Celebrating the Arts, Culture, and Sustainability of Hawai'i Island. A magazine for those who love life on the Hawai'i (aka Big) Island. Sharing inspirational stories about the land, culture, people and living a sustainable life.
Miloli‘i Bay and original sign. photos by Barbara Garcia
By Marcia Timboy
The opening line of this famous mele (song) about one’s huaka‘i (journey) from Miloli‘i to seek experiences in bigger cities, was composed by John Makuakane in the 1930s. Over the years many kama‘āina (residents) of Miloli‘i leave the village for educational or other opportunities. With Miloli‘i in their hearts, they always find a way to return.
Located in the South Kona district of Hawai‘i Island, Miloli‘i remains the most traditional fishing village in Hawai‘i. Miloli‘i families have been fishing offshore and near-shore waters for generations. There are two differing translations of Miloli‘i: one is “fine twist,” in reference to the excellent sennit from the olonā bark to make fine cordage and highly valued fishing nets (Nolan 1981); the other, “small swirling,” denotes the many ocean currents that flow past the village (Pukui 1981).
Cultural and Natural History
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The history of human settlement in the Miloli‘i-Ho‘opūloa area extends to the first millennium. To the north of the current community at Alika Bay are visible remains of a hōlua slide and several ancient house sites. To the south, at Honomalino Bay, are more ancient house sites. These extensive sites suggest the area was once one of sizeable human activity. The community’s recorded history is tied closely to the arrival of New England missionaries in the early 19th century. They occasionally made the long journey from Kailua-Kona to preach and teach, and gathered the first congregation together in Miloli‘i.
These missionaries conducted the first complete census in Hawai‘i in 1831, and again in 1835. The 1835 census included the villages of Miloli‘i and Ho‘opūloa, under the district name of “Kapalilua” with a total of 1,406 people recorded.
By 1883, with the pervading acceptance of Christianity, the size of the congregation had grown to warrant the Miloli‘i church, Hau‘oli Kamana‘o. The church still stands, and though moved from its original site, it provides a link to the past for the community members. The resident populations at Miloli‘i and Ho‘opūloa remained constant throughout the latter 19th century and declined slightly at the turn of the 20th century. On the morning of April 18, 1926, life at Ho‘opūloa was altered forever as lava from Mauna Loa’s Pu‘u o Ke‘oke‘o gradually approached and completely covered the small coastal fishing village. Many of the families, lacking alternative shelter, moved a quarter mile down the coast to Miloli‘i. They built new homes mostly on government land, while other residents moved mauka (upland) and found shelter as best they could.
Legal Tenancy, Indigenous Land Rights, and Historic Significance
Over the years, residents of Miloli‘i have continued to occupy the land. Their right to do so has never been questioned, but legal tenancy or ownership had never been conferred. In 1931 the territorial governor set aside the area as a public park under the control of the county government (Executive Order 473). Under the park provision the governor gave the county full authority to create a “Hawaiian Village” at Miloli‘i. The county had the village subdivided into house lots in 1941. Requests were submitted to occupy the house lots between 1943 and 1954. While some of the house lots were awarded, residents did not receive title to them. In 1968 Governor Burns canceled Executive Order 473 and the land reverted to the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), intended to be a land swap with the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL). However, the exchange did not take place, as DHHL did not have the legal means of directly leasing lands to Miloli‘i residents.
A survey was conducted in the Miloli‘i area between 1973 and 1974 to identify sites and structures for the Hawai‘i Register of Historic Places. A number of churches and characteristic structures were acknowledged, and many still remain, including:
The Magoon House—a unique example of a small wooden “Kona House” built in the late 19th century. Elvis Presley stayed in this house in the 1950s, when Girls, Girls, Girls was filmed in Miloli‘i.
St. Peter’s Catholic Church—this structure was built in 1932 by Father Steffen to replace an earlier St. Peterʻs destroyed by the 1926 lava flow.
Hau‘oli Kamana‘o Congregational Church—an example of architectural style with historical significance. Built in 1865 under the direction of the Rev. John D. Paris, it’s an excellent example of early missionary wood construction. It is made famous by the song “Lā ‘Elima.”
Apo House—an example of typical architecture of older houses in Miloli‘i Village.
Miloli‘i School—an example of the wooden frame architectural style popular at that time.
Thatched house by beach at Miloli‘i, 1907. photo from the Lyman Museum Archives
Its Isolation is Its Protection
Miloli‘i is situated five miles downslope from Māmalahoa Highway at the end of a narrow winding road where few tourists go. Arriving at sea level, there is a scattering of houses on a stark lava plain, where the village’s approximately 400 residents live. The water is on catchment system, and there’s no electricity other than some solar here and there. Much of that is by choice. Miloli‘i could have had electricity, but the kūpuna (elders) fought to keep it out, hoping to preserve this mostly Native Hawaiian community from changes modernity has brought to the rest of the Hawaiian Islands. That protectiveness is partly why Miloli‘i has a reputation for being unwelcoming—a place where strangers wandering around with a camera might be reproached with a gruff, “Eh! No take pitcha!” A hand-carved wooden sign in the middle of the village proclaims, “Miloli‘i: last fishing village in Hawai‘i Nei,” and many who live there want to keep it that way.
William Mae-Huihui stands in front of the waters of Miloli‘i Bay, in which are several “koa,” or fishing grounds. In traditional Hawaiian fishing practice; the ‘ōpelu fish were nurtured, fed, and harvested within a koa. photo by Marcia Timboy
William Mae-Huihui was born and raised in Miloli‘i, until he moved to O‘ahu at nine years old. “Willie Mae” returned to Miloli‘i in 2010, after graduating with a degree in liberal arts from Leeward Community College. An innate affinity towards marine management compelled him to become immersed in the iconic and traditional fishing practice of his Miloli‘i ancestors.
“My [paternal] grandma, who is connected to the Kahele ‘ohana, and my mom’s side, the Makuakane ‘ohana, have resided in Miloli‘i for generations. We are also related to the Grace and Apo ‘ohana. I came back [to Miloli‘i] after I graduated from Radford High, and stayed for a few years. My mom asked if I would move back [to O‘ahu] and go to college. After receiving a liberal arts degree, I had a calling to come home. I started learning my aunty’s style of fishing, which was great for commercial fishing, but I was concerned about its environmental impact. I then studied [bottom and pelagic fish] spawning and feeding habits. I blended the two, and now with the help of Uncle Mac [Poepoe, of Moloka‘i] I can understand the reasons behind the seasons of harvest times and rest times. I also remember my grandpa saying it wasn’t good to go out when the milo [swirling currents] occur…the reef fish are spawning the same time that the milo happens here. Matching up with what our kūpuna say and why, is the most rewarding with the Mohala no Konohiki program that I am a part of.”
Also born and raised in Miloli‘i Village, Kaimi N. Kaupiko is from a long line of kama‘āina going seven generations back. His kūpuna were the first deacons of Hau‘oli Kamana‘o Congregational Church. With strong and deep ties to the community, Kaimi returned to Miloli‘i eight years ago, after graduating with an MBA from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. He was an instrumental contributor in the Conservation International-sponsored Miloli‘i ‘Ōpelu Project, which utilized an innovative method of fishing, combining modern science, and the understanding of ocean currents and fish lifecycle patterns of traditional Hawaiian practice. With the passing of kūpuna, traditional methods of fishing and the intergenerational transfer of knowledge has not taken place. As only a few traditional ‘ōpelu practitioners are left in the village, such projects aim to revive these methods, merging with modern science to educate the community’s youth, and improve the stewardship of these marine and coastal resources so precious and prevalent on the South Kona coastline.
As a full-time educator, Kaimi teaches the community’s youth coastal management, through Pua o Kala (an online school). The school’s multi-media programs have been featured on PBS’ Hiki No channel, and YouTube.
“Miloli‘i lifestyle is about sustainability, to live off the land. I grew up fishing makai [seaside], and picking coffee mauka. Our community is isolated, and we survive and thrive by keeping the traditions alive through respect, cooperation, and malama—take care of place, place takes care of you.”
Kaimi Kaupiko, and members of the Miloli‘i i Ka‘ū Volleyball Club. Besides teaching coastline management as an applied practice, Kaimi coaches volleyball to Miloli‘i youth. photo by Marcia Timboy
Over the years Kaimi has seen the area’s natural resources depleted and its environment burdened with encroaching development, interlopers, and climate change. He sees that the youth of today do not have the same discipline and structure of previous generations. By revitalizing a sense of ‘ohana and community values, Kaimi and his contemporaries hope to preserve, perpetuate, and instill kuleana (responsibility) of Miloli‘i’s culture and traditions for future generations. Part of the community’s master plan is to house cultural education programming, and a K-12 school at the Miloli‘i Community Center, once construction is completed.
Ho‘i hou…as kama‘āina o Miloli‘i return to the cherished village, they bring with them acquired education and experiences from nā huaka‘i. The kuleana they take on to preserve, protect, and perpetuate the Miloli‘i lifestyle and its ‘ike (knowledge) stems from a deep aloha and generational sense of place. ❖
By John Makuakane
Miloli‘i aku nei au lā
I ke kau ‘ēkake lā
Nuha i ke alanui
Waikīkī aku nei au lā
I ke kau ‘elepani lā
Calafrisco aku nei au lā
I ke kau mokulele lā
A lewa i ka lewa
Honolulu aku nei au lā
I ke kau steam a Lola lā
Holo i ke ala wai
Ha‘ina ‘ia mai ka puana la
I ke kau ‘ēkake (kekoke) la
Nuha i ke alanui
At Miloli‘i, there was I
As I got on the donkey
It is stubborn on the road
At Waikīkī, there was I
As I got on the elephant
It swings its trunk
At San Francisco, there was I
I boarded the plane
It dips from side to side
At Honolulu, there I was
I boarded the steamer Lola
It rolled in the water
Thus ends my song
As I got on the donkey
It is stubborn on the road
Art installation “KALO.” photo courtesy Bernice Akamine
By Karen Valentine
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As an artist, Bernice Akamine has gone far beyond the basic skills of applying artistic talent to media. When one reaches the pinnacles of art, one has put heart and soul into practice, not to mention, as in Bernice’s case, the expression of cultural heritage retrieved perhaps, as she says, from her Hawaiian ancestors through DNA.
Put simply, she says, “My art is meant to make a statement and preserve cultural knowledge.”
That’s a short yet significant sentence for an artist with several decades of education, multiple media skills, and numerous grants and awards for her work. Her skills began with making plant dyes as a teenager, and perfecting their application on kapa (tapa, cloth made from bark of the mulberry tree) to the point of becoming a consultant to the Smithsonian Institute, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in sculpture and glass making, kapa making, hulu (fine feather work and basketry), and multi-media installations in Hawai‘i and across the mainland US.
Artist Bernice Akamine. photo courtesy of Bernice Akamine
In 2015, Bernice embarked upon a journey to make a historical and cultural statement about the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy, culminating in March 2019, when Bernice mounted an installation exhibit in Honolulu. She was selected as one of 19 artists from Hawai‘i, as well as 28 from Asia and the Americas, to participate in the second Honolulu Biennial Foundation’s exhibit, showing works across the island of O‘ahu from March 8 to May 5, all with the theme “To Make Wrong / Right / Now.”
An art installation refers to a grouping of pieces that often occupy an entire room or gallery space that the spectator has to walk through in order to engage fully with the work. What makes installation art different from sculpture or other traditional art forms is that it is a complete, unified experience that tells a story, rather than a display of separate, individual artworks.
Bernice’s installation is entitled KALO (referring to the kalo or taro plant) and is a grouping of 87 individual kalo plants made of stone and paper. The corm or base of each kalo is represented by a pōhaku (stone) and the leaves are made of newsprint, upon which are printed a copy of signatures from the pages of Kū‘e: The Hui Aloha ‘Aina Anti-Annexation Petitions 1897–1898, divided up by the districts of the five islands from which signatures originated. After the overthrow of Queen Lili‘uokalani by the Provisional Government on January 17, 1893, these petitions were signed in protest.
To understand the significance of using the kalo plant, you must know that the kanaka maoli (native Hawaiians) consider the taro as the elder brother of their race, originating from a legend or mo‘olelo about Papa, the Earth Mother, and Wākea, the Sky Father, birthing first an unformed child. This first child was buried and grew into a taro plant. The second child became the first kanaka maoli.
The pōhaku in the exhibit were donated by community members from the five islands of Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui, Kaho‘olawe, and Hawai‘i to be used for the corm of the kalo plants. The significance of the stones is emphasized by the song Kaulana Na Pua. After the overthrow, members of the Royal Hawaiian Band were told to sign an oath of allegiance to the Provisional Government or they would be out of a job and eating stones. All of the Royal Hawaiian Band members walked out. The band members shared their story with Ellen Prendergast, who wrote the song Mele ‘Ai Pōhaku, The Stone Eater’s Song, or Kaulana Na Pua, as we know the song today.
Newsprint leaves on kalo plant structures imprinted with pages from Anti-Annexation petitions. photo courtesy of Bernice Akamine
“Everything in that song is significant to why the piece is the way it is. This installation is a non-confrontational way to remind Hawaiians to be proud of their stand for indigenous sovereignty,” says Bernice, “and to stand up and be counted once again, as there is still much to be done and still much that can be lost.”
She continues, “I asked people to donate pōhaku from the different islands where the petitions were signed. The installation is flexible; it can be displayed as one plant or all of them, depending on the space. The Kue: The Hui Aloha ‘Aina Anti-Annexation Petitions were taken to San Francisco by boat and then taken to Washington, DC. So, in June of last year  five of the pieces, one from each island, went to San Francisco and Washington, DC.”
Bernice’s KALO is both an installation and a performance piece, which began at ‘Iolani Palace in Honolulu on March 5, 2019.
During her interview for this story, while preparing for the exhibition, Bernice said, “I am asking for 87 volunteers to go to Honolulu. Each will carry one of these plants and face the balcony where Queen Liliu‘okalani was imprisoned at the palace, and stand behind them. Students from the Hawaiian immersion school Ka Papahana o Mailikukahi Kula on the Wai‘anae coast will do an oli, then I will respond to them. After the protocol is done, we will carry the kalo plants across King Street, following the path of the queen the last time she visited Ali‘iōlani Hale four days before the overthrow of the government. We will then install the kalo plants there in the rotunda, where they will stay until May 5, 2019.”
“Volunteers can be Hawaiian or anyone,” she says. “Not just Hawaiians signed the petitions. However, there is one more thing I ask of the volunteers: That you come with peace in your heart and respect for everyone participating in the installation of KALO, and for the spaces that it occupies.”
A grant from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, assistance from Honolulu Biennial Foundation, and Second Sister Foundation supported the exhibit, which won an Honorable Mention award at the event.
Color samples from plant dyes. photo by Karen Valentine
Plant Dyes and Kapa
Hula dancers from Halau O Kekuhi, performing in costumes of original kapa in the 2011 Merrie Monarch Festival. photo courtesy thegardenisland.com
In 2005, Bernice began documenting the colors resulting from dyes made from native Hawaiian plants during her internship at Amy B. H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden. She created a book of about 20 samples of dye paired with the plant photos.
“I realized that so many of the Hawaiian plants are on the endangered species list. I felt it very important to document this. The books about dyes tell you things but there are no images to show the true shades. I encourage people who make dyes; however, to use non-native plants to protect those that are endangered.”
Bernice also makes kapa because she makes dyes, she says. Her kapa is decorated with her original dyes. One special piece was exhibited recently during the Merrie Monarch Festival at the Wailoa Center in Hilo. Entitled Mo‘olelo, the 23-by-41-inch piece is symbolic of the god Maui and his deeds.
A 2015 documentary film, Ka Hana Kapa, features Bernice and other kapa makers including master kapa maker Marie McDonald. The program culminates with the dressing of a hula hālau, Hālau o Kekuhi, in Hawaiian kapa for the Merrie Monarch Festival.
“It was the first time in over 100 years, a hālau was dressed in original kapa,” Bernice says. They wore the kapa for their performance at the opening of the 2011 Merrie Monarch Festival, which is shown in the film.
“In 2011, after we made kapa for the Merrie Monarch Festival, I was invited to the Smithsonian and made up a dye kit for them to help them identify the plants that made the kapa colors in their collections.”
Bernice is also currently working on a book on kapa with other craftsmen.
Multi-Media: Featherwork and Glass
Hulu, or feather, basket representing a volcano fissure, commissioned by the Australia Museum. photo by Karen Valentine
The multi-tasking, multi-media artist is also finishing a commission for the Australian Museum.
“I was asked to do a response piece to Kalaniopu‘u’s feather cape for an exhibit in Australia. A response piece is art that is created after you look at something and make something that is influenced by it.”
The red and yellow ‘ahu ‘ula (feather cape), which was taken by Captain Cook to New Zealand, has recently been returned to Honolulu.
“They are going to be celebrating an anniversary of Cook’s voyages soon, so they were looking for artists to do a response piece or another piece. My response was to represent the Hawaiian Islands, England, and the cape’s final resting place in Australia.” Bernice’s contributions include a basket vessel covered in red and yellow feathers, which she says represents a volcano fissure. Another is covered in black and white, representing lava and sandstone, while the third will represent the ocean.
In response to the 2017 missile incident in Hawai‘i, Bernice made a protest statement, creating sculptures of spent ammunition cases with pieces of earth encased in blown glass.
“Ku‘u One Hanau” traveling art statement about Hawaiian houseless/homeless. photo courtesy of Bernice Akamine
Making a Statement
Bernice has also created a traveling installation, Ku‘u One Hānau, about the Hawaiian houseless, intended to be placed at different sites, saying, “We are not homeless, we are houseless. Hawai‘i is our home.” The installation is made of tents covered with large Hawaiian flags. “I worked with predominantly Hawaiian communities, the houseless communities. We even camped with them. When I installed them on different sites on O‘ahu and here, people camped with them. The first one had images of people eating sandwiches or watering their plants in tin cans because they have to move. Wherever we installed it, we asked people living there to add their handprints to the flag.”
The artist has received many fellowships and awards throughout her career. She lives and works in Volcano with her husband, Glenn, and has many plans for making more statements with her art in the future. ❖
A Race with Taki is a scene from “Running for Grace” where Jo is racing the character Taki, played by local actor Jon Sakata (who passed away in 2017). photo courtesy of the Hawai‘i Island Film Office
By Ma’ata Tukuafu
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Beautiful and diverse Hawai‘i Island, with its verdant rainforests, black sand beaches, and seasonally white-capped mountains, has been showcased in many films made over the years. From 1918’s The Hidden Pearls to the most current film productions, Avatar (2017) and Wrongfully Accused (2018), Hawai‘i’s varied landscapes play a huge role in film settings.
Justin Finestone, film commissioner for the Hawai‘i Island Film Office says productions are attracted to the island because of the 11 (out of 13) climate zones on one island. With the many distinct landscapes, productions can shoot films that portray Hawai‘i, as well as create stories that represent other locations.
“We are so unique in the islands, and each island has its own feel,” Justin says. “We have the lava fields, and our landscape is so diverse we can do just about anything.”
Film production is mostly a green industry, creating sustainable business that has minimal negative impact for the island; the local economy is boosted by money spent in the community to hire local talent, rent cars and hotel rooms, and use local chefs and restaurants. In addition to film productions, there are television shows, reality shows, commercials, and documentaries shot here. Approximately 120 productions a year come to this island alone and, according to county permitting reports, 2018 produced about $10.6 million in revenue.
It is Justin’s job to market the island to production companies, support them in finding resources, and to do the film permitting for county sites. (The state has its own permitting process if filming on other than county sites.) The county also established a public/private partnership with Honua Studios, a state-of-the-art film studio in Kailua-Kona to fill the growing need for a local film studio.
Ryan Potter, who plays Jo in the film “Running for Grace.” Local “extras” are seen in the background. photo courtesy of the Hawai‘i Island Film Office
For Avatar, the entire principal cast was flown over to Hawai‘i Island in 2017 because the director wanted them to have some real-world experience before they did the motion captures. To be released in December of 2020, four Avatar movies are being created back to back.
“Most of Avatar is done with motion capture,” says Justin. “This means actors are wearing special suits which capture their motions, and then with computers, it overlays their character on it. The actors were in the ocean snorkeling, they were up in the cloud forests, and they were near waterfalls. This real-world experience allows actors to know how to move when they are back in the studios.”
The last major film here was Jumanji (2016), which was shot at a private waterfall. A bigger budget film (more than a million dollars) called Running for Grace (2016) stars Matt Dillon and was filmed in Hilo, Kona, Wailea (Hāmakua), and Honua Studios. Justin explains that a lot of other smaller films, travel shows, and foreign productions are made here, especially from Japan, and though Hawai‘i Island doesn’t get as many as O‘ahu because of infrastructure, this island is definitely an ideal destination.
Enthralled movie watchers at the 2018 Made in Hawai‘i Film Festival. photo courtesy of Larkin Pictures LLC
“More people are finding out that we have a unique niche, who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city,” Justin says. “We have world-class hotels, an experienced crew on island, and we don’t have the traffic congestion. They can get from hotel to set in a reasonable amount of time.”
In the past, filmmaking has had the barrier of being an expensive art form to produce. Now with the advent of digital video technology—and even more recently, the ability to turn a smart phone into a film camera—anyone can make a movie. With so much creativity on the island, (not just in film, but in all of the arts) a lot of local movies and films have been made here.
In 2018, Puna-based filmmakers Zoë Eisenberg and Phillips Payson founded the Made in Hawai‘i Film Festival. Their inaugural event was held in Hilo at the Palace Theatre in August 2018, when 300 people attended the festival despite Hurricane Lane coinciding with the dates.
“Part of Zoë’s and my desire was to see the film scene expand and grow here,” says Phillips. “One of the things we were lacking was support and opportunities to engage with an audience. We created this film festival specifically for Indie content that is shot in Hawai‘i and on Hawai‘i Island.”
Behind the scenes crew of “Running for Grace” on location. photo courtesy of the Hawai‘i Island Film Office
Privately-owned waterfall in Hilo used in the filming of “Jumanji.” photo courtesy of the Hawai‘i Island Film Office
Submissions may include web series, narrative shorts, music videos, features, experimental works, and short form subjects. Their hope is that filmmakers meet each other; connections with crews, actors, and talent pools are made to keep the content growing and improving; and for people to have the opportunity to see and engage with the talent.
Zoë says at least 50 percent of the principal photography must be shot in the islands, and it is a unique festival because they focus on submissions from emerging filmmakers. For many first-timers, it takes a lot of work to make a film, and if no one has heard from them, or they are learning, it can be discouraging if there isn’t a platform to show it.
“We are trying to get ahead of hurricane season this time, so we are holding the festival on June 1 and 2 at the Hilo Palace Theater, and June 14 at Aloha Theatre in Kona,” Zoë says. “Our submission rates are really low, $15–$25 depending on the length of the film, and we will be giving out awards this year.”
Films that Zoë and Phillips have created entirely on this island are Aloha from Lavaland (a documentary about the 2014 lava flowing toward Pāhoa), Throuple (a film Zoë wrote and produced while Phillips directed), and Stoke (a feature Zoë wrote and co-directed with Phillips, to be released online at the end of the summer).
They have to be passionate about what they choose to work on, as a film project can typically take three years from conception to final product. Zoë and Phillips create everything together: working on the story, applying for permits, scouting for locations, and finding crew lodging, transport, and flights. By bringing the film community together at the Made In Hawai‘i Film Festival, they are creating the infrastructure needed to make filmmaking an easier process.
“We’re excited to be a part of the Indie filmmaking scene, to collaborate with each other and show that Hawai‘i has a film voice and is a power house,” says Justin. ❖
The Bee Boys have plastic-free hives, allowing their bees to work with the wax comb they naturally create instead.
By Sara Stover
Can bees smell fear, or is this a myth? The Bee Boys are the ones to ask, with their noses inches away from hundreds of wild honeybees on a daily basis. The Bee Boys are Kevin O’Connor and Ryan Williamson, and they are experts on the truth about honeybees and their impact on the economy and agriculture of Hawai‘i Island.
Walking from hive to hive, Kevin draws our attention to the queen bee. She looks the part, being larger than the other honeybees. Her function is to lay eggs, specifically about 1,500 every day. Most of the other bees are worker bees. All females, their job is to clean and feed the baby bees and the queen, pack pollen and nectar into cells, build honeycomb, and guard the hive. It is the worker bees that deserve credit for the harvestable products the Bee Boys obtain from the hive: bee bread, honey, wax, and propolis, which is a sticky bee-produced glue of sorts that offers many health benefits.
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Outside the hive, the worker bees serve as field bees, collecting nectar and pollen from flowers, and gathering propolis. The field bees have a one-and-a-half mile flight radius, allowing them to pollinate all the nuts, seeds, fruits, trees, and more in an area that is considerably large for such a small creature.
Bigger than the worker bees, yet noticeably smaller than the queen, the remaining honeybees are drone bees. Their main responsibility is to mate with the virgin queen.
The Bee Boys, Kevin and Ryan, first heard the call of the wild honeybees while working at a commercial apiary on Hawai‘i Island. Philadelphia natives, they returned to that area briefly in 2008, and ran Beaupre Apiary in Pennsylvania. Fans of the Beaupre honey nicknamed Kevin and Ryan the “bee boys” and, like sticky propolis, the name stuck. Beaupre Apiary later evolved into Bee Boys LLC, and the two eventually returned to Hawai‘i Island to harvest and sell raw honey from their many hives. Today, the Bee Boys care for approximately 56 hives every day.
One needs only to spend a few minutes with the Bee Boys to realize that there is much more to bees than honey, and it all began with a kiawe (mesquite) tree.
Ryan Williamson shows Sara Stover honeycomb being built in a hive in Na‘ālehu.
Aloha to the Honeybee
Like Kevin and Ryan, the honeybee is not native to the Hawaiian Islands. The introduction of honeybees to the islands followed the arrival of the kiawe tree, originally from northwestern South America, which was introduced in 1828 by the head of the first Catholic mission on O‘ahu, Father Alexis Bachelot of France.
Father Bachelot brought a kiawe to Honolulu, where he planted the tree on the grounds of the Catholic mission. The offspring of that single tree reached all the way to the leeward plains of the neighbor islands by 1840. By the mid-1800s, the kiawe was being used as a high-protein feed source for cattle. To promote further kiawe growth, beekeepers brought the honeybee to the Hawaiian Islands in 1857 to increase kiawe pollination. Today, the Hawaiian honeybees are amongst the largest producers of honey in the world.
Being a beekeeper is a sweet job, and one that has a positive impact on the economy and agriculture of Hawai‘i Island; however, the job does come with its challenges. In 2007, the varroa mite arrived. Like blood-sucking ticks, the varroa mites can quickly destroy an entire colony. In 2010, the small hive beetle turned up on the island, further threatening honeybee colonies. Bee bread is especially attractive to hive beetles. Fortunately, bee bread has other uses that reduce the beetles’ effect. “The problem is the solution!” Ryan exclaims.
Bee bread, the primary food source for most bees and larvae, is composed of pollen mixed with small pieces of honey, beesʻ wax, and bees’ digestive enzymes. Containing essential amino acids and high levels of vitamins, enzymes, and flavonoids, bee bread is ideal for treating anemia, insomnia, lowering cholesterol, and reducing digestive tract disorders in humans.*
Bees generally have more bread than they need, so removing some of the bee bread is not detrimental to the hive. In fact, it decreases the threat of hive beetles, and makes room for the queen to lay more eggs.
“Bees are creatures of the sun,” says Ryan as he delicately holds up a bee from one of several hives, then releases it to fly off into the nearby trees. Winter and the decrease in sunlight that comes along with the season is not as great of a concern on Hawai‘i Island as it is on the mainland, yet it still presents a challenge to the apiary. To resolve this issue, the Bee Boys emphasize biodiversity to ensure that their bees have a variety of pollen sources with differing peak seasons, such as ‘ōhi‘a lehua, wilelaiki (Christmas berry), and macadamia nut.
Honeybees like the ones in this hive function as a harmonious community, working together to pack pollen into cells and produce honey.
Respecting the Bees
Of their beekeeping methods, Kevin says, “We are taking a respectful approach.” After years in the apiary business, both Kevin and Ryan have a deep understanding of the natural lifecycle of honeybees. They forego commercial treatments, like miticides, medications, and high-fructose corn syrup diets, which are fed to bees by many commercial farmers. This practice is thought to be connected to the decline of honeybee colonies, as a diet void of honey deprives the bees of a chemical that they depend on to break down toxins in pesticides used to destroy mites and beetles. Even with honey present in their diet, miticides and pesticides have the potential to negatively impact the honeybees’ health, since it has been proven that dosed bees garner less pollen than un-dosed bees.
The Bee Boys’ understanding of the honeybees’ natural habits is also behind their choice to keep the hives free of plastics. Comb is the hive’s frame and tissue, and bees create wax comb out of their abdomens naturally. This self-made wax is home to young bees in the colony, and the site of pollen and nectar storage, which the bees rely on for food. With this remarkable wax at their wing tips, plastic comb is unnecessary and possibly destructive. Honeybees forced to interact with plastics are exposed to hormone-interrupting off-gasses. This risk has prompted Kevin and Ryan to allow their hives to work with the wax comb the bees are already producing instead.
The Bee Boys’ hives are also free of artificially inseminated queens. Controlled by grafting from a small genetic pool, some apiaries place artificially inseminated queens in a nucleons colony of unrelated bees, and are often killed and replaced each year.
“We allow our bees to raise their own queens naturally,” Kevin asserts. “This lets the virgin queens follow true instinct and choose the strongest, healthiest drones to mate with, creating a true family unit.”
Humble Students of the Honeybee
Ryan Williamson points out the queen bee in this hive, explaining how their hives are free of artificially-inseminated queens and their honeybees raise queens naturally.
Being part of bettering the local community and economy is a priority for the Bee Boys. Ryan points out, “In a time when farmers often struggle to make ends meet, we focus on what’s going right. We get to be part of driving the economy forward! Our vision is to continue perpetuating products made on the Big Island, with an emphasis on Ka‘ū branded products.”
That focus on community is a value that Kevin and Ryan have gleaned from their beehives. Within their community, the honeybees’ priority is the hive, not the individual. Any bee that is available will jump on a task if a job needs to be done. The bees also hold hands in a behavior known as festooning, forming a network of bees that hang between the honeycomb frames, which appears to act as scaffolding that they utilize to build honeycomb. Many suggest that wax can only be produced from the festooning position, which is important as the wax actually contains the honeybees’ DNA. The Bee Boys allow their hives to build comb naturally for this very reason, even if the comb is occasionally swirly and not always perfectly symmetrical.
Honeybees function as a harmonious community, and the Bee Boys are honored to be students of this buzzing society. These Na‘ālehu beekeepers are applying lessons they’ve learned from their bees to connecting with their own community, from Hawai‘i schools to libraries and other local businesses with sustainable practices. “Beekeeping is an incredible way to merge into our community,” Ryan shares.
With their honeybee expertise, the Bee Boys confirm that honeybees cannot smell fear. However, science suggests that chemicals known as pheromones are connected to their process of communicating about food sources and bees that need defending. A honeybee can also release pheromones to draw its swarm into new hives.
In the midst of the high-traffic honeycomb Kevin holds, a baby bee emerges from a hexagon as if from another world. There is an undeniable mystique to the honeybees, and the Bee Boys are much more than beekeepers. Kevin and Ryan are humble students of the honeybee. ❖
Kaulana Ni‘ihau noho mehameha
Aia Kawaihoa, Poli o Lehua
Pi‘i a‘ela ‘o Paniau uka ala
Alaka‘i Ni‘ihau, Mokuola ēNoho Ni‘ihau i Kauanaulu
Pu‘uwai Aloha o ka ‘Ohana
Ho‘omana Ni‘ihau i Pu‘uwai
Alaka‘i Ni‘ihau, Mokuola ē
He aloha Ni‘ihau Alo ke Akua
Maluhia ka pilina koho i ka moku
Mokumoku ke one, puka Kahelelani
Alaka‘i Ni‘ihau, Mokuola ē
Hanohano Ni‘ihau, Moku Unulani
Wewehe ka nani, Huna Moku ala
‘A‘ala Kaua‘i, Moku Pāpapa
Alaka‘i Ni‘ihau, Mokuola ē
Eō mai Ni‘ihau noho mehameha
Ke aloha Ni‘ihau maluhia ala
Lei hiwahiwa kau i ka poli
Alaka‘i Ni‘ihau, Mokuola ē
He mele Kaulana iā Ni‘ihau, noho mehameha
Famous Ni‘ihau honored indeed
Where Kawaihoa, bosom of Lehua
Ascend upward to Paniau
Ni‘ihau, a living islandNi‘ihau reside at Kauanaulu
Loving heart of the families
Akua honored at Pu‘uwai
Ni‘ihau, a living island
Ni‘ihau resembles the love of God
Peacefulness relative of Ni‘ihau
Within the sand, Kahelelani is revealed
Ni‘ihau, a living island
Famous Ni‘ihau is the island of Unulani
Beauty uncovered the hidden island
Pathway of Kaua‘i is Ni‘ihau
Ni‘ihau, a living island
Famous Ni‘ihau honored indeed
Ni‘ihau peaceful and loved
Precious lei placed of honor
Ni‘ihau, a living island
A song honoring Ni‘ihau
Eia ho‘i ke aloha nui i nā ‘ohana kō Ni‘ihau, i kō lākou aloha nui i ke Akua, i kō lākou ho‘omana i nā pono ‘ohana, i kō lākou hānai ho‘i inā kamali‘i, i kō lākou ola i ke ola Hawai‘i ā i kō lākou ka‘ana me nā poe kō Hawai‘i. He alaka‘i kō ke ola o Ni‘ihau ā he aloha kō ke ola Hawai‘i i kō Ni‘ihau. E Ola!
Honoring with love the families of Ni‘ihau, their love for the Heavenly Father, their overwhelming blessing of a righteous family, their capabilities of caring for the children, their “Hawaiianness” lifestyle and their abilities of sharing with everyone of Hawai‘i. Ni‘ihau, youʻre truly a leader and Hawai‘i loves you. Let it live!
For more information on Kumu Keala Ching and Nā Wai Iwi Ola, visit nawaiiwiola.org
Background: birthstones. photo by Jan Wizinowich Foreground: Kamehameha I. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1000843
By Jan Wizinowich
Kamehameha’s birth was a legacy that ultimately unified the islands, but that legacy began many generations before. His birthstones, located in Kokoiki, lay next to Mo‘okini Heiau, built in 480CE, on the northwest tip of the peninsula that comprises the North Kohala district.
If you walk along the coastline there, you will sense mana (spirit). Everything is motion and power. The kalāhuipa‘a winds sweep down Kohala Mountain to tease the surging sea crashing onto the boulders below. A beckoning Maui sits shrouded on the northern horizon and Mo‘okini Heiau appears in glimpses, a darkness looming behind the brow of a hill.
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Heiau were built as a way to connect with greater beings and give tribute to, and call upon, the gods for assistance. With Hawi to the north and Lapaka‘i to the south, Mo‘okini, dedicated to the war god Kū, was a center of power where the lives of the people were both protected and sacrificed.
Mo‘okini Heiau was built by Kuamo‘o Mo‘okini, whose family heiau tell the story of their journey across the Pacific. “We always built on the north end of the island to have a commanding view. This heiau was built in one day and the walls were six feet high. There were 150 people sacrificed at that time,” relates Mealani Lum, descendent and with her father Oliver, current heiau guardian.
Throughout the centuries, Mo‘okini descendants have continuously acted as its guardian/priests. Before Oliver and Mealani, Oliver’s mother Leimomi Lum, her father Dewey Lum, and her uncle Heloke, acted as guardians.
Just outside the entrance on the right is the foundation of the house of mu. The mu was instructed as to how many human sacrifices were necessary and he would go and collect people. Although the human sacrifices were mostly prisoners of war, the mu had the authority to take anyone necessary to make up the numbers, making the area a dangerous place to be.
“Because of human sacrifice, nobody lived near the heiau or dared to walk through here. They either were on a canoe or walking up mauka, and if you were on a canoe you had to lower your sails when you passed,” explained Mealani.
Late in the 13th century, Pa‘āo, a priest from Tahiti, arrived. He then departed and returned with Pili, a chiefly ancestor of Kamehameha, who was to be the new ali‘i nui (high chief).
Although he constructed three other heiau on the island, Pa‘āo centered himself in North Kohala, where he was given permission by the Mo‘okini family to extend the heiau from a height of six feet to 30 feet.
As many as 18,000 men, in a line from Pololū, passed stones to construct the towering walls that would shield the ali‘i and their ceremonies from the maka‘āinana (commoner). A luakini-class heiau (large temple where ruling chiefs prayed), Pa‘āo rededicated Mo‘okini to the war god Kū, instituted a stricter kapu (sacred) system, and increased human sacrifice, the ultimate gift of mana to the gods.
Entrance to Mo‘okini Heiau. The house of mu is directly on the right. photo by Jan Wizinowich
Fast forward to the mid-18th century. Alapa‘inui was high chief of Kohala and Kona. There were wars going on between Hawai‘i Islandʻs chiefs and between Hawai‘i Island and Maui’s chiefs. When Keku‘iapoiwa, wife of Keoua, became pregnant with Kamehameha, their kahuna (priest), perhaps seeing the need for a unifying force, prophesied that he would be a great unifying king and a killer of chiefs. On hearing the prophesy and fearing for his position, Alapaʽinui, decreed that the infant should be killed at birth.
There is much mystery surrounding the year of Kamehameha’s birth as well as his paternity. According to S.M. Kamakau, Kamehameha was born in 1736 during Alapa‘inui’s reign. However, this date has been challenged by the claim that a bright and beautiful star, thought to be Halley’s Comet, appeared the night before Kamehameha’s birth, which would put his birth year at 1758.
Mealani Mo‘okini explains about the holehole stone, where the bones of the sacrifices were rendered. photo by Jan Wizinowich
It’s been suggested that the king of Maui at the time, Kahekili, was his biological father and indeed, Kamehameha was born on a canoe on its way from Maui, according to Oliver Lum, as related to him by his great Uncle Heloke Lum.
With winds howling, waves crashing, and pelting rain, one can only imagine the skill of the men who sailed the canoe across the ‘Alenuihāhā channel that stormy November night. But it was imperative that Kekuʽiapoiwa get to a luakini-class heiau in order that her ali‘i child could receive his birth rituals. By the time the canoe landed at Kapakai in Kokoiki, Kamehameha was already born and he was taken immediately to the heiau.
“You have to have birth rituals because the mana was in the blood and in the piko. You had to have birth rituals and you had to have priests of a high enough order you could trust to put those secrets away, never to be told,” explained Oliver.
Kekuʽiapoiwa was taken to the birthstones, where she birthed the placenta. “She was having trouble with the afterbirth so they brought her on shore and she used the rocks. She finally laid down and put her feet up on the flat rock and that worked,” related Mealani.
The great warrior, Naeʽole was selected by Kekuʽiapoiwa to be kahu (honored attendant) for the child and immediately after the rituals were completed, he whisked the infant away with Alapa‘inui’s forces following soon after. On their way to Awini, an easily defensible plateau three valleys past Pololū, he enlisted the help of the entire Kohala populace in what Fred Cachola calls the “grand Kohala conspiracy” to protect the infant. (See “To Celebrate the King: Kamehameha Day and Kamehameha’s Legacy of Aloha” in Ke Ola Magazine, May/June 2017).
Kohala and the Mo‘okini heiau comprised a spiritual home for Kamehameha. “Our family was here for Kamehameha’s birth and afterwards when he came of age, he came to worship. That’s what’s been passed down through our generations,” explained Mealani.
Eventually, Kamehameha built Pu‘ukoholā heiau and transferred his war god Kuka‘ilimoku there, but Mo‘okini Heiau, under the guardianship of the Mo‘okini family, continued as a place of worship and a center of mana for the North Kohala district.
A Place of Historic Preservation and Learning
Plaque marking the heiau as a registered national historic landmark through the efforts of Uncle Heloke. photo by Jan Wizinowich
The Kokoiki birthstones and Mo‘okini heiau remain a constant, a place of mana, protected by generations of the Mo‘okini family. The land surrounding the heiau has changed from forest to sugarcane to grassy slope, but the heiau and the birthstones have remained as portals to the past.
In 1963, through the efforts of Uncle Heloke, Mo‘okini was designated as Hawai‘i’s first National Historic Landmark. Uncle Heloke also acted as guardian for the birthstones. For a time during the plantation era, the stones were obscured by tall sugarcane. “There was cane right up to the wall line. Uncle Heloke worked for the plantation and he worked really hard to make sure they didn’t move the rocks,” said Mealani.
In 1977, upon the death of her father Dewey, Leimomi Lum became the next kahuna nui and in 1978 she lifted the kapu and opened it for educational purposes as a way to share Hawaiian history and culture with the children of the community.
Both the heiau and the stones are part of the Kohala Historical Sites State Monument, created by the Hawai‘i State Legislature in 1992. Through a collaboration between Hawaiian Civic Club, the Royal Order of Kamehameha, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, and Kamehameha Schools, the area around the birthstones was cleared of weeds and a protective wall was built. In 2005, Kamehameha Schools purchased the land around the heiau and the birthstones in an effort to protect the sites from any possible future development.
Mo‘okini heiau and Kamehameha’s birthstones stand in testament to the enduring Hawaiian culture and the stories of this land. ❖
Mahalo Oliver Lum, Mealani Lum, and Ski Kwiakowski for lending your mana‘o (wisdom) for this story. Other resources: S.M. Kamakau, Abraham Fornander.
The vanilla orchid in bloom. photo by Brittany P. Anderson
By Brittany P. Anderson
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As the day’s first light sneaks over the horizon, a light green orchid blooms in a tangle of vines. A flurry of activity buzzes around the flower. With a swift hand, the orchid is pollinated, ready to create the most sought-after flavor in the world—vanilla.
Often synonymous with being plain or ordinary, vanilla is quite the opposite. Vanillin is just one of up to 250 chemical compounds that form the characteristic vanilla taste, making it one of the most complex flavors around. Some speculate that vanilla beans will out-price saffron this year as the most expensive spice on the planet.
Vanilla beans are a high-risk, labor-intensive product grown from a highly specific orchid, and each flower must be hand-pollinated. Hawai‘i Island’s humid tropical environment sets the perfect stage for vanilla cultivation, value-added products, and agritourism opportunities.
The Sweetest Orchid
In 1941, the late Tom Kadooka started propagating the Vanilla planifolia orchid at his nursery in Kainali‘u along the slopes of Mauna Loa. An avid orchid club member and nurseryman, Tom is the foundation of the island’s orchid industry. For decades he supplied residents with rooted vanilla plants and taught the art of vanilla orchid farming from his nursery. Tom stumbled upon his first vanilla vine growing wild in Ka‘ū, its origin unknown. Today, most of the vanilla farms on Hawai‘i Island can trace their vines back to Tom’s nursery and the mysterious Ka‘ū vine.
Vanilla beans maturing on the vine. photo by Brittany P. Anderson
Vanilla orchids grow within 25 degrees of the equator, which means Hawai‘i is the only state in the US where it thrives. Originally from Mexico, it grows like a vine using tendril-like roots to grip tree trunks as it reaches towards the sky. Island producers use a variety of growing methods simulating vanilla’s natural habitat.
At Tom Sharkeyʻs cacao and chocolate farm in Papa‘ikou, vanilla climbs on cacao trees, while at Guy Cellierʻs Vanillerie in Kailua-Kona, shade houses are filled with cages, called tudors, for the vines to take hold. Consistency and shade are two of the essential components to successful vanilla crop yields. The alternating leathery leaves can easily succumb to sunburn, and inconsistent temperatures decrease flowering.
Vanilla orchid flowers grow in clusters, though each flower within the group can bloom at any time during the February through May season. Flowers bloom for two to four hours in the early morning and must be pollinated by hand before withering away.
The Melipona bee is thought to be the only species of insect that knows how to pollinate the vanilla flower. A tiny ball of pollen is locked away in the anther, and when the bee enters the flower, it nudges the anther, allowing the small ball of pollen to fall into the bottom of the flower where it fertilizes the ovules which grow one single vanilla bean. Melipona bees are rare, even in vanilla’s native habitat, so all vanilla available commercially is pollinated by hand.
The vine is propagated by cuttings and can take three to five years of careful tending before flowers are expected. Guy hits home the dedication needed before growers see any reward, explaining, “The biggest challenge is that vanilla is slow growing.” Vanilla farmers must tend to their orchids with the promise of something delicious for at least three years. Even then, vanilla beans take one year to develop before they can be harvested. Plump green beans dangle like fingers off the zigzag vines—a lesson in patience and a reminder that good things come to those who wait.
Vanilla under a shade house at The Vanillerie. photo by Brittany P. Anderson
A Little Goes a Long Way
Vanilla extract making kits are a popular product at The Vanillerie. photo by Brittany P. Anderson
Vanilla lends its warm, rich taste to chocolate, most ice cream flavors, and fragrances. Flavor chemists can only identify and replicate seven of the 250 chemicals responsible for the characteristic taste of natural vanilla beans. Once you’ve had pure Hawai‘i Island vanilla, there’s no going back to artificial flavoring.
Ripe vanilla beans are a yellow color; it isn’t until they are blanched and sweat in the hot Hawaiian sun that they take on the typical brown appearance. Beans are further dried to a peak moisture content of 30%–35%. Hawai‘i Island growers typically offer their most substantial Grade A and B beans for sale and use smaller ones for value-added products.
Over at Huahua Farm, located near the village of Hōlualoa, in addition to selling beans—which sell out quickly—they offer jars of vanilla extract and vanilla-infused sugar for sale through their online store. Hawai‘i Island’s vanilla base is floral, complex, and naturally sweet, securing its place at the top of the vanilla connoisseur’s list.
The Vanillerie, as well as The Hawaiian Vanilla Co. located in Pa‘auilo, offer a seemingly limitless utilization of vanilla. From culinary application to beauty products, vanilla doesn’t just have to be the flavor on display. “I think more people should experiment with the savory side of vanilla,” says Jeanie of The Vanillerie. There, Jeanie features salt shakers, pepper grinders, and sugar scrubs all of whose contents are spiked with their vanilla.
The Hawaiian Vanilla Co., the first US commercial vanilla growers, boasts an expansive vanilla-based spice rub collection including a heavenly vanilla garam masala. For Hawai‘i Island’s vanilla farmers, it isn’t all about the products. Theyʻre also serving a growing demand for agritourism here on the island.
The Vanilla Experience
Hawai‘i Island agritourism is the perfect blend of the island’s two primary industries—tourism and agriculture. Farmers have found that offering tours helps to offset some of the high costs associated with farming, and enlightens visitors who are eager to get a closer look at where their food comes from.
At The Vanillerie, guests are taken through the process from cultivation to curing under a canopy of vines. The shade houses are a leisurely stroll and an eye-opening look at vanilla production.
“We were here last year and got to pollinate a flower, one of my vanilla beans is in here somewhere,” a gentleman from England remarked. The family returned to The Vanillerie to see the progress made in a year’s time. As the group walked the rows of tudors, with tour guide Steve leading the way, two flowers took center stage.
Each guest paused at the flowers, registering it in their minds before snapping a picture and moving on. Steve herds the group to an outbuilding where he demonstrates steps for processing. The intoxicating smell of vanilla envelops the tour as Steve opens the doors to The Vanillerieʻs walk-in humidor.
Guy and Jeanie have big plans for their vanilla plantation—in addition to planting more vanilla. Jeanie is creating an intimate meeting area for small gatherings, surrounded by the sight and smell of vanilla.
The Vanillerie tour ends sweetly with a cup of rich, creamy vanilla ice cream made for the plantation. Guests enjoy the treat as they ponder the experience and peruse items for sale. “We were never going to be huge producers…the way to add value was to do agritourism,” Guy says.
At The Hawaiian Vanilla Co., food is the main event, starting with refreshing vanilla lemonade. Culinary application of vanilla ranges at their luncheon and farm tour, exciting taste buds with every dish. Vanilla is a family affair for the Reddekopp family who started The Hawaiian Vanilla Co. in 1998. Their gift shop and luncheon areas are authentically homestyle as members of the Reddekopp family participate in all aspects of the company.
A short walk from the sunny yellow mill house, visitors get a peek of the family’s greenhouses. Vanilla processing has always been a family affair; pictures of Reddekopp’s children when they were young, placing labels on jars of vanilla on the farm blog echo Jim and Tracyʻs original plan to “raise great children and build a business together.” Patrons of the luncheon and farm tour at The Hawaiian Vanilla Co. feel the warm embrace of being a part of the Reddekopp family, even if just for an afternoon.
Vanilla beans drying. photo by Brittany P. Anderson
Vanilla Around the World
On the world’s stage, vanilla as a commodity is setting record prices. Madagascar farmers are demanding higher and higher rates, driving the cost of vanilla extract from $60 a gallon three years ago to now over $200 per gallon. Hawai‘i Island growers don’t and can’t compete with the large-scale vanilla plantations of Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, or Indonesia; nor do they want to.
Hawai‘i Island vanilla farmers, like The Hawaiian Vanilla Co., diversify their yield by creating high-quality vanilla products in addition to farm tours and bean sales. In comparison to other Hawai‘i Island agriculture ventures, vanilla takes significantly less space and can be trellised to a manageable height. But the labor involved in hand-pollination—if and when the orchid blooms—can be a setback for island growers. There is potential for growth in the Hawai‘i Island vanilla industry for those who are willing and patient.
The day comes to an end with the sweet smell of vanilla beans drying—their tantalizing fragrance sweeping over the rows of leathery green leaves coaxing out the next morning’s blooms. For Hawai‘i Island’s vanilla producers, it is just another day of vanilla season. ❖
“Rightness and balance. The feeling of contentment when all is good and right.” Nineteenth in Series Two on Managing with Aloha
By Rosa Say
In Managing with Aloha’s first edition, I stated, “Pono is rightness and balance.” I made a slight change in the book’s second edition released in the summer of 2016, and started chapter 18 with, “Pono steadies you with rightness and balance.”
We tend to think of Pono as a destination, a finishing we can wrap up significant efforts with. Indeed, it is extremely satisfying to achieve Pono, particularly in the course of activities requiring an element of ho‘oponopoo (conflict resolution).
Let’s not underestimate the ongoing, contextual worth of this value, however, for constant work on the value alignment of Pono delivers so much more.
From Series 1 on Managing with Aloha, here in this magazine’s history, “Pono helps right conquer wrong, whether inside us or around us. To be known as ‘a Pono business’ is to stand by your moral convictions, and deservedly enjoy a reputation of always doing the right thing. You do right by everyone, every time.”
Every time. To value Pono, is to work within its guidance consistently.
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Pono delivers integrity, ethical behavior, and morality, the morality of a particular system of shared values and principles of conduct. That “particular system” is your business or organization. You must define what is right and wrong behavior for everyone associated with your business. Do not neglect to do so, for that will be the consistent guidance they will seek to work within as your representatives, partners, and ambassadors.
Defining your right from wrong is just the beginning. When Pono is part of the process, it will evaluate and perpetuate a person’s readiness in context—what are the variables in different situations, and which paths might present themselves? How might the person involved be the key variable?
After that readiness to choose comes the steadiness of confidence. You gain assurance that the actions they’ll take are the best ones, because they are the right ones by definition of your values as a whole, the ‘whole’ you consider your professional set of behaviors to be.
This isn’t about penning a set of rules; people will never be machines. It’s about the expectations made clear in your values.
A body of work is usually a performance of improvisation within context: The people who work for a business are predominantly left to their own devices within a wide range of freedoms, and they have an abundance of choices. Pono narrows those choices down for them, and points them toward truthfulness and honesty, ethics and integrity, so that the choice they’ll consistently make isn’t just right, it’s reasonable to them, and it’s very clear. Pono becomes that discretionary voice in their head which asks, “Ready? Steady now…go ahead.”
There are two areas in particular with which I encourage managers to make Pono a part of their operational processes:
Training and discipline. If you start with these, they are quite likely to help you see other process possibilities, such as Pono in problem solving, or in working with customer complaints.
Training starts with recruitment and selection, gets seeded with hiring, and is planted with a thorough orientation process, so both skill-building and culture-building sprout quickly. Training then becomes a constant application of compost and fertilizer so talent, skill, knowledge, and cultural health can thrive, flourish, and grow strong.
When Pono is part of those training processes, all questions of honesty, ethics, and integrity are addressed, with the scenarios of differing context trained as value alignment. It might be for Ho‘okipa and customer service, Kuleana and individual responsibility, or another value and its key operations—each of YOUR organization’s core values in turn.
With discipline, Pono will consistently challenge you to answer, “What is Pono for us? When are we ready and steady with the confident assurance of executing our right, and never our wrong? What is our honesty, our ethics, our integrity defined as—in what specific actions do they happen?”
No business should take creative license with honesty, ethics, or integrity: to do so, would not be Pono at all. The world defines these concepts for our ‘Ohana in Business, our customers and communities pretty universally; the morality of operating a business is quite clear, and far less complex than we will sometimes attempt to justify.
It may be wise to delegate parts of your training to others, such as industry or management experts, but please, don’t ever delegate discipline. If, for example, you are solely relying on union guidelines in progressive discipline, you aren’t doing enough. Nor are you holding yourself accountable. Incorporate and practice Pono as the way you deal with errors in judgment. Make corrections your own in alignment with your values. ❖
Next issue: We revisit Ka lā hiki ola, the value of optimism, hope, and promise.
Lemonade is the official drink of summer. When I was 11 years old, my sister and I briefly had a lemonade stand. We sold cups of lemonade during rush hour when cars were stopped in traffic on our street. She and I shuttled waxed paper cups with little flowers printed on them filled with what was most likely very tart lemonade. We sold lemonade until we were out of cups, our hands sticky from spilling. I don’t remember how much money we made, but we pocketed enough to walk into town for Italian ice.
Italian ice is similar to shave ice in that it is ground ice with fruit juices and sometimes served with ice cream or custard. The significant distinction between the two is that with Italian ice the juice is combined with water before shaving. Growing up in New Jersey, it was common to spend a hot summer night sitting on the front porch enjoying an Italian ice before bed.
It is speculated that Italian immigrants brought the Sicilian granita dessert with them when emigrating to the United States, which was then renamed Italian ice. Like shave ice, granita has a coarse texture and is popularly paired with a straw to enjoy the melted slush at the bottom of the cup.
As I recently drank a refreshing glass of vanilla lemonade, my childhood came flooding back. Certain flavors bring those hot New Jersey summer nights back to life—lemon with vanilla just happens to be one of them. Running through sprinklers, the sound of bare feet smacking pavement, falling asleep with a frozen wet washcloth around my neck, the laughter of children, and most of all—lemon Italian ice with vanilla custard.
There I was, sipping memories from a glass while looking around the room—could everyone tell I was transported back in time? The vanilla brings a sweet floral note that tampers the acidity of the lemon. It is nostalgic and refreshing at the same time.
This recipe for vanilla lemonade granita with whipped banana cream is the taste of summertime. It is complimented best with the smell of freshly cut grass and the sound of children giggling.
Vanilla Lemonade Granita
2 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup local sugar
2 inch piece of vanilla bean, cut in half
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp local vanilla extract
1 cup lemon juice—preferably Meyer’s lemon
In a small, nonreactive saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of water with sugar. Add the lemon zest, careful not to include the white pith. If you have long strands of zest, cut in half. Heat water, sugar, and zest on low, frequently stirring with a spatula until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat, add vanilla extract and remaining water. With the back of a knife gently scrape the inside of one half of the vanilla bean, reserving the other half. Stir to mix the vanilla seeds. Let sit to cool to room temperature. When the mixture is cooled, add the lemon juice and pour into a nonreactive pan and place in the freezer. Once it freezes around the edges, take a fork and stir, breaking into smaller pieces. Put back in the freezer. Check again every 20–30 minutes, stir, and cut any chunks into smaller pieces with a fork until you have small granules of ice. Serve in a glass with whipped coconut cream and enjoy!
Whipped Banana Cream
2 Tbsp coconut cream
Reserved half of vanilla bean
3 peeled, frozen apple bananas
Take frozen apple bananas and place in blender. Depending on blender you may have to cut into pieces first. Add coconut cream. With the lid securely fastened, blend until whipped. If needed, add more coconut cream in small increments to allow for sufficient whipping. Once smooth, with the back of a knife, scrape the reserved half of vanilla bean. Blend to mix. Use immediately.
Serving suggestion: In a layering fashion, place a dollop of Whipped Banana Cream at the bottom of a cup or bowl, then a scoop of Vanilla Lemonade Granita alternating so there are two layers of each.
Joalene Young grew up surrounded by beauty in the art colony at Laguna Beach, California, where she lived until the age of 44. In school, she majored in English and minored in art. She married a fabulous abstract impressionist painter, R Young. He was a participant in the Festival of Arts of Laguna Beach and they were both in the Sawdust Art Festival, of which R Young was one of the founders. Joalene painted and sewed together circle couches, pillows, and hanging art for the Sawdust Festival.
Joalene and R Young also had a little art shop/gallery called Roosevelt Plaza where they and various other Laguna Beach artists, many living on Roosevelt Lane in Laguna Canyon, displayed and sold their fine works of art.
They raised a beautiful daughter, also an accomplished artist who lives in Laguna Beach, and have a handsome grandson. In addition to all this, Joalene was a legal secretary for 25 years. Once she retired, she was able to focus on her art career, mentioning she’s “so blessed to be here in Hawai‘i in a whole new era!” How did she get here? She shares, “One day I got on a plane and moved to Hawai‘i and decided to stay forever!” Embraced by the aloha, she started taking pictures of all the magical wonder and beauty on Hawai‘i Island. This turned into a joy, a passion, and she wanted to share this magical place with everyone. That’s how Flowers of Aloha was created.
Joalene is a fine art photographer and conceptual artist, digitally turning her photos into paintings. She resides in Puna, surrounded by the beautiful rainforest. She turns her photos into paintings (giclée), specializing in flowers, land, and seascapes, all reflecting the magic and wonder of Hawai‘i.
Joalene’s art can be found at Puna Gallery & Gift Emporium, Pāhoa; One Gallery, Hilo; Jungle Love, Hilo; and Ipu Arts Plus, Holualoa.
Louie Perry III excels both as an artist and an athlete. He earned the nickname “Greece Lightning” by winning three gold medals in track at the 2011 Special Olympics world games in Greece.
He has taken photos on Hawai‘i Island for 15 years, many underwater in the Kapoho tide pools before the 2018 lava flow covered them, using a Go Pro while free diving. Recently, he’s been using his experience as a hunter to become a nature photographer, using an RX2 Sony hybrid camera.
Louie was the inspiration and co-founder of the Abled Hawaii Artists (AHA) Annual Art Festival, the largest celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act in Hawai‘i. The 12th annual festival takes place July 20, 2019 at Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo. Louie’s work can also be found in Pāhoa at Sirius Coffee, Jungle Love, Lava Museum, and in Hilo at One Gallery.