January 15, 2020

La Hana Helps Preserve Lanai’s Culture and Resources

From the uplands of Hii to the Waiaopae fishpond, the storied places of Lanai preserve pieces of our island’s history while offering lessons in culture and sustainability. Caring for these special sites and spending time with family and friends is the essence of La Hana.

La Hana, meaning “workday” in Hawaiian, is designed to bring people together to care for and learn about Lanai’s natural and cultural resources. “It’s a chance to play a role in making sure our island is well maintained for the next generation to enjoy,” said Diane Preza, director of culture and historic preservation at Pulama Lanai.

What originally began as an idea from the Lanai Culture and Heritage Center, La Hana has become a community effort bringing together different groups and individuals for stewardship events. In the past, some projects have drawn more than 100 volunteers.

Giving back

For the first La Hana event of 2020, volunteers will be able to help restore Waiaopae, an ancient fishpond that was once a valuable food source for Native Hawaiians. On Feb. 8, the team will travel to the site of the 2,000-foot rock wall and work to transform Waiaopae into a functioning fishpond by passing pohaku (rocks) to rebuild the wall.
Residents of all ages, from young keiki to kupuna, are welcome to partake in the restoration. “One of the kupuna who came to the volunteer day actually grew up down there, so to have her with us while we were working on the wall was really meaningful for us,” remembered Preza.

Another volunteer event to look forward to in 2020 is working on Hii Agricultural and Ceremonial Complex Trail. At the base of the mountain on a region of ancient dryland agricultural terrace known as “First Bench,” volunteers will help to weed and clear the way for native plants.

Preza is hopeful that those who volunteered in the past will show up again and that new members will be drawn to participate in La Hana as well. “This program is about opportunities and awareness. It’s a good learning experience and you get a sense of accomplishment that you did something good for the island,” explained Preza. “You also get to talk story and catch up with colleagues or old friends that you may not normally get to spend time with.”

Get involved in 2020

There are many projects planned for 2020, and more volunteers are needed. Transportation is available to each of the sites and participants are encouraged to bring a potluck item to enjoy after work wraps up around lunch. To register for the next La Hana day, email or call 808-565-3202.

La Hana Dates

Saturday, Feb. 8, 7:30 a.m. — Waiaopae
Saturday Apr. 11, 8 a.m. — Hii
Saturday, Aug. 8, 8 a.m. — Beach Cleanup
Saturday, Nov. 14, 8 a.m. — Koa Forest

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