Fri - March 20, 2009

The State of the Birds 2009 - calls attention to the crisis in Hawaii

I just came back today from a hike to plan a feral animal control fence that we're building in Kipahulu.

The State of the Birds
2009 News Release

March 19, 2009

Key Findings Summary

Secretary Salazar Releases Study Showing Widespread Declines in Bird Populations, Highlights Role of Partnerships in Conservation

Washington, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today released the first ever comprehensive report on bird populations in the United States, showing that nearly a third of the nation’s 800 bird species are endangered, threatened or in significant decline due to habitat loss, invasive species, and other threats.
The report, The U.S. State of the Birds, synthesizes data from three long-running bird censuses conducted by thousands of citizen scientists and professional biologists.

In particular, it calls attention to the crisis in Hawaii, where more birds are in danger of extinction than anywhere else in the United States.
Habitats such as those in Hawaii are on the verge of losing entire suites of unique bird species,” said Dr. David Pashley, American Bird Conservancy’s Vice President for Conservation Programs.

You can download the full report here (PDF)
Read page 26-27 for the feature on Hawaiian birds.

Saving Hawaii’s Birds

• Restoration and protection of mid-elevation forest is essential for the recovery of endangered species such as `Akiapola`au, Hawai`i and Maui `Akepas, and Hawai`i Creeper.

• A highest priority action with the greatest potential benefits for native birds is the fencing of habitats to exclude feral ungulates.

Posted at 10:53 PM     Permalink      

Sun - January 25, 2009

Native Forests are Infrastucture

I have a viewpoint in the Maui News today on the importance of protecting our source of fresh water, the native Hawaiian forest.

Posted at 11:12 AM     Permalink      

Fri - October 3, 2008

State Water Commission orders water released into East Maui streams

Sorry a bit slow on this, this is very important. (Here's the alert that went out from NHLC before the hearing.)

The Maui News reported last week:
HAIKU - The state Commission on Water Resource Management voted unanimously Thursday on a precedent-setting ruling to restore at least 12.21 million gallons a day of water into eight East Maui streams that are often reduced to trickles.

For more than 125 years, plantations on Maui have diverted water from the streams using a series of ditches and diversions to irrigate fields of sugar cane, pineapple and produce in Central Maui and in Kula.

In the process, stream flows were cut to lower elevations, affecting taro farmers as well as habitat for native stream flora and fauna. Water diverted by the East Maui Irrigation Co. flows to Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., which averages 160 million gallons of water a day to cultivate about 30,000 acres on Maui.

The commissioners' vote is a historic effort to resolve a 2001 petition filed by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. on behalf of Na Moku Aupuni O Koolau Hui and taro farmers Beatrice Kekahuna, Marjorie Wallet and Elizabeth Lapenia demanding the state establish instream flow standards for the East Maui watershed.

"This is a monumental change," said water commission Chairwoman Laura Thielen, saying that Thursday's decision will have effects felt across the state.

More excerpts after the jump...

Posted at 08:47 PM     Permalink      

Mon - September 15, 2008

Water Commission to Consider Taro Farmers' Petitions to Restore Flows to 8 East Maui Streams

From: Alan Murakami
Sent: Sunday, September 14, 2008 11:10 PM
Subject: East Maui water trouble


Water Commission to Consider Taro Farmers' Petitions to Restore Flows to 8 East Maui Streams

WEDNESDAY, Sep. 24, 2008
Haiku Community Center
2 PM (to continue into the evening)

After an unexplainable 7-year delay, the Commission on Water Resources Management is poised to finally receive its staff recommendations on whether and how much to restore to 8 East Maui streams. In 2001, Na Moku Aupuni O Ko`olau Hui, an association of taro farmers and Hawaiian subsistence gatherers of Wailuanui Valley, and Beatrice Kekahuna and Marjorie Wallett of Honopou Valley filed petitions to restore 27 streams in East Maui. Under the law, the Water Commission was supposed to respond in 180 days. The Water Commission has set a meeting for this purpose on Sep. 24, 2008 on Maui to receive input from the public on this crucial issue. 


Posted at 06:29 AM     Permalink      

Mon - July 28, 2008

East Maui Taro Farmers exercise their right to continue farming taro, release water

From: Alan Murakami
Sent: Friday, July 25, 2008 12:08 PM
Subject: RE: East Maui Taro Farmers exercise their right to continue farming taro

This photo is of the cracked taro lo`i in Honopou because of the water being illegally diverted mauka by EMI.

Enclosed is a statement I drafted for Na Moku Aupuni O Ko`olau Hui, stating its position in reaction to the independent actions that Wailuanui taro farmers took to save their dying taro in Wailuanui Valley. On a long-delayed site visit to inspect diversions on Wailuanui Stream last July 11, they witnessed the taking of water from Wailuanui Stream which was the same water that could irrigate their lo`i downstream. When the BLNR field monitor hesitated in taking action to release the water back into the stream, after witnessing the effects on the taro below (with cracked ground so dry from the ongoing drought), and began deferring to the state's "existing relationship with East Maui Iriigation Company, a subsidiary of Alexander and Baldwin, Day and Martin released water by lifting the EMI gates blocking flow in the stream. The resulting restored flow has been supplying these farmers with significant increases in irrigation water they never had for decades. 

Since July 11, these farmers have demanded that Garrett Hew of EMI keep them from diverting water into the EMI ditch system. Instead, Hew has sent crews to close the gates each day. Undaunted, the taro farmers have been opening these gates every day after EMI crews leave. The DLNR monitor refuses to take affirmative action in support of the taro farmers, deferring instead to the deputy AG assigned to represent the DLNR, Linda Chow. She, in turn, has not responded to my repeated attempts to meet to discuss the situation and deal with the growing conflict so we can avoid any heavy-handed action by the state in support of the illegal diversions by EMI.

The DLNR's problem is that it has very little legal basis for continuing the diversion in the face of its 7-year delay in taking affirmative action to address the IMMEDIATE water needs of these East Maui taro farmers and subsistence gatherers, as well as:
(1) the Circuit Court's invalidation of the BLNR's attempt to issue a 30-year lease to A&B/EMI;
(2) Na Moku's pending contested case hearing challenging the issuance of annual revocable permits to A&B/EMI; and
(3) EMI's and DLNR's reliance on so-called "holdover" permits to continue the diversions while the contested case is pending, when neither statute or rule allows such a permit. 

Please let the members in your network know what is occurring. I thought they should know, especially if the DLNR starts considering taking any actions against the farmers, at which time we'll seek broader support for the farmers. 

Alan T. Murakami, Esq.
Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation
1164 Bishop Street
Suite 1205
Honolulu, HI 96813

Tel: 808-521-2302
Fax: 808-537-4268


Posted at 05:25 PM     Permalink      

Sat - June 14, 2008

East Maui: Where's the water, brah?

In his weekly Rob Report column in MauiTime Weekly, Rob Parsons looks at the diversion of water from East Maui streams and the taro farmers suffering as a result.

And here's a related article from the Summer 2008 issue of the HanaSide News:

There is a rally and picnic at Honomanu Bay, the bay just before Keanae, all day today. All are invited.

Posted at 08:45 AM     Permalink      

Mon - June 9, 2008

Water panel inaction angers East Maui taro farmers

Star-Bulletin has a story on the water plight of East Maui taro farmers. Here's the summary:
Taro farmers in East Maui say their summer crop is being ruined by a lack of water and the failure of a state commission to maintain stream flows to their patches.

Through a system of ditches that had its beginnings in 1876, East Maui Irrigation supplies 126 billion gallons of water per year to its sister firm, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., and 3 billion gallons to Upcountry Maui residents and farmers.

Native Hawaiian taro farmers have argued that the ditches are on ceded lands, a portion of which belongs to them under the Statehood Act, yet they have not received the benefits from the lands.

Alan Murakami, an attorney for the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., said Alexander & Baldwin is profiting from the agreement with the state and pays only one-fifth of 1 cent per 1,000 gallons for East Maui water, while most Maui farmers pay more than 35 cents per 1,000 gallons.

The state Commission on Water Resource Management is currently reviewing stream flow standards of five areas in East Maui, including Honopou, Hanehoi, Piinaau, Waiokamilo and Wailuanui. The comment deadline is tomorrow.

Drafts of the stream flow standard assessment reports can be found online at or at the public libraries in Hana, Kahului and Wailuku.

Public comments can be sent to the Commission of Water Resource Management, state Department of Land and Natural Resources, P.O. Box 621, Honolulu 96809; or send e-mail to

Posted at 09:26 AM     Permalink      

Sat - May 24, 2008

East Maui stream diversion protest; Maui's Water Wars video

Maui News reports that East Maui taro farmers plan to be out along the Hana Highway again this morning to protest East Maui stream diversions by East Maui Irrigation (a subsidiary of Alexander & Baldwin).

Written comments from the public on the East Maui streamflow petition will be accepted until June 10.

Drafts of the instream flow standard assessment reports can be found online at or at the public libraries in Hana, Kahului and Wailuku.

Public comments can be sent to the Commission of Water Resource Management, state Department of Land and Natural Resources, P.O. Box 621, Honolulu 96809 or send e-mail to

And a new online documentary about the East Maui issue, produced from the protest on the day of the East Maui Taro Festival at the end of April, can be found on Hawaii Community Television Public Access titled “Water Wars.” It can be viewed at or here's the direct link.

Posted at 08:23 AM     Permalink      

Fri - May 9, 2008

East Maui Taro Festival photos

I've posted some photos of the East Maui Taro Festival which was held April 26-27. There are four photo galleries, each one from a different day showing a different step in the process. I think there's some nice photos in here, so I hope you'll take the time to check them out and enjoy. (I recommend clicking the "Slideshow" button on the bottom.)

Thursday: Harvesting kalo at Kapahu Living Farm
Friday: Making poi and laulau at Kipahulu kitchen
Saturday: East Maui Taro Festival in Hana
Sunday: Planting huli at Kapahu Living Farm

Posted at 11:36 AM     Permalink      

Thu - May 8, 2008

East Maui taro farmers protest stream diversion

Haleakala Times has this story about the protest for returning water to the East Maui streams that was held at Honomanu the morning of the East Maui Taro Festival April 26 to catch all the traffic coming in.
If you drove out, as I did, on Saturday, April 26, 2008, the first day of Hana’s 16th annual East Maui Taro Festival, it would have been difficult to ignore the series of bright hand-lettered signs posted on some of the one-lane bridges. They were taped in front of the places where you have to slow down or stop to let cars coming toward you pass by.

The first and largest sign, just before Twin Falls, was painted on what looked like a white bed sheet, and was tacked to a steep cliff on the right hand side of the road. It said, H20 for Honopou. A couple of miles further down the road, you would have seen a poster with Face the facts written on it. And then, at two or three mile intervals, signs appeared on the bridges saying, Fact #1: EMI diverts 160 million gallons a day; Fact #2: The amount of diverted water is enough to feed the entire island of Oahu; Fact #3: The Constitution of the State of Hawaii renders these diversions impermissible and illegal!; Fact #4: Loss of stream and marine life is accredited to these diversions; Fact #5: East Maui Hawaiians have fought over 120 years to restore stream flow. Today the fight continues…; Fact #6: Native Hawaiians and residents rely on these streams to live sustainably and to preserve Hawaiian culture.

And then, just after you round the bend and drive past the sweeping full-on view of deep, beautiful Honomanu Bay, traffic slowed to a crawl as cars threaded by crowds of Hawaiian taro farmers from all the major islands (and many others, including videographers from AKAKU television station) standing on the road and on the bridge, holding signs and passing out literature, trying to raise awareness and inform people passing by about the fact that massive amounts of stream water – the water they rely on to grow taro and feed their families – have been diverted by East Maui Irrigation Company for years. The farmers are demanding, once again but more emphatically than ever, that the water be restored to those streams. They are demanding justice.

Here's the fact sheet that was handed out at the protest (Word): East Maui Streams - Info Sheet.doc

Posted at 02:28 PM     Permalink      

Sun - April 13, 2008

RECAP of Water Commission Fact-Gathering Meeting in Haiku, Maui on East Maui diversions

The Maui News has an article about Friday's hearing on East Maui stream flows, and a story about how EMI's diversions affect one taro growing family. And here's the update from NHLC's attorney for the taro farmers...

From: Alan Murakami
Sent: Friday, April 11, 2008 5:24 PM
Subject: RECAP of Water Commission Fact-Gathering Meeting in Haiku, Maui on East Maui diversions

Recap of the "Fact-gathering" Meeting of the State Water Commission on Petitions to Amend Interim Instream Flow Standards for East Maui Streams
Haiku Community Center, Maui
April 10, 2008

The so-called "fact-gathering" meeting called by the Commission on Water Resources Management last night from 5 PM - 9 PM was phenomenal by any account! 

The Haiku Community Center was jam packed with about 100 grassroots Hawaiians, and a sprinkling of their non-Hawaiian supporters, FULLY united in their call for the restoration of East Maui streams. . 

Read the rest in the extended entry...

Posted at 10:47 AM     Permalink      

Fri - April 11, 2008

Report from the East Maui water meeting

Rec'd this report via email from Ed & Mahealani Wendt...

The meeting before the Commission on Water Resources Management last night, held to address the East Maui taro farmers' petition to restore their streams, was phenomenal! The Haiku Community Center was jam packed with grassroots Hawaiians, and their testimonies were filled with great pride, intensity, passion, anger and tears. For too long, the enormity and grand scale of EMI's crimes, wholesale theft of water out of over 100 streams in the East Maui watershed, have gone largely unnoticed and under-publicized in the Hawai`i community. Last night was truly uplifting, because Hawaiians turned out in force, and many other members of the community came out to support them.


Posted at 10:36 AM     Permalink      

Mon - April 7, 2008

Public Meeting on East Maui Stream Restoration Petitions

Rec'd via email from Alan Murakami...

Notice of Public Fact Gathering Meeting on
East Maui Stream Restoration Petitions


Date: April 10, 2008 (Thursday)
Time: 5 PM to 9 PM
Place: Haiku Community Center

The Commission on Water Resources Management is convening a Community Fact Gathering meeting in connection with petitions to restore flow to 27 East Maui streams filed by Na Moku Aupuni O Ko`olau Hui, Beatrice Kekahuna, and Marjorie Wallett. 

Following 7 years of delay in acting on petitions to restore stream flow to 27 East Maui Streams, the Commission is asking the public to provide "testimony and additional information," which it can add to its set of Instream Flow Standard Assessment Reports for 5 hydrologic units covering only the following eight (8) streams: Honopou, Hanehoi, Puolua, Pi`ina`au, Palauhulu, Waiokamilo, Wailuanui, and Kulani. The governing statute does NOT require this meeting.

Taro farmers have endured great hardships growing taro without enough water. `O`opu, `opae, hihiwai and other foods once gathered by families from the streams have disappeared because there is no water. Massive diversions by Alexander and Baldwin and East Maui Irrigation (A&B/EMI) have taken all the water out of East Maui streams.

See the extended entry for talking points and contact info...

Posted at 07:18 PM     Permalink      

Wed - December 12, 2007

Kapahu Living Farm on ISLANDS mag 2007 responsible tourism "Blue List"

In the December 2007 issue of ISLANDS magazine, the Kipahulu Ohana's Kapahu Living Farm is featured in the 2007 "Blue List" of 100 leaders worldwide in responsible tourism "who ensure that islands remain environmentally and culturally sound for future generations."

The magazine's write-up is as follows:
Tour the Taro

Drive 10 miles past Hana to the paved road's end, and there you'll find the town of Kipahulu. Here at Kapahu Living Farm, a model of self-sustaining native Hawaiian community circa 1778-1848, community members come together to plant and tend taro patches on centuries-old terraces. Then they pound the tuberous taro root into poi, a staple in the Hawaiian diet, which is shared at family celebrations throughout the year. The farm also harvests other culturally significant "canoe plants" - first brought to Hawaii on ancient voyaging canoes - such as heirloom varieties of banana, breadfruit, sugar cane and mountain apple. The community is then invited to partake in this harvest. Because Kapahu emphasizes education, they will reconstruct a 36-foot boat to teach youth about fishing and marine-resource stewardship for their next project. Visitors to the farm can tour the ancient patches, learn traditional taro-cultivation methods and, in season, pound taro into poi. - KSR

ISLANDS also provided a certificate noting this honor, and the cover letter accompanying the certificate states:
Congratulations! The staff, contributors and our expert panel of advisors here at ISLANDS looked to the four corners of the earth to find the best examples of responsible tourism for our inaugural Blue List. You were included because you have exceeded all expectations in this arena, and you impact your world in an ongoing, sustainable and positive manner. We are honored to include you in this important list, and you should be proud of the achievement. It sets you apart with your vision and influence as both a local ambassador for all that makes this planet unique and singular and as a true citizen of the globe.

Please accept this certificate of your notable achievement.

(I'm the Executive Director of the Kipahulu Ohana.)

Update: Also check out this article on our hike tours in last months' Spirit of Aloha (Aloha Airline's in-flight magazine).

Posted at 08:50 PM     Permalink      

Sun - December 2, 2007

Superferry Protests on Maui

Star-Bulletin reports on the first round of Superferry protests on Maui yesterday, organized by Eastside Hui.
Eastside Hui spokesman Kema Kanakaole said east Maui has limited mountain and ocean resources and he doesn't want people from Oahu loading their vehicles with fish and depleting resources in the way they have on their island.

"Out in the country we're not set up for massive amounts of people," said Kanakaole. "We want to protect our resources."

Kanakaole said his advice to Oahu people who want to come to Maui to do coastal fishing is to "go home and take care of their ice box, so they get fish."
Steven Ho'okano, another organizer, said the state, including Gov. Linda Lingle's administration, hasn't been doing their job of protecting resources in east Maui by having enough conservation officers.

Eastside Hui officials have noted the absence of conservation enforcement, especially since a conservation officer who lived in Hana retired.

Ho'okano said that while the Superferry has received $40 million to improve Kahului Harbor, there has been inadequate funding to protect the traditional and customary rights of Hawaiians, as guaranteed by the state Constitution.

"The state of Hawaii is to blame," he said.

Randy Awo, the Maui chief for state conservation enforcement, said his branch could use more staffing to be more effective.

Awo said even when it had a conservation officer living in the Hana district, the officer was sometimes assigned to duties outside of the region.

Brad Parsons has photos of the protest (h/t Larry). This protest was originally scheduled before the delay was announced until the 6th (in order to shut down the harbor), so I think this is just a small taste of what we'll see next Saturday when the ferry actually arrives.

Thursday 12/6 - Give Back Our Harbor Rally
Saturday 12/8 - Giant Rally for Maui

For both rallies, meet at Ka'ahumanu & Pu'unene, 9:00 a.m.

Posted at 07:16 AM     Permalink      

Sat - September 29, 2007

NY Times Travel feature on Hana

NY Times has a feature on Hana and Kipahulu in today's Travel section. I spent some time with the writer Patti Brown while she was visiting several months ago, and it is interesting to read her story now. She's definitely a good writer, and does a pretty good job capturing the juxtaposition of "to-do haoles" living side by side with Hana native families, and the impact of the tourist onslaught. Erin, Stephan, Frank James, Kamaui and others are all friends who I work with on various projects, and the Kipahulu Ohana cultural interpretive hike is mentioned. Check out the slideshow (note that in slide 3 Frank James is incorrectly identified as the author of Maui Revealed—you'd think whoever made the captions would actually read the story).

Posted at 01:59 PM     Permalink      

Fri - September 14, 2007

Superferry threatens Hana subsistence resources

Though I have been following the Superferry issue in the news and other blogs, I haven't been posting on it (except for this one on its "considerable military utility" - see a related MN letter today), but I want to highlight this Maui News article today, about the court testimony of Kema Kanaka'ole from Hana, discussing "fears that travelers on the Hawaii Superferry might affect his subsistence lifestyle in East Maui."
We don't want people to come into Hana and just raid the area," said Kema Kanaka'ole, a 31-year-old Hana resident and member of the East Maui Resource Management Hui.
Kanaka'ole was limited to speaking only about his concerns, although he did tell Cardoza that his fears are shared by others East Maui residents.

"The whole side of East Maui is backing me up," he said. "The people of Hana are scared right now of the effects."

I just want to say that Kema is absolutely right. Concern about this is very widespread and deep out here. People depend on these resources to feed their families. While Kema describes their educational efforts, there are already tensions even with those coming from the other side of the island, and if O'ahu folks think they can just drive in to Hana, load up their coolers with resources they hunt, fish and gather for the weekend, and drive back to O'ahu, there are going to be serious problems. Better to discuss these as part of the environmental review process before the Stuperferry starts, if it does.

And anyone who doubts this is a real concern just needs to note this Maui News report from Wednesday (and related letter today) that on the ferry's very first run, three truckloads of rocks were already picked up with the intention of being returned illegally to O'ahu. If these trucks had not been stranded at the docks on Maui, their loads might not have been checked and they may have returned to O'ahu without notice.

As Lee Cataluna says in her column today:
What's the worst thing that can happen when Superferry officials are trying to prove that they are a benign, even beneficial, presence on the Neighbor Islands, and when O'ahu people are seething at the insulting suggestion that they might go Neighbor Island and steal stuff?

Some thieves could go Neighbor Island and steal stuff. Aiyah.

The point is that no one thought of this ahead of time.

Well, folks out here thought of it. The point is that the Stuperferry officials, whether they thought of it or not, did nothing to address, mitigate and prevent it ahead of time, and the very first and only run to Maui proved the concern to be very real indeed.

Posted at 12:53 PM     Permalink      

Fri - July 13, 2007

East Maui stream flow guage on BLNR agenda

Maui News reports that "The Board of Land and Natural Resources will be asked today to authorize a request for a right-of-entry to place a stream gauge on Waiokamilo Stream to see whether the East Maui Irrigation Co. can release 6 million gallons of water a day (on average) for taro farms." The articles goes into rather complex factors regarding stream flow and diversion.

Posted at 12:29 PM     Permalink      

Thu - July 12, 2007

Hike with the Kipahulu Ohana

The Maui Weekly published a piece about the cultural interpretive hike tours we offer in Kipahulu, including a visit to Kapahu Living Farm.

Posted at 08:55 AM     Permalink      

Thu - June 7, 2007

A pakini full of hā from the preparation for the East Maui Taro Festival at the end of April. Hā is the name for the stalk of the kalo (what we think of as the "stem" but it is technically a petiole). The skin is stripped off (a process that can make the fingers raw and dark colored), and then the hā is steamed or boiled like lū'au (kalo leaf). It keeps better than lū'au, so it is good to cook and then bag and freeze. In this case, we broke them up into small pieces and added them to laulau, where they provide a nice extra texture and flavor along with the meats wrapped inside the lū'au leaves and ti leaves. Interesting to note that the original Kalo and the progenitor of Kanaka Maoli is Hāloa, which in simple terms mean long hā. Hā also means breath and the number four, and has several other meanings as well.

Posted at 07:51 AM     Permalink      

Sat - June 2, 2007

Making Poi

I took a bunch of photos at the taro festival at the end of April that I've been meaning to put up on the festival website, but in the meantime I'll throw a few in here now and then for your enjoyment. We made poi for the festival with two grinders, this being the smaller one brought by another farmer. But this is the step up from the Champion juicer, which can handle relatively small batches. Our larger one makes quick work of large-scale production, but for most batches this sized grinder is sufficient, and is quicker to set up and clean up. We also have one like this that we're in the process of getting mounted on a stainless-top table for use at the Kipahulu certified kitchen.

Posted at 07:39 AM     Permalink      

Sun - April 8, 2007

East Maui Taro Festival

Star-Bulletin''s Cheryl Tsutsumi features the East Maui Taro Festival, which is scheduled for Saturday, April 28, with field trips to NTBG's Kahanu Garden and Kipahulu Ohana's Kapahu Living Farm on Sunday, April 29. More info at

Posted at 06:43 PM     Permalink      

Thu - April 5, 2007

Kipahulu Cultural Interpretive Hikes

I'm very pleased to announce the launch of Kipahulu Ohana's cultural interpretive hikes in Haleakala National Park, which include a stop at Kapahu Living Farm (below) and other historical sites, plus stunning waterfalls and views! The hikes are being led by Native Hawaiians born and raised in Kipahulu and East Maui. This is a unique and very special experience. And through the hike, we'll fund our restoration projects through sharing education about the projects, and support local Hawaiians to earn a living practicing and sharing their culture. This is something I've been working on for a long time. Please help spread the word. Anyone coming to Kipahulu, join us for a hike you will long remember! You can book reservations online at the website.

Update: I also want to express our mahalo to the Hawaii Tourism Authority and County of Maui OED for their support in the development of this project, and to OHA for the support of the farm overall!

Posted at 12:24 PM     Permalink      

Mon - April 2, 2007

Kipahulu kitchen grants

Maui News has an article on the next round of funding and development for the certified kitchen that I have helped develop in Kipahulu, to increase the capacity and functionality of the facility. Mahalo to the County and to OHA's CBED program for their support. (Original press release in the extended entry.)

Posted at 12:54 PM     Permalink      

Sun - March 18, 2007

Kapahu Living Farm

A couple lo'i pix from yesterday for your enjoyment...

Posted at 09:15 AM     Permalink      

Fri - February 2, 2007

Lo'i Kalo

Time for some more kalo photos. This is the lo'i that I planted in mid-December 2005, and that I've posted photos of previously. It is now 13.5 months, and I just made my first harvest last week when I took these photos. Most of it probably will be harvested for the East Maui Taro Festival at the end of April. I love the color of this light on the lau.

And this one shows the inside of an 'ohana from above. You can see the large, mature mother kalo in the center, which now has only a relatively small, thin ha (coming up to the center top of the photo), surrounded by all its keiki on all sides.

Posted at 10:19 AM     Permalink      

Tue - December 12, 2006

Lo'i Kalo planted at Taro Festival

For Keali'i, this is the lo'i that your halau planted April 1 after the Taro Festival. Here's photos when freshly planted.

Posted at 06:00 PM     Permalink      

Mon - December 11, 2006

Lo'i Kalo - One Year

Here's the lo'i I planted at Kapahu one year ago this Friday. Fortunately, Uncle John has had some folks help bury the weeds a couple times while it was maturing, and now it's close to ready to start harvesting. See previous photos. The most recent one is from August (sorry for not posting more, but last few times I was there I had either forgotten my camera, had dead batteries, or just forgot to take a picture), taken at about the same spot, and you can see how it has filled in with leaves a lot more, and how each plant has a lot more oha around it. But the leaves actually get smaller at this stage as it puts its growth into the corm. I've finally been reading the Taro: Mauka to Makai book that UH CTAHR had put out (now out of print unfortunately), and it has great charts and illustrations of the life cycle. Forever learning, and hardly anything more satisfying. I have some more photos of the other patches I've been following to post shortly, too.

Posted at 07:36 PM     Permalink      

Tue - December 5, 2006

Bridge open between Hana and Kipahulu

Yesterday's Maui News reported on the opening Sunday of the temporary bridge between Hana and Kipahulu, next to the bridge that was closed due to damage from the October 15 quake. I drove across it today, and it is nice to be able to drive into Kipahulu again, but not so nice to see the all traffic out there again. As the article notes, the Kipahulu residents have somewhat mixed feelings about the road being open.

One thing I noticed that was interesting, which hadn't really registered until I saw the hard copy of the paper this morning, with the photos of the blessing on the front page... look especially at the first photo, with the mayor in it, and the third photo, showing just the bridge, and notice the flag that is flying... alone: Ka Hae Hawaii. Obviously someone just brought the flag and stuck in there, but this was an official county event. It was still flying there today when I drove across.

I give the county a lot of credit for acting so quickly to get the temporary bridge up and the road open.

But now today, as the Maui News also reports, folks are upset because the county suddenly erected barriers preventing travel around the back side near Kaupo, without any notice to the community.

Posted at 04:58 PM     Permalink      

Thu - November 30, 2006

Earthquake footage from Hana

If anyone is interested in seeing some earthquake footage, there was someone staying at the Hotel Hana-Maui who happened to be rolling a camera facing the ocean on Sunday, Oct. 15 when the 6.7 mag earthquake struck. The person doing the footage had some relation with Inside Edition, and videographer a friend of ours, Jay April, was brought in the next day (or two) to try to get the footage converted and FTPd over to IE. They couldn't get it working on the antiquated computer at the hotel, so he called me up looking for a Mac and a high speed connection, and I ended up capturing the video off his camera and sending it over to IE where it was shown that evening.

Jay has posted it on YouTube. It isn't terribly dramatic, but it does give you a sense of what the quake felt like and how long it went on (47 seconds).

Posted at 01:01 PM     Permalink      

Sat - November 25, 2006

Kipahulu Thanksgiving

Here's some photos from Thursday at the Kipahulu kitchen Thanksgiving.

So thankfull, we use two Ls!

More in the extended entry...

Posted at 12:08 PM     Permalink      

Thu - November 23, 2006

Earthquake; Kipahulu Thanksgiving

We just had another earthquake. Fairly minor compared to the big one last month, but the house shook pretty good for several seconds. Hopefully that's the last of it for today.

And Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We all have much to be grateful for.

We're headed out to Kipahulu for Thanksgiving, where there is a imu at the kitchen. Kalua Turkey! We have to walk across the closed bridge and catch a ride from there. Here's a Star-Bulletin article on the Kipahulu Thanksgiving. It has been a big community potluck for years, but this year does hold special significance, first because it is the first Thanksgiving with the kitchen operational, and second because of the community's isolation due to the bridge closure, which has brought everyone together even more. I'll post photos tomorrow hopefully, and share more about the overall situation in Kipahulu, where I've been helping with communications and coordination since the bridge closure.

Update: Being reported as a 4.5 or 5.0 quake off the Big Island in the same location as last month's.

Update 2: Civil Defense is saying no tsunami threat. Some power outages and road closures on Big Island.

I know it's a holiday, but the quake happened around 9:20 it took the Advertiser 55 minutes and the Star-Bulletin over an hour to post breaking news items about the quake. Seems like it shouldn't take that long.

Update 11/24: Advertiser article and Star-Bulletin article about the quake. And here's the Maui News article.

Update 11/25: Advertiser reports another quake this morning of the north coast of the Big Island, mag 4.3. We didn't feel this one (but we were sleeping at the time).

Posted at 09:26 AM     Permalink      

Sun - October 22, 2006

Earthquake damage closes bridge between Hana & Kipahulu

Well it looks like here in East Maui we're having a significant impact from the quake a week ago: the Maui News reports that the county is indefinitely closing Paihi bridge between Hana and Kipahulu. This will particularly affect about a dozen Kipahulu students who go to Hana school, and many residents who work in Hana, but pretty much everyone in Kipahulu relies on Hana for supplies, ice, mail delivery, etc. I'm actually in a somewhat reverse situation, living near Hana but going out to Kipahulu once or twice a week for my work with the Kipahulu 'Ohana. The only access to Kipahulu will be from the Kaupo side, through Kula. There are also hundreds of tourist buses and cars each day that normally make this journey to the 'Ohe'o area of Haleakala National Park. This section of the national park is completely cut off for visitors because even the back side of the road through Kaupo was also damaged and is open to local traffic only. This will definitely impact our activities hosting groups at the taro patch in the park. Kipahulu is a off-grid and very self-reliant community, and I'm sure they'll figure out ways to manage while the county works on getting a temporary bridge up, but this will definitely have a big impact on life over here, the implications of which will take a few days to come to terms with and find workarounds for. (Here's the Star-Bulletin article on the bridge closure.)

Update: Below and in the extended entry I'm posting some photos take by a friend on the day of the quake in Kaupo, showing the road completely covered by rubble. Kaupo is the side of the island directly facing the epicenter across the channel. I had another friend who was in this same area actually doing a hi'uwai standing in the ocean at the time the quake hit! Rocks were falling off the cliff behind her. The road was blocked off in both directions, and about forty people who had been there for a wedding were trapped there all day. They finally opened up the road to Kipahulu/Hana late in the afternoon so everyone could leave and then closed it again. This section of the road is now open and is the only access in or out of Kipahulu.

Posted at 07:32 PM     Permalink      

Sun - October 15, 2006


Earthquakes this morning.

We felt two major ones here in Hana, on the easternmost tip of Maui about 60 miles north of the epicenter, which was across Alenuihaha Channel off the west coast of the Big Island. The larger one (reported around 6.6 magnitude) shook for what seemed a long time, half a minute or more as we jumped under door frames. We could feel the earth rolling underneath us, knocking a few things off the shelves, but causing no other damage that we can discern at this time. Then a smaller but still significant aftershock (5.8) could be felt a few minutes later, and a little while after that I felt another minor rumble.

The power went off here at the time of the first quake, but came back on before long. Hana is a very isolated community with sometimes less than reliable power, and I have heard that power is off elsewhere on Maui, so I'm not sure if we're running off the main grid or off a smaller local backup generator that kicks in when the grid goes down. And though there are reports of phone lines down elsewhere, phones and obviously the cable Internet are working here. And although cable TV is working, we are still not getting any signal from our local TV stations, apparently due to the power outages on O'ahu.

CNN has been streaming live coverage from KITV. The Star-Bulletin website has been down for a while, but the Advertiser is up and has breaking updates.

I also just wanted to note one comment I heard that is on-topic for this blog. Erik Von Ancken, a reporter from Florida who is vacationing on the Big Island, was reporting on CNN by phone, and said that he had "talked to my family back in the United States." Yes, people do think of Hawaii as another country.

Update 10:35 am: Just had another aftershock.

Update 11:23: I can't help noticing these... Contessa Brewer on MSNBC referred to her brother getting news from "the mainland, or the U.S. mainland, I should correct myself." Heh. Again, confused over exactly what the relationship is. I find these little slips that come out when people are speaking spontaneously rather revealing about how Hawaii is perceived, sometimes even on a subconscious level. Like they know it is supposed to be part of the U.S., but it just doesn't seem like it should be. Comments like this from tourists are common.

Update 11:56: KITV report via CNN: Maui Mayor Arakawa says Hana Highway is closed due to rock slides and bridge damage. I think I might head out and see if I can get any video or photos.

Update 4:38 pm: Well no pictures. Apparently the Hana Highway is blocked over on the Kaupo side, and one lane is closed (traffic is alternating) around Honomanu which is between Hana and Kahului. But I didn't go far enough either way to really see any significant damage. Waianapanapa State Park, which is just down the road from our house, is closed because apparently there was a collapse and the beach area is below some cliffs, so they're making sure it is stable and safe for the public. I also heard that some pieces fell off of the old smokestack in Kipahulu; one collapsed in Hawi, and this one is still standing but apparently sustained some damage.

Oh, and this has really spooked the cats! Pueo was out wandering around very gingerly a while ago, but the other three have been scarce all day, hiding under the bed or in closets.

Posted at 09:42 AM     Permalink      

Fri - September 1, 2006

East Maui water diversion protests

Star-Bulletin reports on protests against East Maui stream diversion ahead of today's BLNR contested case hearing.

Posted at 07:27 AM     Permalink      

Tue - August 29, 2006

Hawaiian Roots - Growing Kalo in Ke'anae

Hana Hou! (Hawaiian Airlines Magazine) has a nice article by Paul Woods on kalo growing in Ke'anae, Ko'olau, Maui.

Also, the Sept/Oct issue of Hawaii Magazine, there's an article by Cheryl Ambrozic on the Kipahulu 'Ohana. The article isn't online yet, but if you're interested look for the hard copy, and I'll try to post it later.

Posted at 08:44 AM     Permalink      

Thu - August 3, 2006

Lo'i Kalo

I'll leave you with this, the latest photo showing the growth in the lo'i I planted back in December. (Earlier photos)

Posted at 09:05 AM     Permalink      

Mon - July 31, 2006

Kipahulu Certified Kitchen approved!

The off-grid certified kitchen in Kipahulu (on which I've been project coordinator over the last year plus) has received its final approvals! We passed the Department of Health inspection last week and the county wastewater inspection this morning, which was the last one. I should be able to get the Certificate of Occupancy this week, and our License to Process Food is on the way. We still have a lot of improvements we want to continue making so it isn't really "complete", but it is to the point where it can be certified and we can start using it! It has been a long process, and it feels good to reach this milestone (just before I leave for vacation). We have scheduled our blessing for Friday, September 1 at 3:00 p.m. if anyone happens to be in the neighborhood. Another big mahalo to the County, OHA, and the community of Kipahulu for providing the funding and the sweat to make it happen. Here's the interior of the kitchen, taken this morning:

It will be a shared use facility for various value-added ag processing, but the #1 priority is poi. Of course, now we need to increase our kalo production.

We are expanding the taro patches at Kapahu and also working on plans to help get more opened up across East Maui. There are old lo'i along every stream, and Uncle John knows where most of them are. We want to map them and then prioritize which ones to work on.

The idea is to get folks to manage the lo'i in their own 'ahupua'a. If we get together with community work days to get them cleared, opened, rebuild the walls as needed, and repair the 'auwai or install irrigation to get the water flowing again, then it is fairly easy for a few people to maintain.

Then, along with folks in that 'ahupua'a being able to have kalo for their tables, we can do a sort of cooperative harvest where the excess kalo from all the 'ahupua'a are gathered together - maybe once a week would be the goal - taken out to the kitchen in Kipahulu and processed into poi, and then delivered back to those maintaining the lo'i, with the excess going to those most in need - kupuna, infants, hapai mothers, folks with diabetes, etc. at an affordable price.

That is my main mission in life at the moment, and something that, regardless of politics, I hope we all can agree on!

Here's Kapahu last week. The three wet lo'i in the center are just about ready to plant, they just need one more session of kids tromping in the mud—and the planting moon. Behind that you can see three more across that have been newly tilled and are ready to start working. On the right there's the bright tape indicating the outline of another lo'i to be opened next. This area is the lowest in the farm and very wet, so the lo'i have to be restored and worked by hand, whereas the ones behind can be tilled by machine which is much quicker. There's plenty more right in this area to keep opening, which can be done fairly quickly with machines, but we also want to get others along each stream open as well, and we can supply the huli and the guidance.

Posted at 05:02 PM     Permalink      

Fri - July 14, 2006

Papa ku'i 'ai & 'Opae

Hopefully soon I'll post more photos from the Kipahulu 'Ohana's Kapahu Living Farm that I took Wednesday, but for now I thought this was a nice shot to share. The group that was visiting learned to pound poi the traditional way, and afterwards the board was put under the pipe where the water flows into the farm.

Another very cool and important thing was happening here, also—the young 'opae have been migrating upstream. This day there were relatively few left, but a few days before this, there were thousands of them climbing up the side here into this pipe. These little shrimps, maybe 1/2 inch long, migrate all the way from the ocean, up the stream, climb up the side of the cliff where our 'auwai flows back down into the stream, then pass through the lo'i, and amazingly climb up into the pipe and follow it all the way back to the stream, which is quite a ways. This is so important because the 'opae are one of the creatures whose life cycle includes both the ocean and the fresh water streams, the living embodiment of how the 'ahupua'a extends out into the ocean as part of one whole ecosystem. Here you can see a few of them we scooped up in the bowl.

Posted at 08:50 AM     Permalink      

Thu - July 6, 2006

Mahalo to OHA for Kipahulu Ohana grant

In the extended entry I have posted a press release about several grants the Kipahulu 'Ohana has received, including $96,575 from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for our Kapahu Living Farm project. (For those who aren't already aware, I'm the Executive Director of the Kipahulu 'Ohana.) While I have been critical of OHA's handling of the Akaka bill, I obviously think that supporting programs like ours are among the things that OHA should be doing, and we are very grateful for their support.

I do want to mention one small constructive criticism about this grant process, however, which is how long it took. The application was submitted in April 2005. The grant was finally approved by OHA's board in early December. But only this week are we finally getting our first check. And this isn't a reimbursement grant either—the first check was supposed to be issued up front. But we had wait seven months, with the grant period already half over, before receiving it. I don't think it is the fault of any one individual (and I sure hope this had nothing to do with politics and my free expression regarding the Akaka bill here!), but it has definitely slowed down our ability to move forward for the last few months while we were waiting for the grant process to inch along. I do hope OHA board and staff can address this problem and make things a bit more timely.

But despite all that, again, I want to say mahalo to OHA's trustees for approving this grant and the staff who I've been working with. We'll put it to good use!

Here's what OHA is supporting...

Update 7/7: The Maui News covered our press release.

BTW, this was actually a resent of a press release that I put out in May and nobody picked it up that I noticed, so I sent it again, but in the meantime we also got a $5000 grant from Group 70 Fund, also for Kapahu Living Farm, and I forgot to add that, so mahalo to them as well!

Posted at 02:20 PM     Permalink      

Fri - June 2, 2006

Kapahu farm pix - Baha'i Youth & new Superintendent

Finally getting around to posting some more kalo photos.

A couple weekends ago I hosted a group of Baha'i youth at the farm, and they helped weed the lo'i I planted in December. (Previous pix.) When the kalo is at this stage, past a few months old and starting to mature and send out oha, it has a well established root system. It is very important to walk only in the middle of the rows and remove the weeds very carefully to avoid damaging the roots, or it can shock the plants and slow their development.

When they started to get a bit roudy, I sent them over to this lo'i that was only half planted, and it soon became a full-on mud fight. They had a ball and buried some weeds and stirred the mud in the process, helping get the lo'i ready for planting.

Here's a shot afterwards with everyone cleaned up. That's me second from the right, and the fellow on the end is Bob Hobdy, a retired state forester who is an incredible wealth of knowledge about old place names and 'ahupua'a boundaries, as well as Hawaiian plants. He has a bunch of old maps that he was written on with information he's collected over the years with place names and such, and one project I'd love to work on is to record and GIS all his maps.

A couple days later we had a meeting with the new superintendent of Haleakala National Park, Marilyn Parris, and her staff. It was a good meeting, she was very supportive, and we're looking forward to working closely with her. Just in case anyone is wondering, yes, we support independence as individuals and believe Hawaii is occupied by the U.S., AND we work cooperatively with the feds. Constructive engagement. The park is a huge presence in our backyard, and to a large extend we share the same goals, so we try to educate them on culture and history and Hawaiian land management, and work with them toward our common goals. (The previous superintendent's wife was a descendent of a Hawaiian national and actually said at one point she thought Hawaii would be better off on its own.) Left to right is Mike Minn (our board President), Kuawela (Mike's mo'opuna), Eric Anderson (Management Assistant), John Lind (Project Director), Marylin Parris (Superintendent), Tweetie Lind (Secretary/Treasurer), me (Executive Director) and Dominic Cardea (Chief of Interpretation).

Uncle John shares his mana'o about the lo'i with Marilyn.

Posted at 06:34 PM     Permalink      

Fri - April 14, 2006


I'm off again for the weekend. Hoppy Easter.

Last Monday we went on a hike to an area where this maile grows. Sadly, not nearly as much as it used to, mainly due to goats. We've fenced goats out of three areas where three endangered Hawaiian plants plus koa, maile and other plants are coming back well now. Monday we inspected the exclosures, took out some African fern and Clidemia, and made plans for creating a goat trap (corral) and a fenceline that will protect the entire ridge and valley and allow the native plants to thrive again, which we can see they will.

Maile lau li'i o Ko'iahi.
Fine-leaved maile of Ko'iahi.
Often used in chants. The fine-leaved maile of Ko'iahi, in Wai'anae, was considered the best on O'ahu for beauty and frangrance. After the introduction of goats this beautiful and much liked vine vanished.
- 'Olelo No'eau (2075)

resurrect |ˌrezəˈrekt|
verb [ trans. ]
restore to life; revive the practice, use, or memory of (something); bring new vigor to

raise from the dead, restore to life, revive.
revive, restore, regenerate, revitalize, breathe new life into, bring back to life, reinvigorate, resuscitate, rejuvenate, stimulate, reestablish, relaunch.

Posted at 10:25 PM     Permalink      

Wed - April 12, 2006

Kipahulu Kitchen: Recipe for Community

Maui No Ka Oi Magazine has a nice article by Jill Engledow about the certified commercial kitchen in Kipahulu (with some quotes from me as the project coordinator).

Posted at 08:41 PM     Permalink      

Tue - April 11, 2006

Haleakala National Park Kipahulu toilet project

I don't know enough myself about the technical aspects of this issue to judge the potential danger this project poses, but some friends have done a lot of research on it and some people in the community are very concerned about it, so I wanted to share it here so folks can be aware...


Background: There has been an upgrade planned  for the toilets at the National Park in Kipahulu Maui Hawaii for many years now, since it was proven almost twenty years ago that small composting toilets will not work in a high use area. The composting toilets were overwhelmed by a factor of over a hundred, and have essentially become a health and safety hazard. The smell of raw sewage has been an embarassment to the Park. To solve this problem, expert designers were hired to design a system that would solve the obvious problems. Their solution involved the Park drilling a well into the aquifer to produce the water that will carry the sewage out of the toilets (and out of sight and smell). The problem is that there will be long term impairment to the subsurface ecology; and eventually contamination of ground water and the ocean from diluted sewage during extreme rains. Extreme rain happens in this area often. It is at the bottom of a rainforest, and channels the watershed runoff of thousands of acres. There are times the runoff water passes through several inches deep in all parts of the land in question.  (Rains similar to what the entire State recently experienced.)

More after the jump...

Posted at 06:40 PM     Permalink      

Thu - April 6, 2006

Last Taro Fest pix - Kapahu Farm

Because I was at Kahanu in the morning, I arrived at Kapahu in the afternoon after the planting was already done, so I don't have too many good photos, but here's a few of the farm. There were probably at least 50 or 60 people at the farm when I got there, spread around doing various activities, including Kumu Lake's halau. Mahalo for everyone's kokua!

The center mama kalos from the lo'i in the foreground were harvested for the festival, and the huli then planted in the lo'i behind.

Continued with more photos...

Posted at 07:45 PM     Permalink      

Wed - April 5, 2006

Kahanu Garden Ho'okupu

I realize in looking at my pix from last weekend's Taro Festival that I hardly got any shots at all on Saturday of the festival itself, except for the traditional poi pounding demonstration that I posted earlier. I was too busy talking story with folks.

But I did get some shots on Sunday of the two excursions.

First, Kahanu Garden where the group included Ka Lei Maile Ali'i Hawaiian Civic Club (who had performed "The Queen's Women" play Friday evening).

The front portion of Piilani Hale heiau. Over 3 football fields in size, probably the largest heiau in the Pacific.

Continued with more photos...

Posted at 10:04 AM     Permalink      

Mon - April 3, 2006

Making Poi

From the East Maui Taro Festival, some photos of traditional and mechanical methods of making poi...

Continued with more photos...

Posted at 11:54 AM     Permalink      

Sun - April 2, 2006

East Maui storm photos

Starting backwards on Taro Festival weekend photos, I wanted to get some shots of up the storm here this evening. While other islands have been getting pounded the last week, East Maui has been relatively mild, with hardly any rain the last several days, and beautiful weather all day yesterday and today for the Taro Festival. Mahalo Ke Akua. Then this evening around 6 we were sitting under the hale by the lo'i and all of a sudden a bolt of lightning struck right next to us, actually in the lo'i I think, with no discernible delay for the huge crack of thunder that filled the air and rolled around the valley. We could actually feel the pressure of it in the air. Wow! Then several more, also quite close by, as the sky opened up a torrential downpour. It was quite an invigorating experience, and quite the dramatic conclusion to a fine weekend. After the lightning seemed to have moved off a ways and we had gathered our ukana, we scurried off to our cars. Kekula's nephew Hoku and I took these shots on the way home.

Wailua Falls.

Continued... with more photos...

Posted at 10:50 PM     Permalink      

Fri - March 31, 2006

Taro Festival weekend

Taro Festival this weekend, so I'm not sure if I'll have time to post much. Headed back into Hana town to help make poi now. Has been overcast but mostly dry the last couple days, but raining lightly now, so hope it holds out for the weekend. If anyone happens to be coming to the festival, stop by the ag booth to say hi, and get some most yummy poi.

Posted at 05:14 PM     Permalink      

Fri - March 24, 2006

Stages of kalo

I going kalo-roots for the weekend, so no more posts until Monday. Everyone enjoy your weekends. Here's some pictures from today.

Chocolate cake? Small lo'i with perimeter channel ready to be planted and filled with water. This is being planted by Ty, whose wife just had a baby a few weeks ago, and this will be for the first birthday luau.

Here's another six weeks growth the lo'i I planted in December.

And this we'll start havesting next week for the poi and lau lau for the Taro Festival next weekend. I love the color of the leaves with the sunlight shining through from behind.

Posted at 09:58 PM     Permalink      

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