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Preserving Honokowai Valley

By Staff | Sep 1, 2011

Lo`i terraces dating back to 1200 AD are just one of the many landmarks in Honokowai Valley being preserved.

The late Ed Lindsey once said, “People who help the land and the culture, who give unselfishly for the sake of the land, they are the heroes, the real warriors.” Today, Maui Cultural Lands, a nonprofit grassroots land trust organization that Lindsey and his family established in 2002, continues to perpetuate our island’s natural legacy.

One of their projects is at Honokowai Valley, where an estimated 600 Hawaiian families once thrived. Ancient rock walls surrounding house sites and taro patches still stand proud. Some native and endemic plants are thriving. The rich Hawaiian history that permeates daily life on Maui has its roots here in this Valley. Unfortunately, many of these plants are nearing extinction due to the massive influx of invasive plant and animal species to the Hawaiian Islands.

“Our vision is to restore Honokowai Valley to a state of balance, so that it can serve as a place to learn, to find peace, and to honor those who have come before us,” said Edwin “Ekolu” Lindsey III. “The work we do is about reconnecting people to the land and providing a foundation for our future to thrive.”

“My grandfather believed that Hawaiian culture is based on sticks and stones,” said Ekolu. “The archeological sites (stones) only tell half of the story. We must look at the plants (sticks) to begin to understand the lessons and stories left behind by our Kupuna. By honoring our past, we can more clearly see our future — I ka wa mamua, ka wa mahope.”

Preservation of Honokowai Valley is a labor of love that he along with his mother, Puanani, the organization’s dedicated Board, selfless volunteers and generous community stakeholders have helped to nurture over the years.

“We appreciate the support from Kaanapali Land Management Corp. — without them we would not be sharing these wonderful stories,” said Puanani. “We extend a big mahalo to the thousands of residents and visitors who have put their mana into the land; the many businesses who have donated time, manpower and financial support; and our core group of weekend warriors who are the true heroes of our `aina.”

“I always tell our volunteers that you don’t have to be Hawaiian to enjoy the wonders left behind to be discovered; we just have to be of like minds and like hearts,” said Ekolu. “We challenge everyone to get involved and volunteer.”

Please contact Maui Cultural Lands at 572-8085 or e-mail MCL@hawaii.rr.com. Volunteers meet every Saturday (rain or shine) at the Puukolii train station in Kaanapali at 9 a.m. Students and groups are also invited to enjoy and see firsthand the stabilization work in Honokowai Valley — a living legacy for generations to come. For more information, visit www.MauiCulturalLands.org. Also, visit Kaanapaliland.com for information on Kaanapali Land Management Corp.