By Kimberlee Stuart. Walking up the dirt road to greet the hard working team Limahuli, the trickle of pristine Limahuli stream could be heard through the foliage. Crew members sat down under a big ulu tree with Kawika Winters, the director and ‘head steward’ of the gardens and he talked to us a bit about what we had in store on this beautiful day. The term ‘Learning journey’ was already befitting as we heard about the cultural, ecological, and educational goals of Limahuli.
One of these goals, to perpetuate traditional practices and ways of knowing was beautifully evident as we walked up through carefully restored lo’i. Kawika shared that the Kalo cultivars here share the same genealogy of those from 100s of years ago. Above the lo’i sits the newly built traditional hale with it’s beautiful thick roof of endemic loulu fronds, and solid pohaku, or stone foundation.
Walking through the lo'i toward the new traditional hale. Photo by Aina
Visiting beautiful Limahuli, it is easy to understand why the people here so clearly love this place. Yet with this love comes a certain level of concern. Kawika asked us to consider; “When the land is unhealthy what happens to the ocean? And when the ocean is not well what happens to the land?” Two endangered ground nesting sea birds, the `ua`a and a`o (endangered ground-nesting sea birds), are not coming back from their trips to the sea in large numbers; a sign that things are not well in the ocean. Those that are left are many times disoriented and crash due to our night time lights. These are the same birds that nourish the land with phosphorous and are used in navigation and fishing.
Photo by Aina
Up in the preserve the Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia crews helped to plant papala and Uncle Moku told us the story of his epic hike up the Makana cliffs where he and his son threw the burning plants down to the sea for the first 'ōahi ceremony in many decades. The bright flashes, seen all the way to Kilauea, remind us that when we malama honua, and care for nature’s gifts, we also preserve a culture and a way of knowing that can be passed to the next generation.
Moku Puulei Chandler, Noah Texiera-Kaʻaumoana, and Makanani blow the pu to signal our planting work is done. Photo by Aina.
Kawika Winters Program Director Limahuli Garden and Preserve P. O. Box 808
Hanalei, HI 96714 USA (808) 826-1668