Ka Ipu Kukui Fellows Plan for a Resilient Maui

Mar 7, 2024

Sixteen fellows of the 2024 Ka Ipu Kukui cohort recently came together to address the challenge of building resilience for Maui County. Presented by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB), the annual Project Weekend was renamed Project Maui Nui to reflect its focus and purpose as well as being responsive to the current needs of the county.

 The 3-day workshop is specifically designed for the Fellows of Ka Ipu Kukui, a year-long program designed for community-identified, emerging leaders and conceived to address planning for Maui Nui’s future.

 Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) partnered with MEDB to provide the cohort with background information to support them on the challenge. Tim Manning, Senior Advisor with PDC, presented a keynote on Resilient Communities. Tim has worked with White House administration for both Obama, and then during the Biden administration working on the COVID response. He gave a big picture presentation on resilience and data points to consider.

Dr. Erin Hughey, Director of Global Operations for PDC, spoke on the work they do in disaster management, including with the Maui wildfires; the PDC tools and resources available to help with risk mitigation; and the impacts of natural hazards on Hawaii. Joseph Green, PDC’s Director of Applied Science followed up with a presentation on ‘What is Resilience and How do we Measure it.’

PDC then led the cohort through a table-top exercise to help the fellows start to think from a stakeholder’s point of view on how to respond to a disaster and plan for the future.

Pacific Disaster Center’s Dr. Erin Hughey introduces colleague Tim Manning who presented virtually for the Ka Ipu Kukui Fellows

“We were very grateful to partner with Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) who went above and beyond as the subject-matter experts for the workshop,” said Annette Lynch, MEDB’s Director of Communications. “The presentations and table-top exercise helped to kick off the actual challenge with teams working on their solutions to build resilience. The PDC team acted as coaches on Day 2 to answer questions and provide guidance on their projects.”

Teams presented their projects on the afternoon of Day 3 with a 10-minute Pitch to a panel of three judges — Henry “Hanale” Lindo, Assistant Chief, Maui Fire Department; Saumalu Mata’afa, Deputy Director, Department of Housing & Human Concerns; and Steven M. Sigler, PhD, Disaster Services NDPBA Specialist, Pacific Disaster Center Solutions included developing community hubs to facilitate response and communication; the use of drones for search and rescue and other emergency services; developing a food forest to enhance local sustainability; and deploying a digital bus concept to provide Wi-Fi connectivity to remote areas and during disasters.

“Addressing the challenge of building resiliency in such a short time frame was both challenging and rewarding,” said Brialyn Onadera, who works with Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope. “Being able to come up with a feasible solution in two days gave a sense of achievement and allowed me to build deeper relationships with the members of the group.  I also appreciated that this gave us a chance to have informed, engaging and insightful discussions about a critical issue affecting Maui and feasible solutions.”

Matthew Lugo of Privateer commented on his experience, “My overall experience with Project Maui Nui was excellent! It was great working with a diverse team with a wide skill set trying to tackle how to improve disaster resiliency on Maui. We had great advice and guidance from the advisors and team at PDC, and it was astounding how many great ideas we created and heard from the other teams.”

The Ka Ipu Kukui cohort of 2024

Hui hoku Initiative were announced the winners of Project Maui Nui 2024. From left: Olena Alec, Jack Dowling, Becky Lind, and Matthew Lugo

Lugo’s team, Hui Hoku Initiative, was announced as this year’s winner for their drone service solution. “I feel our team’s project solution truly can help Maui. It’s fairly simple — encourage more parties involved in disaster relief to use this available and cheap technology of drones in more innovative and frequent ways. Sometimes the best innovation is realizing that the capability is already out there and simply shifting protocol to use it.”

The Ka Ipu Kukui Fellows will continue to meet in monthly Halawai to further develop a holistic appreciation and understanding of Maui Nui’s unique challenges. As their May graduation approaches, recruitment for the 2025 Cohort will commence in late spring. Visit kaipukukuifellows.org to learn more.