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Hawaiian cultural workshops slated

By Staff | Mar 26, 2021

LAHAINA — Hawaiian “hands-on” cultural workshops will be held on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Apuakehau, the cultural park next to Lahaina Public Library, beginning in April.

Lahaina Restoration Foundation announced that the workshops will focus on “canoe plants,” and each month the emphasis will be on a different plant that was used in ancient Hawaii.

All supplies will be provided, and the workshops are free. Workshops are limited to five participants and are open to anyone ten years of age and older. Masks are required, and all workshops are held outdoors with social distancing.

“Canoe plants” refer to the many useful plants that Polynesians first brought to Hawaii on their voyaging canoes. The plants to be used in the workshops include hau (hibiscus), ipu (gourd), niu (coconut) and ‘ulu (breadfruit).

As the most important “canoe plant” and because the park is the former site of the King’s kalo (taro) patch, information on kalo will be presented at each workshop. Several beds of kalo are currently growing at the park.

During the month of April, participants will learn how to make strong and durable cordage from hau (hibiscus) and will view a demonstration of how to clean and prepare an ipu for use.

Examples of cordage made from other indigenous fibers will also be discussed and shared. At the conclusion of the hands-on workshop, each participant will have made a length of cordage that they can take home.

In May, two of the niu (coconut) workshops will teach basket making and two of the workshops will focus on other aspects of the coconut tree, such as husking a coconut for drinking, cordage, tasting and more. From root to fruit, the uses of the coconut tree are many and provided a “one-stop shop” for ancient Hawaiians that fulfilled many needs.

‘Ulu (breadfruit) will be the topic of the workshops in June. The workshop will include demonstrations and tastings. The large green fruit is a nutritious and adaptable substitute for potato in the Western diet. It can be boiled, steamed, baked, fried and even made into crisp ‘ulu chips. The ripe fruit is sweet and creamy, and it’s often used in desserts. The wood fromʻ’ulu trees is light in weight, has many uses and is often made into boards that are used for pounding poi.

Kalapana Kollars, Hawaiian cultural director at Lahaina Restoration Foundation, will conduct the hands-on workshops. Kalapana has been devoted to Hawaiian life-ways and the study of local history for over 25 years. As a lifelong learner, he actively apprentices under notable Hawaiian leaders.

All classes will be held from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the following Saturdays: Cordage and Gourds — April 3, 10 and 17; Coconut Basket Making — May 1 and 15; Uses of the Coconut (lecture, demo, tastings) — May 8 and 22; and Breadfruit (lecture, demo, tastings) — June 5, 12 and 19.

Participants must register in advance at lahainarestoration.org/workshops.

This free workshop series is generously funded by the Maui County Strong Fund of the Hawaii Community Foundation through funds granted by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and coordinated by Lahaina Restoration Foundation.

For further information, go to www.lahainarestoration.org and click on Hawaiian Cultural Classes in the menu.