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Maui Treasure, Chang of Ali’i
Kula Lavender Remembered

Updated 08:54 AM HST, April 15, 2011
Posted 01:07 PM HST, April 14, 2011

By Wendy Osher

Ali'i Arlington Chang. February 19, 1942 - April 13, 2011. Courtesy Photo.

Local farmer and visionary, Ali’i Arlington Chang, known best for his successful Ali’i Kula Lavender farm on the slopes of Haleakala, passed peacefully in his sleep yesterday.  He was 69.

The successful 13-acre lavender farm was born of a single plant, recieved as a gift in 2001 from his dear friend and Hawaiian vocalist, Emma Veary.  After planting the herb, the lavender took off, and over time, was transformed into a booming business that put Maui on many a map. 

“Our hearts ache,” said Lani Weigert, co-owner, Ali‘i Kula Lavender. “Maui has lost one of its treasures,” she said.

As a steward of aloha, Weigert said, “He was an old-school, strong-minded, often stubborn Chinese-Hawaiian farmer.  Yet he was a gentleman committed to an impeccable work ethic who was in-tune with nature,” said Weigert.  “Above all, he was wise and gifted,” she said. 

Weigert, along with the staff of Ali’i Kula Lavender shared a home cooked meal prepared by Chang at his home on Tuesday.  The dinner and crew meeting would be the last time the AKL staff would share an evening with him.

Chang grew up on a 20-acre farm in Kāne‘ohe on O‘ahu.  Friends say he watched and learned from his grandmother who, he would often say, “made me express art in whatever I did.”

“Ali‘i prided himself on having an impeccable and ever-changing canvas for all eyes to see and enjoy,” said Weigert. “He took considerable pride in his work and the work of his staff. Of his many traits, Ali‘i was a true perfectionist,” she said.

The vision for the lavender farm was to create a venue for “Sustainable Aloha.”  This included educational stewardship projects with the community.  In honor of that respect and vision, an Ali‘i Chang Foundation will be established to provide scholarships for Native Hawaiians pursuing skills training in agriculture and for agricultural education at local schools. More information will be posted at a later time at www.aklmaui.com.

Prior to the launch of Ali’i Kula Lavender, Chang opened Ali’i Gardens Nahiku where he grew  tropical exotic plants.  Later, in 1992, he purchased a protea farm in Kula.

At Chang’s request, no services will be held.  A “Celebration of Life” will take place on Saturday, July 9, 2011 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Ali‘i Kula Lavender. The day was set aside for the company’s First Annual Sustainable Aloha Summer Festival.  Chang is survived by a son, Forrest Koa Chang.

*** Supporting information courtesy Ali’i Kula Lavender.

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  • Liz

    I am so sorry for all of his family and friends. I had the opportunity to visit the lavender farm last year and agian this year. I actually met him last year and I knew instantly he was a very special person. His eyes were just smiling. I suppose it was becuase he was doing what he loved. I was just there in march and he was having a meeting with his staff, but he took time out to autograph his book for me.
    You can observe the love, care and perfection of his farm and I just loved being there. Godspeed Ali’i , I know that there will be lavender in heaven!

    • Gretchen Dayanan

      My heartfelt condolences to the family. I had the greatest opportunity to have had a private tour of his home and his beautiful lavender farm. He had the greatest smile you can ever imagine. Very much Aloha and his personality was just unbelievable. He’ll have a beautiful lavender farm in heaven. God bless you always.

      Aloha ke Akua

  • Dave

    I was so sad to hear this. I saw him only a week ago and he seamed so full of joy and happiness. I will miss him aroung the lavender farm.

  • Caroline Okazaki

    Hawaii has lost the biggest steward of Aloha. Had the pleasure of meeting this wonderful man while my sister and I visited the Lavender Farm in June 2009. He was such a delight to talk to and was so nice to have let us into his beautiful home there so we could see the view from his living room window. May he rest in peace and my deepest condolencence to his family and staff. We just love all of AKL lavender items and hope they will continue his legacy.

    Caroline, Honolulu