The Kipahulu Ohana and the Kapahu Living Farm

The Kipahulu Ohana is a community-based group in Kipahulu (near Hana) in Maui engaged in a number of projects such as raising taro, having cultural walks, reclaiming land from invasive species and animals, and important, bringing awareness of traditional Hawaiian ways and culture to all.

In 1995, a small group of Native Hawaiian residents came together to revive, restore, and share the practices of traditional Native Hawaiian culture with others in Kipahulu. We, the Kipahulu ‘Ohana, are a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating residents and visitors of the “ways of old” through cultural demonstrations and hands-on activities. Using the wisdom and spiritual guidance of our kupuna (elders, learned teachers), we seek to re-establish a Hawaiian lifestyle in Kipahulu. By initiating sustainable projects, dividing the labor, and sharing the results we will preserve our culture.

Sue and I spent a great day yesterday with Scott Crawford. He’s active in the group, and showed us Kapahu Living Farm, a taro field they’ve reclaimed and have been adding to. The field is in Haleakala National Park, and the Ohana has a partnership with the park that allows this, and also permits them to be in areas not generally open to visitors. Their planned cultural walks will also be in the park. For a local group to be allowed such access in a national park shows the respect others have for what they’re doing.

Bob Morris, Scott Crawford, Kapuhu Living Farm
Bob Morris (me) and Scott Crawford, Kapahu Living Farm. Taro growing in background.

Scott Crawford, Kapuhu Living Farm
Scott Crawford next to taro.

Another project is the Kipahulu Kitchen, a community area where they’ve recently gotten the ok to have a restaurant, do food processing, and sell jellies, jams, etc. This part of Kipahulu has about 200 people and is completely off the grid. There is no electricity or public water. Propane fuels the stoves, solar power is widely used, and water comes from streams off Haleakala. Yet they now have an operating commercial kitchen (which uses trucked-in water due to country regulations.) After our hike we had fresh-caught fish, rice, and real poi. It was delicious.

Poi, among other things, is hypo-allergenic. Babies that can not take other foods and are in danger can often be fed poi and then do quite well.

Scott was a wealth of information on Hawaiian culture and the local plants and trees. Many of the most important plants here were brought thousands of miles across the ocean by Polynesians, a fact confirmed by Hawaiian oral tradition as well as by scientific research. You can read more about these plants at Canoe Plants, “Today’s guide to yesterday’s life-sustaining plants.”

He also blogs, quite even-handedly, at Hawaiian Independence Blog about the growing sovereignty movement, which is national, not racial. The Kingdom of Hawaii allowed anyone to become a citizen, and any citizen could vote. Back then, as now, the people were a mix of multiple cultures. This is the crucial point. It’s not racial. Once outsiders understand this, and learn how the land was stolen from Hawaiians, they often become sympathetic to the movement.

In Sept. 2001, dengue fever hit Hana. Scott got it before they knew what it was. He recovered, and then everyone, people, landowners, government worked quickly and effectively to knock it out. Landowners opened floodgates to clear out stagnant pools of water thus destroying where the mosquitoes breed. Everyone worked together, and they did it so well that the U.N. recognized it as a model for how others can stop dengue also.

The hope of the Kipahulu Ohana is that the sustainable practices they are bringing back and refining will be used by others too. What they are doing in Maui is important. Their cultural walks will be open to the public soon. Email Scott for more info on any of this.

[tags]Kipahulu Ohana, Kapahu Living Farm [/tags]