Maui Hawaiian Village Takes Step into the Past
By Wendy Osher
A unique experience in Hawaiian culture is nestled in the deep reaches of Waiheʻe Valley where the Maui Hawaiian Village hosts tours and demonstrations in authentic food preparation, clothing design and shelter construction.
The Waiheʻe River, which is part of Nā Wai ʻEha, or the Four Great Waters, splits into two ʻauwai (canals) at the upper section of the pie-shaped property, feeding both sides of the valley below.
Property owners say the land sits on old taro patches, and that crews worked since last year to clear about a third of the 22-acre parcel that was covered in invasive java plum and waiawī guava trees.
With the help of Anna Palamino of Hoʻolawa Farms native plant nursery, the area was replanted with about 40 varieties of native species before opening earlier this year.
To walk through the property is like taking a step into the past with valley walls serving as a natural backdrop to a variety of loulu or native fan palms (Pritchardia), ōhiʻa, maiʻa (banana), ʻuala (sweet potato), kalo (taro), and kō (sugar cane).
Other plants growing throughout include ʻawa or kava (Piper methysticum), noni or Indian mulberry (Morinda citrifolia), and ʻulu (breadfruit).
The history of the valley is also alive in the water where four out of five varieties of ʻoʻopu (goby fish) can be found in the stretch of river that extends about a half mile through the property.
Earlier this year, about 250 students who participated in the six week Kamehameha Schools summer program, visited the site to learn about native plants, sustainable agriculture, and marine life.
The site was also host to about 50 individuals over the weekend as part of a fundraiser for the “I Am Hāloa” documentary about three high school seniors who examine their Hawaiian history, culture and identity through the practice of ku’i ‘ai, or pounding taro for poi.
The village is modeled after the traditional concept of the ahupuaʻa, or land division that extends from mauka to makai, in which villagers utilize the water from the mountain to feed taro patches, agricultural operations, and other plants used for medicinal purposes or clothing preparation.
Property owner, Joshua Chavez said the site serves as an outdoor classroom for visitors and residents alike while active restoration of the historical valley is in progress.
Unlike many other tours you may find, the Maui Hawaiian Village takes an authentic look at culture from the eyes of those who live it. Koa Hewahewa, who is a project advisor and cultural caretaker at the site said visitors to the village “can explore what was and what still can be.”
The tours demonstrate how Hawaiians have thrived for generations by cultivating the land and preserving their resources from the mountain to the sea.
For more information or to book a group or tour, visit the Maui Hawaiian Village website.