Maui Gifts That Give Back

Maui Gifts that Give Back has been shaken by devastating wildfires, but the aloha spirit is alive and well. Here are some ways you can help, from donating to local charities to supporting small makers.

Many people are rushing to send clothing and other goods to Hawaii, but that’s not always the best way to help. Monetary gifts provide the most flexibility for families displaced by the fires.

Acacia Koa

Koa, Acacia koaia, is the largest native tree in Hawaii and provides wood for carvings and other crafts. It also serves as a resonant tonewood for ukuleles and guitars. In the wild, koa can grow to more than 100 feet (30 m.), but in landscaping settings they rarely reach such heights and live shorter lives.

In Hawaii, koa is an important component of the upper elevation forests on all the islands. However, a serious fungal disease of koa is occurring throughout the state. Witches’ broom (Atelocauda koae Hodges and Gardner) forms conspicuous, misshapen, and abnormally thickened shoots in the crowns of koa that are covered with powdery brown spore masses.

The disease is exacerbated by high winds and intense sun. It also occurs when the roots of koa are exposed due to poor site preparation, soil compaction, and overwatering. Affected trees develop a distinctive yellow color, and branches die back in the tops and on the sides of the crown. To reduce the risk of infection, a wide ring of mulch should be maintained around koa to protect them from physical damage.

Koa Wood

Koa is a treasured local natural resource, endemic to Hawaii. It’s used for a variety of wood products from traditional Hawaiian outrigger canoes and surfboards to ukuleles and boxes.

It’s also used in fine furniture, sculpture and turnings. It has a unique color, with varying shades of gold to auburn red and deep chocolate brown, as well as interesting wavy grain patterns. It’s extremely shock resistant, and has exceptional decay resistance.

Like other tonewoods, koa is susceptible to pest and fungus damage. It is therefore important to conduct ecological research for optimal planting and production results.

Bob Taylor and Steve McMinn of Pacific Rim Tonewoods are doing just that, and a lot more. They are working closely with Haleakala Ranch on a koa cloning project to bring in genetically superior trees. They have successfully sourced a number of high-quality koa lines, and the proceeds from guitars made out of them are going back into a scalable planting program on the ranch to offset losses in the wild. They hope to eventually be able to produce instrument-grade koa from private landowners, as well.

Pineapple Wine

The pineapple is one of the most beloved fruits in Hawaii. It is enjoyed fresh or in drinks, in desserts, and in many other dishes. It is also used as an ingredient in wine. Pineapple wine is an alcoholic beverage that is made with fermented pineapple. It is marketed as a wine because the process closely mimics that of traditional grape wines. Unlike traditional wine, however, it does not contain any grapes or other grape products.

Pineapple wine is a refreshing drink that can be enjoyed on its own or mixed with other tropical fruit flavors. It is typically bottled and sold in stores, and it can also be found online. It is an excellent addition to tropical drink recipes, such as the classic Mai Tai.

While it is tempting to buy a ukulele as a souvenir from Hawaii, it is best to avoid buying items that are insensitive to Hawaiian culture. Leis and hula skirts are often worn as fashion pieces rather than religious symbols, and buying them can be offensive to local people.


There isn’t much that brings a person back to Hawaii quicker than hearing traditional Hawaiian music. The ukulele isn’t a big instrument, but it can make a surprisingly mellow sound and it is easy to learn.

The ukulele has been around for 140 years and is still very popular. It is a small guitar that was first brought to Hawaii by Portuguese settlers and modified to fit local musical tastes. You can find them all over the island and in a variety of stores. It’s best to look for ukuleles that are 100 percent made in Hawaii and avoid those with components from other countries.

Ukuleles are great because they can be played by people of all ages and backgrounds. They’re also a lot less intimidating than drums or tubas, so you can bring them to parties or concerts and impress the crowd with your skills. Despite its diminutive size, the ukulele is a serious instrument and there are many virtuoso players such as Dodie and Jake Shimabukuro. It’s not uncommon for ukulele enthusiasts to suffer from a condition known as “ukulele acquision syndrome,” in which they purchase multiple instruments and are always playing them.