A group of West Maui teachers recently visited 30 historical sites to learn more about the role Lahaina has played throughout Hawaii’s history. For 12 consecutive years, the Lahaina Restoration Foundation has provided the free History In Our Back Yard tour to new teachers from West Side schools; the program has reached more than 230 educators since its inception.
The History in Our Back Yard tour was initiated by Andy Kutsunai, retired history teacher and former Chair of LRF’s Community Education Committee. The annual tradition continues through the efforts of Co-Chairs Karee Carlucci and Louisa Shelton, along with their dedicated volunteer committee and the support of LRF staff and Board of Directors.
“One of many goals of LRF is to provide educational activities related to Lahaina’s history,” Shelton said. “Specific to this tour, we hope to help these teachers by providing them with a better sense of place as new members of our community. We appreciate the time they take from their busy schedules to participate, and also the awesome community support provided to make this happen.”
LRF gave each teacher a virtual tour binder filled with resources on a flash drive, a gift card to use at OfficeMax, a complimentary pass to visit the Baldwin Home and Wo Hing Museums, and LRF brochures and flyers about the supportive business partners. These materials were placed in handy reusable bags that had been created for the last Lahaina Plantation Days event.
The educational excursion is primarily a walking tour led by Carlucci and joined by partners along the way who share their knowledge and passion for their organization’s programs and projects. This year, the tour commenced near Kamehameha Iki Park with Education Coordinator and Navigator Kala Tanaka from Hui O Wa‘a Kaulua, followed by Wainani Kealoha from Maui Nei Native Expeditions at the Moku‘ula Restoration Site.
Other stops included the Waiola (Waine‘e) Church and Cemetery, Lahaina Hongwanji Mission, where Richard “Noosh” Nishihara provided a presentation, followed by other sites in the heart of Lahaina.
Several local companies donated time and products to help make the tour more enjoyable for the educators. MauiGrown Coffee contributed the morning beverage; Take Home Maui donated a fruit platter for the mid-morning break; and Aloha Mixed Plate donated its ‘ono plate lunches. LRF also provided refreshments.
The Westin Ka‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas, a new partner to the program, contributed the air-conditioned comfort of a shuttle driven by employee Wayne English for the non-walking portion of the tour.
The bus ride allowed viewing of several additional sites–all leading to the Hale Pa`i Museum; at the museum, the educators were met by Jackie Hala, a docent from LRF, who demonstrated the use of the printing press. The last stop of the tour was at Hale Pa‘ahao for a relaxed lunch in the shade of Lahaina’s Old Prison yard.
Attendees expressed appreciation for their newly acquired information, helping to get their bearings and creating opportunities for their students. “I can offer my students more information about the history of Lahaina by embracing the culture,” one teacher noted. Other teachers added that they enjoyed “locals talking about their history and connection with the land/area” and that “it was a great variety of the components of Lahaina history.”
For 54 years, the Foundation has been preserving and managing many of Lahaina’s historic sites and buildings and operates six museums. Current projects of LRF include the expansion of the Plantation Museum at The Wharf Cinema Center and facilitation and oversight of the Maui County funded Lahaina Harbor Front Improvement Projects. The organization also continues to bring historic and cultural sites to life with free programs such as the monthly Hawaiian Music Series concerts at Baldwin Home Museum, and Chinese cultural festivals at Wo Hing Museum. For more information about LRF or how you can contribute and get involved, call the Lahaina Restoration Foundation office at 808-661-3262 or go to LahainaRestoration.org. Find LRF on Facebook at Facebook.com/LahainaRestoration and Twitter @LahainaRestFnd.
Photo courtesy of Louisa Shelton