BEHawaiʻi launches Lei Poinaʻole Project to revitalize Hawaiʻi’s lei industry
The nonprofit BEHawaiʻi launches a new program called the Lei Poinaʻole Project, to revitalize, strengthen, and support the Hawaiʻi lei industry.
LPP was formed in 2022 after BEHawaiʻi Board Members heard concerns from Hawai‘i lei flower growers, lei makers, and vendors about changes in the industry and the steady decline in lei resources and materials.
Lei Poina‘ole means “the never forgotten lei” and the project is committed to this vision, so that the Hawaiʻi lei industry and its people are never forgotten.
LPP is supported by a grant from The Administration for Native Americans, which allows BEHawaiʻi to hire a full-time team dedicated to furthering its impact across Hawaiʻi. This includes BEHawaiʻi’s first-ever Executive Director, Makana Reilly.
Nalani Jenkins, BEHawaiʻi Founder and Board Treasurer said Reilly’s experience and leadership will be essential to the program’s growth strategy. “Makana’s heart for Hawaiʻi’s people and culture are evident in her past work, and we look forward to what we can accomplish together,” said Jenkins.
Reilly was born and raised on the island of Oʻahu and currently resides on Kauaʻi. She earned a Master of Arts Degree in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Miami.
“Hawaiʻi is in a time of transition in so many ways,” Reilly said. “I look forward to serving our islands as BEHawaiʻi’s Executive Director as we work to empower and affect positive change in the community through our programs.”
Waiʻanae-born Christian Zuckerman was also hired as LPP’s Lei Farm Specialist who will be responsible for supporting eight pre-existing small and medium lei growers and eventually developing 16 new small and medium lei growers across Hawaiʻi by 2025.
To increase awareness and generate demand for locally grown flowers, materials, and lei, program leaders said the message is simple: “When you buy locally produced lei, you are nourishing our ʻāina, supporting Hawaiʻi farmers, preserving local traditions, and sharing aloha throughout our community.”
“When you participate in various celebrations this summer, we encourage you to support local, and buy lei grown and sewn in Hawaiʻi,” said Reilly. “Better yet, try making a lei!”
As the Lei Poina‘ole Project continues to grow, LPP is bringing together different businesses, organizations, and individuals to support the sustainable growth and longevity of the local lei industry. To learn more about the project and find out how you can get involved by donating, participating, propagating, or advocating for the lei industry, visit behawaii.org.