Connections and the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project

Laura & John

In Hawaiian Culture connections are very, very important. That is: Hawaiians want to know whom you are related to and your connections and relationships with us as well as with each other. We gather for common purposes: love of the land and sea, and the creatures in and around it! Hawaiians love sharing and celebrating time, stories, space, food, and music. Sharing men and women power- it’s an old Hawaiian concept: Laulima – many hands working together. It is a very Hawaiian and a very good thing! Especially for a farmer like me!

I first became aware of the Maui Forest Bird Recovery project at the California World Festival in Grass Valley, CA where I was playing music.

I met Hanna Mounce and her family over 5 years ago. We talked story and Hanna said she lived on Maui and wanted to start a garden so we started a relationship and for years she came up to our Kahakuloa farm and brought an entourage of Maui Forest Bird people and her friends to help us weed out invasive species on our farm and plant Kalo (taro), Maia (bananas) and U’ala (sweet potatoes).

Hanna Mounce -Photo by Francis Longhurst/Minnow FilmsThrough the years Hanna has become sort of like a hanai niece (adopted, extended family), as well as a blessing to me. She then went to New Zealand where she was studying for her Master’s degree where she met, fell in love with and married a Maori native, Jaime Davidson who also got indoctrinated as farm help for weekend workouts on our farm. This past year I’ve become a grand Uncle from Hanna and Jaime and as is traditional in our family, we are raising a pig for my grandnephew Nolan Te Kahurangi‘s first year birthday baby luau (first born son of Hanna and Jaime.)

At one of our farm help weekends, I met Laura Berthold who also became one of my hanai nieces and is also extra great at weeding! We shared time, space, weeding, planting, food, and music with Laura and many others.

We also did some fundraisers for Hanna’s Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project. Hanna then started setting up a booth at our Napili Kai Slack Key show to let visitors know about the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project as well as catch the various artists at our weekly show in Napili Kai. Laura Berthold took over Hanna’s place setting up the “Bird Booth” once my baby grandnephew Nolan was born. Here’s a shot of Laura Berthold at our Wednesday Napili Show.

Laura & JohnLaura brought her boyfriend John Comcowich, who works for the West Maui Watershed Project, to the show! Great!. So now our Ohana (extended family) has grown even bigger and we will have another person John, to help out on the farm as well as at the show!  The great thing about this union of sorts with Laura and John is that Laura says, “she’ll take care of the birds and John will take care of the forests!”

With these two love birds (Laura & John) in mind , at our Napili Show we sang two of Frank Kawaikapu Hewitt’s love songs, “Kapilina” -( about the forest I’iwi birds) and  “Ka Wai Lehua A’ala Ka Honua” – a song about the fragrance of the forest after a great rain.  We dedicated these two songs to Laura & John.

So please support our friends who support us! Go to the Maui Forest Bird Recovery website (, driven by science and dedicated to the conservation of Hawaii’s native forest ecosystems. It’s the Hawaiian way and a Hawaiian thing to do!

P.S. -Come visit our farm! Saturday, Monday and Tuesday mornings are best!