Welcome to Mālama Hulē‘ia

coverpage Mālama Hulē‘ia is a voluntary non-profit organization dedicated to improving key parts of the Nawiliwili Bay Watershed on Kaua‘i by eliminating an alien and highly invasive plant species. This invasive plant – red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) – is attacking some of our most valuable assets in the watershed. Over the last 50 years, red mangrove has been changing native wildlife habitats in and along the Hulē‘ia River and destroying the Alekoko Fish Pond. We are working for a future when all of the red mangrove will be gone and all of our ‘ainakumuwai (watershed) can be made as productive as it once was.

This web site provides information about the Mālama Hulē‘ia organization, our history, motives, knowledge base, current projects and activities, and our vision for the future. If you agree with what we are doing, we welcome you to participate in and share our journey. Please visit our How to Help page. Mahalo.

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Crane and KHS NHS Team Up


On January 17, a big crane moved on to the edge of  Niumalu Beach Park to help with the mangrove removal. Its 40 foot boom swung over the wet and muddy ground and returned with huge clumps of mangrove – branches, roots, whole trees. It dropped the stuff onto the park grounds where we cut it up into bin-size pieces. Then the crane picked of bundles of those pieces and deposited them into the three 30 yard roll-off bins we had waiting.

Buddy Keala, who had arranged all of this with Larry Conklin and his crew of 2, estimated that we got the equivalent of 4 months of  manual work done on that one day with the crane. Mahalo, Buddy.

But that was not the only thing going on that Saturday. While the crane operations were in full swing at the end of the park, 16 Kaua’i High School National Honor Society students were working a bucket brigade to move previously cut mangrove along the board walk to where the mangrove will be chipped. It was a day of great team work that resulted in big piles of wood for the chipper. Mahalo to Mason Chock, Leah Aiwohi, and Malia Chun for coordinating. And Mahalo nui to the students who gave up a Saturday to malama ‘aina.

KHS National Honor Society at work

KHS National Honor Society at work

Some of  the mangrove carried out by the students

Some of the mangrove carried out by the students

Some of  the mangrove carried out by the students

More of the mangrove carried out by the students

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Menehune Action

Menehune managed to cut down and neatly stack some ironwood (australian pine) that was in the way of clearing the mangrove. In this digital and mobile age, even menehune get caught in pictures.


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Waiting for Niumalu Beach Park to Grow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASomeone was celebrating a birthday party at the Niumalu Beach Park pavilion on Sunday while we having our monthly Mālama Hulē‘ia Steering Committee meeting.  Our meeting is held every third Sunday of the month after working on the mangrove both Saturday and Sunday.  But almost every weekend there is a party going at the park pavilion. Sometimes it is an adult affair, and sometimes it is for the kids.  This past Sunday, it was for the kids, and perhaps for one special kid who was wearing a golden party cap.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe always concede the park pavilion to those who reserve it for a party, and if available, we meet at a picnic table on the edge of the park where we can look out over the results of our hard labor. Some of the kids from the party this Sunday wandered over to check out the scene too. The zillions of baby fish and green patches of strange plants may have sparked their interest. It looked like they wanted to wander further into the area but were probably stopped by the yucky water, mud and rotting mangrove roots.

Well, someday we’ll make it better. Someday the Niumalu Beach Park will grow into the Mālama Hulē‘ia Learning Center. It may still be a wetland, but it won’t be so yucky. Just more interesting.

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Project Extended, Volunteers Requested

The official end date of Mālama Hulē‘ia’s grant-supported project has been extended from January 31 to May 30, 2015. This does not mean that our work will be finished on that end date, because all of the rest of the Hulē‘ia River and the ‘Alekoko Fishpond will still need to be freed of mangrove. But we do aim to accomplish our short term goals of eradicating red mangrove from the Niumalu Beach Park area, both along the Pu‘ali Stream and along the Niumalu Road out to the Hulē‘ia River, by May 30. And we will continue to hold community work weekends every third weekend of the month until then. (See 2015 dates on the right.)

In spite of the tremendous support we have had from community volunteers, progress in our demonstration project has been slowed by bad weather, very wet and muddy ground conditions, and the huge size of mangrove trees.  We do have plans to turn this around by employing heavy equipment that can pull the trees out to dry land where the equipment will be located and where the trees can be more easily cut up and disposed. We will start to use this equipment in January, 2015.

Meanwhile, on December 20 and 21, 2014, we still need all the volunteer help we can get to clear the mangrove and other invasive plants, as well as to restore the area with native vegetation.  If you have some time, please join our troops and help us to mālama Niumalu. Wear boots or tabis, glasses and sun protection. We will provide gloves and lunch. Ho‘omoe wai kāhi ke kāo‘o. (Let all travel together like water flowing in one direction.)

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Our Niumalu Site as a Learning Center

One of our most important project objectives is to convert the red mangrove-infested space next to the Niumalu Beach Park into a community learning center.  To a large extent, this has already been achieved, with several schools partnering with Mālama Hulē‘ia to bring students into the field to learn in a hands-on way about their Hawaiian heritage, the history of the place, the value of mālama ‘aina, teamwork, as well as basic ecology.

Carl Berg with Kaiwaikini Students

Carl Berg with Kaiwaikini Students

We have a continuing partnership with Kawaikini Charter School, which is creatively using our Niumalu site for a variety of lessons. Rebecca Cate, who has been collaborating with Carl Berg, explains how they are doing this: “Kawaikini has been honored to be at Niumalu. Our students have learned so much about the area. On our last trip we had our High school students create 5 lessons plans – Hawaiian stories of Niumalu, plants in Niumalu, invasive plants for clean up, the rivers of Niumalu, and water testing to learn about brakish water. Our high school students taught the younger students, grades 2, 7 & 8 these lessons. We have plans to repeat these lessons with all our Elementary level students so our whole school (k-12) will have a foundation of Niumalu upon which to build in future years. Mahalo for all your help and for making these trips a success.”

In  the near future, we also expect to have art students from Kapaa High School come to the site. They will help with signage and begin the process of remaking the Niumalu site into a place of culture and beauty.

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Mālama Hulē‘ia Update on Wala‘au

If you missed the update of our Mālama Hulē‘ia project on Wala‘au back in September, you can now view it on our Gallery page http://malamahuleia.org/gallery/. Mahalo to Katie Beer for putting together the video, and to Mason, Jan and Justin Kollar for being our spokespersons. They did a terrific job.

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