Friday, December 11, 2015

Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death

We are truly blessed to have dozens and dozens of 'Ōhi'a Lehua trees (Metrosideros polymorpha) on our property. Their appearance is truly spectacular and they are one of the defining tree species in Hawai‘i.

Unfortunately, the tree species is being threatened by a fungus called Ceratocytis fimbriata. At this point there is no cure available and the fungus is spreading rapidly being recently confirmed on the west-side of the Big Island. Ultimately, it may threaten to extinguish 'Ōhi'a Lehua from the islands.

So far, the fungus has not been detected in the Kaloko area. Let's keep fingers crossed!

An excellent information resource with updates is available at:

In the process of informing myself about the fungus and its implication, I highly enjoyed the following video presentation (From Sep 29, 2015) from the National Park Service:

Rapid ‘Ohi‘a Death: A House on Fire

A few more tidbits of information are also available from this slightly more recent presentation "NF Hawaii: Solving Rapid 'Ohi'a Death" (Dec 10, 2015):

Also, you can get more information via Facebook as well:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Reptiles and Amphibians in Hawai‘i

There is a very good article on Reptiles and amphibians in Hawai‘i by Norman Bezona in the West Hawaii Today newspaper. It is titled "Garden friends not always furry or feathered". You can find it at:

Lot's of "immigrants" on the island including one of my favorites the Jackson’s chameleon (Trioceros jacksonii)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Royal Hawaiian Band

One of the interesting musical institutions in Hawai‘i is the Royal Hawaiian Band which is the “oldest and only full-time municipal band in the United States” [wikipedia]. You can get an overview of their published recordings via the merchandise web page of the Friends of the Royal Hawaiian Band. Unfortunately, their music is not available via iTunes but you may be lucky to get some old-school CDs via Amazon. 

Photo © CC BY-SA Thomas Tunsch
And reading about the band's history is fascinating. The have a Schellenbaum (Turkish crescent) with the engraving “no ka hoomanao ana ia Berlin” (In memory of Berlin).

It was donated by the German emperor to King David Kalākaua while he was visiting Berlin in 1881. He was the first monarch in the world traveling around the globe.

It is funny enough there is a Hula group in Berlin with that same name:

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Hawai‘i and the World before 1893

Coming from Germany and having lived on the US mainland for the past 13 years, one might get the impression that the modern history and development of Hawai‘i starts with the United States. For a history geek like me, it has been extremely enlightening to realize that this is not the case. In fact, the accomplishments of Hawai‘i before the coup d'etat of 1893 by the US are impressive to say the least.

I just finished reading my latest Hawai‘i-related book Hawai‘i and the German Speaking Peoples by Niklaus R. Schweizer. This books provides excellent insights into the history of the Hawaiian Kingdom. With my background it was particularly fascinating to learn more about the connection between Hawai‘i and German-speaking countries. As a German interested in history, you may be aware of Germany's brief colonial history (Africa, Pacific, China), but Hawai'i is not a country that registers in that context readily.

Among its many accomplishments, the following set of statistics (page 146) caught my eye:

In 1892 The Hawaiian Kingdom maintained 93 diplomatic missions and consular posts around the globe. 5 consulates were located in Germany (Bremen, Hamburg, Frankfurt/Main, Dresden, Karlsruhe).

Consulates also existed in Austria (1), Sweden and Norway (4), Denmark (1). 13 Consulates + 1 legation existed in Great Britain.

Hawai‘i was one of only 46 sovereign countries at that time in the world. In a video series below, Niklaus Schweizer also states that Hawai‘i was not only the first fully sovereign country (recognized by the western world) in the Pacific region, but also within all of Asia.

This was certainly not some back-water place far away from civilization in the 19th century. In fact the country went from “we don't have a script” to basically 100% literacy rates in just 50 years, modernized the country, built up institutions, all while enduring very large population losses due to western introduced deceases. I find that truly mind-blowing.

Please see the videos for more in-depths information.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hawaii's Legacy of Literacy

I found the following TEDxManoa talk by Puakea Nogelmeier quite fascinating. At the time when James Cook landed in Hawai‘i in 1778, Hawai‘i did not have an alphabet/script. Yet, by 1840 Hawai‘i boasts a literacy rate of almost 100%. At the same time, deceases brought in by “the discoverers” decimated the Hawaiian population heavily during the 19th century. Considering that, it is amazing what Hawaiians achieved as a society.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Hawaiian Language Resources

If you are trying to learn more about the Hawaiian Language, you will realize that resources are not as plentiful as let's say for French or German. Wouldn't it be nice if I could just hop over to Duolingo and do a few levels of Hawaiian just to get a feel for the language? After all Hawai‘i is an extremely popular destination for mainlanders and mahalo does not mean trashcan. It is in fact extremely surprising how hard it is to find good resources. And Duolingo is not an option as of this writing.

Although, it should be possible with enough bi-lingual volunteers to add Hawaiian to the incubator.

Hawaiian is an official state language besides English. In fact it is the only state with Alaska with a non-English state language. Yet, even Google Translate does not offer an Hawaiian option which I did not expect (C'mon Google).

Cloud Forest Trail in Kaloko-Mauka (April 2014)

Here are the options I found so far:

Wikipedia, of course, is a good starting point:


Kamehameha Schools provides a website with various resources at:
The site provides a list of videos (Youtube) and corresponding transcripts at:
Furthermore, there is another language series called Ka Leo ʻŌiwi which is provided by ʻŌiwi TV at:


I found the following online language courses, which while not free, are seemingly reasonably priced.

Niuolahiki Online Hawaiian Language Courses by ‘Aha Pūnana Leo (Non-profit)
Kamehameha Schools Distance Learning
Although incomplete, you may also want to check our the Hawaiian language tutorial which is provided by the Society to advance indigenous Vernaculars of the United States (S.A.I.V.U.S.):


I found the following online dictionary:


And lastly, if you like to learn more about the state of the Hawaiian language in general, check out the following PBS recording "PBS Hawaii - INSIGHTS: What Role Does Hawaiian Language Play in Our State?" which is available at:
If I missed any good resources (which is likely), please provide those as comments. Mahalo!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Hawaiian Alphabet Song

My kids love the song…Oh and yes not only the Germans have some rather long words.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Mind the ʻokina

I started to look beyond the common Hawaiian words everyone is using such as "mahalo" and "aloha" and I finally realized that Hawai‘i is written with an ʻokina letter between the i-letters. You can create the character easily by pressing Option-] on a Mac.  See more at:ʻOkina.