Category Archives: Press releases

Tu B’Shevat Tree Planting in Keau’ohana Native Rainforest

For Immediate Release

Contact for more information:
Rabbi Rachel Short
Cell Phone: 808.557.1252

Ahava ‘Aina joins forces with Malama O Puna to help restore Keau’ohana Forest Reserve in honor of Jewish holiday Tu B’Shevat

Tu B’Shevat is the Jewish festival to celebrate the New Year of the trees. Honoring our agriculture and lunar cycles, this holiday traditionally falls on the 15th in the Hebrew month of Shevat and is celebrated by planting trees, spending time in nature, going barefoot, and eating foods that come from trees. The Ahava ‘Aina congregation joined forces with Malama O Puna to celebrate by giving back to the ‘aina, planting native tree species in Hawaii’s last remaining lowland rainforest, Keau’ohana Forest Reserve. They planted ‘ohe in an effort to help restore this sacred native land. Rabbi Rachel blessed the forest in honor of the holiday and offered a prayer for celebration, restoration, growth and new beginnings. Environmental Specialist, Jaya C. Dupuis, the project coordinator who manages the forest restoration project, educated the Ahava ‘Aina community on native plant species, invasive species, forest restoration, and the many ways we can help our ‘aina to flourish. Jaya conceived the forest restoration and has been the driving force behind the project since 2014.

Volunteers cleared areas for planting and worked together to plant the trees. This will help to reestablish the shade lost due to invasive species, and more currently, to rapid ohia death.  Malama O Puna generously donated the ‘ohe trees for the Ahava ‘Aina community to plant in Keau’ohana, having been grown from seed specifically for the forest restoration in their Kapoho native plant nursery. Despite the thunderstorms, Ahava ‘Aina was able to plant ten new trees in Keau’ohana Forest Reserve.

Those interested in learning more about Jewish culture or joining Ahava ‘Aina should contact Rabbi Rachel Short or visit Those interested in volunteering for forest restoration should contact Jaya Dupuis or visit

Rat Lungworm Concert Press Release

MALAMA O PUNA – Preserving Hawai‘i’s precious natural heritage

P.O. Box 1520  Pāhoa, HI. 96778   (808) 965-2000 ~

August 9, 2017



The unusual name of this upcoming free event may raise some eyebrows.  A concert at the beautiful Green Lake/Green Mountain campus is the “tickler” to draw attendance to this educational event, the purpose of which is to control the vectors of Rat Lungworm Disease by providing the affected community with the knowledge and resources to combat it.

The entertainment will be headlined by Lito Arkangel, with Cosmorchestra, Kunzwanana Marimba Ensemble, Uncle’s ‘Awa Band, and other performers, including a hula halau, and will run from Noon to 5:00 pm on Saturday, August 26th.  The music will be supplemented by short educational speeches, informational exhibits and, of course, food and craft booths.  Learn how to keep rats and slugs out of your vegetable garden, how to manage your water catchment system, and how to prepare food safely.  Get the latest in research results about the disease, which is prevalent in Puna makai.

Rat Lungworm Disease is a form of meningitis that can affect the brain and spinal cord.  Symptoms may include severe headache, stiffness of the neck and back, skin tingling, pain and sensitivity to light, hallucinations, nausea, vomiting and sometimes coma and death.  In Hawaii it was first documented in lower Puna and is still most prevalent there.  The rat lungworm is a parasite with a complex life cycle that alternates between two hosts:  rats and certain snails and slugs.  Rat lungworm has five larval stages, followed by a reproducing adult stage.  Humans are affected by the third stage larvae which come from the snails and slugs.  Inside the human body they are unable to grow to full adulthood and complete their life cycle – they generally die in the central nervous system.  They infest farms, vegetable gardens and home water catchment systems and enter the human body through ingestion of produce contaminated with their slime, or through unfiltered catchment water.

The best defense against Rat Lungworm Disease is proactive – avoidance of the hosts, and the strategies to accomplish this will be shared at the event by the State Department of Health, the School of Pharmacy, CTAHR, Big Island Invasive Species Committee, Hawaii Catchment Company, Malama O Puna, and Puna Community Medical Center.  There will be people to talk to at their booths and lots of printed material to take home to read and refer to.  Ace Hardware will being giving out a limited number of free rat traps and there will be water catch filters available.  There will be slug-eating ducks for sale.

The students of Kua O Ka La Charter School will open the event with a Hawaiian chant and blessing.  The Burrows family is donating the use of the property, some tents, stage, and some of the security.  Men of Pa’a will be providing security and parking attendants as well.  Vendors may contact or for information and to arrange for booth space.  The event is co-sponsored by a county contingency grant from Eileen O’Hara and the environmental nonprofit Malama O Puna.

Submitted by:  René Siracusa, President Malama O Puna




Nonprofit Malama O Puna Supports Paris Climate Accords

Malama O Puna wishes to thank Gov. David Ige and our Congressional delegation for their leadership, integrity, and strong opposition to Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris accords. They have inspired us. All over our nation, governors are signing on to the accords for their states and mayors for their cities; counties, corporations, universities and nonprofits throughout our land, who have no doubt about the scientific basis for global warming, are signing on to the accords as a way to tell Trump that he is uninformed and does not speak for us. They are all telling Trump that they will do it without him, and that he is dispensible. Malama O Puna is joining this very informed and decisive group.

As an environmental nonprofit, we have worked hard to be sustainable as an organization and to educate our community about sustainability. For ten years we hosted the Puna Sustainability Expo, which provided a venue for vendors of sustainable products to showcase their wares, and shared tips and resources with our friends and neighbors. We have protected our native ecosystems by eradicating noxious weeds in our forests and we have helped to sequester carbon by raising native plants in our nursery and planting trees all over Puna for the last 27 years. We have repeatedly testified at the State legislature and the County Council in support of our environment.

In our commitment to stay on track for the Paris agreement goals and plans, we are in the process of taking our Pahoa environmental resource center/office totally off the grid and installing photovoltaics to provide electricity, and panels to provide hot water. We will step up all of our activities that will result in slowing the global warming process. We are also open to new ideas and suggestions, and invite the public to share them.

If you’d like to express your support for the Paris Climate Accords, you can become a Malama O Puna member to help further our work.

Mahalo nui loa,
René Siracusa, President