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hele wai

Founded in 2019, Helewai’s mission is to help protect our island communities most valuable resource, water through exploration and education. The most effective tool to generate water in the natural world is a healthy, native forest in our watersheds. We offer in-depth eco-tours to better educate and inspire our island visitors and locals to help preserve and protect the ‘aina (land).

Our guides are naturalists that will share their passion, culture and education about Hawaiian history and native plants with you through storytelling and ex-ploration on a one of a kind journey.

WHAT DOES HELE WAI MEAN?
“GO TO THE WATER”

The early Polynesian settlers of the Hawaiian Islands identified water with wealth. Wai is the Hawaiian word for fresh water; waiwai means prosperity. Ola means life; wai ola is the water of life. The Hawaiians believed that all the land and the water be-longed to the gods. The highest chief, ali’i nui, acted for the gods and ruled the land. Land use was governed in sections called ahupua’a, which usually extended from the upland summit peaks or ridge crests down to the outer edge of the reef. Within the ahupua’a boundaries, the maka ‘ainanana (commoners) had most of the resources they needed for survival – fish from streams and reefs, fresh water and land to grow kalo and other crops, and forests for wood and medicinal herbs. The only re-source people could not use freely within the ahupua’a was wa-ter. The rights to use water were overseen by a chief– the konohiki. When ahupua’a were combined to create a moku (district), the konohiki was responsible to the ali’i ‘ai moku.

The steady flow of streams from the land to the sea is important for freshwater marine organisms. The vital connection between the land and the sea has been disrupted in the last 200 years by a growing human population. The activities of people and feral animals in upland areas have muddied streams, killing some algae and stream life, and smothering reefs with eroded silt and mud. Some water uses, such as growing sugarcane or housing developments, divert a substantial amount of water from streams. The result is re-duced streamflow and the loss of native stream life and productive marine fishing grounds. (Source: Wai Ola: The water of Life)
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