Lanai News

Lanai’s history brings purpose to everyday work

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

In Part 1, we explored place-based education at LHES. Read on to learn how place-based learning extends throughout the community.


Learning doesn’t stop once we graduate from school. Every day on Lanai, workers, community volunteers, students and visitors gain valuable knowledge about our island. For example, ongoing education brings meaning to the work of the culture and historic preservation (CHP) department of Pulama Lanai.

“In order to have purpose in our work, there has to be some knowledge of the place and its antiquity,” explained Anela Evans, the department’s cultural liaison. “We need to know about the significance and history of the places on Lanai.”

CHP team members start learning in the field their first day on the job. During orientation, they visit significant places such as Keahiakawelo or Maunalei Valley and familiarize themselves with the history of the land.

Field learning continues nearly every month when the company organizes La Hana stewardship days in partnership with Lanai Culture & Heritage Center (LCHC). Employees and community members engage in restoration work as they learn about the land’s history.

Team members also participate in ongoing talk-story sessions informed by oral histories, Hawaiian language newspapers, stories and other sources gathered over the years by Kepa Maly, senior vice president of culture and historic preservation.

“We want our department to feel deeply rooted in Lanai and have a foundation of knowledge that we continue to build,” said Evans.

Sharing knowledge in the Lanai community

While the CHP team shares knowledge with their colleagues at Pulama Lanai, they also help others on island engage in place-based learning.

The Four Seasons Resort Lanai is embarking on an initiative to help their employees learn more about the island to create more authentic and meaningful experiences for guests.

Evans facilitates field trips and training sessions with Four Seasons employees to share knowledge that they can pass on to their guests. “It makes guests’ experience more meaningful, so they can relate to our island and become a more informed and responsible visitor,” Evans said.

The CHP department also provides cultural and historic expertise to LHES’ place-based curriculum. The CHP crew often takes students from upper elementary through middle school to Waiaopae Fishpond.

All in all, more than 120 students have helped with restoring the fishpond wall at Waiaopae in the past few school years. “There’s a stewardship element to their learning that makes our students realize how important it is to care for the environment,” said Evans.

The power of place

LCHC also plays a role in teaching students, residents and visitors about the significance of Lanai. The center uses technology to make place-based learning even more engaging and accessible.

The GPS-enabled Lanai Guide app developed by LCHC puts learning literally at the fingertips of its users. While it’s designed mainly for visitors to the island, Evans says it's a great way for everyone, even born-and-raised Lanaians, to gain a deeper understanding of the island’s unique history.

“It’s so much easier to go on your phone in the moment and find a story about the place you’re standing, then have to remember to look the information up later,” said Evans. “It's a powerful tool for any person to have.”