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Maui Attractions Newsletter
October 2011
[Events] [Natural History] [Arts & Culture]
[Braddah-Nics] [Local Grinds] [Remember When]

And in case you missed them . . .

Our recent Blogs:

Natural History

Wauke, Paper Mulberry
(Broussonetia papyrifera)

Wauke, the paper mulberry, is a dioecious shrub or small tree that is a member of the fig family . Each plant is an individual gender: there are male plants and female plants. According to one source, the plants carried throughout the Pacific from its native Japan and China, were all males, transported and planted as rootstock or stems. Wauke plants in Polynesia usually do not flower or fruit. The plant has "no potential for becoming an invasive species," it says here.

Ironically, paper mulberry is an aggressive pest in more than ten countries, including the United States. (Apparently these countries have both male and female plants.) The lack of fruits, and therefore seeds, in the Polynesian plants means the plant must be deliberately cultivated by humans.

However, the plant is very tough. It can tolerate a wide range of environmental extremes, thriving even in temperate climates which are, after all, its native habitat. While the plants can grow well at up to the 5,000 foot elevation, most of the trees in Polynesia were grown at lower levels where the majority of the people lived.

This plant is part of the group of plants known as "canoe plants," or the plants the ancient Polynesian voyagers carried with them in their canoes as they went around the Pacific establishing settlements. It was once commonly grown throughout the high islands of Polynesia and Melanesia. There are even some historical records of paper mulberry plants growing on islands in Micronesia (mostly on Pohnpei, with a more modern introduction into Yap), although the plant is virtually unknown there now. The historical spread of the plant can be traced along known migration routes.

The tree was very important in traditional Polynesian culture for it was a major source of the material that provided clothing for the island peoples. The inner bark of the plant stems (bast) is still used to make kapa, the traditional bark "cloth" of Polynesia. To make kapa, the inner bark is separated from the outer bark and after being scraped and washed, the strips are laid on a wooden anvil and beaten with special beaters until the fibers adhere to each other and the bast strips form a wide and thin cloth-like panel. The panels are bleached in the sun and then decorated with traditional patterns using natural dyes.

One of the most beloved stories among Polynesians is the one about moon goddess Hina's son Maui, who captured the sun and refused to let him go until the sun agreed to move more slowly across the sky so that Maui's mother's kapa could dry properly.

The finest kapa, called po'a'aha, had a softer texture than others and was made from the wauke. Wauke fibers were also sometimes used as cordage in Hawaii and the wood was sometimes used for cups and bowls.

For a time, the cultivation of wauke in Hawaii almost disappeared. Renewed interest in the traditional art of kapa-making has caused a resurgence of cultivation of the plants. It is still grown fairly extensively in Fiji, Samoa and Tonga where the traditional practices of bark-cloth making now provide a major source of income and where the use of the bark-cloth for ceremonial and cultural celebrations never stopped.

In Hawaii the plant appears mainly as a tall shrub, but in its native range in Asia there are paper mulberry plants that can grow up to 50 feet tall. Usually, however, the cultivated plants are harvested at a much shorter height (about 10 to 15 feet) when the stems are about an inch in diameter. When the stems are harvested, the rootstock rapidly forms new, fast-growing stems.

Under ideal conditions, harvest time can be reached in as little as six months. It usually takes about a year to 18 months in less than ideal conditions. The growing of wauke for kapa-making is labor-intensive. The buds of side branches have to be removed assiduously from the stems to produce clean, straight stalks. Bark-cloth made from these branches will have no major holes. The side branch buds are normally removed at least once and sometimes twice a week, depending on how fast they sprout.

The paper mulberry's simple, serrated, lobed leaves are easily identifiable. The leaves can be light to dark green and have a coarse sandpaper texture on the upper surface as well as a milky sap.

The plant's habit of producing root suckers is another distinguishing feature. The matted surface roots of the plant can rapidly form dense thickets of stems that spread outward from the main plant. The plant needs a lot of room to grow. As long as it has full sun or very light shade as well as continuous soil moisture it will grow. Active growth stops completely during droughts, but the tough plants can endure for many years with little care through long dry spells. The plants do not do well in the shade, however, which may be why old stands of the trees are usually found along streams rather than in deep forest.

In 105 A.D., a man named Ts'ai Lun made the first paper from Broussoneita papyrifera in its native China. The leaves are fed to silkworms in China. Throughout Southeast Asia the inner bark has been used for centuries for paper and for textiles. In Japan, the leaves of the wauke are called kaijioki. They are used as "paper" on which poems are written during the summer Tanabata festival. The juice is used as glue and the flowers and the leaves are said to be edible.

The leaves, bark, cortex, sap, stems and fruit of the Asian plants have been used medicinally for centuries. It's been recorded that Hawaiians used the slimy sap as a laxative and wauke was apparently believed to have magical powers. Modern medicine has found one of the constituents of wauke to be a potent antioxidant.

Meanwhile,the kapa itself was important in burial wrapping and other funerary customs, and a piece of kapa was worn around the neck of nursing mothers to induce the flow of milk. Thrush was treated using the ashes of burned kapa. .

In mainland America, the Apache Indians used paper mulberry as a narcotic and wore the seeds around their neck during ceremonies.

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Arts & Culture

A Temple In The Garden

On the rugged Hana coast, Kahanu Garden grows in splendid isolation, nestled in one of the largest, remaining untamed native hala (Pandanus) forests in the islands. Beyond the manicured garden many native Hawaiian plants of lowland and coastal Maui are an important feature of this garden, providing a glimpse into the past of the native landscapes of ancient Hawai'i.

Kahanu Garden is part of a network of diverse gardens and preserves in Hawaii and Florida, the National Tropical Botanical Garden (originally known as the Pacific Tropical Botanical garden). The network is managed by a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization that was chartered in 1964 by the U. S. Congress to "enrich life through discovery, scientific research, conservation, and education by perpetuating the survival of plants, ecosystems, and cultural knowledge of tropical regions."

Plant collections from the Pacific Islands grow in the garden, particularly plants that had cultural value to the Hawaiian people as well as other cultures of Oceania (Micronesia and Melanesia as well as Polynesia). These plants, which were carried throughout the Pacific on the ancient voyaging canoes are grown and studied by NTBG scientists in collaboration with scientists from around the world.

The world's largest collection of breadfruit cultivars is grown here and serves as a germplasm repository for this important South Pacific food crop. 'Ulu is high in carbohydrates and low in fat. It's a good source of vitamins and minerals as well as providing medicine, construction materials, adhesives, insecticides and animal feed. There are more than 120 varieties from 18 Pacific Island groups, Indonesia, the Philippines, and the Seychelles. Some of these varieties no longer exist in their native lands. A mile-long trail wends its way through the collection.

The scientists at the NTBG's Breadfruit Institute are studying the nutritional values of breadfruit and are conducting tissue culture experiments with cultivars from the collection with the goal of distributing plants to tropical nations that are undernourished.

One of the first collections established at Kahanu Garden was the Vanilla orchid. The Mary Wishard Coconut Grove, with coconut trees collected from many areas of the world including the Pacific, was another of the early collections. Many of the coconut trees in this collection are now infected by a devastating fungus that is killing them and collaborative research continues to identify the disease-resistant individuals in the collection and to preserve and propagate them.

The "Canoe Garden," which includes the plants like taro, sweet potato, sugarcane, banana and 'awa that were first brought to Hawaii by the earliest Polynesian settlers in their canoes, is an important resource for conservation, education and research purposes. Many of the plants are wild Hawaiian cultivars as well as those from other Pacific Islands. Since many of these Hawaiian cultivars are being lost due to diseases, pests and development, the collection is an important conservation collection.

The latest collection features the East Maui loulu or fan palm , which is being planted as a conservation collection. It is the only Pritchardia endemic to East Maui. The fan palm was especially useful for thatching traditional houses.

The garden has one other feature, however, that dwarfs all of the rest of it - Pi'ilanihale Heiau, the largest of the monumental stone temple complexes found in the islands and, it is said, in all of Polynesia. For more than a century, the forest had covered over the ancient structure, which was once a place of religious activities and perhaps the home of the renowned 16th-century chief Pi'ilani. (It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in the 1960's.)

Pi'ilani was a West Maui chief who united the rival factions of East and West Maui peacefully through chiefly marriages and diplomatic relationships. The time of Pi'ilani was a kind of peaceful golden age for the people of the island, and Pi'ilani is credited with masterminding civic projects that included fishponds up and down the East Maui coast, the King's Trail which connected East and West Maui, and various temples.

The huge, multi-terraced, mortarless lava rock structure, which towers more than 50 feet high in some places and covers nearly three acres, may have been the seat of the Pi'ilani family's spiritual power as well as a political power center, according to some archaeologists. It is believed that Pi'ilanihale Heiau was probably built in four stages, beginning as early as the 12th century, which predates the arrival of the Tahitians into the Hawaiian islands. The last additions to the temple complex were added around Pi'ilani's time.

The strange thing is that the history of the place is shrouded in mystery. Despite its obvious stature and status, there are no songs about this place that must surely have been a famous gathering place in its time. The people did not tell its stories. Children growing up in the area were told to respect the place and to stay away from it.

According to one oral tradition, after Pi'ilani died, his two sons, Lono-a-Pi'ilani and Kiha-a-Pi'ilani fell into an intense rivalry. One of the reasons for their enmity was a girl. The beautiful Koleamoku was betrothed to the older son, Lono, who succeeded Pi'ilani as king of Maui. However, before they could consummate the arranged marriage, the girl met and fell in love with Kiha, the younger son, and ran off with him. Lono was enraged, of course, and tried to kill the lovers, who fled to the Big Island.

Kiha came back to Maui with the army of the warrior-king of Hawaii, 'Umi, backing him. The allies defeated Lono and, ever afterwards, there was a tangle of ties and claims and counter-claims between the chiefs of Maui and the Big Island about who owned what on Maui's eastern coast. (These recurring conflicts continued until Kamehameha defeated the Maui army and the island became part of his Hawaiian kingdom.)

It is said that Kiha placed a kapu on the telling of the story of his brother and their childhood home. Kiha went on to continue and expand on his father's civic projects and was also considered a great chief of Maui. The story about the kapu does explain why there are few stories about the place. It may also explain why the place was allowed to sink away into the jungle for so long.

After Kamehameha's victory in 1794, Hana gradually faded in importance and for a long time, the old heiau was left neglected in the encroaching jungle. Some of the walls tumbled down and thick vegetation grew over much of the structure.

Then, in 1848, during the Great Mahele, when the monarchy established private land ownership, one-half of the ahupua'a (land division) of Honoma'ele, roughly 990 acres, was granted to Chief Kahanu, a chief of Kauai, who was a "good friend," and possibly a cousin of Kamehameha III, Kauikeaouli. Over the years, the land was dispersed among various owners.

In 1974, almost a century later, members of families descended from Chief Kahanu as well as Hana Ranch (who acquired part of the land from the defunct Ka'eleku Sugar Plantation) deeded 61 acres of land to the then "Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden" to establish "Kahanu Garden." In exchange, the overseeing organization promised to restore Pi'ilanihale Heiau, share it with the public and provide perpetual care for it and for the family graves on the land.

That same year, the fledgling group also received a donation from an anonymous donor which allowed them to procure an adjoining 62 acres. An additional purchase in 2002 and another in 2008 brought the total to 464 acres.

Clearing of the land and planting the first collections began in 1972, two years before the formal transfer of the land was completed. This was done largely under the direction of Hana resident Francis Kikaha Lono, also known as "Uncle Blue" who spearheaded the effort with the help of staff members and a group of volunteers. "Uncle Blue" was synonymous with the Garden until he retired in 2001.

In 1974, renowned archaeologist Yoshiko Sinoto (who later headed the Bishop Museum anthropology department) began studying the heiau and initiated the restoration process that took almost 25 years to complete. The last phase of the restoration process was completed in 1999, under the direction of another Hana resident, Francis Palani Sinenci, a master builder of traditional Hawaiian structures. The restoration of the ancient marvel was finished before the start of a new millennium.

The gardens, which are located just past mile marker 31 on Hana Highway, at 205 Ulaino Road, are open to the public for tours; the immense heiau is not generally accessible to garden visitors, but it is certainly unavoidable. The place remains one that engenders a feeling of awe and reverence, what locals call "chicken skin." It is still used for ritual purposes by native Hawaiians.


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Braddah-Nics Lexicon


STANDARD: There is nothing better than that.
BRADDAH-NICS: No mo' nothin' mo' bettah!

* * * * * * * *

STANDARD: May I tag along?
BRADDAH-NICS: I can catch ride wit' you?

* * * * * * * *

STANDARD: Oh, it was handled differently in the past.
BRADDAH-NICS: Oh. Befo' was different.



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Local Grinds


Broiled Kalbi Ribs


  • Pack of kalbi ribs (6-7 pieces)
  • 1 cup of Aloha shoyu
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 large orange
  • Pepper to preference
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 tsp roasted sesame seeds


  1. Slice the orange into thin slices. Mix shoyu and sugar until sugar is well dissolved, and then combine with oranges.
  2. Add ribs into a gallon Ziploc along with sauce. Remove all the air and let it soak for 2 days in the refrigerator.
  3. Turn your broiler on the lowest setting.
  4. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray, and add on the ribs flat in a single layer.
  5. Sprinkle sesame seeds and pepper over the ribs and place it in the oven, and set the broiler to high.
  6. Let it broil for 15-20 minutes.
  7. Next, change your oven settings from broiler to bake on 350 degrees.
  8. Let the ribs cook for an additional 15 minutes or until it is cooked to your preference.

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Remember When . . .

The Paniolo - Ikua Purdy

Among the most colorful figures in Hawaiian history is the paniolo- Hawaiian cowboy. The first paniolos were Mexican cowboys brought over to work on the famous Parker Ranch on the Big Island. Eventually, local Hawaiian cowboys took over on the large ranches on the Big Island and Maui.

This is a wonderful action photograph of the greatest of all paniolos- Ikua Purdy. He was born on the Parker Ranch in 1873. He later came to Maui and was a paniolo at the Ulupalakua Ranch for nearly a half century. In 1908, he shocked the mainland Western ranchers and cowboys by winning the World Roping and Steer Tying championship at the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo, which was at the time the World Series of rodeos.

The date of the photograph is not known.



Photo from the archives of the Maui Historical Society/Bailey House Museum
Historical text by Fred Woodruff, Bailey House Volunteer


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