The National Tropical Botanical Garden on Kauai opened its new Hawaiian Life Canoe Garden on Kauai earlier this week, and is offering free admission for kamaaina through Wednesday.
A blessing was held on Wednesday this week to commemorate its official opening.
Located within NTBG’s McBryde Garden, the new Hawaiian Life Canoe Garden features plants brought by Polynesian voyagers, including breadfruit (ulu), taro (kalo), noni, paper mulberry (wauke), sugarcane, pandanus (hala) and sweet potato (uala).
In addition to the existing Hale Ho‘ona‘auo (House of Teaching) and hula mound, the area features a 96-inch diameter star compass design featuring an iwa bird at its center, used with permission from master navigator Nainoa Thompson. There are also new trails, news areas to take in the vista and views of the meandering stream, a newly built loi kalo, or taro patch and a new tram stop area designed to look like the sail of a voyaging canoe.
“The garden has a number of important reasons for being created,” said NTGB spokesman Jon Letman. “One, we wanted to have a place that reinvigorates the sense of place and puts a strong emphasis on the importance of this being a garden in Hawaii.”
Besides the authentic Hawaiian hale, which visitors can stand or sit inside of, and the cultural demonstrations to be offered there, the new garden offers an opportunity to get up close and touch, see and smell the plants that were so important that they merited space in the crowded canoes of the first Polynesian voyagers to the islands.
“Most of these are plants are well known and beloved in Hawaii,” said Letman, “but some are plants that people rarely see like the Hawaiian fish poison plant ‘Aauhuhu (Tephrosia purpurea) or wauke used for making kapa (bark cloth) or awa (kava). The Hawaiian Life Canoe Garden is meant to be a place of learning.”
Schools and educational institutions are welcome to the garden to learn more about Hawaii’s history and culture.
“We also hope this garden will inspire people to better know and appreciate these important plants so that they might enjoy them and grow them in their own garden,” said Letman. “And when visitors come to Hawaii, we want them to have an authentic and meaningful experience that deepens their understanding of what true Hawaiian culture is.”
The self-guided tours of McBryde Garden at 4425 Lawai Road, where the new Hawaiian Life Canoe Garden is located, are free for kamaaina and military with ID until Wednesday, Jan. 24. Visit ntbg.org.