Did you know that every Thursday morning in Hanalei is “Poi Day?”
Kupuna, ohana and staff welcome volunteers from the community to take part in making poi the old-fashioned way, and by that, it involves getting your hands a little dirty and exerting some physical force.
Using poi pounders made of stone and special wooden boards, the kalo (taro) slowly gets smashed down into a pasty form. It not only takes time to do this but also patience. Hawaiians believe greatly in hard work and in providing for their families. That’s why the poi made during the weekly event gets distributed throughout the north shore Kauai community.
It is a tradition started more than two decades ago by Waipa Foundation, as a way to keep poi available and affordable to everyone. In recent years, there have been several shortages of this Hawaiian staple; therefore, driving up the prices at grocery stores. And it is because of these shortages that poi has become a hot commodity in Hawaii, oftentimes selling out as soon as the grocery store opens.
Waipa Foundation manages the 1,600 acres of Waipa on Kauai. They serve as a Native Hawaiian learning center and community center where all who visit can renew ties to the aina (land) and learn about Hawaiian lifestyles and values. Therefore, it is important to show respect for this cultural process when participating in Poi Day.
It is also important to wear the right clothing. Waipa Foundation suggests volunteers show up in casual attire that may get dirty or wet. Footwear should be clean as well, since you will be working with food. And lastly, prepare for some mosquitos since the event takes place outdoors.
• Every Thursday morning in Waipa, Kauai • 5 a.m. to noon (but it is not necessary to start that early) • www.waipafoundation.org/community_poi/