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The Waikōloa Biocultural Series brings local experts, practitioners, scientists, and community leaders to the Waikōloa Dry Forest Preserve to share their ‘ike with our community. This series began in 2020 to broaden horizons, connect to place and each other, and provide opportunities for our community to engage with the forest.  We are so fortunate to have so many dedicated, passionate, and generous leaders, teachers, and kūpuna in our community that are willing to come to Waikōloa Dry Forest, and share their stories and experience with all of us.

The 2024 talk series is based on “huli ka lima i lalo”, or to turn your hands down. This ‘ōlelo noe‘au explains that when our hands are turned down, they are creating meaningful and productive work. Presentations will highlight and discuss the work being done by land stewards doing critical biocultural resource conservation work in Hawai‘i.

Talks are free and open to the public and hosted at the Waikōloa Dry Forest Preserve from 5:30-7:00 pm. Sign ups are required and donations are encouraged. We will record presentations and post videos to this page as they are available. 

May 17th 2024

Nā ʻŌiwi o Puʻuanahulu: Lehua Alapai & Kapena Alapai

This month we will host Lehua Alapai and Kapena Gordon Alapai who are lineal descendants of Kekaha Wai ʻOle o na Kona and aloha ʻāina stewards. They will be sharing their work with Nā ʻŌiwi o Puʻuanahulu. Please join us on Friday, May 17th at 5:30pm. Gates to preserve open at 5:00pm.

Kapena Gordon Alapai is the Director of national non-profit, Arts in a Changing America (ArtChangeUS). He enters the field of arts and culture as a student of Hawaiian Language from Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani at the University of Hawaiʻi Hilo, and as a trained arts and cultural manager from Pratt Institute in New York City. He currently serves as Board President of the Kahilu Theatre Foundation in Waimea Hawaiʻi and is a consultant for Kituwah Services LLC in evaluating Institute of Museum and Library Services Grant programs to Native Hawaiian organizations, and is the Vice President of ohana led nonprofit, Nā ʻŌiwi o Puʻuanahulu.

Lehua Alapai is Programs Co-Director at Hoʻōla Ka Makanaʻā, Kaʻūpūlehu Dryland Forest working directly with the restoration program in management of the preserve and prioritizing equitable partnerships and collaborations. Lehua grew up revering dryland lavascapes of North Kona and is a lineal descendant of the families of Puʻuanahulu and the surrounding region known as Kekaha Wai ʻOle.  Her goal is to connect community to the regenerative power of these lands and deepening relationships that inspire hope.


April 19th 2024

Dry Forest Hui o Hana: A panel discussion with forest restoration leaders

We invite you to join us for a panel presentation from Dry Forest Hui o Hana members. Our panelists are part of an informal work(ing) group formed more than a decade ago to leverage limited resources and better conserve dryland forest and the endangered species within them. Join us to learn about the history, strategy, successes, challenges, and lessons learned by these land and ocean stewards. Panelists include:

Rob Yagi – Waikōloa Dry Forest Initiative

Kealakaʻi Knoche – Nā Puʻu Natural Resource Management

Keakaulike Tomich – Kaʻūpūlehu Dryland Forest

Wilds Pihanui Brawner – Former Manager at Kaʻūpūlehu Dryland Forest

The panel will be moderated by our Executive Director, Jen Lawson, and will include an open question and answer period.


November 2022

The Kohala Dryland Agricultural Field System

Our final talk of the 2022 series focused on the history of dryland agriculture in Kohala and the experiences of those who steward Ulu Mau Puanui in the Kohala field system. Ulu Mau Puanui is a non-profit formed for research and educational purposes to discover and understand how Hawaiians have sustained rain-fed intensive farming for centuries and how it may inform current efforts to live sustainably.

Peter Vitousek Board Chair of Ulu Mau Puanui and Professor of Earth System Science at Stanford University. He was born and grew up in Hawai‘i and has been on the faculty at Stanford University since 1984.  His research interest in understanding how the interaction of land and culture contributed to the sustainability of Pacific Island societies before European contact has led him to become a leading expert on the Kohala field system. Following his presentation, there will be a question and answer period with Peter as well as others from Ulu Mau Puanui.

Peter Vitousek | November 18th 2022 | 5:00pm

September 2022

Native Hawaiian Agroecology: Where was our agroforestry?

Noa Lincoln will present some of his work uncovering the scope and distribution of agroforestry in Hawai’i. Noa is an Associate Researcher in the Indigenous Cropping Systems Laboratory at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa which focuses on indigenous agroecosystems, emphasizing the links between knowledge-intensive practices and agricultural production. He will be sharing some of what he and others have learned about the historical distribution of Hawaiian agroforestry, the largest component of traditional agriculture throughout the Pacific.

Noa Lincoln | September 16th 2022 | 5:30pm

August 2022

Ola nā kuaiwi: ʻŌiwi agriculture, from past to future

Natalie Kurashima

Natalie will share an overview of ʻŌiwi (Native Hawaiian) agriculture, research on traditional agricultural footprint, productive capacity, and future potential, as well as share an example of adaptive reuse and restoration in Kona. Natalie was born and raised in Waipiʻo, Oʻahu and now calls Halekiʻi, Kona home. She is the Integrated Resources Manager at Kamehameha Schools, the largest private landowner in Hawaiʻi. Her kuleana focuses on supporting community-based stewardship of natural and cultural resources across the pae ‘āina. She received a PhD in Botany at UH Mānoa, where she investigated the biocultural restoration of ‘Ōiwi agricultural systems.

June 2022

Name Stories!

Ku’ulei Keakealani

Ku’ulei Keakealani shares stories of people and places through an interactive presentation. As Kama’aina of the drylands of North Kona, a daughter, a mother of three girls, cultural educator, historian, poet, rancher, and many, many other things, Ku´ulei has a unique lens of her own and a talent for recognizing and articulating the perspectives of others, past and present, though captivating storytelling; the sharing and perpetuation of oral histories. Her artful presentations challenge us to reflect on our own ideas about the world, provide us an opportunity to open our minds up to the perspectives of others, and to examine the role that we each have, as people on earth, to mālama ´āina.

May 2022

He Wa’a He Moku, He Moku He Wa’a

(The Canoe an Island, and Island a Canoe)

Chadd ‘Onohi Paishon & Maulili Dickson

This first presentation centers around wa´a, or canoe. In many ways, the wa´a is a beginning for Hawai´i and Hawaiians. Not just a way of getting from one place to another, or arriving, but in understanding how to live in Hawai´i and on Earth. He wa´a he moku, he moku he wa´a. Both Chadd and Ma´ulili have dedicated their lives to serving community at every juncture, they have decades of experience as navigators, voyagers, teachers, canoe builders, and ambassadors of Hawaii, of voyaging and of a way of life that deserves to be perpetuated. Mahalo to Chadd and Maulili.


The Waikōloa Biocultural Series is possible with funding provided by Hawai‘i Tourism Authority through the Aloha ‘Āina Program, administered by the Hawai‘i Community Foundation.

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