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Volunteer trip May 12, 2018


Hōlei and Hawaiian canoes

What may be hard for nearly all of us to understand is that the rare relict tree species at Auwahi were once so common that they played important roles in people’s everyday lives.

Have you ever noticed that Hawaiian canoes are almost invariably painted yellow along their rims?  Did you know that there's a connection between that yellow and one of the rarest native trees in Hawaiʻi, one that still grows at Auwahi?
The tree in question is the beautiful hōlei (Ochrosia haleakalae)...

An evaluation made of the Hawaiian fishing industry in 1903, though somewhat long, is shared here nearly in its entirety because it is so interesting! Note: some of the scientific names used them have changed since then, so don’t get thrown by that.

The native Hawaiians in fishing use canoes exclusively. Some of these, particularly the older ones, are very handsome in design and workmanship, the old-time native boat builders having been especially expert.

The body of the canoe is usually hollowed out of the trunk of a koa tree (Acacia koa), which averages from 50 to 60 feet in height. This tree, formerly quite common, is now rather scarce, owing to the excessive demands made upon the supply for canoe building and other purposes. After the tree has been cut down and the branches stripped off, the trunk is cut to the desired length and roughly hewn into shape, then brought down to the shore, where the final touches are given. After the body of the canoe is finished a rim about 6 inches in height is fastened to the upper part by means of wooden nails.

The hōlei (Ochrosia sandwicensis), a tree from 6 to 12 feet in height, is preferred for this purpose, but the ahakea (Bobea elatior), a tree 20 to 30 feet in height, is sometimes used. The wiliwili (Erythrina monosperma), a tree 20 to 25 feet in height, is generally employed in constructing the outrigger, the object of which is to balance the canoe, which is very narrow.... The natives make long journeys in them, frequently in quite stormy weather.”


Come join us next week Saturday, May 12 in protecting one of the last remaining homes for hōlei in the archipelago.

Due to limited seating, please understand that confirmation of your reservation is required for you to attend. To request a seat, send us a note to and we will respond to your request by Monday, May 7. 

Where: Meet at ʻUlupalakua Ranch Store. Please park behind store and bring all your gear.

When: Saturday, May 12, 2018  8:00 AM ~4:00 PM

What to bring: Due to the rough and steep terrain, we require hiking boots that cover the ankle, and unfortunately, we will have to turn folks away without proper boots. We have some extra boots you can borrow but please bring your own socks. Long pants are also recommended to protect against the dense understory brush. Please bring a back pack with layered clothing rain gear, two liters of water, lunch, sunscreen and a hat. Please clean all your gear, backpacks and boots to leave hitchhiking seeds behind.

Located on and sponsored by `Ulupalakua Ranch, the Auwahi Project ( protects one of the last diverse tracts of dryland forest in the archipelago. We are a community based project, in large part, dependent on the contributions of the public, especially in terms of volunteerism for tree planting and other aspects of forest management. 

As usual, before leaving the ranch we will be decontaminating our boots with brushes to help prevent the spread of invasive plants and using alcohol to avoid the potential spread of rapid `ōhi`a death (ROD) and other potential pathogens that can threaten our native Hawaiian forests. 

Mahalo no,

Auwahi Forest Restoration `ohana

Earlier Event: April 7
Volunteer trip April 7, 2018
Later Event: May 18
Wahi Pana Auwahi