Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike: Nurturing native Hawaiian youth in the Hāna community through hands-on learning

Hāna on the east coast of the Hawaiian island of Maui is home to one of the most isolated communities in the state, where over two-thirds of its population are of Native Hawaiian ancestry. Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike is providing at-risk youth in Hāna with a way to learn that makes sense to them, builds their self-esteem and shows them they have the power to change their own futures.

The non-profit organisation does this by teaching academic subjects through real-life, hands-on application, where students can understand the concepts they’re learning through tangible examples such as construction and building skills training. The construction skills gained benefit both the participants and the community, with Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike’s projects based on real school and community needs, and being of service to the community.

As a construction and building skills training program in Hāna, Maui, the mission of Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻIke is to encourage guardians of the future and to ensure that knowledge of the land including self-sufficiency and community collaboration is passed on to future generations.

Rick Rutiz, Executive Director of Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻIke, said: “To watch kids who have had a record of failing classes, poor attendance, and disruptive behavior suddenly take an interest in academia and take pride in their abilities and accomplishments, tells us we are reaching them in a way they’ve never encountered in school before.”

Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike, which translates as “In working, one learns”, also provides young people with farming skills training so they can learn to be self-sufficient. Over the years, young people who have participated on Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike programmes have been involved in projects where they have built a school and an off-grid solar classroom, constructed more than 50 homes for Hāna elders, learnt to make and bottle their own natural farming nutrients (OHN), and taught children about nature and the environment.

Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at



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