If weather in Honokowai Valley is inclement, we will often take volunteers to Launiupoko instead. Just south of Lahaina, this ancient site was once home to a vibrant heiau, or temple. Life in ancient Hawai‘i revolved around appeasing the gods, and leaving offerings at heiau was an integral part of village life.
At Launiupoko, Maui Cultural Lands is working to uncover and maintain the lava rock remains of an ancient heiau, cutting away the grass and haole koa, and planting those native species that might have a chance of survival in this arid area.
The slopes were once home to groves of native wiliwili, a useful and attractive tree that thrives in dry and rocky areas. Ancient Hawaiians used the lightweight wood for making surfboards, parts of canoes and floats for fishing. The trees’ flowers and seeds are used in lei making. Decimated in the last decade by the invasive gall wasp, wiliwili is now making a comeback, and Maui Cultural Lands hopes to help restore the native species to Launiupoko.
Progress & Objectives:
Basic clearing has been done, but invasive weeds quickly take over cleared areas, necessitating constant maintenance. Maui Cultural Lands aims to reintroduce wiliwili trees to the area, using keiki (young) wiliwili from Honokowai Valley. With continued work, this important cultural site can be fully restored and preserved for future generations.