On the lush northwest coast of Maui in the Honokowai Valley one family chose to preserve a sacred place, and restore a native ecosystem. “My father knew there was so much work to be done,” said Ekolu, who, along with his mother Puanani, continues the work of the late Ed Lindsey. “He couldn’t do it all prior to his death,” he said. “I feel him working through me—I feel like a vessel. I don’t think about kuleana, but I carry it. My shoulders definitely got heavier.”

The archeological ruins of homesteads and taro patches in the valley show that this land once supported some 600 Hawaiian families. The land has now become an outdoor classroom for local school children and volunteers—a living piece of native history. “There are a lot of people who can do the talk,” said Puanani. “We say talk is easy, but doing the work can be very difficult.”

The work of Maui Cultural Lands is slow and deliberate—there’s little instant gratification in this labor. “I’m not an environmentalist,” Ed Lindsey once said. “I’m a culturalist.” Asked why this work is important by his then four year old grandson, he replied, “Because it’s who we are. Without this, we are just voices in the wind.” Puanani and Ekolu continue this selfless restoration of the Honokowai Valley with each native plant deposited into that rich soil. “As long as I can do the work, I’ll continue,” said Puanani. “I don’t ever want to sit back. It’s not me.”