Visitors and residents of Maui may soon enjoy a place in Lahaina that honors its rich cultural heritage while providing a learning center for Native Hawaiian studies and a community gathering hall.

The restoration of Hawaii’s royal complex at Mokuula on the corner of Front and Shaw Streets in Lahaina will turn dream into reality. After many years of researching, discovering, teaching, creating, planning and obtaining entitlements from a variety of governmental entities, this is the year that the Friends of Mokuula will break ground for Phase I construction. Plans include building the Hale Halawai, a learning center in traditional Native Hawaiian architectural style, and Hale Pohaku, a gathering hall with kitchen and restrooms in 20th century plantation style, in addition to a low-impact parking lot landscaped with native and indigenous plants and trees.

To help make this dream a reality, Old Lahaina Luau will be sponsoring a fundraiser for the Friends of Mokuula on Saturday June 4, 2011 on the oceanfront Old Lahaina Luau grounds from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm. The theme is He Lei Hulu, He Lei Makamae—a tribute to Akoni Akana, the founder and visionary director emeritus of Friends of Mokuula, Inc.

Although Akoni passed away this year, he left with us numerous gifts and his passionate vision for Mokuula. Akoni Akana touched our lives as a teacher of hula, chant and Lahaina’s history, as a composer of beautiful mele, as an advocate of Hawaiian culture and as a proponent of keeping Lahaina economically and culturally vital.

Attending or donating to this special fundraising event will help the Friends of Mokuula reach its financial goals. Ticket prices are $100 per person, which includes the luau’s bountiful buffet, a premium open bar and fabulous entertainment including the Old Lahaina Luau show and a special guest appearance by Keali`i Reichel. Tables of eight are available for a discounted price of $700, for a limited time.

If you are planning this for your Hawaii Vacation, reservations and ticket sales are offered through the Old Lahaina Luau Reservations Department at 808-667-1998. Pre-purchased tables will have reserved seating. Inpidual ticket purchases will be seated on a first come, first served basis that evening. All tickets will be available at will-call in the Old Lahaina Luau reception area.

Akoni’s vision for the restoration of Mokuula island and Mokuhinia pond will become the crown jewel of Lahaina, bringing a renewed interest to our town and a shining example of our host Hawaiian culture for generations to come.

Photos provided by Old Lahina Luau.

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