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Breaking the Silos: Collective Insights for Community Stewardship in Hawai?i

Ku'uwehi Hiraishi

The beauty of Hawai?i draws visitors from around the world. But caring for the state’s natural resources is a constant challenge for many. Some of those who are caretakers are coming together to help each other—and help the land as well. HPR’s Ku’uwehi Hiraishi reports. 

Tucked away near the base of the Ko?olau Mountains in Waim?nalo, volunteers repair a traditional Hawaiian thatched house. 

Credit Ku'uwehi Hiraishi
Volunteers help repair the corners of Waimanalo's Hale Limu Lipu'upu'u.

Some drag dried loulu palms across the the pebble-laden floor while others hoist them up ladders, fastening them to wooden frames to patch up holes.

“The hardest part is the corners,” says Scotty Garlough, “Once we get that done, we can move onto the faces. The faces are easier.”

Garlough helps repair Waim?nalo’s Hale Limu L?pu?upu?u. He’s usually busy teaching lashing and thatching at Ho?oulu ??ina in Kalihi. 

But over the weekend, Garlough joined a gathering of the who’s who of Hawai?i’s stewardship community dedicated to protecting the island’s lands and waters.


Credit Ku'uwehi Hiraishi
Volunteers use loulu palms to patch up the thatching.

“This gathering helps us to get to know each other,” says Sol Kaho?ohalahala.

He flew in from L?na?i for the gathering of E Alu P? – a statewide network of 35 community-based organizations focused on preserving Hawai?i’s natural and cultural resources.

E Alu P? began 15 years ago with the idea that communities could benefit from the opportunity of sharing best practices and airing mutual frustrations.

Credit Ku'uwehi Hiraishi
Sol Kaho'ohalahala shares some of the challenges and successes he's had in stewarding the land and waters of his island - Lana'i. He participates in the annual gathering of similar community organizations to gain a better understanding of how to best manage the resources in his community.

“The communities that have similar situations can understand from me, my island’s story, my island’s concerns,” says Kaho?ohalahala, “And then what we’re trying to do to help fix it. That our successes can be something that’s relevant to their challenges.”

Big Island resident Kawika Lewis never heard of E Alu P? until this year. He, his wife Kaipua?ala and their children and grandchildren have been running ??ina University in Pauka?a for 6 years.

“Words cannot even explain the opportunity that my ?ohana and I have to see 35 plus organizations on the same page so to speak,” says Lewis, “Sometimes jumping those same hurdles it seems so awesome. And we hope to come back again.”

Presley Wann flew in from flood-devastated H??ena. He’s experienced first-hand the value of networking with other communities in E Alu P?. His organization helps run the state’s first designated community-based subsistence fishing area on Kaua?i’s north shore.

Credit Ku'uwehi Hiraishi
Gathering participants close out a day of ocean-related stewardship activities at Kaiona Beach Park in Waimanalo. The group helped restore part of a turtle pond called Pahonu as well as some native limu or seaweed.

“You know if it wasn’t for this organization, guarantee we would have still been working on our community-based subsistence fishing area,” says Wann, “You know it’s for advocating for each other no matter what.”

As we spoke, petitions were being circulated seeking support for another community-based subsistence fishing area designation for Mo?omomi on Moloka?i.

“We’re a political power here and we don’t even realize what it is,” says Wann, “This is it. This is the beginning of a huge movement.”

Credit Ku'uwehi Hiraishi

This year hundreds of participants descended upon Waim?nalo for E Alu P?. ?Ilima Ho-Lastimosa, founder of God’s Country Waim?nalo helped host the gathering.

“All of us as kanaka, no matter where we live,” says Ho-Lastimosa, “whether it be Waim?nalo, Wai?anae, Wailuku, Waik?ne, we all have our skills...”

And by banding together, the collective impact can create systemic change in preserving Hawai?i’s natural and cultural resouces.

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at
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