"One touch of nature makes the whole world kin."

-William Shakespeare

Iao Valley ahupua'a header

Hawaiian Watershed Sustainability Program

Managing our natural resources from the mountain to the sea.


Starting the 2008-2009 school year, the Hawai`i Nature Center in `Iao Valley is offering an exciting new overnight program for Middle school students based on the ancient Hawaiian resource management concept of ahupua’a.


As described by HawaiiHistory.org, the ancient ahupua`a, the basic self-sustaining unit, extended elements of Hawaiian spirituality into the natural landscape. Amidst a belief system that emphasized the interrelationship of elements and beings, the ahupua`a contained those interrelationships in the activities of daily and seasonal life. Shaped by island geography, each ahupua`a was a wedge-shaped area of land running from the uplands to the sea, following the natural boundaries of the watershed. Each ahupua`a contained the resources the human community needed, from fish and salt, to fertile land for farming taro or sweet potato, to koa and other trees growing in upslope areas.


The Hawai`i Nature Center’s Hawaiian Watershed Sustainability Program uses this ancient concept of the ahupua’a to explore the past, present, and future of natural resource management in Hawai’i. The spectacular setting of ‘Iao Valley will immerse students in one of Maui’s most vital watersheds and historically significant sites. This experiential program allows students to imagine life in the ahupua’a and apply these sustainable concepts and practices to modern watershed management.

Program activities may include hands-on water quality testing in ‘Iao stream, rainforest hikes, lo’i kalo (taro patch) restoration, resource sustainability games, plant identification, native stream life identification, campfire storytelling and much more.

"I think you guys have a really awesome program. I learned a million things and it was fun too. I think everyone in Hawai’i would enjoy the program. It was awesome. Thank you and rock on!"


"The activity that I will always remember is the ranger hike because I got to ‘get lost’ in the forest for a little while and I also got to hear all my class mates share with me about their specific plant"


"Thank you for making my first trip to Maui so memorable…it has been one of my greatest trips ever…I will NEVER EVER forget it!"


We also offer many variations of this program including an advanced program for high school students, a day-only program (no overnight), and extended multiple night programs that include fieldtrips to other locations on Maui. Student groups from the continental US are also welcome to join us. Both content and program locations can be customized for your group.

For more information and pricing please use our Program Booking Form.