Maui Nei Native Expeditions is owned and operated by the Friends of Moku‘ula, a non-profit 501 (c) (3). Together, they are dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the site of Moku‘ula located within the historic district of Lāhainā, Maui. All funds generated by Maui Nei go towards the preservation of this important cultural resource and its on-going operating costs.
Maui Nei Native Expeditions grew out of local community interest to conserve Moku‘ula's natural and cultural resources while at the same time providing an important engine for economic growth and development. Through the input of interested community members, elders and key stakeholders Maui Nei was able to define, "What makes the story of Lāhainā unique?" This information went into the development of the walking tour providing visitors with the opportunity to experience first hand Hawaiian history and culture as it relates specifically to Lāhainā, Maui.
Maui Nei has been operating Hawaiian cultural walking tours of Lāhainā for over a dozen years. During this time, Maui Nei has entertained and educated Maui visitors through our traditions, culture, archaeology and especially the friendliness of our Kumu.
Artistic rendering of Mokuhinia pond and Moku‘ula island, as it will appear restored once again in the future
Listen to the late Kumu Akoni Akana explain
the importance and values of Moku‘ula.
Maui Nei's walking tours through historic Lāhainā are led by Native Hawaiian Kumu and Chanters, who weave their own family stories handed down through the generations with historical facts, for a uniquely personal look at Hawaiian history.
Born in Honolulu, Wainani lived on Oahu for nine years until her family moved to California where she finished her academic education. When she returned to the islands she settled in Kailua-Kona, whereupon she commenced to dance in the local hula shows, starting with two special engagements at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and then for several years at the Kona Village Resort and other hotels.
She started to learn the deeper things of hula when she joined the Halau Na Lei O Ka Holoku, Kumu Hula Nani Lim Yap and Leialoha Amina were the teachers of this hula halau (school). While with the halau, along with hula she learned the art of Oli (chant), how to do research for the mele (song), learned Hawaiian protocol for hospitality and ceremony and to understand life from a Hawaiian perspective. With this halau, she was privileged to travel and share the hula with the world. Travels were to Aotearoa (New Zealand), Tahiti, Continental U.S.A. as well as the neighbor Hawaiian Islands. She has attended many Hula workshops to continue her education in every aspect of Hawaiian culture.
After moving to Maui in 2002, she started working for Maui Nei in 2003. This job has brought all this training into a real life cultural use. Wainani shares her knowledge and expertise at Maui Nei and as a talented hula dancer.
Kalapana Kollars is a man of many talents with a single focus in everything he does.
A local talent originally from Oahu's west side, he is a graduate of James Campbell High School and studied theater with Dr. Paul Cravath at Leeward Community College.
Kalapana was a member of his high school's varsity wrestling squad and went on to coach his team after graduation. He has been Maui Kama'aina for several years now.
Kalapana worked as a sports news anchor for Maui TV News.
Kalapana is a longtime cast member in ARRA Montreal's production of 'Ulalena. Currently, he plays the starring role of the Young Ali'i, and occasionally also appears in the role of Maui, as a troupe dancer, or as the guitar player in the 'Ulalena orchestra.
Kalapana is a talented performer in a variety of styles on the guitar. He also studied hula with Kipe Ebana, ballet with Yvette Richards, and modern dance with Peter Rockford Espiritu. He has performed as a dancer and chanter in several theatre productions locally and internationally.
Kalapana has been a kumu and chanter with Maui Nei since 2008. His humble, soft-spoken demeanor and knowledge of Hawaiian culture and history have made him a favorite among our tour groups.
Akea has been with Maui Nei as a kumu and chanter since 2010. He comes to us with a vast pool of knowledge of Hawaiian culture and history. Akea graduated from Kamehameha Schools Kapālama and was formally educated in sociology and psychology at Arizona Western College.
Akea has worked and mentored in many facets of social, non-profit and union organizations here on Maui.
Akea is an ordained minister and performs traditional Hawaiian Weddings which usually includes a Lei Exchange between the Bride and Groom.
Says Rev. Eaton: My Kupuna (a Hawaiian elder) shared with me what the lei represents:
'E onaona i ka lei hou! Pela ka pua aala o ka lani! Sweet is the freshly made lei! Like the fragrant flower of heaven! Ka wai i ka lei ho'omau. Nana 'ole ka lei, ka lei make!' Water the lei and it lasts. Disregard it and it dies. Just like a brand new couple that enters into marriage for the first time; that love for one another must be nurtured continually or like the lei it represents, it will wither and die. Therefore, live with tender consideration for each other, continue to love one another and your marriage will last.
From the sandy shores of Kailua on O‘ahu, Maile Keawe Bryan is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools and is firmly rooted in Native Hawaiian culture. She learned hula with Bella Richards in Kailua and danced professionally with Kamoiwa Productions. After high school, she traveled to Japan to dance hula and share her culture.
Maile worked as a flight attendant for Hawaiian Airlines in Hawai‘i and Delta Airlines on the U.S. mainland, traveling extensively through Europe, Hong Kong and Japan. She returned to Hawai‘i to get married and start a family. Maile and her husband have four children together.
Today, Maile works as a Hawaiian cultural specialist for Sheraton Maui Resort and Discover Hawai‘i Tours. She has been a kumu with Maui Nei since 2010.
Keoki Sousa says of his work with Maui Nei: "I feel great satisfaction in sharing my 'ike (knowledge) as well as my aloha (unconditional love) as an example of giving back to my kupuna, which includes my grandparents as well as my ancestors, and also that I enjoy sharing with students, residents and visitors alike the deep spiritual base upon which our beloved Hawaiian culture is rooted."
Since returning to his ancestral home on the island of Maui in 1989, Keoki Sousa was taken in by respected and revered Hawaiian elders (nā kūpuna) who have shared with him their knowledge and wisdom. Informally adopted (hānai) by a group of elders, he was trained by them to perpetuate the traditional practices of nā kūpuna (living Hawaiian elders and ancestors).
He was acknowledged by his teachers first as a student, then as a practitioner of Hawaiian healing traditions, including lā‘au lapa‘au (using prayer, medicinal plants and herbs to facilitate healing within individuals and their families), lomilomi (hands on healing) and ho'oponopono (a traditional protocol to restore spiritual and emotional harmony with an extended family). In addition, he earns his living by teaching residents and visitors about Hawaiian history and cultural traditions, and is an ordained minister licensed to perform marriage ceremonies with Hawaiian spiritual and cultural elements.
For ten years he was assigned the duties of president of the Kahuna Lā'au Lapa'au O Maui, Inc., by his kupuna while they were still living, a non-profit association of traditional practitioners, and is its sole surviving member charged by them to continue the perpetuation of Hawaiian healing and cultural practices. He was also president of the Community Garden at Ma'alaea, Inc., a non-profit educational organic and botanical garden from 1996 until 2005.
His formal education included a Bachelor of Arts degree at San Jose State University in psychology and Asian philosophy, and graduate studies in educational psychology at Stanford University.