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2,400 Acres in Kohala Gifted to HCF For Stewardship Center

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An aerial view of the ‘Iole area, including buildings previously owned by the Kohala Institute, is shown. PC: Michael Darden

The New Moon Foundation and Kohala Institute gifted 2,400 acres of land to the Hawai‘i Community Foundation for an ahupua’a in Kohala.

Jason Fujimoto, board chair of Kohala Institute, told Hawai‘i News Now that New Moon Foundation and Kohala Institute have been making about $16 million worth of improvements to facilities at the Iole Stewardship Center over the past 20 years, including a three-story dormitory, cottages, chapel and fish farm.

“We’re just excited you know, we’re turning a new leaf and there’s a new chapter for ‘Iole,” he told the media outlet.

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The vision for ʻIole is based on the Native Hawaiian sense of shared responsibility to care for, learn from, and thrive off of defined, self-sustaining sections of land known as ahupuaʻa, a press release on the gifting stated.

The nonprofit will restore and cultivate the ʻIole ahupuaʻa, while developing solutions-based models that can be scaled and replicated in other parts of the world,” the release read. “Solutions emerging from ‘Iole will be deeply connected and rooted to the richness and resilience of the historic community of Kohala.”

Micah Kane, CEO and President of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, told Hawai‘i News Now that the focus of the research center is to develop sustainability solutions for energy, water, and food while making living in Hawai‘i more affordable.

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“We live in a place right now, where our economy is really hollowing out our middle class and I think Iole will be an important tool for us to start critically thinking about what that future might look like,” Kane said.

Alapaki Nahale-a, former senior director of community engagement and resources for Hawaiʻi Island at Kamehameha Schools, will serve as Interim CEO of ‘Iole.

Nahale-a will be responsible for overseeing operations, staffing and the execution of programming. His initial priorities will be to develop the mission, vision and values for the nonprofit; establish a collaborative community process for discussions and
program development, the press release stated.

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“I am honored and humbled to begin the necessary process of establishing a strong foundation for ʻIole,” said Nahale-a. “We have the opportunity to restore this special place back to abundance, much like our ancestors before us did. As we listen to ʻIole and do what is right for the land, it is my hope that others will be inspired to take responsibility for their own place and share in the belief that humans can live as a healthy part of earth’s ecosystem.”

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