Puna group dedicated to ‘āina stewardship to host festival celebrating Hawaiian culture, community and wellness

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A Puna nonprofit dedicated to helping men stay clean and sober through community service and mālama ‘āina (caring for the land) will hold its first Makahiki Cultural Festival in January, an event celebrating Hawaiian culture, community resilience and holistic wellness.

The event, hosted by the Men of Pa‘a (firm, solid, immovable), will take place during the Makahiki season, an ancient Hawaiian New Year festival that honors Lono, the Hawaiian god of fertility.

“At Men of Pa‘a, our mission is rooted in empowering our community through cultural revitalization and wellness initiatives,” said Iopa Maunakea, Executive Director of Men of Pa‘a. “The Men of Pa‘a Makahiki Cultural Festival embodies the essence of Makahiki, offering an opportunity for healing, learning, and celebrating our vibrant heritage.”

The festival will take place on Jan. 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Pāhoa Recreation Center, located on Kea‘au-Pāhoa Road. Admission is free, and all are welcome to join in this cultural celebration. For more information, call Iopa Maunakea at 808-960-3893.


According to a press release from the nonprofit, the festival seeks to foster a connection to ‘āina (land), ‘ohana (family), and mo‘omeheu (culture) through immersive experiences and cultural practices including traditional Hawaiian games, educational workshops, cultural performances, and the sharing of local cuisine.

The festival will showcase traditional Hawaiian practices such as imu (underground oven) cooking, oli eho mai (ceremonial welcome protocol), hula performances, poi pounding and storytelling sessions that honor the practice of our Hawaiian culture.

The Men of Pa‘a was founded in 2004 as a 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program with community service and mentorship as key components to its success. In 2012 it became a nonprofit.


Maunakea’s vision for the Puna-based organization grew beyond the program to doing community service islandwide. Over the past few years, the Men of Pa‘a has been involved in tending to the taro patches in Waipi‘o Valley to partnering with Vibrant Hawai‘i, a group dedicated to creating hubs islandwide that provide access to services, programs and resources.

The Men of Pa’a group recently was awarded a grant totaling $100,000 to support the Native Hawaiian community through the Office of Hawaiian Affairs ‘Aina Community Grant Program to support the Men of Pa‘a’s Imu Mea Ai project.

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