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Hui Aloha Kīholo

Hui Aloha Kīholo

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. On Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019 we will give 20% of our sales to Hui Aloha Kīholo in celebration of #GivingTuesday.

Hui Aloha Kīholo is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization protecting and perpetuating the natural and cultural resources at Kīholo Bay in North Kona. We sat down with Nahaku Kalei, Hui’s Executive Director, for an interview to learn more about their cause.


What is Hui Aloha Kīholo?

In Hawaiian “Hui” means the action of uniting, or being united. We are people who have come together to hoʻokuleana (take on the responsibility) in this time, in this generation to care for Kīholo. To listen to her and act in ways in which the wants and needs of kanaka (people) are in balance with the health of Kīholo. We maintain an island lifestyle - camping - at Kīholo. Our staff check-in campers and manage the public campsites, we work with cultural practitioners and scientists to better understand Kīholo’s ecological health, we host over a thousand students and volunteers annually, and we hold space so that our living Hawaiian culture can grow and thrive.

Volunteers help to rebuild walls at Ka Loko o Kīholo (fishpond) at a monthly workday with The Nature Conservancy. PHOTO: Hui Aloha Kīholo

Where is Kīholo Bay?

Kīholo is located in the Kekaha wai ʻole o nā Kona (Waterless Kekaha region) of North Kona, which is part of the reason why Kīholo was and is so important to Kona. Kīholo played a crucial role in connecting people and landscapes because of her abundance of water (fishponds, anchialine ponds, and water systems). Kīholo Bay is located at the makai (coastal) area of the ahupua‘a (land division) of Pu‘uwa‘awa‘a. This area contains an extensive coastal wildland environment, historic sites, swimming and fishing areas, anchialine ponds, and historic coastal trails with associated archaeological features.

Kīholo Bay is nestled within the greater Kīholo State Park Reserve. Hui has worked under a Curatorship Agreement with the Hawaiʻi State Parks for the past decade. This is one of the only partnerships in the State where community-based nonprofit works with the State of Hawai'i to manage a public camping area. Our Hoa ʻĀina Rangers are on the ground every day to check-in campers, maintain and monitor the area, and educate visitors. We get no funding from the State for managing camping but are funded by donations and grants.

Why was Hui started?

In the early 2000s, Kīholo bay was a free for all, the wild wild west. There was a road opened to the bay with little to no management capacity by State Parks. There were massive parties on the beach, hundreds of people living in encampments, and Kīholo was a dumping ground for everything you can imagine – refrigerators, stoves, couches, construction materials, and there was human refuse and toilet paper everywhere.

Hui's Hoa ʻĀina Rangers are on the ground every day to check-in campers, maintain and monitor the area, and educate visitors. PHOTO: Hui Aloha Kīholo

The sense of what is sacred and responsibility for the place was gone. Kīholo was crying out for help, and the families, the people of the place felt her pain and huiʻd together to do something about it.

What would you tell someone who’s never been to Kīholo?

Today Kīholo is often described as peaceful, restorative, nourishing, and that is due to the hard work and aloha of many, many people who make sure that as we move forward we always keep the health of Kīholo and the health of the people. Each step taken at Kīholo is a step through a living cultural and natural landscape rich with history. Come, enjoy, and please do your part to mālama (take care).

If you are fishing, we ask that you fish for your table, not your freezer, so that fish can continue to grow and reproduce, and feed us all tomorrow. There is so much yet unknown to us, ike (knowledge) that perhaps our kupuna held, and that perhaps guided their ways of being. But for us here today, we must be kilo (observers) of the intricacies of the world around us, so that we can move in ways that enrich and not harm this precious 'āina (land).

Hui Aloha Kīholo’s Cultural Director, Kuʻulei Keakealani facilitates a school excursion with students. PHOTO: Hui Aloha Kīholo

We invite you to come for the day or spend the weekend at Kīholo through permitted camping from Friday through Monday. Be on the lookout for our Hoa ʻĀina rangers, they are the eyes of the land and carry a wealth of information. Our Hoa ʻĀina checks campers in and maintain the campgrounds, and they can try to answer any questions you might have.

How can someone get involved with your organization?

Check our website for monthly workdays with our partners at The Nature Conservancy. These focus on the restoration of Ka Loko o Kīholo, Kīholoʻs ancient fishpond. For educational groups interested in visiting Kiholo, you can fill out the group request form on the website too.

What is Hui Aloha Kīholo's vision for the future?

We envision Kīholo as a place where people are fed, both in body and spirit, where people can come to connect or reconnect, with 'aina and with each other. It's a bright place where Hawaiian culture is learned, shared, and will continue to grow and evolve. It is a place where Kīholo is part of the broader, thriving Pu'uwa'awa'a ahupua'a landscape.

Kīholo is also home to a special type of fresh water pool called wai ʻōpae, or anchialine pool. Wai ʻōpae are coastal water bodies containing both subterranean freshwater and saltwater inputs. PHOTO: Hui Aloha Kīholo

We have an immediate goal of restoring a home at Kīholo for our organization to work from. For twelve years Hui Aloha Kīholo has worked out of living rooms, classrooms, the back of trucks, and mostly on the ground at Kīholo, but we have never had a structure to call home. Giving Hui a physical home at Kīholo will allow us to better educate visitors about Kīholo, support conservation of natural and cultural resources, and manage camping.

After these long years of collaboration with Hawaii State Parks, we finally made a breakthrough and received access to the house fronting Kīholo bay (formerly belonging to Loretta Lynn). This structure is now included in our Curatorship Agreement and will be Huiʻs first-ever headquarters! We have named it, Hale Hoa ʻĀina, in recognition of our hoa ʻāina, or friends of the land.

Hui hope to restore the house fronting Kīholo bay (formerly belonging to Loretta Lynn) to house their organization. PHOTO: Hui Aloha Kīholo

Hui hope to restore the house fronting Kīholo bay (formerly belonging to Loretta Lynn) to house their organization. PHOTO: Hui Aloha Kīholo

Long-overdue maintenance totaling $40,000 is required in order to utilize Hale Hoa ʻĀina and our goal is to raise these funds by the end of the year so that work can start in early 2020. We are so grateful to Kona Coffee & Tea for this generous gift of 20% of their sales on #GivingTuesday. Please make a purchase to help support Hui Aloha Kīholo.

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FAVORITE KONA COFFEE & TEA DRINK: chai tea with coconut milk and honey - mmmm!
HOBBY: Paddling

I was born and raised on the island of Hawaiʻi and am an avid water woman. My lifeʻs work is to ensure future generations have access to the basic human rights of physical and spiritual health that comes through the joy of interacting with healthy places like Kīholo. I am so grateful for the very special privilege of serving Hui Aloha Kīholo as its Executive Director.

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