Men of Pa‘a Collaborate with 1 Heart HUB to Serve Community

November 21, 2020, 11:18 AM HST (Updated November 21, 2020, 11:20 AM)
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Men of Pa‘a Collaborate with 1 Heart HUB to Serve Community
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A Puna nonprofit expanded its mission of service and ‘aina-based substance abuse recovery to North Kohala.

On Nov. 16, Kanaka O Puna opened an office at the Dragon Heart Farms in Hawī. The nonprofit and its Men of Pa‘a program is collaborating with 1 Heart HUB to tend, plant and harvest food for the community.

“It’s our X-Men moment. It’s a moment where we team up,” said Joel Tan, director of social impact and programs for 1 Heart HUB.”We’re taking that Puna love and taking it to the far cold north of Kohala.”

The Men of Pa‘a is a reintegration program for men caught up in the justice system and struggle with alcohol and substance abuse. The new collaboration allows Men of Pa‘a to engage in recovery through agriculture and in turn provide food for those in need.

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“At the heart of it in this time, globally we’ve been called to go more inward and do what most indigenous folks know what to do and that to grow food and medicine and take care of the people,” Tan said.

The farm is a 20-acre regenerative tropical fruit tree farm, with a focus on building healthy soil and creating high-end fertilizers made with local, repurposed materials. Foods grown include avocado, star fruit, pomegranate, limes, kalo, Brazillian spinach and more.

“It’s really about growing food and feeding our communities, and expanding on that we’re growing leaders in the community,” said Iopa Maunakea, executive director of Kanaka O Puna and founder of the Men of Pa‘a. “This collaboration expands this idea of people helping people, helping people.”

Tan said he loved Maunakea’s inclination to have a physical homesite for Kanaka O Puna and Men of Pa‘a in Kohala.

“There’s some power in having them here,” Tan explained. “Even talking about it has prompted some really important conversations in the community where knowing there some resources around recovery that’s coming, our local leaders and kupuna are immediately responding positively to this move.”

The office, Maunakea explained, is a place to help with the administrative side of operations and provide a home base where the Puna nonprofit can engage with the community.

“We’re based in Puna and now we’re based in Kohala,” Maunakea said. “My one central piece now is going to serve Puna and Kohala and everywhere in between.”

The intention Maunakea added, will be to open a clean and sober house in Kohala.

“By reintegrating the cultural values and responsibilities to our kane, the kane becomes good with himself, they are good with their families,” Maunakea explained.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat. Tiffany is an award-winning journalist, receiving recognition from the Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists. Tiffany grew up on the Big Island and is passionate about telling the community’s stories.

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