All things ʻōhiʻa lehua, the most abundant tree in Hawaiʻi’s native forest, will be celebrated during the ʻŌhiʻa Love Festival, which runs Monday, November 16–Saturday, November 21, 2020. The week-long virtual festival pays homage to ʻōhiʻa lehua trees, which are important to Native Hawaiian culture, and critical to recharging Hawaiʻi’s aquifers and protecting our nearshore reefs. The festival also raises awareness about preventing the spread of Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death (ROD) disease.
The 4th annual event is free and open to the public, and will feature online workshops on ʻōhiʻa seed sowing, identification and seed banking, hands-on demonstrations, keiki activities, music, ʻōhiʻa themed keiki books storytelling, screening of the documentary Saving ʻŌhiʻa–Hawaiʻi’s Sacred Tree, a pre-recorded field trip of a day in the life of an ʻōhiʻa field crew, and a Bishop Museum herbarium and ethnology collection video with live panel discussion. Registration for events is available online.
Starting on November 2, a free keiki crafts kit, which includes a coloring book, field guide, crafts and a sticker, is available while supplies last. The keiki kits can be picked up at the Hilo Public Library, Wailuku Public Library, Hawaiʻi State Library, Hanapepe Public Library, Kapaʻa Public Library, Kōloa Public and School Library, Līhuʻe Public Library, Princeville Public Library and Waimea Public Library.
“This event has usually been held on Hawaiʻi Island, but since it is virtual we can expand to a statewide, national and international level, and this is important because we have found ROD on Hawaiʻi Island, Kauaʻi, Oʻahu and Maui,” said Ambyr Mokiao-Lee, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) festival coordinator and ROD statewide outreach coordinator. “Although we have found this disease on these islands, the vast majority of these forests are still healthy and we are working to protect them for future generations.”
The festival is hosted by the ROD program of UH’s CTAHR Cooperative Extension Service. Other festival support comes from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, local invasive species committees, Hawaiʻi Tourism, and the Omidyar ʻOhana Fund of the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation.