May 2, 2017
Celebrating its 10th year, this annual Hawaiian Electric signature event focuses on conservation, sustainability, Hawaiian culture, and native plants in recognition of Earth Month, and offers a unique opportunity for the community to interact with local artisans and practitioners as well as “green” businesses.
The Festival started with opening remarks from our president and CEO Alan Oshima followed by Hawaii State Governor David Ige, who congratulated Hawaiian Electric on its 125 years of service, (having celebrated our 125th Anniversary last October), and for hosting the Grow Hawaiian Festival and the green future it represents.
A moving hula performance by Halau Na Pualei O Likolehua set the tone for the announcement of our “125 Acts of Aloha,” 125 gestures of support for local nonprofits and other organizations throughout our anniversary year. A total of $110,000 in environmentally related grants were awarded to the following three Hawaii nonprofit organizations:
· $50,000 to the Bishop Museum for educational enhancements to the Science Adventure Center, a 16,500 square-foot facility with immersive and interactive exhibits emphasizing better understanding of Hawaii’s environment.
· $50,000 to Malama Learning Center to sponsor Ola Na Kini, a native and edible forest planting program on the slopes of Oahu’s southern Waianae mountains.
· $10,000 to the Hawaii Conservation Alliance for the 24th annual Hawaii Conservation Conference, the premier information-sharing event for more than 1,000 scientists, natural resource managers, cultural practitioners, students, and community members from Hawaii and other Pacific Islands.
The festival’s keynote presentation is always a big draw for the hundreds of kamaaina (local residents) and military who attend the free event. This year’s keynote speaker was Kanekoa Kukea Shultz of Kakoo Oiwi, whose mission is to perpetuate the cultural and spiritual practices of Native Hawaiians. Shultz presented, “Perpetuating the culture by cultivating the land,” a look at the organization’s efforts to restore Native Hawaiian farming lands and fishing waters, and teach the ways and techniques Hawaiians used to provide sustainable and natural food sources for their people. He was joined in the presentation by Chef Lindsey Ozawa, formerly of restaurants Nobu Waikiki and Prima, who discussed various ways native plants can be prepared for the modern dinner.
“We all have an opportunity to create abundance on this island,” Shultz said. “When you look up these mountains, there’s a lot of beauty, a lot of hope, a lot of opportunities to bring food back.”
“We see an opportunity of ahupuaa,” he added. An ahupuaa is a pie-shaped area of land running from the uplands to the sea. Each ahupuaa contains resources that are needed by those living in the community.
Other Festival highlights included Hawaiian music performances by Na Hoku Hanohano Award recipients Kuana Torres Kahele and Weldon Kekauoha, as well as the numerous nonprofit and community organizations, marketplace vendors, and food vendors that participated, and the traditional artisans specializing in lei making, basket weaving, kapa making, carving Hawaiian implements, and block printing. Attendees were also able to tour the Museum’s various exhibits and Planetarium free of charge.