January 24, 2018

La Hana Teaches Residents to Preserve Land and Culture

Few activities present an opportunity to care for the land, spend time with family and friends, learn about sustainability and honor Lanai’s culture, all in a day’s work. At La Hana, participants can experience all of the above, and more.

La Hana, meaning “workday” in Hawaiian, gives community members the chance to work alongside each other to preserve, protect and learn about Lanai’s natural and cultural resources.

Origins of La Hana

At La Hana, participants help restore and maintain some of Lanai’s most storied places, from the lush green valley of Maunalei to historic Waiaopae fishpond. The workdays are organized by Pulama Lanai and the Lanai Culture & Heritage Center.

Anela Evans, cultural liaison in Pulama Lanai’s culture and historic preservation department, has seen the program grow in size and scope since its inception two years ago. Some projects have drawn more than 100 volunteers.

“La Hana is all about what we call social stewardship — coming together and collaborating to work on something for the greater good, ” she said. “We get people of all ages, individuals who are passionate about this type of work, repeat volunteers and families.”

Evans hopes the La Hana team can keep enthusiasm and registration rates high as they move closer to their first project of the year on Saturday, Feb. 3.

First project of the new year

The first La Hana event of 2018 will be held at Waiaopae, the site of an ancient fishpond that was once a valuable food source for Native Hawaiians. Past La Hana events have focused on restoring the 2,000-foot-long rock wall around the nine-acre fishpond.

“We have community members gather and pass pohaku (rocks), and our stone masons stack the rocks to rebuild the wall,” Evans explained.

Each workday brings Waiaopae one step closer to becoming a functioning fishpond. It’s all part of La Hana’s long-term vision of promoting food sustainability.

“For a community like Lanai, food sustainability is a big part of our future,” Evans explained. “We are bringing back a cultural practice of aquaculture, farming fish to provide a source of protein for the community.”

Restoration efforts have already helped loosen sedimentation brought by runoff from the mountains. As the sediment clears, it unclogs underground freshwater springs, providing a healthier environment for marine life to flourish.

“Participants actually learn about how our island’s ecosystem works,” Evans said. “Waiaopae is like an outdoor classroom, bringing awareness to our natural environment and ecosystem, our ocean resources and food sustainability.”

Get involved in 2018

This year, the La Hana team has plans to expand its list of projects and worksites around the island. Evans also hopes to attract more participants, as many as 40 to 50 volunteers per workday.

“We try to have a broad scope of work so everyone can get involved,” she said. “When people participate, they feel happy and accomplished for doing something good for their community. It’s a great experience for everybody.”

La Hana is free and open to residents and visitors of all ages. Participants are encouraged to bring a potluck dish and enjoy lunch at the site after work is completed. To sign up for the next La Hana day, visit

La Hana at Waiaopae

Postponed until further notice.

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