ACCESS Engagement

Mālama I Nā Ahupuaʻa (MINA)

Service-Learning Program and Sustainability Initiative

The Mālama I Nā Ahupua'a service-learning program runs four semesters a year – organized by faculty, student leaders and community partners. We welcome 'ohana and students from all disciplines enrolled at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM), Kapiʻolani Community College (KCC), and other institutions of higher education locally and globally. Individuals and groups (any age) are welcome to join us for special short-term programs or one-time activities. For detailed information about activities and logistics, email, call, or come by our office, but first and foremost check out our calendar and MINA factsheet.

MINA Calendar

Program Structure

The program is built around a series of common core activities and optional specialization. The common core activities include opening and closing sessions, as well as an upland (heiau), a midland (lo'i) and a lowland (fishpond) activity.

Procedures And Requirements

  • Transportation: Except for a few activities, the program does not provide transportation to the sites. However, the MINA calendar has information about how to get to each activity by car and by public transportation. We strongly encourage carpooling.
  • Preregistration: All activities REQUIRE preregistration.
  • Guests are welcome to join us (unless site limits/restrictions apply). For most activities, you can include them in your own preregistration, but they do need to be registered individually.
  • Sustainable activities: Except for the required waivers, we are aiming at being as sustainable as possible. Please bring your own work gloves and a re-useable water bottle to all activities. For activities with food, bring also a mess kit.

Before You Get Started

  • If you are participating in MINA as part of class work, be sure to obtain your instructor's approval and comply with specific course requirements.
  • Complete (1) the mandatory online registration (including its MINA section), (2) the program waiver/release form; and (3) any additional service-learning paperwork/registration requirements that your institution(s) may have. UHM requirements are included in and covered by the above-mentioned forms.
  • Attend an orientation session to learn about the ahupuaʻa concept, how to navigate the MINA program, and set up a written work plan with the program leaders.
  • If you are unable to attend an orientation session, you need to contact us at to receive further instructions in how to prepare yourself for MINA activities.

Ready to Enjoy the Service-Learning Experience

  • Check the MINA calendar and select your activities.
  • Always check the MINA calendar on the morning of an activity.
  • On-site in the community: Comply with instructions given at sites and activities by both site and MINA leaders. Be safe and considerate of others at the site.
  • On-site in the community: Sign in with the MINA representative at all common activities. In case of record discrepancy, those sign-in sheets override your time sheet. Be sure to also comply with any additional service-learning paperwork/registration requirements that our community partners may have.
  • Participate in the CORE activities (or approved substitutes) if possible, including the opening and closing sessions – unless we have set up a different work plan for you.
  • In addition to the core activities specialize in one site/activity and work there the rest of your hours OR participate in a number of the optional common activities as agreed in your MINA work plan.
  • Complete and document (with original time sheets signed by MINA representatives or community site supervisors) a total of minimum 20 hours of service for the summer semester (unless your class instructor has a separate agreement with us).
  • It is highly recommended to keep a daily journal of your experiences – whether your instructor asks for it or not.
  • If you need help with background information or research, feel free to email us at We are happy to help.

Documenting Your Work

  • After completion of the service, submit your timesheet to - we include the result in our report to your instructor.
  • Submit an electronic copy of your final reflective journal or other product related to your service-learning experience with MINA (what your instructor requires for class is sufficient).
  • Complete electronic surveys as requested.

Mina Leaders

Program Leaders

  • Dr. Ulla Hasager, Director of Civic Engagement UHM College of Social Sciences/ACCESS; Ethnic Studies, anthropology. Offices: Dean 5-7. 808 956 4218; 808 330 1276
  • Prof. Mike Ross, KCC botany. Office: Kokiʻo 102, 808 734 9428
  • Dr. Lynette Hiilani Cruz, anthropology, Kupuna in Residence HPU, 808 284 3460
  • Kupuna Richard Uweloa Ribuca, 808 783 5276
  • Prof. Nelda Quensell, founding coordinator, ethnobotany

Student Leaders

  • Daven Chang, MINA program leader, UHM Hawaiian studies/anthropology
  • Kyle Kajihiro, doctoral candidate, geography, UHM
  • Misty Davis, Hawaiian studies, UHM
  • Zea Nauta, environmental pathway leader, KCC
  • Alex Lum, engineering/agriculture KCC

Additional Supporters: Colette Higgins WCC history, Wendy Kuntz KCC ecology/biology; Kathy Ogata KCC chemistry


Prof. Marion Kelly of the UHM Department of Ethnic Studies originally developed the service-learning program, Adopt an Ahupuaʻa in collaboration with Professor Nelda Quensell and Dr. Carl Hefner of KCC. The program was implemented by Prof. Quensell (KCC) and Dr. Ulla Hasager (UHM) in 1997. Activities are developed and conducted in collaboration with our on-site community partners, who – along with the ʻāina – are the actual teachers.

Living on islands gives a clear message about the need for responsible human interaction with the environment for anyone who dares to listen. Nevertheless, Hawaiʻi's environment and resources are in grave danger, not only because of large-scale mismanagement and development projects directed by motives of economic gain and political self-advancement, but also because of everyday use and lack of concern and knowledge.

The rate at which the environment is being destroyed makes it urgent to educate the residents of Hawaiʻi to take responsibility and action to preserve and improve what is left. We must create options for a sustainable use of the remaining resources and practices that promote food sovereignty.

The Mālama I Nā Ahupuaʻa service-learning program addresses these issues. We aim to develop a sense and responsibility of place by creating a fund of knowledge and practical experience, including Native practices of sustainable living.

An ahupuaʻa is a traditional division of land, typically extending from the top of the mountains out into the ocean to the reef. Within the ahupuaʻa, the inhabitants had access to all the ecological zones of the islands and could get almost all they needed for survival. Ahupuaʻa were self-sufficient and probably constituted self-governing political entities in early times.

The organization of the Mālama i nā Ahupuaʻa service-learning pathway varies from most other options for service learning, because of our emphasis on establishing a shared base of knowledge through common meetings and activities, usually taking up more than half of the required service-learning hours. On this ground of common knowledge, the students build their own experience from the activities in which they participate, sometimes working in small groups.

Participating students come from a variety of institutions, levels and disciplines, such as botany, biology, sociology, anthropology, history, family resources, economics, political science, ethnic studies, and geography. Furthermore, our common projects often involve a variety of social, cultural, economic, and age groups. Participants regularly bring parents, children or other family members and friends.

The ʻohana perspective is part of our efforts to reach out to the P-12 levels and to create culturally appropriate lifelong learning experiences, recognizing the importance of both families and hands-on learning in an Oceanic context. The mix of age and social groups gives younger participants good role models and creates confidence in a future transition into higher education.

We cover a wide spectrum of activities from hard manual labor to collection of oral histories. All activities, however, focus on the involvement of human beings with various aspects of the environment. The experiences and efforts of the students continue to help preserve environment and culture. Many of our former students have gone on to become community leaders.

Mālama: To take care of, tend, attend, care for, preserve, protect, beware, save, maintain; to keep or observe, as a taboo; to conduct, as a service; to serve, honor, as God; care, preservation, support, fidelity, loyalty; custodian, caretaker, keeper

Ahupuaʻa: Land division, usually extending from the uplands to the sea, so called because the boundary was marked by a heap (ahu) of stones surmounted by an image of a pig (puaʻa), or because a pig or other tribute was laid on the altar as hoʻokupu (tax, gift) to a chief

Mina: To prize greatly, value greatly, especially of something in danger of being lost (Definitions from


ACCESS Engagement
Tel: 808 956 0655
Dean Hall, rooms 5-7
2450 Campus Road
Honolulu, Hawaiʻi 96822

Director: Dr. Ulla Hasager
Tel: 808 956 4218
Cel: 808 330 1276