Looking for a way to celebrate Earth Day, how about donating a tree?

Auntie Lorraine hopes the beauty we see here at Waimea Valley touches many, as it has for her and many who have come before us.
Published: Apr. 22, 2023 at 11:06 AM HST|Updated: Apr. 22, 2023 at 12:24 PM HST

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Looking out toward the vistas throughout the valley, it is a sea of green.

”Oh my gosh, look how pretty it is!” exclaimed Auntie Lorraine Higa. “Look at that.”

Auntie Lorraine Higa is the eldest of her large Moloka’i ‘ohana (one of six). And over the decades, she has seen major changes in the landscape of Hawai’i, so every time she visits Waimea Valley, it brings instant joy knowing these are the views her very own ancestors saw many years ago, left untouched, lush and green.

”I am Hawaiian, and I love Waimea Valley,” said Lorraine Higa, who now resides in Waimanalo.

Auntie Lorraine hopes the beauty we see here at Waimea Valley touches many, as it has for her and many who have come before us.

”It is such a special place for me,” said Auntie Lorraine. ”I was trying to send my mom videos, but I told her you have to come here yourself,” said Abby Marcel from Louisiana, visiting Waimea Valley. “It is so beautiful you can’t even capture it in video.”

And on Earth Day, you can get right into the dirt that’s deeply rooted in the past.

”You can volunteer and sign up, and you can work within the gardens and making sure all of our invasive species are taken out of the gardens or you can get a chance to go up Mauka up the mountain and work with our conservation team,” said Kimberly Anguiano, Waimea Valley. “Whether it is Earth Day or any other day, it is important to visit the valley, which is one of the last intact ahupua’a here on O’ahu; you really get to experience things that have existed for hundreds of years.”

Waimea Valley is a special place, and teaching the way of aloha is of utmost importance.

”We are a nonprofit organization, and part of our effort is always educating the cultural aspects and importance of the valley as an ahupua’a — our volunteers have done a great job planting trees and shrubs up the ridge, said Anguiano. “The importance of it is making sure not only will we educate visitors and locals about everything we have going on here but also future generations get to see these miraculous plants that have been growing here for hundreds of years, and we continue those efforts today.”

Coming together to malama ‘aina and nurture it for the future.

”I think they’re helping for future generations,” said Luigi Kazi, from Brazil.

And if you can’t come and get your hands dirty, you can easily click on the donate button and help donate a tree to plant.

”If you don’t have the time or you are already busy on Earth Day, a great way to give back to the valley is by donating a tree; our carbon offset program offers a $30 donation, and for every $30 we get, we plant a native Hawaiian tree up the ridge, and our volunteers can help plant it,” said Anguiano.

And it is incredible to see what has been placed in the ground over the years.

”We have had the help of hundreds of volunteers and thousands of volunteer hours to plant over 4000 plants, native Hawaiian plants up the ridge, and that is very special for us here at Waimea Valley as an ahupua’a — which is the “valley of the priest,” which was once ruled by Kahuna Nui,” said Anguiano.

Waimea Valley is known for its waterfall, but there is much more to these sacred grounds, and if you have the opportunity to roll up your sleeves, you can see it firsthand.

”Whether you are a local or a visitor coming to Waimea Valley, our Kaapuni O Waimea program is a great way to have a hands-on experience here at the valley, you get to visit over three cultural sites,” said Anguiano. “At the end, you get to earn a hookipa ambassador pin certified that you have learned Hawaiian values and culture that you can take on where ever you live.”

And to Auntie Lorraine, that is priceless.

”It is very special for our keiki to be preserved for them,” said Auntie Lorraine.

You can donate a tree and learn more about Earth Day at Waimea Valley by clicking here.

There are also a number of terrific programs geared towards kamaaina.

”Every Thursday from 12 to 3 p.m., you can come in admission-free complimentary and join our farmer’s market afterward for pau hana,” said Anguiano. “We have La Ohana Day every third Sunday that you get 50% off general admission.”