Become part of Hawaii’s conservation story

What is Hālau ʻŌhiʻa? 

H-lau means "numerous breaths." A hlau is also a formal space for learning a Hawaiʻi skill. ʻhiʻa is the fire tree and the water gatherer ~ one of the fundamental stewards of Hawaiʻi forest systems.

Hlau ʻhiʻa is a unique professional development opportunity for stewards of the Hawaiʻi landscape to learn Hawaiʻi lifeways to enhance the ways that we engage with our ʻina community and kanaka community, professionally and personally. Hlau ʻhiʻa will focus both on the learning of Hawaiʻi cultural skills, and, more importantly, how to apply those skills to our personal lives and our stewardship professions.



Anyone in ʻina and kai or land and ocean stewardship, at any level, from federal, state, private, public, non-profit, and community organizations, involved in environmental science and research, natural resource management, or committed to our island's well being is welcome. We encourage participants from all areas of experience including administration and office staff, interns, field technicians, researchers, law enforcement staff, educators, students, outreach staff, consultants, managers, ecotour facilitators, etc. Youth are welcome with adult supervision. MINIMUM class size is 20. Maximum is 50.



There are five levels in Hlau ʻhiʻa, each building upon the learnings and foundations from the previous level, beginning with Hua, or the "seedling" class, and advancing to Aʻa a Mole, Mokulehua, Mokuhliʻi, and finally ʻhiʻalaka, or the "mature, expansive ʻhiʻa forest" class. Each training level is made up of five in-person training sessions with support from an online resource and communication site. The in-person sessions will incorporate activities that engage learners in Hawaiʻi lifeways, including: Hawaiʻi language, kaʻao or story, oli or chant, mele or song, Hawaiʻi protocol, spirituality, family life, environmental kinship, poetry, art, plants, hula and the practice of kahu, wahipana, ahupuaʻa and wao (traditional land management views), hei or ritual string figures, akua and elemental phenomenon, Hawaiian cosmology, moʻokʻauhau (genealogy), ʻohe kpala or Hawaiian designs, khei or ritual wear, and more.

The curriculum is delivered in a dynamic facilitation style with lecture, group activities, individual reflection, oral activities, creative writing, and the like. All this curriculum is based in the stories and chants of the Hawaiʻi life cycle and is enhanced by YOUR personal experiences in the Hawaiʻi universe.

For most levels, we will spend three of the sessions learning in the classroom. One of the sessions will be spent together on a huakaʻi, an immersive weekend experience, hosted by a community project and organization in their wahipana. At the end of the five learning sessions we will come together to have a hʻike or a community demonstration of our learning.

*Commitment to all 5-levels is not necessary. Folks have taken just Level 1-Hua Training for skill & knowledge enhancement. However, if you are seeking ways to INTEGRATE & APPLY concepts and skills to your programs/research, a full level 1-5 engagement is recommended.


Level 1 Training (5 total sessions) - Hua: The seed. The ʻhiʻa seed is a relatively tiny body that houses the potential of a forest. Hua level training introduces learners to personal engagement with Hawaiʻi landscapes.

Level 2 Training (10 total sessions) - Aʻa a Mole: From rootlets to setting down the tap root.​ ​Aʻa a Mole level training supports rooting and solidifying our learning and learning process as introduced in the Hua. At the moment that we clarify the Hawaiʻi lifeway topic that personally resonates the most, we settle our tap root down into the earth. At the ʻAʻa a Mole level, learners will discover how to deepen what weʻve learned in the first level. Emphasis will be on expanding: mele-poetic text base, understanding how kaʻao or mythological images work, and going deeper into the study of the union of cultural/natural resources management and Hawaiʻi lifeways. We will practice more, discuss more, learn more, and gently deepen and spread our roots.

Level 3 Training (15 total sessions) - Mokulehua: A forest of ʻhiʻa lehua.Establishing a mokulehua is establishing and sustaining a community. We will continue to strengthen and expand learning from previous trainings. Integration of Hlau ʻhiʻa training with the learner's current skill base (science, technical, education, etc.) will be a focus while we work on a small project for restoration together. High interaction with Hawaiʻi island communities is expected.

Level 4 Training (20 total sessions) - Mokuhliʻi: The spreading of the ʻhiʻa forest like a blanket.​ ​Learners will begin dispersing their “hua” and learn how to transmit and document what they've learned. An off-island huakaʻi and talk story with other communities will help our moku (forest) hliʻi (cover/spread). Topics learned from Hua to Mokulehua will expand and deepen.

Level 5 Training (25 total sessions) - ʻhiʻalaka: The evapotranspiration or breathing of the forest--creating weather and other benefits for island residents.At this last level of training, the learner is ready to teach, she/he is now kumu ʻhiʻa or the tree are ready to conduct simple on site ritual, articulate relationships between ʻina, kai, lani, and you and the globe, hula and chant the story of these relationships, and create a simple curriculum for staff, family, community and groups you serve. Out of state travel is expected. Participants will engage in a ceremony as a rite of passage.



You will get the most from the experience by coming to trainings with an open mind, a good attitude, and the intention of applying your learning to your professional and personal lives. Be willing to learn from what I have to share, from each other, from the community, and from the landscape.



Hlau ʻhiʻa sessions are held once per month. For the first training level, Hua, learners meet from 8:30am-5:00pm. As we advance in training levels the time we spend together learning will increase, and will eventually include evening hours.

We realize that this professional training may occur during work hours. It is our sincere hope that agencies and supervisors will encourage and support employees in this unique professional development experience, and that Hawaiʻi's stewardship organizations will gain value by sending agency/organization members to Hlau ʻhiʻa in an effort to enhance the ways that we mlama our islands' wellbeing.

To learn more about Hlau ʻhiʻa, please attend one of our orientation sessions, 6:30pm-8:00pm, location on Oʻahu TBA:

  • ●  Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

  • ●  Thursday, September 6th, 2018

  • ●  Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

  • ●  Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

    Hua sessions for the Oʻahu cohort are tentatively planned for (dates subject to change):

  • ●  Friday, November 30th, 2018 (classroom session)

  • ●  Friday, December 28th, 2018 (classroom session)

  • ●  Friday, February 8th, 2019 (classroom session)

  • ●  Friday-Sunday, March 8th-10th, 2019 (weekend immersion experience)

  • ●  Friday, April 5th, 2019 (Hʻike)

    Aʻa a Mole sessions for the Oʻahu cohort are tentatively planned for (dates subject to change):

  • ●  Friday, May 10th, 2019 (classroom session)

  • ●  Friday, June 7th, 2019 (classroom session)

  • ●  Friday, July 12th, 2019 (classroom session)

  • ●  Friday, August 9th, 2019 (classroom session)

  • ●  Friday-Sunday, September 6th-8th, 2019 (weekend immersion experience)



The tuition is $200/session*. Through a partnership with and funding support from partnering agencies, there is potential for participants to be partially funded, which is a significant cost savings for participants or their host organizations. If you are being sponsored by your organization & need to make other payment arrangements, talk to me at orientation.

Registration date and further instructions will be released.Late registration will be available as long as there is space.

*Participants will also need to cover their own meals and transportation to and from class sessions, and costs for huakaʻi. Some supplies are provided by Hlau ʻhiʻa.

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