April 27, 2023

Lanai CHC celebrates plantation centennial

Photos courtesy of Lanai Culture and Heritage Center.

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In its heyday, the pineapple plantation on Lanai produced 75% of the world’s pineapples, earning it the moniker, the “Pineapple Island.” Last year, the Lanai Culture & Heritage Center (Lanai CHC) celebrated the plantation centennial, 100 years since James Drummond Dole purchased the island and started the plantation community.

“The plantation centennial was really a celebration of Lanai’s plantation people and the community values they established,” says Shelly Preza, Lanai CHC’s executive director. “We wanted to honor those who came before us and laid the foundation for our diverse, close-knit community.”

The center hoped to honor the history, culture, people and values of the plantation families and the legacy they left through hosted events, new partnerships and new exhibits.

E Ike Hou ia Lanai

The E Ike Hou ia Lanai summer cultural literacy program was started by Lanai CHC in 2012 to teach Lanai students about the past and connect them to their home through aina-based learning. The program has evolved over the years and has included visits to culturally significant sites on Lanai, allowing program participants to learn about history, culture, math, science and literature in a way that is relevant to them.

In 2022, E Ike Hou was in its 10th year and featured a new curriculum developed around plantation history, community and values. There were 50 people, ranging from pre-K to adults, who attended the program hoike, or culminating event, which included interactive booths and a historic scavenger hunt around town.

Virtual Exhibits

Lanai CHC unveiled two new virtual exhibits focused on sharing the vibrant lives of plantation people and on the changing landscapes of Lanai.

“We had great public response to the virtual exhibits,” Preza shares. “Many people were excited to see photos showcasing different facets of our island’s history. It also allowed us to share photos in our archival collection that had never before been exhibited, which was a great opportunity.”

The first exhibit, “Beyond the Labor: Plantation Life on Lanai” focuses on plantation life, specifically the community and the values that were developed at that time. Traditionally portrayed as a time dominated by arduous work and hardship, the exhibit aims to show how community members lifted each other up across ethnic lines to build a vibrant multicultural society. It includes never-before-seen photos of everyday life, from bowling leagues and hunting dog competitions to bon dances and swimming at Kaumalapau Harbor. Community members who grew up during the plantation area also provide audio commentary.

The second exhibit, “From Mauka to Makai: Changing Landscapes on Lanai,” was launched at the end of the year. It showcases historical photos of Lanai’s storied places and includes audio commentary to bring a layered experience to the audience. The exhibit highlights how the island’s landscape has changed over time with the introduction of ranching, the plantation, the hotels and more. ”’

To view the virtual exhibits, visit

Lānaʻi: Fragments of History, 1400-1945

William Munro was born and raised on Lanai during the plantation era. He ended up moving away, but returned often, eventually collecting cultural and historical information he put to paper. In 2009, he gifted Lanai CHC his manuscript, called “Lanai: Fragments of History, 1400-1945,” which goes into considerable detail on the island’s ownership history, the challenges the early settlement faced, and the economic development of the island up through 1945. This publication came to fruition this year with a collaboration between Lanai CHC and his three children.

The book is available in paperback and as an ebook, and can be purchased online.

Maui Public Arts Corps Partnership

In partnership with the Maui Public Arts Corp, Lanai CHC recorded three talk-story sessions with Dean Del Rosario and Shelly Preza, Soon Yai Amaral and Diane Preza, and Henry Eskaran, Jr. and Anthony Pacheco. Each session focused on the vibrant lives people lived during the plantation days and the deep connections they forged as a community.

After the recordings, Maui Public Art Corps reached out to the public for photos that aligned with the stories. New York-based artist Taisiya Zaretskaya then created a painting of each one, which was then composited by Natalie Greene. Artist Richard O’Connor and his animation team, Ace & Son Moving Picture Company, then combined all the elements to create animated films.

To view the films and to learn more about the partnership, visit

Holiday Festival Fundraiser

Lanai CHC’s Board President Dean Del Rosario welcoming the community to the Holiday Festival Fundraiser

The Lanai Culture & Heritage Center held its first ever holiday festival fundraiser on Saturday, December 10th at Dole Park. The event was the culmination of the center’s centennial celebrations and included delicious food, holiday gifts, keiki activities, hula performances, an art debut, and a book launch.

Overall, Lanai CHC’s plantation centennial celebration was a great success! To stay up to date with Lanai CHC events and programming, visit, follow them on Facebook and Instagram (@lanaichc), and sign up for their e-newsletter.


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