi A Na’lii E Makemake Ai E Noho I Ka Wa Kahiko Ma Ka Mokupuni O Oahu Nei

PAHUKINI HEIAU, KAOHIA, KAPAA, KAILUA, OʻAHU. Photo by Stokes, 1903. Bishop Mus. Photo Archives Coll. As cited in: Kelly, M. & Clark, J. (1980). Kawainui March, Oʻahu: Historical and Archaelogical Studies. Department of Anthropology, Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum

No Na Wahi A Na’lii E Makemake Ai E Noho I Ka Wa Kahiko Ma Ka Mokupuni O Oahu Nei
About the Places The Chiefs Enjoyed To Live In the Olden Days On The Island of Oʻahu

Kaualaʻa, Wailupe, Oʻahu, 24 Iulai 1865.
Ke Au Okoa, Volume I, Number 15, 31 July 1865 — Page 4


This article is from a Hawaiian language newspaper, Ke Au Okoa, and was published on July 31, 1865. In it, the author (Kalanikuihonoinamoku) describes various places chiefs lived in the days of old. In addition to descriptions of other areas, Kailua, Koʻolaupoko, Oʻahu is highlighted as a land abundant in fish and desired by the aliʻi.


Inquiry Questions

  1. What do we notice about the descriptions of ʻāina here in this moʻolelo? Do you recognize these place names? What are these places like today? 
  2. Based on the moʻolelo, what do we learn about the ʻāina in Kailua? Was it momona? How can we tell?
  3. What would it take to get the ʻāina back to this state?
  4. What life lessons might we learn from this moʻolelo? How might it connect with our ʻōlelo noʻeau?


  • Moʻolelo: History, story
  • Piko: Umbilical cord
  • Mokomoko: wrestling
  • Maika ʻulu: rolling stones through pegs
  • Paheʻe ihe: Sliding spears
  • Hoʻohākākā moa: Fighting chickens
  • Ke kūkini o ke kanaka: Racing as if it was a horse race
  • Ka hula paʻi pahu: Hula with drums
  • Ka heʻenalu: surfing

Inoa ʻĀina (Wind, Rain, & Place Names)

  • Kailua: Ahupuaʻa in the moku of Koʻolaupoko
  • Koʻolaupoko: Moku (district) on Oʻahu
  • ʻĀlele: Place in Kailua desired by chief Peleiōhōlani
  • Kaiāulu: Name of wind mentioned in the description of Kailua
  • Kawainui: Name of a fishpond in Kailua, currently referred to as “Kawainui Marsh”
  • Kaʻelepulu: Name of a fishpond in Kailua, currently referred to as “Enchanted Lake”
  • Kawaihoa: A cape
  • Keawahili: An area at Kawaihoa where Kamehameha had a residence
  • Makaliʻi: Hawaiian month name
  • Wailupe: Area in the Kona district of Oʻahu
  • Kauoha: An area in Wailupe on the east end of the cliff
  • Papaalaea & Niu: Place names of Wailupe
  • Mālualua: Name of a wind mentioned in the description of Wailupe
  • Kapueo & Kepoʻonui: Large homes in Wailupe built for chiefs
  • Kamanuʻena: An area mentioned in the description of Wailupe, known for firm sweet potato and large heiau
  • Hōliʻo: Name of rain mentioned in the description of Wailupe
  • Kaualua: Place on the western end of Wailupe, contains large pond enjoyed by chiefs
  • Waiʻalae: Area in the Kona district of Oʻahu
  • Kaluaʻonou: Area in Waiʻalae favored by chiefs
  • Waikīkī-kai: A part of an ahupuaʻa in the Kona district of Oʻahu
  • Moanalua: Ahupuaʻa in Kona, Oʻahu
  • Kānalua: A favored place of the chiefs in Moanalua
  • Kaloaloa & Māpunapuna: Areas of Moanalua, Kona, Oʻahu
  • Kūkaniloko: Place where chiefs would return to give birth and to leave their umbilical cord

Haʻawina (Life Lessons)

He mana kō nā inoa ʻāina a me nā moʻolelo o ka ʻāina (The names and stories/history of the land are powerful)

  • Throughout the article, the author shares the names and stories of various places on Oʻahu emphasizing their importance and reminding the reader of our need to remember and continue to share them.

Moʻolelo: Hāloa

HALOA - Kalo Leaves

“Wakea, Sky Father, and Papa, Earth Mother, had a beautiful daughter named Hoʻohōkūkalani. Hoʻohōkūkalani gave birth to a baby boy. Can you imagine her sadness when the child was stillborn? This child, a son, was named Hāloa which means long, eternal breath. The kūpuna (elders) whispered, “the child looks like a root.” The family wrapped Hāloa in kapa, placed him in a basket of woven lauhala, and buried him in the ʻāina.

Hoʻohōkūlani grieved the loss of her son, crying and mourning and watering the grave with her tears. Before long, a plant started growing from the same spot where the baby was buried. This plant with itʻs long stalk and heart-shaped leaf was named Hāloanakalaukapalili for its leaves that fluttered in the wind. It was the first kalo plant.

Hoʻohōkūkalani became pregnant again. This time, a healthy, thriving baby boy was born. He was given the name “Hāloa” in honor of his older brother, the kalo. Hāloa was the first Hawaiian person.

Hawaiians trace their roots back to Hāloa, thus stating that we are all “mamo na Hāloa,” or descendants of Hāloa. This creation story shows Hawaiian’s reverence to this primary food source and speaks to the sacred human relationship to the kalo plant, the ʻāina, and the rest of the natural world.”

(Hoʻokuaʻāina copyright)


In this moʻolelo, Wākea and Hoʻohōkūkalani have a child. When it comes time for that child to be born, they find that he, unfortunately, is without life, so they bury the baby outside of the hale. In their mourning, they are consoled when they find that out of the area that the child was buried, came forth the first kalo plant, which they name Hāloanakalaukapalili. Hoʻohōkūkalani becomes pregnant again, this time giving birth to a healthy baby boy, who they also name Hāloa, after his kuaʻana (elder brother). Hāloa the kaikaina (younger brother) becomes the first aliʻi and the progenitor of the Hawaiian people, establishing in the Hawaiian world the familial connection of all Hawaiians to kalo. In the moʻolelo, we are reminded of our kuleana (responsibility, privilege) as kānaka (people) to mālama (care for) kalo, who in turn will feed, care for, and nourish us. 


Inquiry Questions

  1. What does this moʻolelo teach us about the connection between kalo and kanaka?
  2. Based on the moʻolelo, how are kalo and kānaka meant to care for one another? How does Hāloa the kalo care for Hāloa the kanaka and vice versa? 
  3. What kuleana (responsibility and privilege) do kānaka have to care for ʻāina?
  4. What lessons can we learn from this moʻolelo? What does this teach us about aloha and respect? How might it connect with our ʻōlelo noʻeau?


  • Moʻolelo: History, story
  • Kuleana: Responsibility, privilege
  • Kuaʻana: Elder sibling of the same gender
  • Kaikaina: Younger sibling of the same gender
  • Mālama: To care for

Haʻawina (Life Lessons)

E mālama ʻāina (To care for ʻāina)

  • In the moʻolelo, Hāloa the kanaka has a kuleana to care for Hāloa the kalo, his kuaʻana or elder sibling. In return, Hāloa the kalo cares for and feeds his kaikaina (younger sibling). This is a reminder to us as kānaka of our kuleana (responsibility and privilege) to care for ʻāina as we would care for a family member.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Flattening The Curve

Aloha Mai Kakou,

I rarely communicate or engage in social media but felt compelled this morning to do so.

Every time I get up the day after a big flood like what happened yesterday, things seem to be a little surreal. I learned long ago as a kalo farmer that when it comes to flooding, there’s really nothing you can do about it. No sense panicking or worrying, Rather, just receive the life-giving water and the next day observe and assess how the water moved through the lo’i so as to mitigate, if possible, future flooding and the destruction that can come from it. But this morning was not surreal for me because of the flooding. It was surreal because of our experience of just returning home yesterday from Spain.

Most world experts agree that Spain is now the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. Michele and I were there for nearly the last two weeks because our oldest daughter Makana was doing a self-directed study for her last semester of college. Like most people worldwide, I had been tracking the outbreak, knew things were moving fast in Europe, specifically in Italy, and was aware that events could unfold quickly in Spain as well. Michele and I had planned the trip some time ago to visit Makana, but before leaving did not want to go. We could see the clouds forming on the horizon, but “sailed into the storm” because our concern was Makana’s wellbeing and her not being stuck there alone. Events transformed much faster than I thought they would. In short, it’s nearly a miracle that we’re all home today.

By nature, I’m not an alarmist or dooms dayer. I’m an optimist. My concern is not necessarily having the coronavirus, it’s that I could spread it to the most vulnerable in our community, our kupuna. We are self-isolating at home for the next 14 days and will not leave our property. Our three other kids have left and will be vagabonds for the next two weeks (they are being well cared for by others). I can’t express how important it is for us to practice the protocols that are most likely now mandatory in all of Europe. Understand that events are transpiring hourly, and our government is not going to be the one that protects us. We must!  We were told that upon arriving in the US that we would have to wait around 4 hours to be screened (understandable because our flight was coming directly from Spain), but all we did was fill out a form marking that we did not have a fever nor were exposed to anyone who had the virus. We passed through in less than 20 minutes! In other words, there are no real safeguards. Relative to Spain, landing in Miami, LAX and Honolulu was like being in a scene from the movie Titanic, where there is little sense of urgency about the danger.

Unlike when it floods in the lo’i, we can do something about the spread of the coronavirus. No need to panic or worry. But we must change our protocols. I lived in Europe for two years and liken much of the Italian culture to our own. Italians are social, love getting together, and are touchy-feely. I’m convinced that their initial lack of urgency about the virus coupled with their social norms and manner contributed greatly to the outbreak they are now suffering from. We must learn from their experience, take this seriously and momentarily go against our social graces of greeting one another with hugs, kisses, and honi. While it seems counterintuitive, living aloha in this time and season is practicing social distancing/isolation and following all the health precautions experts are recommending. We can mitigate the spreading of this virus and help protect our kupuna and ourselves. We don’t want what’s now happening in Europe today to be happening here in Hawaii tomorrow. And based on our experience, it can happen that fast! The kuleana is all of ours to be socially responsible. ‘A’ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia (No task is too great when done together by all).

May God bless and protect you, your ohana and our beloved Hawaii.

Me ke aloha pumehana,

Community Day with Global Village, Oct. 5, 2019

Featured Community Group Global Village

Global Village is a boutique in Kailua run by a mother and daughters’ team, Sharrie, Debbie and Dawn. The trio uses their business to facilitate awareness of Ho`okua`aina and raise money with their recyclable bag program. This is the fourth year that Global Village has incorporated their team, customers, vendors, and non-profit partnerships to celebrate another year in business at Kapalai Farm. At the end of their 24th anniversary week of sales and events, they chose to celebrate and host non-profit partners Ko’olau Clubhouse and Windward Sunrise Rotary in the mud.

Debbie said, “We like to share what Dean and Michele Wilhelm have created, a gathering place for people in the community to connect with and care for the ‘aina. Sharing these experiences with like-minded partners enhances the business relationship. It is an awesome experience.” Dawn adds, “The sense of fellowship created by being in the mud together, combined with the beauty of the farm is amazing. Our group always leaves feeling grateful for the opportunity and rejuvenated. It is a great way to start a new business year.”

Annual Appeals Letter from our Directors, Dean & Michele Wilhelm

Ho’okua’āina's Growth Chart for 2013 to 2018

November 24th, 2019

Aloha mai kākou,

Another year of connection, cultivation, and healing has flown by at Ho‘okua‘āina.  We often challenge the young people we work with to reflect on their year as a tool for self-assessment and a basis for future goal setting and growth.  The challenge now is ours to share highlights of 2019 as well as some of Ho’okua’āina’s ambitious goals for 2020–which we will need your kōkua to achieve.  

Hundreds of young people come to Ho’okua’āina each year desiring to create individual and community well-being through a return to the ‘āina, and we are committed to making a positive impact on their lives. The Kūkuluhou mentoring program, for youth ages 12-18 who are facing challenging life circumstances, remains the heart and soul of what we do.  Our Kupuohi education program also continues to blossom, with numerous teachers bringing their students to Ho’okua’āina four times a year to experience and learn from the process and commitment it takes to cultivate kalo. Our approach has always been to “go deep” in our instruction and relationships with young people rather than having one-off interactions.

In addition to our youth programs, we have hosted thousands of people from up the street as well as from around the world. Due in part to the extensive network we reach via social media (thanks to the amazing work of our Program Manager, Cassie Nichols), we often have trouble accommodating the growing demand of groups wanting to visit us at Ho’okua’āina. We see this groundswell of interest as a hōʻailona (sign or symbol) as more and more people are seeking ways to make connections with the ‘āina. Between demand for mentoring and learning by young people and visits by community groups, we’ve got our hands full. But this is a challenge that we embrace!

We would not be able to handle the tremendous growth of our work and impact without our crew of six co-farm managers and interns–who we now refer to as our “Fellows.” This year we made a concerted effort to build our Fellows’ capacity as leaders by offering a wide array of professional development trainings, having them manage all farm operations, including them in organizational decision making, and—so importantly—mentoring and teaching our young people and visitors. Our whole staff has stepped up, and we share with confidence that the future of our organization is indeed bright.  

We are seeking support for two exciting initiatives in 2020.  The first is to help us build a traditional Hawaiian hālau structure in our loʻi area.  The hālau will allow us to host groups down in a sheltered area in the taro patch instead of under a tent on our road, and the aesthetic beauty it will add to the loʻi will be like the “cherry on the top of a hot fudge sundae.” Much of the building materials we need have been given to us or will be gathered, but as in all building projects we need a buffer to cover unforeseen and under projected costs.  Our goal is to complete the hālau in time to host next year’s fundraiser on August 15th, 2020. 

The other initiative we invite you to support is the ‘Ahupua’a Systems Apprenticeship program Ho’okua’āina has developed with Windward Community College (WCC).  This program targets graduates of Windward District schools who are passionate about aloha ‘āina but may not have seriously considered continuing their education. Participants will receive tuition assistance for their schooling at WCC, which will include the choice of numerous ‘āina and sustainability courses. While in school, participants will do a paid internship at Ho’okua’āina (and other partner sites in Ko’olaupoko to be added)—getting hands-on real-world learning that supports the classroom curricula.  Ho’okua’āina will be participants’ family of support, holding them accountable to their kuleana and helping them ensure success in their higher education journey. The long-term goal of the program is to cultivate a cadre of young graduates who are connected to the place they are from, hold dear the values of aloha ‘āina, and become the future leaders of our community.

When we began clearing the dense hau bush that covered our ‘āina more than 10 years ago, we knew that passion alone couldn’t manifest our vision of a gathering place that would bring healing to people.  As we share with our young people, ʻaʻohe hana nui ke alu ʻia, no task is too great when accomplished together by all.  Your kōkua, your support, is everything.

Thank you for your interest in hearing from us and for your continued support.   We hope you have a wonderful holiday season full of joy and goodness.  

Me ke aloha nui,
Dean & Michele Wilhelm

Farm Update by Rachel Kapule – Co-Farm Manager

It’s hard to believe that 2019 is already coming to a close. This year was one of tremendous growth, both in the loʻi and in our organization. We harvested from Zack patch (patch #21) for the first time and were able to get about 3,000 lbs of kalo and over 250 lbs of lau. Patch #22, Jared KKP patch named after our Kūkuluhou program participants, was completely built out by them this quarter and has now been planted! Our goal has been to plant two patches per month, as we get ready for next year. More people like yourselves are choosing to eat kalo and so the demand is ever-increasing! We want to make sure there is always kalo available for you when you call us on the kalo hotline. Speaking of which, have you heard of the kalo hotline?! Now you can text us anytime (808-351-1666) with your raw kalo order. How awesome is that!

Recently, we’ve just shifted from the time of Kū to the time of Lono, and we’ve noticed this same transition within our loʻi. Usually, we find ourselves in an ongoing battle with the weeds; winning in one patch only to find them taking over another. But this time, things are a little different. When you look around the loʻi, everything looks in order. I mean there’s still plenty of work to do, but we aren’t chasing after those weeds. We’ve had some awesome volunteer groups and such productive workdays that we’ve been able to manage it all. Now I’m sure that by the time you read this, the weeds will be back and well established, but it was nice while it lasted. Weeding is one of the best activities for talking story with one another; it’s a relationship builder. This Fall, we were fortunate to be able to hire three interns and have also taken on a dedicated volunteer who comes just about every day. 

Outside of the loʻi, our poi production is getting more efficient. Our cleaning and bagging process is going smoother and so for the first time, we are waiting on the mill! We are looking into upgrading to a bigger mill that will speed up production even more! As a staff, we enjoyed a hilarious food safety certification class and can now say that we know the ins and outs and how to best keep our poi kitchen safe. We also went through safety training on how to properly use our chainsaws. We even got to see these new skills in action as our instructors for the day fell one of our biggest trees. 

A lot is in store for 2020. We have plans to finish building out all of our loʻi (2-3 more) and to construct a traditional hale that overlooks the patches. This will be a much prettier gathering place than our current heavy-duty tent! And a great place to host our guests for the bi-annual fundraiser on August 15th, 2020. Save the date! We look forward to seeing you on poi days or in the mud. Me ke aloha, Rachel

Ahupuaʻa Systems Apprenticeship (ASA)

ASA Program Ahupuaa System Apprentice

Summer 2019 marked the beginning of the pilot program with our first participants. Now with 1 semester under their belt, they are well on their way to achieving their goals. We have been working closely with WCC staff and counselors as well as with the participants to ensure that we provide the support needed for these youth to succeed.

Through ASA, students receive hands-on work experience, mentoring, and leadership development while working alongside peer mentors and experienced life coaches. Within the 2-year program, apprentices will receive well-rounded training and exposure to small business management, Hawaiian culture, agriculture, natural resource management, entrepreneurship, food and ahupua’a systems. In addition, they attend full-time courses at WCC to work towards earning an associate’s degree with a specialized certificate focused on ahupuaʻa systems. As a team, we have successfully submitted our proposed “Ahupuaʻa Systems: Indigenous Resource Management & Food Production” certificate to WCC’s curriculum committee for approval.

Our first official cohort will begin in the summer of 2020 with heavy recruiting in the Windward High Schools this spring. If you know of any graduating seniors who might be interested in pursuing higher education with hands-on experience in the loʻi, send them our way. Applications are located here.

Here’s what those currently in the ASA program had to say when asked, “How has Hoʻokuaʻāina impacted your life?”

“It showed me a whole new world I wasn’t introduced to in my childhood… and it showed me a true work discipline. It created a work environment so that way I can learn new skills so that way I can take it out to the real world.”

“Hoʻokuaʻāina has impacted my life in many ways. For the most part, the message that has gotten to me throughout this process was self-reflection. Uncle Dean has really stressed upon that- to always check what you’re doing and see what you could do better. I never really thought that I could do better in some of the stuff or how I carry my life, but it was good. It’s good to reflect…”

Kupuohi Update by Dani Espiritu, Education Specialist

True to its name, our Kupuohi Education Program has seen significant growth this year! Kupuohi means to flourish or to grow vigorously and is the name of our multi-visit education program. 

We are extremely encouraged by the increase in the number of schools participating in our multiple visit program. It was never our intention to be a once a year field trip destination. One of our greatest priorities is to build deep and meaningful connections with the kids so that they can, in turn, make the same with the ʻāina. We are happy to report that five classes are coming four or more times and eleven classes coming two or more times during the 2019-2020 school year.  This number has grown tremendously since last year. Because of the multiple times exposed to the Kupuohi program and the loʻi, we see students making the important connections we were hoping for.

Here are a few statements shared by our students:

“I felt like I really connected with the land and the people there. Everyone was very open and had fun conversations that really made me think about my future and how I could better connect with my culture through education.”

 “Before going to Hoʻokuaʻāina, I didn’t feel a connection with the land and Hawaiian culture. After going to Hoʻokuaʻāina, I realized that the land has a huge part to play in Hawaiian culture because the native Hawaiians had to live off the land in order to survive.”

“Nani ke Kalo. Beautiful kalo. I learned so much from this trip. I think forever ill {I’ll} be intreaged {intrigued}and wanting to know more about the Hawaiian culture and more about island food prodcuction {production}. I think in my future ill [I’ll] really want to make change and include these new ideas.”

In total, we have had the privilege of hosting 1702 students and teachers from 32 schools or institutions in 2019. Each visit is an opportunity for students and teachers to learn more about Hawaiian culture and values through moʻolelo (stories) and ʻōlelo noʻeau (proverbs), participate in protocol, and connect with ʻāina and one another through hana (work) and traditional kalo farming practices. After spending the first three quarters learning how to work and care for the ʻāina, students participating in all four visits learn about traditional and contemporary ways of preparing kalo and in turn, have the opportunity to enjoy the kalo they have been caring for all year. 

One of the most exciting things for us has been the opportunity to host the families of students we have built relationships with through the Kupuohi program. Families from Blanche Pope Elementary School, Mālama Honua Public Charter School, Hālau Kū Māna, and other Kupuohi program schools have the opportunity to visit Kapalai on special community days organized by the teachers outside of the school week. By participating, the whole family can experience all that their keiki (children) have learned over the course of the year in the loʻi. It’s an opportunity for each ‘ohana (family) to not only support their child and for the haumāna (students) to share their learning and connection with Hoʻokuaʻāina but also to build community with the teachers and other families.

A few quotes from makua:

“We get to spend some [time] doing something good for our community as a whole family. We get to learn more about our ancestors and what the land can provide if we take care. We appreciate hookuaaina for letting us experience the hard work they do. We are thankful to them for letting our keikis learn and participate in the loi…Having this program is something you folks are doing exceptionally well! My keikis can learn through hands on experience. They can learn what hard work is too.”

“I love how accessible your program is to kula and the community. The outreach to keiki is amazing and allows them to do meaningful work while learning about their culture and the food they grow and eat. This place was nourishing for the body, mind and soul! Mahalo”

“I’m so proud that my sons aren’t afraid to be submerged in the land. When we are in a place such as a lo`i, I like to imagine that the dirt we touch was once touched by one of our ancestors. Or, that I’m stepping in the exact same spot where one of our ancestors stepped. I like to feel any connection I can…I enjoyed our time at Ho`okua`āina. It was a beautiful day to spend with beautiful people and connecting with our culture.”

In addition to our classroom visits, we hosted a number of school personnel this year, including complex area superintendents, school administrators, teachers, counselors, and university professors all interested in learning more about Hawaiian culture and ʻāina-based education. Overall, we are encouraged by the shift we see in our Windward Complex Area and the interest they are showing in learning in and from ʻāina. It seems from administration down to the classroom there is an increased desire to get students outdoors and exposed to the excellent programs being held at various aloha ʻāina community partner sites. 

Quotes from teachers:

“Hoʻokuaʻāina provides experience and learning opportunities for my haumana to reconnect with their culture and their kupuna.  Through the work in the loʻi, students are able to appreciate the hard work, values, and lessons of haloa and the commitment to keeping the ʻāina momona.  While students have fun getting into the loʻi, they also recognize that this work is hard and important to our communities. The lessons from ʻāina momona materials were the perfect example our trimester learning about balanced resources and thriving communities in our modern day society….Along with the work done with our keiki, the language, moʻolelo, ʻolelo noʻeau, and oli/mele that the staff always strive to use when working with our class helps to showcase the importance of this living culture.  Students experience and witness Hawaiian values being used, the lessons and language brought to everyday life, and being surrounded in this environment strengthens and grounds my students in place and culture…I also appreciate the relationship building that Dani, Uncle Dean, and the “uncles” provide for my students when working and talking story in the loʻi. The mentorship and time to connect with confident kanaka has really provided the care and support that my young Waimanalo boys needed.”

“…having a place who’s willing and excited to have us come multiple times a year it really allows the kids to have a connection to place…If we had just come that one time…and that was their only experience in the loʻi, they would not have the same connection to this place and to kalo…It just makes a huge difference to come back.”

“Having multiple years visiting this site, our haumana have been able to build pilina with this space and with the people of Hookuaaaina. The lessons that Aunty Dani and the staff teach the keiki build upon their knowledge of moolelo, cultural values, and lessons from our past.”

Kūkuluhou Mentoring and Internships

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of 2019. I feel like it was just yesterday that we were beginning the new year completely rested from our downtime during the holidays. Yet here we are about to enter the holidays once again. My Christmas wish might be to make time slow down or to add a few hours to my day, I haven’t decided which yet.

We had another great year in our Kūkuluhou (KKLH) program with 34 participants. 28 of them came from the Ke Kama Pono Program in Kapolei and visited us on a weekly basis throughout the year for values-based coaching and hands-on life skills development. In addition, we had a total of 21 interns participate in our Spring, Summer and Fall 10-Week Internships, 4 of which were part of our new ASA, Ahupua’a Systems Apprenticeship program with Windward Community College. 6 interns remain in the top tier as our year-round co-farm managers that we now refer to as “Fellows”. They each play vital roles in all programming and mentoring of all the seasonal interns and apprentices. 

We started the year with the theme of ‘Onipa’a, to be steadfast. The boys took some time to reflect on their past year’s successes and identify areas where they could continue to make progress. We then asked them to focus on short- and long-term goals and how to best accomplish them helping to prepare for the life obstacles that routinely come up.

In the loʻi, they practice the values learned through their efforts by preparing and planting a kalo patch alongside our crew. Planting is normally a task only given to the farm managers, so it was a special day to be given the privilege to plant alongside our crew. Preparing a patch for planting helped to illustrate the idea of ‘Onipa’a or standing firm through difficult times and pushing through when obstacles get in their way. Over the year we’ve continued to instill our core underlying value of Nani Ke Kalo, Beautiful the Taro, the idea of respect for ourselves, for others and for a place, throughout everything we do. Another core lesson is Lōkahi, how to create balance and harmony in our lives. Our final focus was on He Wa’a He Moku, He Moku He Wa’a, (A canoe is an island, an island is a canoe) a study of finding ways to co-exist and thrive together as an island community with limited resources.

Several experiences offered to the Kūluhou participants outside the loʻi also help to strengthen and put into practice the values that they learn in the program. We participated in the Ku’i at the Capital for the third year in a row. It’s always a great experience and for a few, it was their first time to ku’i kalo. Food preparation is an important aspect of the program allowing the KKLH boys to learn simple and practical ways to prepare traditional foods. In addition to ku’i kalo, we made laulau and took advantage of ulu season by making ulu chips, a farm favorite! It might be a tie between laulau and ulu chips for the boys. While laulau is a loved staple, there is just something about the crispy on the outside, soft in the center ulu chips with Hawaiian salt that is super satisfying after a long day of work in the patch that we all love.

The highlight of the year for the KKLH participants was tasking them with building their own patch named on their behalf. It took months of perseverance to clear out the hau, remove the roots by hand, give the patch its shape, create the mounds and then to plant. The boys now take pride in knowing that Jared KKP patch is their very own. They built it from start to finish with their hands and can now care for the kalo until it is ready for harvest in the fall of 2020.

2019 has been a year of growth for our Kūkuluhou Program and we are so excited to see what 2020 has in store for us all.

Here are some quotes from current KKLH participants:

“I feel like I’m wanted here like this place means a lot cause people around over here helps me to do better for myself. I feel like I’m special here just being here my myself I’m special. It’s spiritual here you guys are putting your time into us when you don’t have to and that’s the best thing too feeling like we are wanted here that we deserve to be here not just cause we are Hawaii but cause we are part of the island.” – Cody, 16

“I see a lot of growth and it’s more positive. I don’t have an “I don’t care attitude” Cause I do care now. I feel good cause I have a plan on what I’m going to do. I feel good cause my mom them are more happy too and it makes me feel more good about myself. Like my mom them are happy that I’m doing good so I’m happy, I feel good” – Jayden, 16

“It’s not my behavior that’s changed it’s my attitude that’s changed. I see more clear, I see things around me as happy instead sad, dark depressing, I’m not really depressed anymore. I’m more happy I want to do things I want to help out.” – James, 15

On The Farm Q2 2019

Things tend to grow faster in the summer sun and here at Kapalai that fact holds true. We are only halfway through the year and we have already harvested 11,408 pounds of kalo. Spring and early summer are always busy times for us with everybody trying to get poi, kalo, and luau leaf for their graduation parties. The vast majority of our kalo goes to individual community members and families. We take pleasure in knowing that more and more people are craving kalo and want to include this nutritious staple in their everyday diet.

Our lo’i space itself is growing as well; we have begun to clear out our newest patch which will put us at a total of 22 patches in kalo production. This new lo’i is being built out largely by the boys in our mentoring program and will be named Ke Kama Pono in their honor. Ke Kama Pono is a residential program run by Partners in Development that has been participating in our Kūkuluhou Mentoring Program for three years now. An average of 14 boys per quarter visits weekly to learn and practice Hawaiian values through the growing of kalo. It is always a joy to watch these boys as they learn and grow themselves throughout their time here. I’ve seen boys who enter the program not wanting to do any work at all and as they begin to feel accepted and let their guard down, they become proactive in looking for work and asking how they can help. Some even challenge themselves to go beyond the norm and strive to do quality work. Each of them is valued and considered an important part of our ʻohana here at Hoʻokuaʻāina. They contribute much to the overall health of the loʻi. It is only fitting that they have a patch named after them.

Even our staff has grown as we have added 9 summer interns to our crew to bring our total number of interns to 15. Coming from all over the island and even from the mainland United States and attending university at various schools, these passionate individuals are all here for the same reason: to connect to ‘āina, be a part of a community, and learn about growing kalo. They are all proving to be good workers and bring great energy to the team. We love having new faces, new ideas, and fresh hands to help us with all our work and are looking forward to a great summer with them!

Zack Pilien, Farm Manager

Written By Zack Pilien,
Farm Manager

Kūkuluhou Mentoring Program

This quarter we said goodbye to a handful of participants as they completed their time in our weekly mentoring program and have now returned home to their families. It is always sad to see them go but the ultimate goal is for them to transition out of the program, reintegrate with their families, and practice living life equipped with some of the skills they have gained over the course of their time with us. Our next wave of participants was welcomed early this summer and is transitioning into the program nicely. With the shifting of the tide, we returned to our grounding lesson, Nani Ke Kalo (Beautiful the Taro). Rooted in the overall value of respect, the theme of Nani Ke Kalo is used as a guiding principle of all interactions done in and around the lo’i. Respect starts from within. Loving and caring for oneself is needed in order to be able to care for anything else. It’s always nice to regroup and remind ourselves how we should carry ourselves not only around kalo, but in our everyday interactions. Uncle Dean’s favorite analogy is, “You know when you’re driving down the road and someone cuts you off. You get mad and want to throw them the extra special shaka sign (insert fun Uncle Dean facial expression). Instead just think to yourself, “Nani Ke Kalo” and take a breath.”

When asked, “How do you practice Nani Ke Kalo towards yourself”, we heard answers such as, “I take a shower every day” or “I brush my teeth.” As time goes on, awareness and respect towards themselves, peers, mentors, and the places they encounter increases. The answers change to reflect having more respect for the land and striving to be the best they can be. These are the milestones we look for and celebrate.

At the end of last quarter, as a celebration of their hard work, they had the opportunity to ku’i kalo. For many of them, this was their first experience pounding poi and for some even their first time tasting paʻi ʻai. One of the boys shared, “I never knew I liked poi until I came here.” – another landmark and cause to celebrate for us to watch the kids develop a taste for traditional and nutritious staple foods that they grew themselves.

We ended the quarter clearing the last of the hau in the very back of the property to build out our second to the last patch. The main project the new participants will be working on this next quarter is building out this new patch that will be named in their honor upon completion. We want all participants to know that they are forever connected to this place and have great value in our ʻohana.

Internship Program

We kicked off our 10-Week Summer Internship program in June with 6 awesome young adults who all share a desire to learn more about the Hawaiian culture, the production of kalo, gain job skills they can take into future careers, and connect to the land and community. We also welcomed the first 4 participants of the new Hoʻokuaʻāina Apprenticeship, a collaboration with Windward Community College to offer a unique hands-on leadership training program for students interested in ʻāina based work. They will work with us weekly for the next two years as they pursue a specialized certificate in Ahupuaʻa Sustainability and a 2-year degree of their choice. In just the last few weeks, they’ve interacted with our community groups, participated in various farm activities ranging from harvesting, to weeding, and the production of poi. It’s safe to say our summer has been productive and fun. It is always hard for us as we near the completion of the summer session. Deep relationships have grown and it will be hard for us to say goodbye to the 6 finishing the program. But they all know they always have a place to return and to call home at Kapalai.

Kupuohi Education Program

Aloha kākou! The new school year is just around the corner and before it begins we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the exciting year we had in our Kupuohi Education Program. This past school year we had the privilege of hosting amazing kumu (teachers) and haumāna (students) from a variety of educational institutions reflecting Hawaiʻi’s diverse public, private, and charter schools.

As we reflect on the year, it is clear that we are rich in relationship and that we as a program and an organization value deep connection. The shifts we have made to truly prioritize multiple visits and the inclusion of ʻohana days provide opportunities for students to connect not only with one another and their kumu, but with their families, with ʻāina, and with us. The way students are incorporating lessons from Hoʻokuaʻāina in their end-of-year presentations and school events speaks both to the depth of their learning as well as the depth of their connection with our organization and with Kapalai itself. We look forward to continuing these partnerships next year and to the new opportunities that lie ahead.

Here are some highlights of the year:

Over the course of the year many of our participating schools visited the loʻi four times with various lessons leading up to our final lesson, ‘Āina Momona which focuses on the link between the health of ʻāina and the health of kānaka (people) through traditional food preparations. After spending the previous three quarters learning how to work and care for the ʻāina, students in the program learned about traditional and contemporary ways of preparing kalo to be eaten and were able to enjoy the kalo they have been caring for all year. As part of the final culminating lesson, we held several kuʻi demonstrations with students from various participating schools including Mālama Honua Public Charter School, Hālau Kū Māna, and Blanche Pope Elementary School.

As we rounded out the school year, we saw an increase in the number of invitations our education team received to attend off-site school visits and events. Many of our students have been showcasing their learning both on campus as well as in other venues. At their school’s third trimester hōʻike, Mālama Honua’s 1st and 2nd-grade students shared their Hoʻokuaʻāina-inspired book and film, “The Wonderful Kalo,” an adaptation of Shel Silverstein’s, “The Giving Tree.” While planning this final project, the students were adamant about coming to Kapalai to do the filming, and, according to Kumu Piiohia, were upset that she had suggested they film at a location that may have been a bit more convenient. In late May, we connected with students, kumu, and ʻohana in preparation for Blanche Pope Elementary’s 6th grade Holomua (graduation) ceremony, at which Dani, our education director, was asked to be the keynote speaker. What an honor it was to share with families about the tremendous year of learning we have had with their kids. Earlier in the spring, we went to support the same 6th graders from Blanche Pope Elementary at the CAS (Complex Area Superintendent) and Principal Hōʻike. These students shared about their experience with Hawaiian culture, ʻāina, and place-based learning, and spoke about the need for these opportunities in our schools, highlighting Hoʻokuaʻāina as one of their kumu and community partners.

Overall, we are encouraged by the shift we see in our Windward Complex Areas schools and the great interest they are showing in wanting to participate in ʻāina and culture-based programming. It seems from administration down to the classroom there is an increased desire on the part of the schools to get their students outdoors and exposed to the many excellent programs being offered at various aloha ʻāina community partner sites. After the school year finished, nearly 50 CAS, principals, administrators, and counselors from the Kailua-Kalāheo Complex Area visited our space to learn about our programming. There were many important connections made and it was clear that the intention of the school leaders is to seek out more opportunities to get their students into these spaces more frequently. Many of them expressed thanks for being a part of such a special day. We were encouraged by their enthusiasm and look forward to new connections in the following school year.

Results from our end of year survey:

Dani Espiritu, Education Specialist

Written By Dani,
Education Specialist

Reflections from an Intern

Our internship program has become a vital part of our organization. 10-15 interns spend 10 weeks with us over the course of the year, some stay for the entire year. The hardest part for us is building close relationships with these young passionate individuals and then having to say goodbye when it is time for them to move on with their life endeavors. Amaris spent 2 sessions with us and was a regular volunteer for several years prior. This spring she was accepted to nursing school in New Mexico. We miss her dearly but are so happy for the opportunities that lie ahead. She shares a bit about her experience with us in the following reflection.

April 17th, 2019

Hoʻokuaʻāina may be the best work environment I will ever experience. The voices of my co-worker’s rhyming cultivation with fertilization became as familiar as the feeling of lepo between my toes. The warmth of the Wilhelm ʻohana manifested itself in generosity. Wherever they go it’s a paʻina. From the excitement of community day to rubbish bins of weeds, I loved it all.

In my opinion, one of the most special things about this lo’i is that each person learns they are sacred and that work is good. Sacred because you feel close to your Creator and the people with whom you work make you feel special. Work becomes a privilege, not only because you are under the beautiful shadow of Olomana, but the work performed is a blessing to other people. As embodied beings, working in the dirt and being challenged physically is very satisfying because it affirms a facet of our humanity. Work may not always be fun but the social environment at Hoʻokuaʻāina is one of spurring each other on to become better learners.

I felt honored to work in the loʻi. Being haole I am keenly aware of moments where I am able to listen to, learn from, or participate in Hawaiian culture. Sometimes my co-workers would speak with one another in ʻolelo Hawai’i and for those few minutes it felt like the weight of Hawaiʻi’s painful history with western arrogance was lifted. The loʻi at Kapalai is reordering and restoring ʻāina and kamaʻāina.

As I write, my hard-won calluses on my hands are peeling away due to lack of shoveling. What I have learned in the past six months is that: 1) the art of mahiʻaiʻana (cultivation) is something I can do wherever I go, 2) the vices you allow to grow in your life may steal life away like the weeds steal from the kalo, 3) the triangular relationship between Akua, kanaka, and ʻāina will always be relevant, 4) my story matters, so I will carry myself with dignity, and 5) a legitimate measuring order is “one shovel plus one and a half shakas.”

Amaris Capen Intern 2018-2019

Written By Amaris Capen
Intern 2018-2019

Hele On To Kauaʻi

Hookuaaina Interns on Kauai in Kalo Field for Cultural Exchange

Huakaʻi – Staff visit to Kauaʻi

An important aspect of our internship program is professional development. Throughout the year we provide workshops on various subjects such as financial literacy, grant writing, nonprofit organizational development, and food safety. Once or twice a year we offer opportunities for our entire staff to visit neighbor islands and learn from peer organizations. Our spring trip was to Kauaʻi where we had the amazing opportunity to visit several loʻi kalo, connect with the farmers and community in that area, and learn about their different methods of farming and production. Our time was rich and full of meaningful connections. Here is one reflection from our intern Kealohi to give you an idea of the impact the experience had on our staff.

A Reflection from Kealohi

Our trip to Kauaʻi was a huge blessing that I am so grateful to have been a part of. Working at Hoʻokuaʻāina has definitely opened my eyes to the value of community, sense of place and being future-focused. With this basically being my first trip to the Garden Isle, it was nice to see her through a mahiʻai perspective. I think it allowed me to appreciate it in a different way than I would have, had I visited with family and stayed at one of the hotels.

Visiting mahiʻai on Kauaʻi exposed me to more ways of mahiʻai. Coming from farmwork at Hoʻokuaʻāina–shovel, machete, chainsaw, handtool–I had a shift in perspective on what farming can be like depending on your ʻāīna. In Waimea, ʻOlokele, and Hanalei, there were all types of machines and trucks that could be driven around to get the tasks done. I’m not even familiar with the names, but now I understand how such large ‘āina can be worked with maybe just two people.

Upon reflecting with Zack while weeding Kawaʻa patch yesterday, he shared how this trip reconfirmed how we are in the people business. And as I write this, it makes me reflect on how we do things at Hoʻokuaʻāina.

Initially, after seeing all the machinery and driveable loʻi and kuaauna, a great focus for a commercial based farm, like any farm, is efficiency. I think of how easy it would be if we could drive a golf cart with the hundreds of pounds of raw kalo orders, instead of hauling it in 30-pound buckets. Or even having excavators to clear new patches and not planting puʻepuʻe style (mounded) to have fewer weeds. But if we didn’t have all these tasks, we wouldn’t be able to create a space for the community to grow the people, in the way we do. We would just be growing kalo. We rely on groups and extra hands to help us out in huge tasks like weeding a patch, cleaning kalo, and clearing ‘āina. Now I see why the ʻāina is the way it is for us; the ʻāina knows we need the weeds and hau bush because the ʻāina suits what we strive to do as an organization…With mahiʻai kuleana in these moments of lima hana, we are truly able to “rebuild lives from the ground up.”

Another favorite memory of mine was the waʻa blessing for the Kilohana Canoe Club. When we talk about a sense of place and community, it was humbling to see how a blessing of a canoe brought the families of that ʻāina to Lucy Wright Park in Waimea. It was more than just a new canoe…it allowed for fellowship, ‘oli, pule, testimony, and aloha. I’m quite an emotional person, so I wasn’t surprised when I teared up frequently in seeing how these keiki held themselves, grounded and proud of their culture through their chants, posture, and respect for the blessing.

My takeaway from this blessing was a commitment from everyone in attendance, to be focused on the keiki and their futures. Reflecting back on my time playing volleyball, I felt like I foresaw how impactful the journey of being a paddler would be for these keiki, as being a volleyball player was for me. After playing for almost half of my life, that sport allowed for so many relationships and life lessons to be developed and learned. Seeing this waʻa blessing and me being there side by side with the kamaʻāina of Waimea and Kilohana Canoe, I felt yet another source of commitment to holding myself to being future-focused for these very keiki and other keiki in Hawaiʻi.

When I had the chance, I asked every kalo farmer I met, “so, do you eat kalo a lot?” Majority of them answered no. At first, I was like, what?!? But then I compared it to when I was the sausage fryer for my aunty’s catering business, and yeah, after doing that position every Saturday for about a year, that sausage isn’t my first choice either…except some of these farmers been doing it for almost their whole life! Nuts. Maybe I didn’t really need to ask them that question.

But on a serious note, returning to Oʻahu allowed me to share every nook and cranny of the trip with my family. A conversation I have been pushing with my ʻohana, is how can we incorporate more ʻāina foods into our diet. Our family eats healthy, we don’t farm kalo where we live, but now, let’s make kalo or poi, a dish we see on the table maybe twice a week, instead of twice a month. For one of our breakfasts, Uncle Dean made us a simple stir fry with pork, kalo, and palula (leaf of sweet potato), and gosh that was so good! Even Aunty Chris prepared a small kalo dish with coconut oil, diced up kalo, garlic and onions–hooo it was ʻono! It’s little things like that I know we can do in my house, to incorporate ‘āina foods regularly, or replace maybe spinach or a potato, with the foods our ancestors ate. It’s about normalizing.

This trip made me grateful. I came home with a new appreciation for those kalo farmers who make it possible to have a love for poi as I do, and probably as many do. It may not be their first choice to eat, but they farm it because they have to. I’m grateful for all coaches, organizations, supporters out there like Kilohana Canoe Club, who create opportunities for our keiki to develop, grow, learn so they are equipped when it’s time to pass the torch. I’ll even mahalo the weeds at our loʻi from now on, for providing us with “taropy” and to be in the people business. Here’s to continuing to do the work we do, and to welcoming all the aloha that comes with it.

Written By Kealohi, Year-Round Intern

On The Farm Q1 2019

Duck Eggs On The Farm

There is an old Chinese proverb that Uncle Dean shared with us that goes something like this, “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now.” Not only as mahiʻai (farmers) but as kānaka (people) we need to always be thinking ahead. We’ve grown comfortable with being able to run to the store at any time of day knowing that the shelves are always stocked full. With this disconnect from the ʻāina, we have forgotten that ʻaʻohe hua o ka maiʻa i ka lā hoʻokahi, bananas do not fruit in a single day. The same goes for lettuce, tomatoes, ʻulu, and even kalo for that matter. Being that kalo takes about a year to grow, if we want kalo today, we should have been thinking about that last year. But if we plant today, we are ensuring that we will have kalo for the future.

Rachel planting with Pope Elementary

As much as we try to, we can’t really anticipate how each year will be in terms of supply and demand of kalo. Sometimes the kalo grows good, sometimes it doesn’t. But in regards to demand, we can analyze the previous year to predict the upcoming one. In 2018 the demand for kalo had accelerated to more than we could have possibly imagined. Just the year before we had received very few orders and found ourselves encouraging as many people to buy kalo as we could. In 2018 we saw a huge transition as we actually had to start turning people down because of too many orders. We were pulling kalo almost every single day and moving thousands of pounds every month. We were providing the community with a large quantity of kalo but this still was not enough to keep up with the demand. In 2017 we had not anticipated this sudden spike and so we had not planted enough kalo for 2018. This year we’ve been preparing ourselves for a continual increase in demand and have made it our goal to plant two patches every month in hopes to supply you all with kalo year round. So far this year we have already produced 2,869 pounds of kalo combined through raw kalo sales and poi production days. Unfortunately high demand and lowered yields have led us to cease poi production for the time being. When exactly we will be able to resume poi days has yet to be determined, but we will be sure to inform our faithful community.

There is only so much kalo we as Hoʻokuaʻāina can produce. But we can teach others how empowering it is to grow your own food and we can encourage them to do the same. It is never too late to start. Even if you won’t reap the immediate benefits, you will be planting seeds for your children and their children. Remember, the best time to plant has already passed, but the next best time is NOW!

Kukuluhou Boys Clearing Their Patch

Cutting back on poi production and overall kalo harvests has afforded us the time and resources to focus on other essential farm tasks instead. Our loʻi are overall well maintained, weeded out, and up-to-date on fertilizing. Even more exciting is the new bathroom facility we have been building on the property. Here at Hoʻokuaʻāina we strictly utilize composting toilet systems which reduce water consumption and wastewater impact on the ocean. While the standard flushing toilet system is clean and convenient, we often overlook how much fresh, drinkable water it uses and then simply dumps into the ocean. It may sound a bit unsanitary, however the composting toilet system we use at the farm is actually very clean and simple to manage, and our toilets barely smell. Aloha ʻāina is a mindset that affects all aspects of life, including how we use the bathroom. We believe that a truly healthy food system encompasses every stage of food production, from how food is grown to where it goes after it has nourished our bodies.

Education Program Q1 2019

Kids cleaning the patch

Aloha mai nō kākou. As we see a change in season and the lengthening of days following the spring equinox, it is an exciting time at Kapalai!

Today, many students in Hawaiʻi from kindergarten through college will be returning to the classroom to round out the final stretch of their semester. We are still in the malama (month) of Nana, which, akin to the word pūnana, or nest, is a time to welcome new life and growth. According to Handy, Handy, and Pukui (1991):

Zack working with the kids

“[Nana] means ʻanimation.’ Life in plants shows vigor, young mother birds are brooding (kinana), and fledglings (punua) have feathered and are trying to get out of nests. It is altogether a time when nature is full of animation” (p. 31).

One hopes this is met with renewed vigor by those of us, myself included, coming off of a much deserved time to hoʻomaha, to rest. This happens in tandem with the closing of Makahiki, so we say, ʻEleu! E hoʻomau kākou!

I maikaʻi ke kalo i ka ʻohā.* #1232
The goodness of the taro is judged by the young plant it produces.
Parents are often judged by the behavior of their children

Much has happened since our December update. We have been privileged to host some phenomenal kumu (teachers) and haumāna (students) from a variety of schools, including: Keolu Elementary School, Le Jardin Academy, Mālama Honua Public Charter School, Enchanted Lakes Elementary School, and Blanche Pope Elementary.

Pulling Weeds

We are blessed that each of these groups have come to visit previously and that their return has allowed us to deepen our personal connections with one another as well as with ʻāina and with Ke Akua. Each interaction is an opportunity to hoʻokamaʻāina, to become familiar and acquainted with this place, and, on a deeper level, is a step in the journey of understanding and becoming kama, children, of ʻāina, that which feeds and nourishes us. The hope is that by creating a space at Kapalai to go deeper, we will be inspired to mālama this connection with our own wahi (place) as we return home.

O ka makua ke koʻo o ka hale e paʻa ai.* #2424
The parent is the support that holds the household together.

As I think back to the start of this year, I must say that one of the most exciting things for us has been the opportunity to host the families of students we have come to know and to love through Kupuohi, our multi-visit education program. A few of the kumu involved in Kupuohi have asked us to host ‘ohana work days where parents, grandparents, siblings, aunties, uncles, and cousins could come to Kapalai to connect, to work, to eat, and to be fed, in all senses of the word. It’s an opportunity for each ‘ohana to support their child, and for the haumāna to share and to share in the learning with their families. This is an honor we don’t take lightly, and our hope is that through the strengthening of our students, their mākua (parents and those of their parents generation who hānai, feed and raise, them), and the entire ʻohana, we lay and strengthen the foundations necessary to maintain thriving hale and kaiāulu (communities). E ola!

Ke aloha nui kākou. As we each continue to mālama the people and places that feed and nourish us, mahalo for the work you are doing. E hoʻomau kākou. Ke aloha ʻāina.

Handy, E. S. C., Handy, E. G, and M. K. Pukui. (1991). Native Planters in Old Hawaii: Their Life, Lore, and Environment (Revised Edition). Honolulu, Hawaii: Bishop Museum Press.

*Pukui, M. K. (1983). ‘Ōlelo No‘eau Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu, Hawaii: Bishop Museum Press.

Kūkuluhou Mentoring Program Q1 2019

Kukuluhou Boys clearing a patch

What’s the difference between a DREAM and a GOAL? “A GOAL is a DREAM with an action plan.” We should always dream and we should dream big, but in order to make a dream come to life, we must look at all the little steps it’s going to take to get there, make a plan of attack, and then ʻonipaʻa or be steadfast to the course of action.

Ku'i at the capitol

This quarter our kūkuluhou boys are focusing on the theme of ʻonipaʻa or to be steadfast. We began the year by asking the boys to look back at 2018; what did they accomplish, and where did they fall short. In order to learn lessons and move forward, one must look at how he/she arrived at this place in time, re-evaluate choices, and then make a plan to move forward toward new goals.

ʻOnipaʻa was a fitting theme for the start of the new year and with so many new participants in the program, it was a great way to set the tone for not only the year but also the vibe amongst the boys. In circle time we started the year by having the boys share about 2018. It was a powerful bonding exercise for each person to have a chance to let their voice be heard. As we began to focus on individual goals, they were able to see how someone else goals and the steps they needed to take might also be relevant to their own lives.

We continued our conversation looking into the future, allowing them to hone in on some short term goals plus action points to help to achieve them. We challenged them to use those achievements as stepping stones to reach their bigger long term goals. Through journaling exercises, they have been breaking apart each of their short term goals into little “manageable” steps and then coming up with a coping mechanism and ways to overcome the obstacles that will stand in their way.

Some of the boys want to become electricians, mechanics, and carpenters. They named “finishing school” and “getting a job in the field” as steps to achieve their big goal. Throughout the quarter we have been working on steps for them to take. Like “finishing school” for example. The reason they were going to school was that they didn’t get up on time. As we stepped back, it was staying up late the night before and partying that made it hard to get up. So in order to get up and go to school on time, they needed to work on their nightly routine.

Looking at past behavior, gaining insight, reflecting on habits, and then coming up with an action plan is where our focus will continue to be. We want to instill in the youth that if they want to achieve something they have to be willing to bring it to life and do what it takes to get there. For us, building these skills is one of the steps towards helping our Kukuluhou participant realize that their lives have meaning and purpose.

A Message From Our Executive Director

Community Day

Community DayAloha mai kākou,

A few days after Thanksgiving, I sat overlooking the loʻi reflecting on all the things I am thankful for. My marriage to Michele, our four children, and our collective health and well being jumped out first. Included with this is the life we live, the work we do with Hoʻokuaʻāina, and the many people who have come alongside and journeyed with us these last eleven years. To me, there is little separation between the life I live and the work I do. I am truly so blessed and thankful.

2018 has been quite a year for Hoʻokuaʻāina! We were able to work with close to 4,000 people from all walks of life, facilitating an experience that we believe goes much deeper than the mud we work in. Whether hosting schools, community organizations, disadvantaged youth, businesses, exchange visitors from all around the world, or neighbors in the community, Hoʻokuaʻāina at Kapalai has indeed become the gathering place we’ve long envisioned.

Malama Honua PCS

Our goal is to make deep connections with each individual we meet, not to produce numbers; however, some 2018 numbers give us a sense of how we’re doing:

  • Our Kūkuluhou mentoring program for youth ages 12-18 had 35 weekly participants who learned valuable life skills through Hawaiian values-based coaching and hands-on ʻāina based learning.
  • We provided 11 paid intern positions and 7 of those individuals have continued as a valued part of our team.
  • Student groups from kindergarten through college visited the loʻi 45 times.
  • We hosted 87 community events where individuals and organizations experienced the lo‘i and strengthened their connection with the ‘āina.
  • We are on track to harvest 30,000 pounds of kalo this year, something we have worked hard to accomplish. And while we remind others that we are first and foremost in the people business, we are now a go-to resource for those wanting kalo (which significantly contributes to sustaining Hoʻokuaʻāina.

One of the highlights for the year was our team trip to Rurutu. To experience a place that in many ways is a living actualization of the values that we at Hoʻokuaʻāina seek to live and promote—such as culture, language, food security, sustainability, and community health—was inspiring for all of us who went. The hoʻike fundraiser following the trip gave us the opportunity to share the stories and food of Rurutu and to express the many takeaways of our experience. We trust that all who came and supported our expedition felt the impact the trip had on all of us and how it has enhanced our organization and the larger aloha ʻāina movement here in Hawaii moving forward.

Community Day

Looking to next year, there are many exciting opportunities on the horizon. We are currently pioneering with Windward Community College to create a pathway to post high school education, where students can earn an associate’s degree in Sustainable Agriculture while interning at Hoʻokuaʻāina. We will be recruiting first-generation college students from Windward O‘ahu high schools as well as those who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to attend college. Students who qualify will receive free tuition and a stipend for living expenses. The goal is to pilot the program at Hoʻokuaʻāina during Summer 2019 and eventually build the program with other ‘āina-based organizations in Ko’olaupoko to provide students a wide range of hands-on experiences to complement course requirements in all subject areas within the ahupua’a such as lo’i, fishponds, streams, forestry, and coral reefs.

We continue to improve our infrastructure at Hoʻokuaʻāina to better meet the needs of our many guests. Plans are underway for a new bathroom facility, showering stations, and an office so that Michele can move out of our living room! In addition, we are working on plans to build a traditional hālau in the loʻi as a place to foster greater learning.

Although taking on these plans in addition to the work we are already doing is daunting, we believe these are opportunities that we must pursue. Your continued kōkua and support are of great value to us. As we move into the new year, we pledge to continue to improve the lives of individuals as well as our community at large. Mahalo nui for valuing the work we do and believing in us. We hope you have also had an abundant year. May 2019 be filled with many blessings.

Me ke aloha nui,
Dean Wilhelm

Education Program 2018

Malama Honua PCS Grades 1 & 2

Malama Honua PCS Grades 1 & 2

ʻAʻohe pau ka ʻike i ka hālau hoʻokahi.* #203
All knowledge is not learned in one school.
[One can learn from many sources.]

Welina me ke aloha kākou. In this makahiki season, it is only fitting that we take time to look back and reflect on where we have been over this past year. It’s hard to believe that we are rounding out our second full calendar year as an education program, and in many ways, we are only beginning to scratch the surface.

Pope Elementary Grade 4

Pope Elementary Grade 4

Our education program was birthed out of a desire to be a resource to educators and students who value ʻāina and Hawaiian culture-based education and are interested in bringing their learning outside of the classroom. When students, teachers, and families arrive, they can expect to hear a bit about Kapalai and Kailua as well as the moʻolelo and ʻōlelo noʻeau that ground us culturally as an organization. Groups also participate in protocol where we spend time centering ourselves spiritually and introducing ourselves to the ʻāina and one another before jumping into the hana for the day, which will vary from weeding to fertilizing to pulling and cleaning kalo, depending on what is needed. Everything we do with our students goes to maintaining the lo‘i. As Uncle Dean often says, “we don’t give busy work.”

As former DOE teachers, Dean and I both know the importance of providing opportunities for our students to cultivate healthy relationships with one another, with ʻāina, with culture and even with themselves. In a world of standards, testing, and scripted curricula, our hope has been to be a support to teachers who believe in the value of these educational experiences and see long-term community partnership as a way to provide them for their students.

At the start of 2018, we were finalizing our core lessons and resources, while also supporting teachers and students coming to Kapalai for site visits. Hoʻokuaʻāina was also a site for the 2018 Nā Hopena Aʻo (HĀ) Summit in March, where students and educators from a number of schools and organizations in the Windward District and across the pae ʻāina came to experience what we do at Kapalai. All in all, we had terrific year hosting 45 school visits with students from kindergarten through 12th grade and up into college level.

Kupuohi (Multi-Visit Education Program)

'Aikahi Elementary Grade 4

‘Aikahi Elementary Grade 4

Kupuohi, our multi-visit education program, has continued in full force in the 2018-2019 school year with Blanche Pope Elementary School and Mālama Honua Public Charter School continuing to come several times throughout the school year. We are also excited to welcome the kula haʻahaʻa (4th, 5th and 6th graders) from Hālau Kū Māna as well as Keolu Elementary School’s student council, both of whom will be visiting multiple times this school year.

In addition, both our Blanche Pope and Mālama Honua ʻohana have begun hosting ʻohana work days on select weekends throughout the year. While this is a new development, it has been amazing to see students and their families laughing and working together. For us, this is what it’s all about and we’re grateful to be a part.

Blanche Pope Elementary (spotlight)

Pope Elementry ʻāina momona day.

Pope Elementry ʻāina momona day.

During the 2017-2018 school year, Kumu Lily Utaʻi from Blanche Pope Elementary School brought her 4th-grade class to Kapalai once during each of the first three quarters. By their last visit, they had become so maʻa that they were helping the staff to clean around 900 pounds of kalo for our upcoming poi day! In May, our education team participated in their ʻāina momona day where we hosted a ku‘i station for these same 4th-grade students, allowing them to see, experience, and taste the full process of kalo cultivation and preparation. This school year, we began with a classroom visit just before Kumu Lily’s new 6th-grade class, Nā Pōhaku, came out to Kapalai for their first visit of the year. Sharing the ‘ōlelo noʻeau, “Malia paha he iki ʻunu, paʻa ka pōhaku nui ʻaʻole e kaʻa,” “Nani ke kalo,” and “He waʻa he moku, he moku he waʻa,” we have been emphasizing the importance of unity, ‘ohana, and kuleana with them so far this year, and we look forward to what the spring has in store!

Looking back and looking forward

Halau Ku Mana Grades 4-6

Halau Ku Mana Grades 4-6

As we reflect on all that has happened in 2018, we’re incredibly grateful to the kumu, haumāna, and ʻohana who have made the choice to go against the grain and to place value on these experiences. We also need to mahalo the ʻāina, kūpuna, and ke Akua who continue to be kumu to us and without whom none of this would be possible.

As we look toward 2019, we plan to finish this school year strong, complete with visits to Kapalai, ʻohana work days, classroom visits, and school events. In addition, we’re beginning to think and plan through what it might look like to bring some of our kuaʻana (older siblings, older students) out more regularly. Stay tuned…

Mahalo for your continued support! Ke aloha nui.

If you would like to sponsor any of these schools or would like to give to our education program, please contact Michele:

To learn more about HĀ and Nā Hopena Aʻo, please visit their website.

*Source: Pukui, M. K. (1983). ‘Ōlelo No‘eau Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings. Honolulu, Hawaii: Bishop Museum Press.

Written by Dani Espiritu, Education Specialist

Kūkuluhou Mentoring Program 2018

Uncle Dean with one of the boys from our mentoring program.

Uncle Dean with one of the boys from our Kūkuluhou Mentoring Program cleaning kalo.

Kūkuluhou Mentoring Program participant

Itʻs amazing to think that weʻve been working with the boys from Ke Kama Pono, a residential home for challenged boys, for three years now. While time sure flies, attempting to remember all the young men we have built relationships with over that period is challenging. Over 100 boys from Ke Kama Pono have been a part of our Kūkuluhou mentoring program during this time. They have come year round on a weekly basis, some for over a year, and have had the opportunity to take part in the cultivation of kalo as a means to grow and flourish. Working with humans can be a messy business, even more so when working with underprivileged, at-risk youth. But somehow we have found that when you add lots and lots of mud into that already messy equation, a positive transformational sum usually takes place! Such has been the case this past year.

Art therapy with Paint Your Paradise

We always use Hawaiian proverbs (ʻŌlelo Noʻeau) as learning tools and started off 2018 with a video voice project focusing on the proverb Kūlia I Ka Nuʻu (strive for the highest). Through group discussion, journaling exercises, and one on one interviews, the boys were challenged and asked to share how they practice kūlia i ka nu’u in their everyday lives, with the goal of creating a short video. Their videos are raw and real. Through the process of prepping for their final on-camera interview, we got to really focus in on each individual. It was a time of deep one on one quality connection, and the final video products are testaments of the transformations taking part in their lives. Check out these videos on our website. We are sure you will agree.

Our exchange with Ma’o Organic Farms

On a day in and day out basis, we continued to work the ʻāina this year marveling at how it is so faithful to grow us. The tasks of cultivating kalo is much like the “wax on, wax off” model, used by Pat Morita in the movie Karate Kid, to grow character, work ethic, and life skills in so many ways. A boy named Sean, who on his first day with us probably worked harder than he ever did in his entire life clearing the roots and logs of a brand new kalo patch, is now markedly different. From a “shell-shocked” timid kid on that first day four months ago, he now refers back to that experience with new incoming boys as if he is an ʻāina hardened kalo farmer of 30 years! While still quiet, Sean models the hard work and effort needed in the loʻi that will give him the perseverance and ethic needed to be successful in whatever he chooses to do in his life. He had never prepared and eaten poi or laulau until coming here and is now one of our most eager participants. He and others like him inspire us to continue the work we do here.

Preparing traditional Hawaiian food

In 2018 we really focused on our evaluation design and process. While the process is always evolving, this year with the help of our gracious partners, we have built, tested, revised, and are currently retesting our entire evaluation system. Not going to lie and say it was easy. Tears may have been shed. However, the lessons we learned through the process were invaluable. Ho’omau (perseverance) was another theme we touched on this year with our Kūkuluhou participants and it was the underlying theme of our evaluation growth as well. Not having the answers to tough questions and having to work and rework through the process makes success so much more gratifying. We learned to enjoy each moment of success because it doesn’t last forever. Like the lessons we teach our Kekamapono boys, we are committed to continually growing, learning, changing and evolving, always striving to be our best.

Co-written by Dean Wilhelm and Cassie Nichols

Hookuaaina Rebuilding Lives From The Ground Up

Hoʻokuaʻāina is located in the ahupuaʻa of Kailua at Kapalai in Maunawili on the island of Oʻahu. Get Directions.

For more information about our programs or how you can get involved please contact us.

916E Auloa Rd.

Kailua, HI 96734


P.O. Box 342146

Kailua, HI 96734

follow us

Hookuaaina Rebuilding Lives From The Ground Up

Hoʻokuaʻāina is located in the ahupuaʻa of Kailua at Kapalai in Maunawili on the island of Oʻahu.

For more information about our programs or how you can get involved please contact us.

visit us

916E Auloa Rd.

Kailua, HI 96734

mail us

P.O. Box 342146

Kailua, HI 96734

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Hoʻokuaʻāina is a 501c3 Non-Profit Organization

© Hoʻokuaʻāina 2020 All Rights Reserved | Terms & Conditions | Privacy | Site By Created By Kaui

Hoʻokuaʻāina is a 501c3 Non-Profit Organization

© Hoʻokuaʻāina 2020 All Rights Reserved | Terms & Conditions | Privacy | Site By Created By Kaui

Hoʻokuaʻāina is a 501c3 Non-Profit Organization

© Hoʻokuaʻāina 2020 All Rights Reserved | Terms & Conditions | Privacy

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