Designed as the second tier of the mentoring program and a way for participants to level up, this 10-week paid internship serves young adults ages 18-23 seeking opportunities for leadership development, technical training, job readiness, and increased understanding of Hawaiian culture through values-based coaching.
The mentoring program is designed with the possibility for growth and promotion in mind. The 4 tiers are:
The Kaikaina level, seasonal internship, of the Kūkuluhou Program focuses on young adults who have promoted up through the Pokiʻi level and are looking for further leadership development and technical training. It is also for those outside of the program seeking an ʻāina based leadership and job skills training program while earning a wage. An application process is necessary to be accepted into the 10 week seasonal session. Like the Pokiʻi level, interns will receive daily mentoring in Hawaiian values as well as tools to build important life skills. Areas of growth after the 10 weeks include but are not limited to:
Before this summer I was having difficulty reconciling my love for Hawaiian culture with my lack of native Hawaiian blood. Among many other lessons, Ho’okua’aina has shown me that the important thing when practicing Hawaiian culture and tradition is where your heart lies, not the blood that it pumps. Everyone at Kapalai made me feel more comfortable in my own skin and bred in me a new appreciation for my capabilities and culture. Whenever anyone noticed me dragging or struggling, they helped out and pulled me back up to speed. At Kapalai I not only found fulfilling work, but also founded relationships with new friends and family.
After returning from a very long year of college on the east coast, I was left feeling really overwhelmed and frustrated by many experiences at my university. I was also really nervous about returning home to so many people and places Iʻd known for so long and seeing them in a completely different light. Hoʻokuaʻāina offered me a place to be rooted in aloha ‘āina. It helped me connect with incredible people who all understand and respect our relationship to land and the importance of growing food, being self sustainable, and caring for the lives of plants and people alike who have nurtured us for so many generations.
This internship taught me about the importance of perseverance, hard work, community, and aloha ʻāina. When I was away at college, so many of my peers placed so much value in individualism. It was really inspiring to come home and see how much value our friends at Hoʻokuaʻāina placed in community. We are able to accomplish so much more when we work together and thatʻs a lesson I will carry with me forever.
During the 10-week Hoʻokuaʻāīna internship, I feel that Iʻve grown in two significant regions: cultivating my physical abilities and knowledge base as a mahiʻai or farmer, a garnering the values, and communicative skills needed to be a servant leader within the Kānaka Maoli and global community.
From learning how to build loʻi, to harvesting kalo, and leading our younger/older school, community, and visiting groups was a great inspiration as to how an organization can both function to grow food and people simultaneously.
The summer was full of ups and downs and I don’t know if I could’ve gotten through it without being at Ho’okua’āina three days a week. Uncle dean and Aunty Michelle, as well as the staff, provided a welcoming place of learning and growth, a community, a family. They understand that mental, physical, and spiritual well-being are equally important and it shows in their values. I thought I was going to learn how to cultivate kalo, which I did, but more importantly, I learned how I can better grow as a person. I couldn’t be more thankful for this opportunity and place.
How to harvest and clean kalo as well as plant and fertilize. How to balance important aspects of my life such as spirituality, mental, and physical state of being. How connection to place allows for a deeper connection to self. I gained strength, physical and mental. When to focus and work hard and when to engage with those around you. All of these things have helped me in my everyday life.
One specific skill I learned is how to be level headed. Much of this was learned through both light and heavy work. Weeding is light work but requires a lot of mental focus. Clearing a patch is heavy work and while it still requires much mental strength, physical focus follows. Through both types of work, I’ve learned to continually be level headed and as uncle dean puts it, makaʻala.
My connection to this Wahi Pana and its stewards has grown immensely over the course of nine months. Through all of my trials and tribulations, I have felt that everyone at Hoʻokuaʻāina has been a strong support system for my well-being and for that, I am forever grateful. I love everyone there and will continue to be there as much as I can.
This internship helped me feel healing in many ways. The amount of aloha that I got from the ‘āina and people of Ho’okua’āina was a true blessing. I will take the values of ohana and lokahi with me for future life situations. The internship helped me feel solidified in my path and eager to continue to explore the possibilities that can come from aloha ‘āina. Mahalo for everything 🙂 I consider this experience life-changing as I also have a new ohana in you all.
I came into the job shy and unsure of how I was expected to act. I have learned that I am not compared to and measured by the talents of those around me. I am a part of a task far greater than myself. By looking to support the greater purpose I find value and become connected to those around me. I also learned that there are numerous life and spiritual analogies that can be drawn from the cultivation of kalo, which have expanded my imagination.
Intern Akamu shares about the benefits of participating in Hoʻokuaʻāinaʻs Kūkuluhou Internship program.
Music E Ola Pono by Kaukahi
The Alakaʻi level is the highest level of the mentoring program. Interns who have shown initiative and a desire to take on greater responsibility are offered a promotion to year-round employment as the leaders, peer mentors, and co-farm managers of Kapalai. They are given greater responsibility and challenged to push themselves towards excellence. In addition to important values and life skills, the Alakaʻi are offered frequent opportunities to receive professional development in areas of finance, leadership, entrepreneurial, and business skills. Alakaʻi teach classes, host groups, manage all aspects of kalo cultivation and mentor interns and apprentices in the ASA program. There is no application process. To reach the Alakaʻi level, one must be offered the position during a seasonal internship.
My experience working with Hookuaaina at Kapalai has positively benefited me in many ways. One of the greatest benefits is that working in the lo’i has given me a positive avenue to exert any pent up stress or negativity and reroute it in a positive manner. I’ve learned not to take anger out on a specific task or object, rather to be in a positive environment where my stress can melt away and there are just weeds to pull
I came to Hoʻokuaʻāina wanting to learn more about my culture and I am here now wanting to be a farmer. After tasting the satisfaction of growing my own food, I know I could never go back. I’ve come to appreciate and value the food I put into my body, just as my ancestors did. Food was sacred to them, it was their religion. In my opinion, so many problems could be solved if we just ate the food of our ʻāina. It is so much healthier for both people and the environment. I’m living to see Hawaiʻi thriving in food production and I will do all I can to make this a reality. I’m not talking about growing pineapples to ship off to foreign countries, I’m talking about restoring our kahawai, our loko iʻa, and creating more loʻi kalo. We need to create more organizations like Hoʻokuaʻāina to inspire and change more lives, just as it has done for me.
Because of working here, I see the importance of making something of myself. Working to make our people healthy. Being a leader. Being compassionate….as a father, a kāne, and as a provider. Cultivating kalo for the next seven generations also guarantees my children’s children will have kalo, and with that, aloha ‘āina. Working at Ho’okua’aina is for the betterment of us…for the betterment of Hawai‘i.
Nowhere else have I found a more inspirational and passionate group of individuals. The power that Hoʻokuaʻāina has to connect people, to bring them together and to build community, has brought me closer to people who have come to change my life and become my brothers and sisters. I have also witnessed the power of my work to make a difference in this world. The power to make a change when a change is needed. I feel that power to make a difference within me, and it has become my passion. I have always felt the desire to leave a positive impact on this world and to do something that will help people to thrive in a world where so many suffer. Now more than ever, I feel equipped to do this. I don’t know if my path is to continue to be a Mahi ʻai Kalo, but I know I’ll always need to plant myself in the ʻāina so that I may continue to grow and cultivate the land and my relationships with those around me.
The idea of community-based education with an emphasis on ʻike Hawaiʻi was/is something that strikes me as very intriguing. Modern times are ever-changing but Hawaiʻiʻs kānaka stands firm with the steadfast goals of truly living a sustainable lifestyle and passing on those positive habits to the generations that come after our time. Hoʻokuaʻāina has allowed me the opportunity to experience a full effort of community members that hui together in an attempt to eat from the ʻāina beneath our feet and more importantly share that ʻike with people of all sorts.
Now that I am older, working at Hoʻokuaʻāina has forced me to reflect on my upbringing, and realize these “Hawaiian things” and practices, mindsets, values that I was brought up with–are not normal anymore (not to say there’s one set way.) My lifelong goal is to serve my community, especially my Hawaiian people, and Hoʻokuaʻāina has opened my eyes to individuals and families whose values and cultures have been erased and absent for years upon years.
Uncle Dean and the lo’i have brought into my life love and aloha like I have never felt before. I have bonded with my fellow interns and have grown the strongest relationships of my life. Even the summer interns who started only a couple months ago feel like family to me and I already dread the thought of them leaving us. I already loved the lo’i but this summer it has become my favorite place to be. Not only is it an escape from the chaos and displeasure happening behind the scenes in my life, but a space for healing as well.
Hoʻokuaʻāina is located in the ahupuaʻa of Kailua at Kapalai in Maunawili on the island of Oʻahu.
916E Auloa Rd.
Kailua, HI 96734
P.O. Box 342146
Kailua, HI 96734
Hoʻokuaʻāina is a 501c3 Non-Profit Organization