Founded in 1999 by long-time Waimānalo friends Rick Barboza and Matt Schirman, Hui Kū Maoli Ola was formed to help protect and perpetuate Hawaii’s unique natural resources and cultural practices. With his initial interest in native Hawaiian birds, Rick’s education led him to the realization that the peril of Hawaii’s birds has stemmed most directly from the destruction of their native habitats. Similarly, Matt’s education in Hawaiian culture introduced him to the inseparable marriage between cultural practices and the natural environment. In both cases, the perpetuation of their respective passions hinged on the health of native Hawaiian ecosystems and, more specifically,native Hawaiian plant populations.
It did not take long for the two friends to realize just how devastated most of Hawaii’s natural environment had become. Centuries of severe habitat destruction and the introduction of countless exotic plants and animals have left Hawaii’s natural environment in a state of despair, with innumerable native plant species pushed to the brink of extinction (or over it!) and largely forgotten by the general public. One of our main objectives as a Company has, thus, been education as a first step to the re-popularization of these vital plants that represent the backbone of Hawaii’s unique and fragile ecosystems.
Before the arrival of Hui Kū Maoli Ola on the plant nursery scene, existing nurseries in Hawai’i grew very few, if any, native Hawaiian plant species. Years of hard work and persistence have developed a fast-growing market for native plants which basically failed to exist before our arrival. Native plants such as ālula, ‘ohai, and ‘uki‘uki, which were all but forgotten from everyday consciousness, are now asked for regularly by name and are finding their way into landscapes throughout the State. We’ve helped to expand a plant market that consisted of maybe five different native species 20 years ago to nearly 200 species and varieties today. Partnerships with high profile retail outlets such as The Home Depot and NEX have helped to further educate the public and greatly develop this important market.
We are now recognized as experts on native Hawaiian plants by such State and Federal agencies as the Department of Health, the Department of Land & Natural Resources, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Military, and the University of Hawai’i. We have also been recognized for our cultural and environmental expertise by other large private organizations such as Kamehameha Schools, Sierra Club Hawaii, Hawaiian Electric Company, HASEKO Development, Scenic Hawai’i, Inc., the Waimanalo Health Center, and the Garden Club of Honolulu to name a few.
As far as we are concerned, the strides we have made up until this point represent mere baby steps towards our ultimate goal of helping to preserve and restore Hawaii’s native ecosystems. But in order to achieve this imperative goal…. We need your help! A partnership with Hui Ku Maoli Ola means a partnership with Hawai’i and its true natural environment. They say the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago and the next best time is now, nothing could be truer when it comes to native plants! With your kokua, we promise to continue to help preserve and perpetuate Hawaii’s natural and cultural histories, ultimately making our beautiful islands an even better place to call home.