Cultural & Conservation Volunteering On Vacation
“Tell me and I forget; show me and I remember; involve me and I understand.”
– Chinese Proverb
Conservation of Environment & Cultural Practices in Haleakala National Park
Cultural & Environmental Conservation
Get involved and learn more.
Maui conservation volunteers are working
within Haleakala National Park
Hawaiian practices are living and you
can experience them on volunteer vacations.
We have a deep respect for the a’ina (land) and the culture and history of the Kanaka Maoli— (the Hawaiian People). We share the culture of Maui’s Hawaiian spirit with tens of thousands of people each year who come out on tour with us.
Visitors often tell us they feel like they’ve become part of our ohana (family) and as they learn the stories, legends and history of the Hawaiian people. It is our hope, our silent prayer and our kuleana (responsibility) to help all who come on our tour to understand just a bit more than they thought they would about this beautiful island and the ways of these very special people.
After all, the Hawaiian ancestors, as well as the Hawaiians of today, created and continue to create Aloha. This word is well known throughout the world but for the most part is not understood to it’s full meaning. Aloha evolved from a polynesian race who, for reasons unknown, ventured away from their western Pacific home out into the unknown ocean some 1000 years ago. These people evolved into a society that was totally self sustaining and became deeply rooted in the idea of working together for the survival of the community.
Giving your Aloha is giving your heart and your spirit in order to bring life into a more healing place. For the kanaka maoli, the mountains, the forests, the streams and the beaches all have spiritual meaning and history. This is called the Mana (spiritual strength) of a place and to give strength with Aloha is called “malama the aina”. It means to help, which is at the core of Aloha and the Hawaiian culture.
We have learned that sharing our Aloha with our visitors can inspire visitors into being what is known as “Hawaiian at Heart”. You may not be from here but you have embraced the culture and wish to help. For those who wish to help “malama the aina” we have created this web page for you.
In it you will find summaries and links to all the non profit conservation organizations with volunteer programs to recover and restore Maui’s unique ecosystem. Valley Isle Excursions will be participating in these efforts in addition to our Green Business certification, providing transportation for cultural practitioners and restoration projects and supporting local businesses that provide certified ecotourism tours and practices.
Gain a different perspective, one that brings you closer to the world around you through cultural exposure and volunteering while on your vacation.
Volunteers are always needed in the park including; a sunrise visitor assistant, a visitor services and maintenance assistant and a Trail Guardians/ Ki`a`i Ala Hele. If you have the time and energy to devote please send an email with this volunteer application along with the area of the park you would like to volunteer in.
Mahalo to all the efforts provided by the volunteer programs on Maui.
Improvements across the island, both directly and indirectly are being created by volunteer programs projects and work like these below. It has, over time, become quite obvious to many that all actions taken towards building a better Maui are interconnected in a multitude of ways.
Oftentimes we don’t realize the incredibly positive (and wide) “ripple effect” that doing a single good deed has on the world. From the summit to the reef, we see how organizations that are focused on caring about one area actually improve life and results downhill/downstream.
The Friends of Haleakala National Park provides support educational opportunities, recreational and cultural events, research projects and service activities relating to the park’s ecosystems. Their mission within the park is to support the efforts of the National Park Service to protect and preserve unique ecosystems, scenic character and Hawaiian spiritual and cultural resources.
Their efforts include a variety of service projects that include overnight bunking in the cabins on the crater floor. These service projects require a day’s hike into and out of the service project area. Efforts include cabin cleaning, scrubbing and painting, thistle and blackberry eradication as well as Nene habitat improvement at Paliku. There is also a focus to remove Heterotheca from Haleakala’s slopes. This daisy looking sunflower from the mainland USA thrives in the rocky soil and variable weather on the slopes of the mountain.
The East Maui Watershed is an area that covers about 123,000 acres of many individual, small watersheds. This area is in vital need of protection and has been under the care of the East Maui Watershed Partnership. This area produces almost 60 billion gallons of water each year with most of it being channelled towards agriculture, industrial and residential uses. The single surface water collection area in Hawaii.
Part of the preservation efforts includes educational visits, open only to local community and schools groups, to various wilderness areas. The guides from The Partnership teach by immersing the students in the native forests of Hawaii, like they were when the Hawaiian’s themselves first arrived.
The Maui Invasive Species Committee is partnership of government, individuals, private groups and nonprofits that work to prevent, control and remove invasive plants and animals. The goal of the committee is to protect rare and endangered ecological resources, improve the health of the watersheds, support proper agricultural practices and build community awareness.
This 43,175 acre partnership includes land owned by; Haleakala National Park, Haleakala Ranch, Kaupo Ranch, State of Hawaii Lands, Ulupalakua Ranch, Nu‘u Mauka Ranch and others.
The goal of this partnership is control invasive, non-native species while restoring dryland forests between 3500′ and 6500′ feet elevation along the side of Mount Haleakala.
Group service trips (volunteer vacations) are often full. We are working to help them increase transportation availability.
The Hawaii Island Land Trust has under its protection a variety of places across Maui to protect the shoreline and nesting birds, archaeological remains, habitat for endangered and native plants, geological formations, wildlife habitat, agricultural and water resource value.
Protected lands in Maui include ‘Ulupalakua Ranch with it’s upland features, Nu’u Landing that feature wetlands and dry forest habitat as well as other properties in Launiupoko, Kipahulu, Spreckelsville, Wailuku, Nahiku, Kapalua and Hana.
Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project is focused on protecting the native forest and supportive ecosystem across Maui. Partnering with other organizations their science focused approach, provides results for Maui’s forest birds. They employ conventional techniques to monitor the wild population, study the success of breeding and population health as well as active research to improve these rare and endangered species chances for long term survival. Help them plant trees for the birds.
They support the Maui Mauka Conservation Awareness Trainings to help improve guides awareness and knowledge. Their active work in the forest also means the project needs lots of replacement gear & services. They could always use help and you can start by filling in the volunteer survey.
Dryland forests were and still are incredibly important to Hawaiian culture as their lives depended on them. The hardwoods made tools and weapons, from the bird’s feathers came cloaks for the Ali’i and a variety of plants provided medicinal and religious items. The Auwahi Forest has cultural significance beyond the island of Maui as very little of this forest remains throughout the chain. This forest contains a high concentration of endangered species that need more than protection, it needs restoration.
Their efforts have reduced non-native species cover down to 2%. The tree seedlings planted at Auwahi have a 95% survivability rate and grow rapidly. The forest requires a 4×4 so there are limited spaces available for volunteers. The best thing you can do is donate, make your donation go 2, 3 or 4 times further. For each dollar they receive they have matching fund agreements in place.
To provide an idea of how far your donation goes. Check out the type of trees you can have planted based on your donation.
Are you a local? Make better planting decisions and learn about the types of plants that you should plant here on Maui.
These are some of the most valuable lessons to be learned in this life.
They need to be handed on to future generations before they’ve been lost and forgotten.
This is not only about the a’ina. We look to our past… to the people, ways and legends which can teach us much about living a healthy life on the islands. These are some of the most valuable lessons to be learned in this life. They need to be handed on to future generations before they’ve been lost and forgotten. As a company, we demand respect for the a’ina on all of our tours. We do everything in our power to make sure our footprint is as light as possible.
VIE focuses on being culturally fluent and conservation focused tour company. We are looking to support organizations that have active, ongoing sustainable missions and events (both cultural and environmental) we can get behind by promoting – and possibly participating in during our tours.
Participate in a cultural series within
Haleakala National Park:
The Kipahulu Ohana has done a remarkable job of restoring the ancient loi (taro gardens) located with the Haleakala National Park Kipahulu area.
Come be educated in the “old ways” of Hawaii thru demonstrations and hands-on activities. As part of the their efforts to restore native cultural practices surrounding sustainable living in an ‘Ahupua’a; they offer demonstrations of poi pounding and taro loi (garden) tours. Support the ohana and take a 2 hour hike to discover this living farm.
The fishpond is a living, working example of the genius of the Hawaiian people. It is a testament to their dedication to sustainability, efficiency and understanding of the ocean environment. This is a cultural landmark that must be seen to be appreciated.
Ko`ie`ie Fish Pond in Kihei was said in legend to be built by the menehune in one night. Major rebuilds have allowed continual use of the fishpond thru the centuries and into today. You can join the monthly community work days the last Saturday of each month from 8am to 10am.
VIE is a very environmentally conscious company. We are certified by the Hawaii Ecotourism Association and have received the Hawaii Green Business Award, (the only tour operator in the state to achieve both). Our goal? We’re trying to show the tourism industry that being sustainable and responsible is good business.