In 2014, ‘Ohana by Hawaiian launched service between Honolulu and Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i. The new interisland flights operated by Empire Airlines incorporated the two rural islands into Hawaiian Airlines’ statewide route network, providing kama‘āina (residents) and visitors unmatched access to our entire archipelago.
In celebration of ‘Ohana by Hawaiian’s five-year anniversary, our Team Kōkua employee volunteers—representing Empire Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines—gathered for a community service activity at the Moloka‘i Land Trust’s Mokio Preserve on the island’s rugged northwestern coast. Twenty employees from Honolulu, Lāna‘i and Moloka‘i worked alongside the Trust’s staff to remove deeply rooted, invasive plants from the Anapuka Dunes, a 60-acre parcel within the 1,769-acre preserve.
The land is one of many sites owned and managed by the Moloka‘i Land Trust, the largest land trust (by acreage) in the United States. Prior to the Trust’s full acquisition of the Mokio Preserve in 2012, the landscape was dramatically altered after several decades of cattle ranching and a rapid loss of native wildlife due to the spread of invasive species.
Trust Executive Director Butch Haase says the Anapuka Dunes project is one of several recent efforts by the organization to restore the land. Thanks to the hard work of its staff, interns and volunteers, the Trust has removed and replaced almost 25 acres of kiawe tree and lantana plants with native species.
While introducing volunteers to the area and the work before the group, Haase shared his team’s measurable success in recovering the Dune’s vibrant ecosystem, which was once home to nesting ground for albatross, wedge-tail shearwaters, ‘iwa birds, and other birds.
“As kama‘āina and employees of one of Moloka‘i’s major carriers, we have a responsibility to protect and preserve this island,” said Adrien Gonzalez, ‘Ohana by Hawaiian specialist and a Team Kōkua volunteer. “The Mokio Preserve is a special place, and it was an incredible experience to take part in such an inspiring restoration project.”
Though restoration efforts are far from completion, our volunteers witnessed the fruits of the Trust’s labor firsthand: a cliff-side paradise thriving with fields of native vegetation, such as naupaka, hinahina, sandalwood, pili grass and more. The Trust has also waited patiently for the reintroduction of albatross colonies and has even assembled socialization areas to attract birds flying out at sea.
At the end of the day, Team Kōkua volunteers were invited to learn about the important history of the Mokio Preserve, which remains intact in some undeveloped areas. The coastline, according to the Trust, is a cultural hub with rich archeological sites. Today, you’ll still find the remnants of shelters, ‘opihi shells that once enclosed juicy meat for dinner, and tools used to collect food from the ocean at the base of the 400-foot cliffs.
The Moloka‘i Land Trust relies on ‘Ohana by Hawaiian’s Ho‘olehua-to-Honolulu service to sustain and further grow the organization's footprint.