about us

Ho‘okua‘āina is a non-profit nestled in the ahupuaʻa of Kailua at Kapalai in Maunawili on the island of Oʻahu. It is a manifestation of Dean and Michele Wilhelm’s vision to create a gathering place for people in the community to connect with and care for the ‘āina, perpetuate Hawaiian culture through the cultivation and preparation of kalo, and to be a place that would ultimately bring healing to people, especially at-risk youth.


Since 2007, the Wilhelms along with a hui (group) of collaborators and community volunteers have restored 7.6 acres to be abundant and productive. Today the loʻi is an ideal outdoor learning environment for ʻāina-based education and valuable asset to the Windward community as well as a productive farm enterprise. We are literally “rebuilding lives from the ground up” by empowering youth to realize the meaning and purpose of their lives by helping them develop life strategies and skills through the cultivation of kalo and Hawaiian cultural values-based coaching.


For the last 12 years we have been forging the way through uncharted territories, learning as we go. It has been a wild ride full of many bumps along the way. In the early years, we often found ourselves in a place of uncertainty or discouragement and the grand vision seemed so far away - unattainable. There were a few times we wondered if maybe we had lost our minds. Each time we hit a lull, without fail a miraculous provision would drop down to lift us up and put some new wind in our sails.

the name defined

Kuaʻāina literally means back land; the backbone of the land. It refers to the people who actively live the Hawaiian culture to keep the spirit of the land alive. The name Hoʻokuaʻāina was given to the organization by Kupuna Earl Kawaʻa. It refers to our dedication to keeping the traditions and values of our kupuna alive by restoring ʻāina back to abundance, building community through the sharing of traditions, and passing on ancient knowledge to future generations.