Community Food Systems Mentorship Program: Kukui Maunakea-Forth

The Community Food Systems Mentorship Program offers Network members the opportunity to work directly with a food systems expert to support their growth, learn best practices, and connect with seasoned food movement leaders. 

Kukui Maunakea – Forth, Executive and Programs Director,
Wai’anae Community Re-Development Corporation and the MA’O Community Food Systems Initiative

Ne huli ka lima iluna, pololi ka opu.
Ne huli ka lima ilalo, piha ka opu.
When your hands are turned up, you will be hungry
When your hands are turned down (to the soil), you will be full.
~Kupuna Katherine K. Kukui, ‘Olelo Na’auao, Words of Wisdom

About Kukui: 
Jornal Ku’ualoha Kukuiolamekana’auao Maunakea-Forth was born on Nanakuli Hawaiian Homestead and raised at the knee of her kupunawahine (grandmother) Katherine K. Maunakea, a noted Hawaiian language teacher, musician, educator, and community cultural resource. Kukui is a graduate of the University of Hawai’i with a BA in Pacific Island Studies.
In 2001, Kukui and her husband Gary, co-founded the non-profit Wai’anae Community Re-Development Corporation and the MA’O Community Food Systems Initiative which operates a 280-acre USDA-certified organic farm in Wai’anae and is co-managed by youth interns in its flagship program- the MA’O Youth Leadership.  The Youth Leadership Training program currently supports 100+ farm-to-college student interns at Leeward Community College and at the University of Hawai’i West O’ahu.   
Kukui currently serves as Executive and Programs Director of WCRC and the MA’O Initiative.  As a long-time community advocate, the work of MA’O was a natural step for Kukui having been involved in community development for many years.   Following the footsteps of her grandmother, Kukui has worked as a community activist and advocate for most of her life- volunteering in many community non-profits and grassroots organizations that serve ‘opio (youth), ‘ohana (families), and the broader kai’ulu (community).
Kukui has been active in organizations that serve youth and families because ‘aina, place-based education is key to the regeneration of the ancestral abundance of/for the Wai’anae community.   Compassion for others and service to community are hallmarks of her leadership and is demonstrated in the continued fulfillment of the family’s philanthropic organizations to perpetuate na mea Hawai’i, the Hawaiian culture.
Kukui has found a great sense of aloha by serving Wai’anae youth (and their families), finding pride and satisfaction in the successes and achievements of these future ancestors.  Grateful for the opportunities that were given her, she hopes to grow MA’O to be a source of inspiration for future youth leaders of the Wai’anae moku and beyond.
Kukui, Gary and their ‘ohana currently live in Makaha. They have four children, Hiwa, Kamalu, Kauhi, and Kealohi, and are grandparents to Kamana’olana (17), Ku’uhali’aaloha (15) and Keli’ihokupa’a (11). 

Areas of Expertise

  • Community Development
  • Indigenous Social Enterprise
  • Native Youth Leadership Development 
  • Community Engagement & Facilitation
  • Grantwriting

Mentorship Kuleana:  In the practice of mentorship, I see these three principles as key to my kuleana (responsibility) for a successful mentoring relationship.
·       Aloha aku, aloha mai.  Aloha, alo is presence, ha is the breath of life.  Aloha is to be in the presence of the breath of life.  My kuleana is to welcome and honor this person and all that they bring from their teachings and experiences into our mentoring relationship.
·       A’o aku, a’o mai.  A’o, to learn is a reciprocal endeavor.  Teaching and learning is always simultaneous and my kuleana is to inspire curiosity, to enrich dialogue, and to uplift joy through our mentoring relationship.
·       Kokua aku, kokua mai.  The way of an ‘ohana or a family is to be of help and service to others as well as to receive help and service from others.  My kuleana is to ensure that the mentoring relationship will continue to create transformative impact beyond us and into the families, communities and lands we serve.

*Note that several Hawaiian words are spelled without the correct symbols, we apologize for this.

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