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Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻIke
Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻIke
Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻIke
Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻIke (MKHKI) means “in doing, or working, one learns.” Our mission is to provide Hāna youth with a way to learn that makes sense to them, builds their self-esteem, and shows them they have the power to change their future. Our methodology comprises a service-oriented educational continuum that provides meaningful work-based learning opportunities to strengthen ʻāina (land) stewardship, intergenerational relationships, vocational skill capacity, and cultural identity and skills. Our overarching vision is to increase Hāna’s self-sufficiency by restoring our youth to their rightful role as caretakers of our ʻāina (lands) and kaiāulu (community). We began as a partnership with Hāna School in 2001, offering supplemental teacher support through woodshop classes and on-the-job construction training for students struggling with the traditional classroom setting. In 2010, we expanded to create Mahele Farm, our 10-acre regenerative community farm, which now hosts over 120 community volunteers and unites indigenous and modern farming techniques to produce more than 25,000 pounds of food annually. Our cultural program, Mālama Haloa, now in its eighth year, reconnects youth with the ancestral knowledge of kuku kapa, makahiki games and ceremony, and growing and preparing kalo. Currently in its second year, our culinary program Kahu ʻAi Pono teaches students gardening and orchard production, kitchen safety, proper food handling, and cooking through a place-based strategy using campus-grown, cultural food staples as the centerpiece. Our four core programs work integratively to perpetuate our region's unique traditions and serve our community's evolving needs.
About the Organization:
2 MILLION - 3 MILLION
The remote district of Hāna (population 2,291), spanning 35.5 miles of East Maui, is among the most underserved regions in Hawaiʻi. The nearest urban facilities are a one-way, 2-3 hours long drive along a road subject to heavy visitor traffic, landslides, flooding, and collapse. Due in part to its remoteness, Hāna High and Elementary School offers the lowest percentage of licensed teachers in Hawaiʻi, and our student's standardized test scores fall well below state averages (DOE Databook, 2021). Hāna's remoteness and lack of economic opportunity have created a distressed demographic environment wherein Native Hawaiian youth experience multiple risk factors, including poverty, substance abuse, domestic violence, substandard living conditions, and health issues. According to the 2020 publication Assessment and Priorities for the Health and Well-being in Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders , these social determinants position Native Hawaiians as having among the highest incidences of behavioral health issues of all racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. However, the same isolation that has led to Hāna’s economic condition makes it a focal point for the retention of Hawaiian heritage. With two Hawaiian language medium schools and a population that is 71% Native Hawaiian (US Census 2020), our community remains a refuge of traditional lifestyles and cultural values. Our Native Hawaiian youth experience many protective factors, including cultural affiliation, a tight, values-based community, connection to subsistence skills (e.g., farming, hunting, fishing), and ancestral ties to place. Our uniquely collaborative partnership with Hāna School provides us daily access to Hāna’s PreK-12 population to enhance their agro-culinary education in a “learning by doing way.” Our community is historically and traditionally an agricultural area, and there is strong economic demand in East Maui for local agricultural products and culinary skillsets (East Maui Food Assessment, USDA-AMS Research Grant, 2019-21). Given that over 70% of Hāna School graduates stay in East Maui, these circumstances indicate a boding potential for vocational and natural resource education to address the challenges and limitations Hāna youth face.
Nā Pulapula O Hāna (Seedlings of Hana) provides hands-on cultural, agricultural, and culinary training to Hāna’s keiki (PreK-8th) and ‘opio (14-18 years) through supplemental teacher support and after-school activities at Hāna School and our off-campus Mahele Farm site. This initiative incorporates three elements: (1) Mahi ‘Ai ‘Ana—education and training on diversified natural farming; (2) Kuleana— cultural skills training to create value-added products from traditional Hawaiian and non-indigenous plants; and (3) Makaukau—culinary skills training to produce food services for fellow students and kūpuna (elders). Across all components, paid graduate apprentices will train year-round to lead preK-12 participants during the school year and intercession in activities that foster ecological stewardship and the reciprocal health of kānaka (humans) and 'āina (land). Each year we engage more than 150 students in age-appropriate natural science lessons (e.g., pollination, photosynthesis, soil health, pest management) in five locations across the Hāna School campus, a greenhouse, aquaponics system, vermicomposting system and via field trips to our apprentice-run Mahele Farm. Mahele engages over 120 community volunteers and produces over 25,000 pounds of diverse vegetables and cultural crops annually, 100% of which are distributed to the community. This initiative will engage youth in kuʻi (the traditional practice of pounding cooked kalo into poi) and woodshop classes, during which students will create utensils, furniture, and cultural implements from locally procured native hardwoods. The origin story of kalo is synonymous with the birth story of the Hawaiian people, and students will work intimately with tree species used for centuries by Hawaiians for shelter, clothing, and voyaging. Perpetuating the unique traditions of East Maui is a kuleana (responsibility) students do not take lightly. Middle and high school students in our Kahu ʻAi Pono Program will learn synergistically in the kitchen and school gardens to cultivate a distinct appreciation for ‘āina-based foods and the healthy soils they necessitate. Culinary students will plan recipes and planting strategies to execute delicious meals and snacks (heaping servings of prepared breadfruit, banana, kalo, and papaya) for fellow students and kūpuna on our weekly distribution roster.