Episode 114: Volunteer on Maui: Inside the Valley Where Ancient Hawaii Still Thrives with Maui Cultural Lands
Imagine walking through a lush, green valley in Maui, surrounded by ancient Hawaiian archaeological sites, hearing legends and stories from a native Hawaiian cultural practitioner.
As you work together with locals to remove invasive species and plant native trees, you gain a profoundly deeper appreciation for the land, the culture, and what aloha really means.
That’s what you’ll get when you join Ekolu Lindsey for a volunteer day with Maui Cultural Lands. Not only will you help preserve an incredibly sacred space, but you’ll form connections, understand values, and experience Hawaii in a way most visitors never do.
Planning a trip to Hawaii? Have any questions? Join our Hawaii’s Best Travel Facebook group here now! It’s the perfect place to ask any questions and to be inspired!
This post gives general info and isn’t legal or authoritative advice. It helps travelers with tips but can’t replace personal abilities, fitness, experience, or local knowledge. Marine activities have risks; assess conditions and follow local laws.
As someone who obsesses over planning the perfect trip to Hawaii, discovering Maui Cultural Lands was a pivotal find for me. When my wife and I showed up at 9 AM on a Saturday morning to meet Ekolu and his mother Puanani, I had no concept of the perspective shift I was about to have.
Over the next 4 hours, we descended into the lush Honokowai Valley to learn first-hand from Ekolu about the history and significance of one of the most archaeologically rich valleys in Hawaii.
With impressive empathy and patience, Ekolu explained concepts like kupono, malama, and kokua that shape the Hawaiian mindset and worldview.
As we worked up a sweat removing invasive species and planting native trees, the stories Ekolu told transported us back centuries. We visualized how 600 native Hawaiians once lived prosperously in this valley.
We imagined the agriculture and aquaculture that sustained thousands more along Maui’s coastline. We felt the sadness and near loss of connection when colonization and industrialization exploited these lands.
Above all, we absorbed Ekolu’s model of perpetuating culture not with frustration but aloha – honesty, caring for life generationally, and helping wholeheartedly.
In just 4 short hours, volunteering with Maui Cultural Lands gave me and my wife more insight into authentic Hawaiian values than anything we’ve experienced before or since.
It cultivated a sense of kuleana (responsibility) in us to better understand the places we travel, engage respectfully with local culture, and give back however we can.
Key Discussion Topics
- The origin story of Maui Cultural Lands and mission to stabilize, protect, and restore Hawaiian cultural resources
- Why valleys like Honokowai held such importance for native Hawaiian communities as breadbaskets and sources of food sustainability
- The layers of meaning and history behind Hawaiian place names
- Perspectives on the pros and cons of reopening tourism in Hawaii post-pandemic
- Calls for more education of visitors on planes and rental car counters about respecting Hawaii’s natural resources
- Breakdowns of Hawaiian values like kupono, malama, and kokua that underpin the culture
- Expectations and logistics for visitors wanting to volunteer at Maui Cultural Lands
The experience I had volunteering with Ekolu and Maui Cultural Lands stirred my spirit in a way I’ll never forget. It cultivated a sense of connection, purpose, and appreciation for a place that goes far deeper than any beach, hike, or plate of food could offer.
I hope Ekolu’s wisdom and aloha in this conversation inspires you to not just consume experiences when you travel, but seek out opportunities to participate, understand, and give back.
Consider setting aside one morning of your trip to volunteer with Maui Cultural Lands and see the transformation it creates in you. Engage with Ekolu’s incredible knowledge.
Help remove destructive invasive species to allow native plants to regenerate. And become part of this profound movement to honor the land, the culture, and the future of Hawaii.
You’ll walk away far more enlightened, connected, and appreciative of what makes Hawaii so incredibly special.
Find out more about today’s guest…
- Maui Cultural Lands website
- Blog post: Thanksgiving in Hawaii
- Blog post: 9 Unique Ways to Volunteer on Kauai
Self-Guided Island Tours
- Episode 70 – How to Volunteer in Hawaii
Episode 87 – How to Travel Responsibly to Hawaii
Episode 35 – 5 Things to Not Do in Hawaii
Travel Pono (responsibly)
Connect With Us
- Buy Me a Coffee
- Send Us a Message with any questions about Hawaii
- Hawaii’s Best Instagram
- Join our Hawaii’s Best Travel Facebook group here now! It’s the perfect place to ask any questions and to be inspired!
[dssb_sharing_button social_network="pinterest" sharing_message="custom_message" network_custom_message="Embark on an unforgettable journey with our guide to planning a...
What Are the Best Volunteer Opportunities on Kauai? The best Kauai volunteer opportunities to do while on vacation are: Malama Kauai National Tropical Botanical Garden Kauai Food Bank, Inc. Waipa Foundation Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park Surfrider Foundation...
Are you planning a trip to the beautiful islands of Hawaii? If so, you need to be aware that Hawaii is the first state that has implemented strict regulations on certain sunscreens to protect its precious reefs. Traveling to the breathtaking shores of Hawaii is a...
114-Maui Cultural Lands
[00:00:00] Ekolu Lindsey: So as it was taught to me, Hono Kauai Valley, Hono is bay, Kauai referred to sugar, and Waiʻi or Waiʻi is fresh water. So our interpretation is a bay of sweet water. It was the agricultural food production area of Kekaʻa, Kekaʻa being a place we call Black Rock or where the Sheraton and Kaanapali is right now.
[00:00:23] So it was the breadbasket. To feed the many villages that exist along the coastline.
[00:00:29] Bryan Murphy: That is Ikolo Lindsay, the president of Maui Culture Lands on Maui. I can't wait for you to hear more from him and about Maui culture lands and, and how you and your family can get involved during your next trip to Maui.
[00:00:45] Lots to talk about on this episode of Hawaii's. Best. Let's go
[00:00:52] Announcement: Aloha. Welcome to Hawaii's Best Here. You'll learn what to know before traveling as we discover Hawaiian culture, [00:01:00] local businesses, and the experiences that make Hawaii one of the most incredible places in the world. And now. Your host, Brian Murphy.
[00:01:10] Bryan Murphy: Welcome to this episode of Hawaii's best. Just thank you so much for joining me today. Today is a special episode. It's actually a replay. I'm taking some time the last couple of weeks and this week to rest and spend time with family here in the U S. It is Thanksgiving week. So I just want to say if you're celebrating Thanksgiving with family, I hope you have a great day, a great week.
[00:01:34] Many people are off this week, especially those who have school. So hope you have a great week and, um, actually I've been. Really busy working on the blog and writing more content on there. So you can go to Hawaii's best travel. com and Check out some of the latest blog posts that we have up there We actually have a blog post that we recently wrote about Thanksgiving in Hawaii So if [00:02:00] you are curious about what Thanksgiving is like in Hawaii You can go ahead and check that out and I'll link that below in the episode description of this You know, I get a lot of questions lately, and they're great questions about how to volunteer in Hawaii and specifically different islands.
[00:02:19] And coincidentally, I actually wrote a post about nine unique ways to volunteer on the island of Kauai. So I'll go ahead and I'll link that as well. But today I want to talk specifically about Maui cultural lands, and this is an episode that was released. Probably about a year, year and a half ago, and it was with Ikolo Lindsay, who leads the organization Maui Culture Lands, and this is one of the best ways if you're visiting Maui to go ahead and volunteer on the island.
[00:02:52] We got to experience this with Ikolo and His mom who Anani and it was one of those moments [00:03:00] that I know myself and my wife will never forget going down into the Honkowai Valley and removing invasive species and planting trees and learning more about the ecosystem and the importance of why water within this valley And unfortunately, it's pretty dried up.
[00:03:24] That's a whole other conversation about water usage and rights on the island of Maui, which is a really prevalent conversation right now that's worth looking into, especially on the hills. Uh, everything that has happened in Lahaina and the reason I wanted to reshare this episode was one, because like I mentioned, I get a lot of questions about volunteering in Hawaii and people are traveling back to Maui.
[00:03:55] And this is a great way to give back through this organization, Maui [00:04:00] Culture Lands. And they actually lost their home, uh, the Lindsay family in the Lahaina fires. And uh, which is so tragic. Um, I know they're doing tours again. So it's important to Go to their website And i'll link that as well and just get the up to date info about if you are planning to travel to maui To look them up.
[00:04:22] I've actually had a listener email me and just wanted to thank me about recommending Maui cultural lands. So definitely check them out. And I hope that this conversation gives some insight into what volunteering looks like on Maui and also a little bit about the happenings on Maui as as it relates to responsible tourism and granted this episode was recorded in kind of a similar time as Now, as far as travel to Maui, when the Lahaina fires happened, traveling [00:05:00] stopped to the island and then it reopened and there was a lot of conversations about what reopening looks like and especially on the west side.
[00:05:07] This was recorded after the pandemic and after that reopening happened. So there was a lot of, there's a lot of similarities to the current climate on Maui, granted the current climate now is. Completely, uh, unique to the circumstance of the tragedy in Lahaina. So I just wanted to emphasize that. Anyways, I'm going to stop yakking because I want you to hear this conversation with Ecolu Lindsay on the island of Maui.
[00:05:38] So let's go ahead and let's talk story.
[00:05:40] Ekolu Lindsey: Ecolu,
[00:05:49] Bryan Murphy: thank you so much for coming on Hawaii's Best. I appreciate you and your time. How are you doing today?
[00:05:54] Ekolu Lindsey: I'm doing wonderful man and thank you for having me and giving us this opportunity to [00:06:00] share what we would do with my cultural lands and just share with the general public the opportunities that exist here in Maui.
[00:06:06] Bryan Murphy: Absolutely. And as those who are listening, I gave a bio of who you are Maui culture land a little bit but love to hear just from your own breath just obviously you're all Maui who you are and bring us up today of where Maui culture lands is today.
[00:06:22] Ekolu Lindsey: Okay. My name is Ekolu Lindsey. My father started Maui Cultural Lands back in 1999.
[00:06:29] This was just after the sugar industry had closed down on West Maui. And so all the lands became ripe for development and being purchased by developers. So it became a mission of his and a few others to explore the many valleys that exist and found Honokuai Valley to be one of the most archaeologically rich valleys.
[00:06:49] So the effort was made there to focus in on the cultural resources. And the stories, the history of that space, the intent is to create the [00:07:00] awareness for people. What's in their backyards? Why is it there? What story does it tell? And to be inclusive in this, and his grander vision was to include every single valley along West Mali.
[00:07:11] Because as development moves along, these stories, and I hate to use the word story, but lack of a better word, it's not stories, it's a recounting of fact. These stories tend to get lost. And it becomes just a space that people live in, but the history of that space is super important, describing the ecology of the area, a cultural identity of the area, what used to be, and it's important to know the history of the spaces because without the history of the space, we don't know who we are, where we're going.
[00:07:40] We rely on that so much. So the effort was made to preserve Honokuai Valley through education. My father is a retired teacher and he loved the outdoor classrooms. And, you know, growing up, I was always envious of him taking his students out on a double hull canoe or hiking Kealaloa, the King's [00:08:00] Trail, and camping out and doing celestial navigation.
[00:08:03] They did all this really cool stuff, you know. People can't really do too much anymore today. And
[00:08:09] Bryan Murphy: that stays with you. Right. Like that. Right. You can smell that you walked the same footsteps. Right.
[00:08:15] Ekolu Lindsey: So, you know, he, he, he did that. And this was his outdoor classroom, basically, what it turned out to
[00:08:20] Bryan Murphy: be. He talked a little bit about, obviously, when Sugar Mill came and that production.
[00:08:25] But what about the history? Because the valley has so much. The
[00:08:28] Ekolu Lindsey: Honokauai Valley and a lot of people. Get confused with Honokohau, it's Honokohau is out past Honolulu Bay, notice the word Hono three times already, right? So Hono is Bay. So Honokowai, like any Hawaiian name, place name, it comes, the name itself holds the molelo or the history of that place.
[00:08:49] And it's also always open to interpretation based on, who's telling that? We're counting off the fact. So as it was taught to me, Honokaui Valley, [00:09:00] hono is bay, ko referred to sugar, and wai or wai is fresh water, so our interpretation is a bay of sweet water. It was the agricultural food production area of Keka'a, Keka'a being a place we call Black Rock or where the Sheraton and Kaanapali is right now.
[00:09:19] So it was the bread basket to feed the many villages that exist along the coastline. It was estimated that 600 people kind of lived in that space, but it fed about 6, 000 people. It was a very rich agricultural production area. As such, you have a lot of remnant structures that date back to around 1200 AD.
[00:09:40] And so a lot, most of it is slowly column, but there's a hay aisle and other house structures. It's very, very rich. And it's Pretty awesome to see it still intact and my dad passed in 2009 and I didn't realize it's like I'm the howdy boy of the family I didn't realize [00:10:00] it was gonna drop into my lap you know I'm proud of that I'm like the only one in the family born in California it goes right my dad is in the military my mom was going to school at the time And so the Hollywood anyway, dropped into my lap and I was quite surprised when I was told to take over.
[00:10:20] But when you're growing up in this environment, you learn a lot of different things. Even if you're not paying attention, it's ingrained in you. And I said, man, if I'm going to do this, let's just go for it and go all out. Just learn along the way and essentially that's what's happened, you know, stay close to my mom, listen to her wealth knowledge, grab that, did my research, talked to many people, kept sharing it with the many visitors and guests that come and next thing you know, I'm like 12 years down the line doing it longer than what my dad was doing.
[00:10:51] I told my mother a couple years, I said, dad, mom, I've been doing this longer than dad has. Although my dad was doing it all his life as a teacher, but in Hong [00:11:00] Kauai, you know, you put that into that time perspective, it's pretty incredible.
[00:11:04] Bryan Murphy: So maybe some like, I guess just super elementary questions. Why is it important to preserve this valley and talking about reforestation and native species versus.
[00:11:17] Invasive. Why is that all important? Why does that matter? Oh,
[00:11:20] Ekolu Lindsey: cool. That's a great question, right? Why does it matter? That's a good question. You know, because when I moved back home to Maui in 2001, I had a, my son was three at the time. So being a busy parent working, he spent his Saturdays with my dad
[00:11:39] Ekolu Lindsey: in the valley.
[00:11:40] And that's the same question at four year old. Asked him, Grandpa, why is this important? And he was taken aback by that question because the scientists, the geologists, the botanists, everyone who's come up never asked him that question, let alone [00:12:00] try to phrase it into terms that a four year old can understand.
[00:12:07] So his answer, because that is who, what we are. That is who we are. That is what we are. Everything is held in that space of our history, our culture, and is the foundation of who we are as Hawaiians, as people. The archaeological sites, the stones, the plants, the botany portion of it, as my grandfather would say, the Hawaiian culture is a simple culture.
[00:12:39] It is based off of sticks and stones, food, clothing, transportation, medicine. It's all held with what nature had to offer. So we utilize nature to the best of our ability. And used it sustainably, something we aspire to, uh, move into in today's world. [00:13:00] So as simple as it sounds, it is super complex. I mean, I have met people, fishermen for instance, that look out at the ocean, they'll tell you what fish is spawning, what fish you can catch, the conditions of the ocean, the wound phase it's in, when it's time to plant, when it's time to harvest, all in an instant.
[00:13:25] Without even thinking because it's automatic for these guys and we don't have them too much anymore. We relying on apps, right? We're relying on a moon calendar. But when you run into people who live it and look at it every day, where it's so ingrained in them, and it's an automatic. Instantaneous decision that they make.
[00:13:44] I'm just amazed. I mean, no, I would aspire to that. But that, that is a true cultural practitioner. Right now, most of us are still students, students of it. You know, I'm still a student, always learning, but we can aspire to just make that instantaneous complex decision in a [00:14:00] moment. That is something that we should all aspire to.
[00:14:03] And that's because they are, uh, these practitioners are tuned in to what nature has to
[00:14:08] Bryan Murphy: offer. That's huge. You mentioned Black Rock and obviously there's large resorts there now. And I think about where Honokowai Valley is located. Is this a protected valley?
[00:14:23] Ekolu Lindsey: Right. So it's not necessarily protected. But we are the stewards, we are allowed to be there.
[00:14:30] So we are the stewards of that space and we have been there since 1999. We invite anybody who would like to participate in volunteering opportunities with us. You know, we take volunteers up every Saturday. We normally meet at nine o'clock and we finish just after lunch. We find a work for about 90 minutes, talk story for a little bit, enjoy each other's company, meet new people, learn new things, learn a little bit of culture, history, science, answer [00:15:00] any questions.
[00:15:00] We're not just going to work people. We want to share together because we also learn from our visitors, what they're doing in their part of the world. My dad, what he had created in this, was to share cultural values. The center of it all being a law. Everyone's got their definition of what a law is and a law.
[00:15:19] Like sticks and stones is simple yet very complex and if you got the time, I can go into this a little. Do it, do it,
[00:15:28] Bryan Murphy: yeah.
[00:15:29] Ekolu Lindsey: Okay, so my dad, the big scheme of it all is, I shouldn't say scheme, it's a wrong word. What he wants to do was to share Aloha with the world. If we can share a little with the world, perhaps we can have world peace.
[00:15:44] That was his high vision of things. So when I recently did a top story session in a town hall meeting with county council about regenerative Tourism what? You know, what is regenerative [00:16:00] tourism? We just came from a sustainable tourism, ecotourism, tism, agritourism. There's all these tourism things, right?
[00:16:06] To me, I'm becoming very cynical about these efforts. Is regenerative tourism another way of allowing more tourist to come here? Mm-Hmm. You know, it's just, you know, we're supposed to leave a, a lighter footprint, but when you are reaching 3 million visitors a year, how in the world can you leave a lighter footprint?
[00:16:24] You are using resources, you're, there's user conflict, there's major conflict, right? Right. So when I asked my aunt, my dad's older sister, she's, he, well, the, the elder of the family, what were five cultural values? that I could share on a regenerative tourism talk. First thing she says to me in Sekolah, these are not values.
[00:16:48] These are processes. You need to learn the process before you can practice the value of that process. And right there, I'm like, whoa! [00:17:00] A process? I've never heard of that. So I listened, and you know, when you listen to them, sometimes you just get one shot at it, and you better pick things up quickly. So the first process to learn is kupono.
[00:17:14] Kupono, honesty. Preferring to stand upright and stand tall. Also, pono, to stand in righteousness. You need to stand upright and tall for speaking the truth, something that I don't even think anybody can practice this value properly yet, because we're holding stuff back. But there's a way to tell the truth that's not degrading.
[00:17:36] It has to be a way to build people on their shortcomings. So the first step is have to learn kuponu. The second one you needed to learn was Malama. Malama was the light, the generation, regeneration of life, Malama, to take care of, that's automatic. Take care of that life. You know, we use the term Malama [00:18:00] Aina, Malama, you know, Malama many different things.
[00:18:04] So after Kupono and Malama, then we learn Kokuwa, okay? I've always understood Kokuwa as, uh, to help without any expectations, uh, reciprocation because you want to. She just blew my mind when she told me what Kokuwa was. Kokuwa is the backbone, also short for Akuwa or God. And the ko... is the long whistle of eternity.
[00:18:32] Oh, what? Whistle of eternity. I didn't even know eternity had a
[00:18:37] Bryan Murphy: sound. So, I'm
[00:18:40] Ekolu Lindsey: listening intently at this point because oh my god, this is like a process of understanding what Kokua is, a long whistle of eternity with a strong backbone and even helping people that it's automatic after learning honesty and how to take care of the regeneration and generation of life.
[00:18:58] So if you put it in an [00:19:00] algebraic equation, right, you have kupono plus malala plus kokua equals aloha, love and compassion, right? So learning aloha, the process of aloha encompasses learning these other processes, then you can practice that, right? And that was just a short conversation of something that went on for a long time, right?
[00:19:26] And, you know. I didn't pick it all up, but I got the gist of things. So when we say Aloha, my father would also say it's also misunderstood and misused. So we need to understand the true meaning of Aloha. I do have another aunt that tells me, Ikolu, Aloha was created by the visitors, the Malihini, so that we would accept them.
[00:19:50] There's no such thing as Aloha. We were warring people. We fought amongst each other. We fought against our brothers, our fathers, our sisters. So that's another [00:20:00] perspective, right? But, um, I think Aloha really loving compassion after learning these other processes is super important for all of us to understand as we're moving through a pandemic and, um, watching our visitor counts go
[00:20:16] Bryan Murphy: up.
[00:20:16] Let's jump into that a little bit. This time last year, Almost exactly. I, I think for some reason, August 8th is in my head or 13, something like that around this time last year, there was talks of like is slowly starting to reopen again after being closed for four, five months or so. And here we are sitting in last I saw it was, it was higher than 2019 numbers.
[00:20:43] And any search on Google right now, you just type in Hawaii, you're going to get some interesting articles. One being the Delta variant is skyrocketing right now on all the islands. And also there's articles of what you [00:21:00] already alluded to is. Where's this Aloha with travelers and there's tension, especially it feels like the hotbed, if you will, is East Maui.
[00:21:12] Ekolu Lindsey: well, you've brought up a whole lot of points that we can talk for a long time on, but I'm going to try to keep
[00:21:16] Bryan Murphy: Maybe there's a part two. Yeah. Yeah. So I'll keep
[00:21:21] Ekolu Lindsey: it. Somewhat brief, uh, let's, let's start with increasing visitor counts.
[00:21:27] Bryan Murphy: Yeah, maybe the reopening and seeing,
[00:21:29] Ekolu Lindsey: yeah. So reopening, you know, everyone was suffering, but government did step in and people were getting paid.
[00:21:36] And I think we created some lazy people out there because no one wants to go back to work if I can get free money and not work before I go back to work. Well, there's something to be said about an honest living, an honest wage, right? So I'm hoping people can jump back into work shortly. Because I've never heard of restaurants shutting down early.
[00:21:59] The [00:22:00] lines are super long. It's just nuts. You know, I'm just driving down Front Street. I'm in Lahaina. Driving down Front Street is just so busy. We never expected tourists to come back this quickly during a pandemic, right? We're not prepared for it. We're just not. But, you know, that year that we had off, nature had a respite from people.
[00:22:21] We saw fish come back. We saw cows come back. We saw... More people fishing and more families together. I think that had some time to strengthen that family nucleus as kids couldn't really go back to school. So the families needed to spend time together and recreate themselves, you know, because, you know, I only hear the bad stories.
[00:22:41] I hear I know there are good. 10 good stories, one bad story, you're going to hit the bad stuff, right? So I'm sure there's a lot of good stories out there, but I'm only hearing that the not so good ones with, uh, conflicts of people being disrespectful and entitled. I mean, if they shared with them a law, [00:23:00] they would understand, you know, and I met some really nice visitors who come and visit with us, uh, work volunteer with us as well.
[00:23:07] So I see the good side of that too, but I'm also seeing the frustration of local people and they learned over that pandemic, they gave up a lot to be in the visitor industry. We finally got our spaces back. Now we got to share it again. Right. I've never seen Connapoly Beach empty. And then as things opened up a little bit, it was all local people with their tents and coolers and kids and everything was really nice to see.
[00:23:32] And now that the chairs and the tents are back up that are for the visitors, there's a little more conflict. We can share the space, but we need to do this respectfully. What does that mean? Respectfully? How do we respectfully share that space? Right now, we're just overcrowded. There's just too much.
[00:23:48] There's just a capacity. There's only so many people you can fit into a room before the fire marshal shuts you down.
[00:23:53] Bryan Murphy: Maui isn't getting... any bigger. And there's also people coming into [00:24:00] Maui particular who aren't aware of some of the culture. And you mentioned something about, about the reef and you had to get out there, maybe a little bit of story on that.
[00:24:10] And then a little bit of education of someone coming to the culture for the first time.
[00:24:15] Ekolu Lindsey: Having gone out to East Maui several times, I worked with some of the guys out there working on some conservation action plans and try to restore the ecology, the marine life, and the terrestrial side as well. Just it's, uh, you got to take care of that whole ahupua'a system.
[00:24:31] But having gone out there a few times over the last couple of months, It's just too many people on those roads and working with like six different communities on East Mali. The number one thing that comes to the head all the time is people not knowing how to drive that road to East Mali. Everybody wants to take a look at the waterfalls, but you got cars parked on both sides of the roads.
[00:24:55] Big trucks can't get through. Locals are frustrated. They need to get to [00:25:00] work. You need to get home. They can't get past. You had an emergency vehicle stuck because they can't get through. So, uh, counties put up some little parking signs and have some enforcement, but it's real difficult to enforce these things out in East Mali because they only have the police force of X amount and you can't be there all the time, right?
[00:25:18] So I would like to ask anybody headed to East Mali to just be very. aware of their surroundings. Let the local cars pass by. Pull over as soon as possible if they can. Let them pass by. Don't block the roads. And also, the one thing that pops up on East Maui is people are swimming a lot in these streams, right?
[00:25:36] And what do you do before you go swimming? You put sunscreen on. Okay. Now Maui has, uh, we have some new laws in place where you need to use reed friendly sunscreen. But when you're putting on sunscreen and jumping into the streams, that water's going somewhere. So if you're around the Kenai area, that water is irrigating the taro that they have.
[00:25:57] So these guys in Kenai, they're [00:26:00] seeing oil slicks come down and watering the taro. What does that do to the food? It makes it taste funny. Right. So, you know, and even when you go out in the sun, cover up a little bit.
[00:26:11] Bryan Murphy: Right. So like even reef safe or non reef safe, does it regardless of whatever you're putting on your body is, it's slicking off and getting into the, the turtle fields.
[00:26:20] Ekolu Lindsey: With everything that's happening, you know, like this morning I was, I had kayakers on a tour that were stuck on the reef. What about those reefs? It's just rocks. But it's not rocks, it's a live coral that you're stuck on, you know, and they don't know that. So I went out there to help them. Okay, come this way, this is how you walk on the coral.
[00:26:40] I got them off. They didn't, you know, um, they had a new guide for this company. So I, I try to educate the guides, but when you have a high turnover rate, there's a lot of education on my, on my half, but I'm willing to do whatever it takes to protect our reefs. Well, people don't realize that these reefs.
[00:26:57] Protect not only property and people, [00:27:00] but they house a lot of fish and it's a whole
[00:27:03] Ekolu Lindsey: that's established out there. And through the Hawaiian lands, utilizing the kumalipo, which is our creation chant. Line number 15 talks about the first form of life as the coral power. That makes corals the foundation of life.
[00:27:18] We can't take care of those corals. What will life be like? You know, we won't see the degradation happen in our lifetime, but a couple of generations from now, you're definitely going to see those impacts. So it's super important that we take care of these, the coral, because if the fish don't have any place to hide or have a house, they're open to predation by other predators.
[00:27:39] And eventually we all aspire for food sustainability, but if we can't take care of those corals,
[00:27:45] Bryan Murphy: Right.
[00:27:45] Ekolu Lindsey: So, so, you know, and, and we've had a monk seal on the reef here too. And people don't know about monk seals. So they want to get up close. So a lot of social media saw people touching them. Some people think they're dead.
[00:27:58] So they want to push them [00:28:00] back into the water when they're sleeping. So I was talking to my mom this morning, like whose fault is this? That the message is not getting out to the visitors. About our cultural resources, the corals, the fish, the dolphins, whales, turtles, all that. So I kind of came to the realization that it's I think it's government's fault for not getting this message out on the airplanes.
[00:28:24] Bryan Murphy: So that's sound like a pre, like a pre flight. Oh, hey. Yeah.
[00:28:27] Ekolu Lindsey: Half an hour before landing. Everyone's filling out cards before they get here. Right, right. Why not watch this mandatory video about how to enjoy Hawaii. Respectfully, simple things go a long way. Hey, learn how to flash the shotgun appropriately when somebody lets you in a line when you're driving.
[00:28:46] Say thank you. You know, it does a lot. So, government's failed because the messaging is not on the airplanes. We failed because it's not at the airports. It's not at the rental car agencies. It's not at the hotels. [00:29:00]
[00:29:00] Bryan Murphy: So we're kind of on the this topic of solutions. If you have a magic wand or whatever, given all the circumstances that are current, what would you see would be?
[00:29:10] An ideal future for Hawaii in regards to tourism,
[00:29:16] Ekolu Lindsey: tourism is our number one. It's our number one, that's where we get all the money from, right? Economically, tourism just ain't going away. People have talked about diversification. We've been talking about that for a long time. Diversifying to agriculture is going to take a long time to come back.
[00:29:31] That was one of the things to diversify or diversify to tech technology sector. You know, that's kind of happening, but it's going to take a long time to happen. If I had that magic wand, really, I think the solution lies in limiting the amount of people that are coming. We have to limit the seats that are coming in, but we can't do it given our current government structure.
[00:29:53] I look at what Palau has done, our nation of Palau, a small nation, they are leaders in [00:30:00] the marine protections and programs that they've come up with. You know, they have this green fee that you pay 30 bucks when you get there and you pay again when you leave. That all goes towards enforcement. And they're doing wonderful things.
[00:30:12] So small countries doing things that we cannot because we're just too big. We have too many laws, too many red tapes. So they have limited the amount of seats that are coming in. That way they can protect their natural resources when they have tours, all the people who are snorkeling are on floaties so they can't dive down and touch things.
[00:30:34] So prior to the economic explosion of tourism, Hawaii was a designation for. A lifetime trip. You saved up, it was a special place, you dressed up in your best clothes, you took the air for your flight to, to Hawaii, you got off, you got a lady, you went to your hotel and you had a wonderful time. It was a special place.
[00:30:54] Now we're competing with other markets. And things have changed substantially. How do we [00:31:00] manage tourism properly? I think it, it, it sits in a number amount of seats. That's not what Magic Wanda do, limit the amount of people that would come. Now, whenever you visit someplace, you'd like to think, you know, the cliche when in Rome do this, Romans, right?
[00:31:16] Like in Hawaii, do this. So Hawaiians. Share the time, share the spirit, share the love, share the aloha. You have to understand Kupuna Malama Kukula in order to figure out aloha, right? Full circle, yeah. Right, so with Maui Cultural Lands, these are some of the things we share with our visitors. We share that through Maulama Aina.
[00:31:38] We share that through honesty, we share that to having, holding ourselves to a level of integrity that makes people feel like, Oh, this is super cool. I want to understand more, but more importantly, I think when they take that aloha back with them, wherever they're from, they can share it in their own backyard, but also take a look at the resources that are being utilized [00:32:00] in their space.
[00:32:01] How can they make that better? What was the indigenous culture that was there before them? I had a lady that asked me, Koolu, what is Hawai'i mean? I was like, where you from? She goes, I'm from Ohio. What's Ohio mean? You know, I never thought about that. So when I looked it up, a couple of websites, and you have to be mindful of what their resources are, it just said motherland.
[00:32:24] I'm like, that's not right. It's not motherland. So, you know, it can break it down. Ha, your brand, your essence, your ha, right? Hawaii, freshwater. I didn't get what that last part of the E was. So when I finally found it, it was like a supreme being, God, right? So it's God breathed life into these waters. That's my interpretation of that.
[00:32:45] That's what Hawaii means. So what does Ohio, what does California mean? What was it called before then? What was New York's rivers called? So those are all questions we try to... Pull out or share with people by sharing what a Makai is [00:33:00] where the water go. What happened to it? You know, what are these structures that are left here?
[00:33:04] How is it integral into society at that time? So the question can be looked at in their own space and time
[00:33:13] Bryan Murphy: I love that and I think to kind of wrap up we haven't touched on it but you and I and my wife Ali when we're on Maui last and We got to go down in Honokawai Valley and that experience is something that I still reminisce on and I love to hear a little bit about what people can expect if they, you know, choose to go and volunteer because we got to experience that.
[00:33:42] But just from my personal experience, you walk down and you're going to sweat a little bit and that's part of it, right? And you're going to work. But as you walk down into this valley and, and hearing. You know, story from you and your mom, there's just [00:34:00] this awe and there's this reverence as you walk, you know, trek on this trail and in planting trees and removing some invasive plants there.
[00:34:11] You just felt a part of the land, even if we were only there for, you know, two hours or whatever. But. I just felt this sense of like, of just like worth, like I'm, I'm making a difference. Like I'm, yeah, I'm hanging out at Connapalli and probably had some of the best Mai Tais or whatever. This right here was what Maui, to me, I kind of get a little emotional about it because it was such an incredible experience for, for myself and Allie.
[00:34:37] But what can someone expect, you know, coming to volunteer?
[00:34:41] Ekolu Lindsey: Maui Cultural Alliance. Mission really is, um, to stabilize, protect, and restore Hawaiian cultural resources. That's our mission. Simple mission. Stabilize, protect, restore. Those resources include, like I said earlier, the sticks, the stones, and let's put in the people as well, right?[00:35:00]
[00:35:00] So they all have to work together. And when you enter any space, there's always protocol. Protocol is a pretty fancy word for manners, good manners. So, we always do protocol upon entering a sacred space. Sacred in this place means super important to us, you know, anyone has their own sacred spaces. My mom says she's the protocol practitioner.
[00:35:24] So to hear her voice ring out in the valley, asking permission for all of us to enter and enter safely, sets the foundation for the rest of the day. So as we walk in, you are literally walking in the footsteps of the ancestors because that's the trail that was utilized to access the valley. And, you know, the work that we do there is simple work, it is hard at times, you know, it's why we only work for about 90 minutes at that seems to be most people's threshold.
[00:35:53] If people can settle 90 minutes of work and suffering for a little bit, I ask people to suffer [00:36:00] because it makes for a better story when they go home, not really suffering too bad, you know, a little hot, a little itchy, a couple of bug bites, that's about it. But what you get out of it is so much more, the wealth, the feeling of being fulfilled culturally in a culture that you have no knowledge of, but have a glimpse into that is what fills you.
[00:36:23] That's the lasting impression you leave. But you know, a lot of people come to Hawaii for the paradise, the fun and sun, the fun, the sun, the surf. the hula, uh, you know, you got to do all that too. And when they're in the Mai Tais and when you're done with that, come and visit us. So we can really show you what a glimpse into the past is like.
[00:36:45] So, you know, removing those invasive species along that riparian corridor, stabilizing the Hawaiian biocultural resources is an important part. of maintaining the integrity of that vahipana or that storied [00:37:00] space. Now that was a whole lot of words and a lot of big stuff. You're gonna come, you're gonna pull some weeds, and you're gonna make it really nice.
[00:37:11] But there is more meaning to that once you get in. The simple fact of getting those weeds out of the ground. Puts your, your mana, your energy into that space as well. And I think this is what people gravitate to. And then they learn about the cultural history of that place, the science and everything else and the recounting of facts that used to be.
[00:37:32] And the importance of medicinal plants, right? What plant do we use for being itchy? What plants do we use for bug bites? You know, these things all are there for us to learn. People just have to seek it out and go get it. So our volunteer days are every Saturday. We start at nine o'clock and we finish just after lunch.
[00:37:55] It's always helpful that people come dressed appropriately. Some people [00:38:00] come in shorts and a t shirt. That's fine. Just be prepared for a little more bites than normal. I like to be cover up or wear pants. Long pants and a long sleeve shirt and a definitely hat, lots of water for yourselves. Anybody can come and work with us from a three, four year old, as long as they can understand the words of do not
[00:38:19] Bryan Murphy: throw that rock.
[00:38:22] That's cool though, Paul,
[00:38:24] Ekolu Lindsey: we'd love to have those kids working with us. And as long as you're physically able to walk down a trail. Takes like six minutes to get down there, but you're gonna walk back up, might take 12. As long as you're a little physically able. We welcome anybody
[00:38:37] Bryan Murphy: who wants to participate.
[00:38:39] And how can people get connected with you, find you guys?
[00:38:42] Ekolu Lindsey: Check out our website, mawiculturallands. org Emails come directly to me, I'll send you confirmation letters, uh, what to expect. A couple of links on YouTube to take a look at, to help identify what, uh, help you understand where you're going to go, what you're going to do.
[00:38:58] That should answer most of your questions [00:39:00] that way. But in the end, just kind of go with the flow. Have a little fun, figure it out as we go, suffer a little, it might get a little itchy, but we got medicine for that stuff. We got Hawaiian medicinal plants. In the end, share the aloha, share the love and compassion for each other, for the land, the space you exist in, but also, you know, take that home and share it with your families.
[00:39:22] Yeah. The two goals I have when it, when visitors come with me, any visitor, I always have two goals, sometimes three, but I'll stick with two a goal. First of all, I have for everybody. Have fun. Gotta have fun. If you're not having fun, that's your fault.
[00:39:38] And the second goal I have learn one thing in the realm of culture, history and science. If we're going to have fun and learn one thing, a successful day, you walk away smiling, feeling good and you might taste good after that
[00:39:52] Bryan Murphy: too. Even sweeter. Yeah.
[00:39:56] Ekolu Lindsey: Yeah.
[00:39:57] Bryan Murphy: Yeah. One thing I love to just ask [00:40:00] at the end of every episode is if someone's traveling to The islands for the very first time maybe just talking about let's let's talk about food.
[00:40:09] It always goes back to food What is what is a spot on Maui that you would recommend someone
[00:40:15] Ekolu Lindsey: trying? Oh Well, let's just say they're all good. Try my lunch wagon to try a restaurant Expand your horizons try something you've never tried before and if you didn't like it try it again to make sure you didn't like it expand your your taste buds and, you know, don't be afraid to try different things.
[00:40:38] Like when people come with us, sometimes we'll have a little bit of ulu for them, that's breadfruit to try. Or we might have some taro for them to try or some poi to try, you know, try poi, but eat it the way it's supposed to be eaten. Eat it with some raw fish, some dried fish, something salty, because that poi tastes.
[00:40:55] Oh no, when you eat it properly. Now, if you just eat it by itself, and [00:41:00] it's the kind that's watered down, it doesn't taste like very much, but try the Hawaiian cuisines, the Hawaiian foods, so you get the taste for the palate that existed here. I asked one person, Uncle Mac, Poi Poi on Molokai. Uncle Mac, what's your secret to long life?
[00:41:16] You know, I always kid with him. Raw fish and poi.
[00:41:21] Bryan Murphy: Like, just hands
[00:41:22] Ekolu Lindsey: down. You gotta eat the hands down raw fish and poi. That's the secret to long life. You gotta eat that stuff. But, the simple answer is super complex because you gotta go catch the fish, you gotta know what fish you want, what tastes good, how to cook it and All the other details for that is not to mention cleaning, cutting, burping, and all that stuff.
[00:41:41] Bryan Murphy: Well, good. Ikulu, I, I, I truly appreciate you. Thank you.
[00:41:45] Ekolu Lindsey: All right. Well, Brian, thank you for the time. And I hope that this helps visitors to kind of check a few things out, learn some of the local customs, learn just basically respect when you come into Hawaii, treat it like your grandmother's house, you know, always [00:42:00] ask permission to enter, leave it nicer.
[00:42:03] Uh, then when you got there, even if it's not your trash, pick it up, put it in a rubbish can and take it with you. I really appreciate people who can do that, you know, and that's not just for the tourists, just for everybody to participate in simple, respectful things for a long way. Share that aloha, share a smile, say thank you.
[00:42:23] Don't think I'm trying to get something out of you just because I smiled and said aloha to you, right? Um, and I get that, you know, going to other countries, sometimes there's a hard sale a lot of times, you know, they want something. No, we don't want anything. We just want to share the aloha with you. And if people can break through these bubbles of, of me, my, and I.
[00:42:45] And use we and us and be encompassing of each other and sharing the honesty and the generation of life and helping each other. I think we can create a better world [00:43:00] for our grandchildren. You know, I do all this work, not for me, for my son and those who are not even here yet. And a lot of us do that, not for us, not the present, for the future.
[00:43:12] Of course, we want to make the present better, but really the work is for the future. So thank you, Brian, for having me on. I appreciate the time you've given me and the opportunity. opportunity to share some simple
[00:43:22] Bryan Murphy: thoughts. Absolutely. Thank you.
[00:43:24] Ekolu Lindsey: Aloha.
[00:43:25] Bryan Murphy: All right. I just want to thank Ecolu again for his time and if you're interested in volunteering at Naui Cultural Lands, go to nauiculturallands.
[00:43:38] org. Org and you can connect with Ecolo there and find out more information about when and how to volunteer. Typically every Saturday they work on the land and you get to learn some of the culture values and history of That place. And like I mentioned briefly in the episode, my wife and I, we got to experience this.
[00:43:59] It was an [00:44:00] incredible experience and I want that for all of you. So consider that if you're not planning on traveling to Maui, there's other resources out there to consider. One of them is travel to change. org. That's travel the number to change. org. And you'll be able to find some resources over there too.
[00:44:19] But again, thank you so much for making it this far into the episode. And if you have, I want to encourage you to leave a honest rating review that just helps other people who love Hawaii and can't wait to give back to the islands as much as you. So until next time, friends, which is going to be tomorrow, if you're listening to this on Thursday, going to release another episode tomorrow on Friday.
[00:44:42] talking about mayday with our unofficial cultural practitioner kaha nui solitorio so stay tuned for that subscribe be well and until then aloha
[00:44:56] Announcement: mahalo for listening to this episode of hawaii's [00:45:00] best if you are enjoying the podcast please take a moment to leave a review on apple and a rating on spotify to stay up to date on future episodes please subscribe and visit us at hawaii's best travel. com Until
[00:45:16] next time, a hui