Restoration Work Finds Hala a Worthy Ally

Pala ka hala, ‘ula ka ai

When the hala ripens, the neck is brightened by them

People are very fond of hala lei. From the name chant of Kuali‘i


‘Ōlelo No‘eau Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetical Sayings

By Mary Kawena Pukui

2017 planting hala at the waihee refuge (2).jpg

We started our habitat restoration work at the Waihe‘e Coastal Dunes & Wetlands Refuge in 2005. For the majority of the area we're transforming nearly 100% non-native and invasive species to native vegetation; primarily to support the Hawaii-endemic wetland birds as well as a variety of migratory birds that also use the area. We've had wonderful success in the wetlands and along the coastline where the environment is best suited for plants that are adapted to the unique conditions of flooding and the ehu kai which blankets everything nearshore with salt.

We've also conducted restoration activities in areas surrounding the wetlands and further back along the shoreline. These areas have proved more difficult to keep in native vegetation. Our biggest challenge in these dryer areas have been the vines and the Asystasia gangetica. The asystasia is a violet or white flowered herbaceous plant which will climb and smother our native plantings. The asystasia has proven very difficult to eradicate due to its habit of intertwining with other vegetation along with its penchant when being hand weeded to break easily leaving the rooting nodes in place to grow again. For years we've been trying to keep this plant from suffocating our plantings such as naupaka and a'ali'i.

In some areas where the asystasia has gained domination we noticed one plant which seemed to grow beyond the tangle of stems: Pandanus tectorius, more commonly known as hala. The features of hala's growth lend itself well to escaping the tenacious asystasia. The hala's leaves, growing directly from its trunk, fall away to the ground taking anything that might be clinging on. Once the hala reaches up beyond the mesh of asystasia it is free to shade out its former competitor and drop its own thick and sturdy leaves to cover the herb.

Due to this observation we have this past year begun a large push to plant out about 1,400 hala into areas where the asystasia dominates. By pushing out these masses of asystasia we should be reducing the amount of seed generated and slow the spread where the asystsia does not fair quite so well against its competition and we are capable, therefore, of controlling it.

Through this process we are learning to adapt our strategies as our restoration projects mature and face new challenges. Our restoration activities, like the hala, are shedding the early stages enabling us to reach up to a bright future leaving behind what weighed it down.


By James Crowe

Don't Call It a Comeback - Restoring Native Bird Habitat on Maui

A little more than a thousand years ago, when the first people arrived in these islands from Southern Polynesia, they were met with an incredible diversity of bird species.  From stilt owls, to crows, harriers, hawks, rails, large flightless ducks, and several species of geese, the diversity of birds across Hawai’i would have truly amazed anyone.  The sub-fossil skeletal remains of at least 109 terrestrial bird species, and at least two dozen seabird species, have been found across the archipelago, a silent testament to that diversity. 

Only 16 of those terrestrial bird species remain today, while the seabirds, which perhaps once numbered in the millions, barely cling to life on the high islands of Hawai’i.  Predation by rats, as well as dogs, mongoose, cats and several bird species, as well as diseases and habitat modification have taken a heavy toll on both the diversity of species, and the numbers of individual birds that once thrived here.  Birds play a critical role in the nutrient cycle of geologically young islands like Hawai’i, and their reduction and disappearance has, and will have, impacts on these islands in ways that may not be apparent for generations to come. 

Fortunately, many bird species respond well to simple changes in the quality of their habitat.  A case in point is HILT’s 2-acre Hawea Point conservation easement near Kapalua.  Around 2001 a local fisherman, Isao Nakagawa, noticed a pair of ‘Ua’u kani (Wedge-tailed shearwater), a seabird with a preference for lower elevations around one of his favorite fishing spots.  Further investigation revealed 2 breeding pair (4 individuals).  Isao simply took an interest, asking people to leash their dogs, ensuring that hikers avoided crushing their burrows, and doing what he could to improve their habitat.  Sadly, Isao passed away late in 2016, but his dedication and determination to restore these vital seabirds to Maui has resulted in over a thousand ‘Ua’u kani thriving at Hawea Point. I was fortunate to have spent time with Isao, and to see how intimately he understood these birds.  On one banding expedition, Isao called out to these birds in their distinctive ‘crying baby’ wail, and within minutes he was surrounded by four birds.  It was enlightening, to say the least.

 Ua'u Kani at Hawea Point

Ua'u Kani at Hawea Point

 If you have ever doubted what one lone individual can do, I invite you to sit quietly around dusk at Hawea Point and watch the birds swirl around your head.  To those who love seabirds, and are committed to seeing the restoration of the ecological health of our island home, watching this evening ritual that has taken place on this island for thousands, and more likely hundreds of thousands of years, is a sublime experience.  Astonishingly, the November, 2017 banding of `Ua`u kani chicks found over 330 chicks and 1,500 burrows.  It is safe to say that the number of `Ua`u kani at Hawea Point now numbers between 3,000 and 5,000 individuals.  Small efforts pay off in meaningful ways when it comes to healing the `aina.

This reality came home to us at Waihe’e and Nu’u this year as we conducted our annual bird count.  With eight adults, we counted more Ae`o (Hawaiian stilts) this year, than in any previous year since we began our ecological restoration efforts at Nu’u in 2009.  The health of the wetland has improved remarkably as the fence around the wetlands prevents feral pigs from creating wallows and preying on the chicks of these endangered waterbirds. 

Waihe`e was even more impressive.  My colleague James Crowe counted not only 14 Ae’o in the Waihe’e wetlands, but for only the second time in 14 years, Northern Pintail, a species once abundant in Waihe’e in the early to mid-20th century (and very likely well before that).   Again on Friday, February 9, during one of our frequent public excursions at the Waihe’e Refuge, a flock of 24 Northern Pintail circled overhead and landed in the wetlands. Ola i ka wai; ola i ka `aina malama.  There is life in the water; there is life in land well cared for.   

 Ae'o at Waihee

Ae'o at Waihee

 Our future is tied to the land, whether we choose to admit it or not.  The need for clean air and water are obvious.  It’s the subtle things, such as the relationships we create with the species we share this planet with, that reveal our culture, and which determine whether we shape an abundant, resilient and sustainable society.

By Scott Fisher PhD.

Ka Leo O Ka Aina - Ianuali 2018

"Message from the Land" - January 2018

Land Acquisition and Protection:

The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust continued to protect the lands that sustain us here in Hawaii in 2017 with the acquisition of a conservation easement on 150-acres of Kealakekua farm lands on the Honolulu Coffee Company farm and an additional conservation easement on 10-acres of native ohia forest and native bird habitat in the Kona cloud forest of Kaloko.

 Honolulu Coffee Company farm in Kealakekua, Hawaii

Honolulu Coffee Company farm in Kealakekua, Hawaii

With these additions to HILT's portfolio of protected lands across Hawaii, the organization has protected over 18,000 acres of Hawaii's special landscapes and their precious natural resources. 

 Kona cloud forest, Kaloko, Hawaii 

Kona cloud forest, Kaloko, Hawaii 

Stewardship and Ecological Restoration

HILT staff and volunteers are engaged in the management planning process for Honolua Bay/Lipoa Point with the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, Planning Consultants Hawaii, and community organizations and stakeholders including the Save Honolua Coalition

 Honolua Bay, Maui

Honolua Bay, Maui

HILT staff and dedicated volunteers also continued ecological restoration work at each of the land trusts' five public preserves. 

 Seabury Hall students help remove invasive species at the Nuu Refuge, Maui

Seabury Hall students help remove invasive species at the Nuu Refuge, Maui

At HILT's Nuu Refuge in Kaupo, Maui, students and volunteers helped to remove invasive plants from over 1,000 linear feet of the Nuu pond. Bird counts this year indicate that the native waterbirds are doing well at this important wetland providing a connecting point between Maui and Hawaii Island. 

 Ko'oloa'ula thriving at the Waihe'e Coastal Dunes and Wetland Refuge, Maui

Ko'oloa'ula thriving at the Waihe'e Coastal Dunes and Wetland Refuge, Maui

Thanks to the many dedicated volunteers at the Waihe'e Coastal Dunes and Wetland Refuge, over 550 native plants were put in the ground this past year and many of the native species are thriving including the ko'oloa'ula.

 BYUH Students and Volunteers at Maunawila Heiau, O'ahu

BYUH Students and Volunteers at Maunawila Heiau, O'ahu

Over 2-tons of trees and shrubs were cleared from the Maunawila cultural preserve, and community leaders began a kilo program to discover and map the celestial alignments at the heiau. 

 Volunteers at Kahili Beach, Kauai

Volunteers at Kahili Beach, Kauai

The Kia'i Kahili volunteers continued to conduct beach clean-ups at the beautiful Kahili Beach in Kilauea, Kaua'i. 

  Team Kokua  from Hawaiian Airlines at Maunawila Heiau, O'ahu

Team Kokua from Hawaiian Airlines at Maunawila Heiau, O'ahu

Collectively, over 2,700 volunteers came out to help restore our public preserves and contributed over 6,600 hours to help malama these precious landscapes. Mahalo nui loa to all of HILT's incredible volunteers! 

Outreach and Education

 Talk Story on the Land at Kaiholena, Kohala, Hawaii

Talk Story on the Land at Kaiholena, Kohala, Hawaii

HILT's popular Talk Story on the Land series of educational hikes sharing about the natural and cultural history, and resources of our protected areas continued to engage residents and visitors on each island. The land trust was able to lead 65 hikes and share the importance of land conservation with 895 participants promoting the ethic of malama aina. 

 HILT Board Member McD Philpotts shares about conservation efforts with landowners at Palehua Ranch, Honouliuli, O'ahu. 

HILT Board Member McD Philpotts shares about conservation efforts with landowners at Palehua Ranch, Honouliuli, O'ahu. 

HILT was also able to partner with the West Oahu Soil and Water Conservation District, the Division of Forestry and Wildlife and other partners to provide two landowner outreach events to Hawaii landowners interested in learning about the opportunities and benefits of voluntary land conservation programs in Hawai'i. 

 Landowner outreach at  Waimea Valley , Oahu

Landowner outreach at Waimea Valley, Oahu


 Jessica Welch, Executive Director of the Manoa Heritage Center and Mary Cooke accept the 2017 Kahu o Ka Aina Award presented by HILT Board Chairman Matt Beall at HILT's 2017 Malama Aina Kakou event at Lanikuhonua

Jessica Welch, Executive Director of the Manoa Heritage Center and Mary Cooke accept the 2017 Kahu o Ka Aina Award presented by HILT Board Chairman Matt Beall at HILT's 2017 Malama Aina Kakou event at Lanikuhonua

HILT had the privilege of honoring Sam and Mary Cooke and the Manoa Heritage Center for the 2017 Kahu o Ka Aina Award at the Malama Aina Kakou event at Lanikuhonua, Oahu. Over 250 land conservation supporters came out to help celebrate the protection and perpetuation of Hawaii's unique natural and cultural heritage. 

 Guest Celebrity Chef Andrew Le from Pig and a Lady and Executive Chef Vince McCarthy at Merriman's Waimea

Guest Celebrity Chef Andrew Le from Pig and a Lady and Executive Chef Vince McCarthy at Merriman's Waimea

We were extremely fortunate to have Celebrity Guest Chef Andrew Le from Pig and the Lady and Executive Chef Vince McCarthy of Merriman's Waimea provide an incredible evening of cuisine to celebrate at the 2017 Hawaii Island Paina in Waimea. 

 Celebrity Guest Chef Mark Noguchi, Executive Chef Mark Arriola, and the crew at Merriman's Fish House in Poipu, Kaua'i

Celebrity Guest Chef Mark Noguchi, Executive Chef Mark Arriola, and the crew at Merriman's Fish House in Poipu, Kaua'i

The HILT "Ohana on Kaua'i had a blast this year at the SOLD OUT Kaua'i Island Pa'ina with Celebrity Guest Chef Mark Noguchi from the Pili Group and Executive Chef Mark Arriola at Merriman's Fish House in Poipu, Kaua'i. 

 HILT Board Members at Buy Back the Beach 2017

HILT Board Members at Buy Back the Beach 2017

The 16th annual Buy Back the Beach at the Old Lahaina Luau was another incredible event with 348 attendees helping to honor US Senator Brian Schatz as the 2017 Champion of the Land. 

 Volunteer of the Year awardees Tom Huber and Tommy Morris along with HILT Land Steward, James Crowe

Volunteer of the Year awardees Tom Huber and Tommy Morris along with HILT Land Steward, James Crowe

We had an awesome gathering at the annual picnic at Waihe'e and were pleased to honor two of HILT's most loyal and dedicated volunteers, Tommy Morris and Tom Huber. 


HILT was honored to receive a Preservation Commendation award from the Historic Hawaii Foundation at the 2017 Preservation Honor Awards. 

It was also a pleasure to receive the Non-profit Sector Award from the Advocates for Public Interest Law at the 2017 APIL Gala event. 

Mahalo nui to everyone who helped make 2017 a great year for land conservation in Hawai'i! 

Hawaiian Islands Land Trust Honors Henk Rogers and Blue Planet Foundation for Sustainability Efforts

Hawaiian Islands Land Trust (HILT) is honoring Henk Rogers and Blue Planet Foundation as the 2018 Champion of the Land at the 17th annual Buy Back the Beach: Mālama Kīpuka Benefit Lū‘au on January 20, 2018.  Each year, HILT selects a person, group, or organization that has contributed significantly and has had a substantial impact on land conservation in Hawaii.


Henk Rogers, Founder and Board Chair of the Honolulu-based clean energy nonprofit Blue Planet Foundation, is committed to stewarding the environment through promoting solutions to our urgent climate challenge. Blue Planet Foundation's mission is to clear the path for 100 percent clean energy in Hawaii and beyond. Through collaboration and advocacy, Blue Planet champions scalable policies and programs to transform Hawaii’s energy systems to clean, renewable energy solutions.


“The work of Henk and the Blue Planet Foundation to move Hawaii toward a 100 percent clean energy future is a significant contribution toward Hawaii’s sustainability. Hawaii has the potential to lead the world in how we care for our environment,” said Kawika Burgess, HILT’s CEO. Blue Planet Foundation was the lead advocate for the nation’s first 100 percent renewable energy requirement. Hawai‘i’s legislature passed the aggressive law setting a goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. This bold policy has since changed the conversation about energy in Hawai‘i and nationwide. Since the passing of the 100 percent renewable energy law, Blue Planet Foundation has been actively working to put a similar vision in place for ground transportation in Hawai‘i.


"On behalf of the Board of Directors of Blue Planet Foundation, I am honored that Hawaiian Islands Land Trust has chosen us as a recipient of its 2018 Champion of the Land award," Rogers said. "We are grateful for the recognition, and plan to continue to protect our planet and our future as we clear the path to 100 percent."


"We are very thankful for the honor, and excited to help create a renewable and sustainable Hawaii that serves as a model for the globe," said Jeff Mikulina, executive director of Blue Planet Foundation.


Hawaiian Islands Land Trust’s Buy Back the Beach event brings together Hawai‘i’s committed conservation supporters for an island-style pā‘ina under the Maui stars at the famous Old Lāhainā Lū‘au.  Guests will be treated with ‘ono lū‘au fare, complimentary cocktails, live and silent auctions and live entertainment.  This benefit helps the land trust’s efforts to protect precious landscapes and places in Hawai‘i with unique natural and cultural resources.


HILT’s supporters have enabled the land trust to deliver an incredible amount of conservation successes over the years including the protection of over 18,000 acres of shorelines, native forests, cultural landscapes, and farm lands across the islands.  


Event details:

Saturday, January 20, 2018

5:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Old Lāhainā Lū‘au

1251 Front Street

Lāhainā, HI 96761

Tables of 8 are available for $1,400, $2,500, $5,000, $7,500 and $10,000

Individual Tickets are $175 per person

Purchase Tickets online at

Or by phone at (808) 791-0729


For more information about the event, visit or call Angela Britten, Director of Development at (808) 791-0731.

Why I Choose to Invest In The Hawaiian Islands Land Trust

There are so many incredibly admirable organizations that serve our community here on Maui and throughout Hawaii nei and my husband and I try to find opportunities where we can help out, whenever we can. Feeding the homeless, clothing our children, literacy, universal health access, and many more programs are all deserving of our help and attention. These worthy nonprofits are all managed by devoted people who work tirelessly on trying to make Hawaii a better place for all of us and, hopefully, many of them will no longer be needed in the future as the needs they fill will be successfully abolished. 

We believe that investing in land conservation is a permanent and perpetual investment and will forever ensure that all our future generations will continue to benefit from working farm and ranch lands, open space and public access for recreation and connection to nature, cultural and historical sites for education, and iconic views that we have come to take for granted. My husband and I have chosen to invest in the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust since 2008 and are proud of the work that the trust does and all they have accomplished. In the last 10 years HILT has placed over 18,000 acres of Hawaii’s precious places in to perpetual conservation and we are excited to be a part of it. 

Although the people that manage the myriad of amazing nonprofits here in Hawaii will continue to come and go, and the necessitous issues will change with the generations, we are satisfied that our solid investment in land conservation will continue into perpetuity to serve the wonderful people of


By, Susan Kean

Susan began her art career at an early age at the Art Students League in New York City and continued at Pratt University in Brooklyn.  After receiving her BFA she opened Fine Art Tile, a business specializing in custom hand-painted ceramic tile.  In her 30 years of operating this business, 20 in Hawai‘i, she completed many commissions for a multitude of restaurants, hotels and private homes.  She recently took up oil painting en plein air which has helped strengthen her conviction of preserving iconic landscapes and open space.

An avid hiker, paddler, biker she is passionate about nature and is happy to be affiliated with an organization that works so hard to preserve land.

Susan sat five years as a founding advisory director for BookTrustMaui.  She started serving on the board of Maui Coastal Land Trust in 2008.  She is currently serving as chair of the governance committee for the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust.

She is married to Jac Kean and they happily share four wonderful children.