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Nonprofit Works to Restore ‘Aina

‘Aina Momona News Release

Aloha Molokai, we are ʻAina Momona, a Native Hawaiian nonprofit organization founded for the purpose of achieving environmental health and sustainability through restoring social justice and Hawaiian sovereignty. Our team of kiaʻi are committed to restoring Molokai ʻAina Momona. 

We are advised by a board of exceptional Native Hawaiians who work in concert with our staff on the ground. Our board members include Dr. Jon Osorio, Dr. Trisha Kehaulani Watson, and Molokai’s own, Dr. Keoni Kauwe, among others. Dr. Kauwe is a graduate of Molokai High and Intermediate (ʻ96) and recently became the eleventh president of Brigham Young University — Hawaii and the first of Native Hawaiian descent. Together, our board provides cultural and scholarly expertise to guide and inform our efforts at our land base in the ahupuaʻa of Kaʻamola, Molokai.

Though ʻAina Momona is relatively new to Ka’amola, our staff have a longstanding commitment to this ahupuaʻa. After restoring three other fishponds on the island, our kiaʻi loko (fishpond protectors) began restoring Keawanui Fishpond in 2001. In addition to working on the fishpond, they also carried on the legacy of offering place-based education on site. Our kia’i have been working in the Kaʻamola area for over 20 years.

ʻAina Momona values the lessons learned from the work done here in the past and honors that dedication by continuing restoration and education efforts. It is our goal to revitalize the Keawanui area and wider Kaʻamola ahupuaʻa as a key local food production site for Molokai through restoring traditional food systems.

If you have recently driven by Keawanui Fishpond, you may have noticed the removal of invasive kiawe trees which have been replaced with taro patches and ʻulu trees. This is the beginning of a native food forest we are growing on site. Likewise, we are refamiliarizing ourselves with the landscape up mauka and working with indigenous researchers to document the changes in the landscape that have occurred over time.

As we collaborate with the current lessees to plan restoration work in the mauka area, we aim to continue our efforts inland of Keawanui. Ultimately, our team hopes to create a scalable model for community-led land restoration and food production. In addition to restoration work, we have also established ROOTed, an on-site home school program. ROOTed provides core subject curriculum appropriate for the individual child’s learning level, ongoing parent support, and ʻaina-based learning opportunities that focus on environmental stewardship, gardening, health and wellness, and community service.

We look forward to keeping our Molokai community updated and involved in our work, so keep an eye out for more articles to come! For more information, please visit kaainamomona.org and sign up for our monthly newsletter.


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