Hayden Meets a Blue Man

Lessons From Waipi‘o Valley – Youth and Adults Learn Together in the Huinawai Project

Immersed in a different world, free of cell phones, internet, and distractions, 26 youth and 15 adult mentors camped out, worked side by side in the lo‘i (taro patch), cooked food harvested from the land, brainstormed fresh ideas to promote teen health, and shared the lessons that Waipi‘o Valley teaches.

Huinawai participants at Waipio Valley lookout after the campout

Huinawai participants at Waipio Valley lookout after the campout

Hosted by Hāmākua Youth Foundation, with support of North Hawai‘i Drug-Free Coalition and Five Mountains Hawai‘i, the Huinawai Youth and Mentor Enrichment Camp was so-named for “a pond or pool created by the intersection of different streams.”  By bringing together youth from different groups and different parts of the island to plunge into a collective pool of knowledge, the Huinawai Project provided a diverse yet inclusive experience co-created by participants.

The journey started and ended with Hawaiian chants and protocols, asking permission to enter the Valley, and—as with a canoe voyage—leaving any negativity behind.  Afterwards, the group shared their new learning with the community, in the tradition of hō‘ike, with a community gathering and lunch at the Lookout.  Ideas generated by the youth leaders will be forwarded to mentors and adult policy makers for consideration, including Mayor Kenoi who sent a representative to the hō‘ike presentation.

“One thing I learned was to take responsible risks,” said Melia Orr, youth participant from Kona.  “When you step into the lo‘i, you could sink in four feet, or be on hard ground.  You have to let yourself go, meet other people, and show your real self to people.”

“It was very experiential,” said adult mentor Jude McAnesey of Waimea.  “Our hosts had a lot of aloha.  They really embraced us and helped us learn how to create ‘ohana and community with each other, to respect the land, respect the ancestors… It was really rich.”


Ku‘ulei and Ben Badua hosted the Huinawai group at their beautiful land called Ku‘ulei’s Haven.  Mahealani Maiku‘i, Executive Director of Hāmākua Youth Foundation, acted as the cultural ambassador to Waipi‘o Valley.  She and husband Carl Sims organized the activities and taught participants chants, how to pick lū‘au leaf for laulau, and corms for pa‘i ‘ai (cooked taro) and poi.  Holly Algood, a Board Member of Hawaii Mediation Center, led group discussions in a “Way of Council” format that invites all to share.  And University of Hawai‘i Mānoa Hawaiian Language student, Jacob Elarco, told traditional stories and helped with the chants.

“It was great to see everybody come and bond together,” said Sims.  “The kids grew very close in a short time.”

“I’m so blessed and fortunate to be part of this amazing trip and group of people,” said youth participant Michelle Fratinardo of Laupahoehoe.  “I learned that without our culture, we would not be who we are today.”  Fratinardo and other youth worked as a team to clear about 200 feet of ‘auwai (channel bringing fresh water flow to the kalo) in about 90 minutes.  “I didn’t know you could clean so much so fast,” she said.

“They worked hard, and when they could see water starting to flow, they knew they were making a difference,” said adult mentor Kei-Lin Cerf.  “And they found a way to make this work fun… they made games out of everything.”

“Working hard can be fun at the same time,” said youth participant Raynard Kalani Hall-Chong of Kaloa Camp (Hilo).  He and others indicated they’d like to come back and spend more time, something Maiku‘i said often happens after people first get their feet wet in Waipi‘o Valley.

Niqi Duldulao demonstrates how to make pa'i 'ai from the harvested taro while other Huinawai participants present an oli

Niqi Duldulao demonstrates how to make pa’i ‘ai from the harvested taro while other Huinawai participants present an oli

“The vision for this event was to create a safe container for teens and their mentors to deepen the connections with the land, host culture and each other.  We wanted an environment that would inspire new youth leaders to share their ideas about making our island healthier for our youth – and Waipi‘o Valley was perfect,” said Robin Mullin, Executive Director of Five Mountains Hawaii.

The idea of gathering different youth groups from around the island to network and contribute to solutions began last July when a youth advisory council exploratory meeting was held in North Kohala as part of the Models Not Bottles project, in partnership with the County of Hawaii’s Office of the Mayor.

“The teens wanted more time together and fun experiences to learn, so this year we tried a three-day camp format.  We saw the teens naturally share leadership, and they are already asking to do it again,” said Mullin.

“We need to make it a week long,” said Fratinardo.

“It was wonderful,” said Cerf.  “As the youth came together, the different groups just blurred together into one.  Even the youth were surprised… they couldn’t really remember whose group they were with.  I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”

Adult mentors Holly Algood, Deanna Kackley, Clarysse Nunokawa, Robin Mullin showing the Huinawai logo beach towel

Adult mentors Holly Algood, Deanna Kackley, Clarysse Nunokawa, Robin Mullin showing the Huinawai logo beach towel

The North Hawai‘i Drug-Free Coalition, a project of Five Mountains Hawai‘i, is a regional volunteer organization committed to developing strong, sustaining relationships for Healthy Communities Choosing to Live Drug Free. For more information, visit www.fivemountains.org/nhdfc.

Utility Work in Kona to Replace Underground Cables

Hawaii Electric Light Company announces utility work in the Kilohana Subdivision of Kona to replace underground cables. Work will continue for approximately 5-6 months. Work hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and may vary.

Lako Project

Work begins at the Lako Street intersection, proceeds toward Koko`olua Way, and includes all side streets. Speed is reduced in the work zone and traffic is limited to one lane only. The community is advised to avoid this area as much as possible and drive with caution through the work zone. Please use alternate routes if possible.

Power outages will be minimal. Hawaii Electric Light will work with affected customers individually to ensure a safe and smooth transition to the new system.

The improvements are being made to provide the community power at a high level of reliability. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your cooperation. If there are any questions or concerns, please call 969-6666.


North Hawaii Community Hospital Awards Numerous Scholarships to Big Island Students

On June 21, North Hawaii Community Hospital (NHCH) awarded scholarships to five Big Island students. Scholarships were presented by Dr. Gary Goldberg, Emergency Physician at NHCH; Dr. W. Douglas Hiller, NHCH Orthopedic Surgeon and Chief of Staff; and Dr. John Dawson, Primary Care Physician.

NHCH Scholarship Recipients

HCH awarded numerous educational scholarships to five Big Island students. From left to right: (top row) W. Douglas Hiller, M.D., John Dawson M.D., Gary Goldberg, M.D. awarded scholarship recipients (bottom row) June Mohr, Mindy Silva, Allen Gail Yvette Nitura, Michelle Ruiz Sahagun, Malia Silva during Thursday’s ceremony at NHCH.

June Mohr, a resident of Kailua-Kona, received the Peggy Dineen-Orsini Scholarship of $2,000. Mohr is attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa and is enrolled in Pre-Nursing major with an emphasis on Human Development and Family Resources. “Attending college at UH Manoa gives me a sense of purpose, great satisfaction and much motivation to meet my personal goal of succeeding in my studies and to excel in my chosen career of nursing here in my home state of Hawaii,” says Mohr. Private donors along with the hospital’s Medical Staff fund this scholarship in memory of Peggy Dineen-Orsini, who was a Registered Nurse at North Hawaii Community Hospital for eight years (1996 to 2004).

The second scholarship, funded by the NHCH Medical Staff, was awarded to Allen Gail Yvette Nitura and Malia Silva, offering each individual a $1,000 scholarship. Yvette, a 2013 graduate of Honoka’a High School, will attend Hawaii Pacific University to major in Pre-Nursing, while Maila, a resident of Kailua Kona, is currently attending Hawaii Community College where she is pursuing a Pre-Nursing major. The NHCH Medical Staff annual scholarships are funded through the dues each physician pays to be a member of the medical staff at NHCH.

The third and final scholarship opportunity is funded by Hawai’i Emergency Physicians Associated, Inc. (HEPA), the independent physician-owned group of board-certified physicians who provide staffing in NHCH’s Emergency Department. The two $1,000 HEPA scholarships were awarded to North Hawaii high school students: Michelle Ruiz Sahagun of Kapaau, who will attend the University of Hawaii at Hilo to study Elementary Education, and Mindy Ho’olilani Marie Silva of Honoka’a, who will study Nursing at Hawaii Community College. Scholarship recipient, Ruiz Sahagun, shared, “by advancing my education at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, I strongly believe that I will benefit Hawaii’s future students. I believe this scholarship will help make it possible for me to achieve my goals.” For this scholarship, students are asked to write a personal letter describing their future plans and goals and to explain why their financial need is compelling.

All applications were reviewed by the scholarship committees of each sponsoring organization; decisions were based on the criteria and requirements outlined in the scholarship application, which can be found online at www.NHCH.com.


State Budget Funds Forest Watershed Protection


Protecting mauka forest areas remains top priority for DLNR

The state budget bill, signed into law on June 18 by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, significantly increases funding for forest protection in Hawaii.


“The Department of Land and Natural Resources Watershed Initiative remains a top priority and will continue to move forward,”said Gov. Abercrombie. “Protecting our mauka forest areas, which contain native plants and animals found nowhere else in the world, is essential to the future of agriculture, industry, and our environment in Hawaii. It is the most cost-effective and efficient way to absorb rainwater and replenish groundwater resources to prevent erosion that muddies our beaches and fisheries.”

The state budget includes $3.5 million in general funds and $5 million in general obligation bond funding in fiscal year 2014 for watershed protection, as well as an additional $2.5 million in bonds in fiscal year 2015.

The budget also includes:

  • $3.5 million in the fiscal biennium to protect Hawaii’s largest remaining tract of dryland forest, located in Manuka, in Ka’u district.
  • Additional positions for natural resource managers and planners for on-the-ground forest protection projects.
  • $750,000 in both FY14 and FY15 for the Hawaii Invasive Species Council (HISC), an interagency collaboration of state department directors that addresses statewide invasive species issues such as invasive plants and animals that threaten native forests and their ability to provide water. HISC funds support a variety of projects, including control of invasive miconia on Kauai, Oahu and Maui, and the removal of axis deer from Hawaii Island.

“We now can make substantial progress towards our goal of doubling the level of forest protection in a decade,”said William Aila Jr., chairperson of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). “The bond funding alone funds the protection of more than 40,000 acres in watershed forests and dryland ecosystems statewide.”

Despite the importance of forests for providing Hawaii’s drinking water, more than half of these forests have been lost, and the rest are threatened by expanding populations of invasive species. Below are examples of prioritized funding to protect and restore critical watershed forests.

On Oahu, funding is provided to construct fences to protect more than 1,000 acres from feral pigs in the Koolau mountains. These projects are located mauka of Wahiawa and Punaluu, in the rainiest areas on Oahu. Public access will be maintained for recreational and gathering purposes. Pedestrian gates and step-overs (steps to allow people to go over a fence)) will be provided along fence corridors to ease access in and out of the protected areas.

Multiple projects were funded on Hawaii Island, including:

  • A project to plant native mamane trees at a 5,200-acre restoration site on the northern slope of Mauna Kea will be funded. Nearly 50,000 trees have already been planted in the last three years with the help of a thriving volunteer program.
  • Projects in remote forests of Kohala and Kau will be funded that are critical for supplying drinking and irrigation water for these regions. Comprehensive management actions include invasive species control, construction of protective barriers, and restoration of native species, including several that are endangered. Public access will be maintained for recreational and gathering purposes. Pedestrian gates and step-overs will be provided along fence corridors to ease access in and out of the protected areas. The DLNR and partners have engaged hundreds of community organizations and individuals to plan and assist with these projects. This includes involving hunters to assist with initial animal removal and opening new accesses to adjacent forests.
  • Capital improvement projects will benefit protection of the largest contiguous tract of dryland forest on Hawaii Island in Manuka. The ohia forest also harbors many rare native plants.

On Maui, projects were selected to protect more than 9,000 acres on the north, east and south slopes of Haleakala. On the south slope, more than 90 percent of the native koa forests have been lost to grazing from hooved animals such as goats, cattle and deer. Forests can re-grow in areas protected from hooved animals, aided by efforts to remove invasive plants.

Two projects on Kauai have been selected to protect more than 3,000 acres. These projects are located in the Alakai, the rainiest area in Kauai. These forests provide water for the Waimea and Hanalei districts. Threats to this region include invasive plants such as ginger and Australian tree fern, and damage from feral pigs and goats.

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