MAUI CON­NEC­TIONS

The Maui News - - COUNTY - RICK CHATENEVER Rick Chatenever, award-win­ning for­mer en­ter­tain­ment and fea­tures edi­tor of The Maui News, is a free­lance jour­nal­ist, in­struc­tor at the Univer­sity of Hawaii Maui Col­lege and doc­u­men­tary scriptwriter/pro­ducer. Con­tact him at rickchaten­ever@

Grid­lock in Haiku. Bumper to bumper, stop and go in both di­rec­tions on Hana High­way.

What was hap­pen­ing last Satur­day morn­ing? A new apoc­a­lypse movie? In­stant ur­ban­iza­tion comes to the north coast? An­other in­com­ing mis­sile alert?

Ac­tu­ally, it was the Haiku Ho‘olaule‘a & Flower Fes­ti­val.

Re­turn­ing for its 25th year, this is one of those Old Maui ex­pe­ri­ences that keep get­ting harder to find in new Maui. A fundraiser for Haiku El­e­men­tary School, it com­bines generic el­e­ments found in many other com­mu­nity events: a farm­ers mar­ket; a con­cert stage; orchid tents; lei-mak­ing and do-it-your­self art projects; craft booths; African drum­mers; kid games and rides; his­tory dis­plays; food trucks . . . but still winds up feel­ing like it could only be hap­pen­ing in Haiku.

Maybe it’s the rain. Else­where, rain is a spoiler. In Haiku, it’s an in­evitabil­ity. When it starts re­ally com­ing down hard, you just find an eve to stand under and lis­ten to the drum­ming on the roof. As an­cient Hawaii knew so well, rain is a bless­ing.

State Sen. J. Kalani English ap­pre­ci­ated “keep­ing Haiku the way we like it — wet and green and grow­ing.”

The grow­ing things in­cluded lots of kids, do­ing ev­ery­thing from mak­ing lei to rid­ing around in in­flat­able plas­tic bub­bles. The keiki are, af­ter all, what the day is for, and it was a treat to share their unique learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment with them for a while, in­doors and out.

Tim Wolfe, ably em­cee­ing the en­ter­tain­ment stage, told the au­di­ence that his daugh­ter Danielle had been a Haiku stu­dent af­ter the fam­ily moved to Maui in the 1980s. It was where she told him “she learned to love to learn.” Now, two master’s de­grees later, she is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of an in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tional foun­da­tion.

Tim cred­ited the “poly­glot neigh­bor­hoods” in their lush jun­gle set­tings against panoramic coastal back­grounds as solid foun­da­tions for fam­i­lies to put down good solid roots.

Teach­ing kids in all grades to do that lit­er­ally is the school’s gar­den­ing di­rec­tor, who’s known as Miss Moon­flower. She teaches “life sci­ence through life ex­pe­ri­ence,” she said with a bright smile.

Through the morn­ing I run into friends. Laura Nagel Lees with her two daugh­ters, just start­ing their Haiku school days; and Larry Fein­berg, whose grown daugh­ter Ari­anna and her friend Lau­ren Shearer are string­ing lei nearby. Katie Ro­manchuk scur­ries through the craft tent. Out­side, Nathan Ehrlich — bet­ter known as Dr. Nat — waits to take the stage with his band, Rio Ritmo, fol­low­ing an awe­some set by the King Kekaulike High School Jazz Band, di­rected by Casey Na­gata.

Schools are, by their na­ture, time cap­sules. Decades of class pic­tures and other mem­o­ries fill shelves in the school li­brary, which to­day is home to the Haiku Liv­ing Legacy Project.

In­side, I meet Mack Blair, who was the Haiku school li­brar­ian in this space for six years. That’s only one chap­ter in the great sto­ries he shares, mak­ing good on that Liv­ing Legacy sign out­side the door.

He points to a black-and-white photo of him­self 25 years ago, when he started the first Haiku Ho‘olaule‘a & Flower Fes­ti­val with the other guy in the photo, the late Ed Sil­ver­stein.

We en­gage in the kind of talk story that hap­pens when gray-haired guys who ar­rived here when Maui was still an ad­ven­ture, meet for the first time and re­al­ize they’ve got a lot of the same friends. Talk story is the haole equiv­a­lent of an­cient Hawai­ians chant­ing their ge­nealo­gies when they met. It’s a fine art out here in the flow­ers and the jun­gle, where spir­i­tual au­thor Ram Dass and Pulitzer Prize-win­ning poet Wil­liam Mer­win are neigh­bors in the ‘hood.

Many things grow healthy and strong in the warm rains of Haiku. It’s easy to mis­take this place for par­adise, I thought, watch­ing fam­i­lies from keiki to kupuna hap­pily head­ing home, most with plants in their hands.

Speak­ing of mem­bers of the King Kekaulike jazz en­sem­ble, they got a visit re­cently from Grammy win­ner Delfeayo Marsalis, who led a four-hour re­hearsal prior to per­form­ing with them at the Maui Arts & Cul­tural Cen­ter.

Part of New Or­leans’ jazz roy­alty, Marsalis also stopped by for din­ner at the north-shore home of award-win­ning film­maker and fes­ti­val pro­ducer Ken Martinez Burgmaier, who first brought him to play at jazz and blues fes­ti­vals through­out Hawaii eight years ago.

Ken just fin­ished work on Hawai­iONTV cov­er­age of The Ritz-Carl­ton, Ka­palua’s 2018 Cel­e­bra­tion of the Arts, fea­tured in this col­umn two weeks ago. Peo­ple who at­tended will en­joy re­liv­ing the video im­mer­sion in things Hawai­ian; for peo­ple who missed it, the seg­ment is al­most as good as hav­ing been there, plus you can keep re­play­ing it at youtu.be/SdqhkdG3u3c.

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