Mānoa Heritage Center

With great pleasure, we introduce the newest addition to the MHC ʻohana, Samantha “Sami” Nakahira of Kupu ʻĀina Corps. The ʻĀina Corps program at KUPU provides paid career-building employment and skill-training while directly impacting the community for young adults who find interest in environmental and sustainability fields. MHC joyfully joined the ʻĀina Corps initiative for the 2020-2021 year, and gratefully received a cheerful, kind, and ʻeleu (sprightly) KUPU member, Sami!

As a line cook for the Sheraton Waikīkī Hotel, Sami was suddenly out of a job when the outbreak of COVID-19 rocked the world off it’s busy moving conveyor belt. Quickly adjusting to her new situation, Sami saw this time as a window of opportunity to pursue her passion for nature. In digging around the web, she found that Lyon Arboretum was still accepting volunteers. Sami began visiting the Arboretum weekly to kōkua (help) in the seed lab and surrounding gardens. She is currently using her many talents to assist Lyon Arboretum by creating a cookbook using the plants and herbs in their space. On top of volunteering at Lyon, Sami has also participated in service days with the Sierra Club and the Oʻahu Army National Guard Resources Program. Sami owes her curiosity of preserving Hawaiʻi’s natural habitat to growing up in East and Central Oʻahu, The Value of Hawaiʻi book she read in her Women Studies Course at UH Mānoa, and her eclectic palate for foods which are sourced from the ʻāina.

Sami (left) planting kalo with community gardener and baker, Maile Kamisugi.

So far, Sami has picked up quickly on her duties at MHC. Clearing invasive species, propagating native plants, maintaining our propagation area, and assisting in educational programs, are a few of her kuleana. Sami has taken the lead in native plant research and deciding where plants should be placed in the propagation area and around the garden for optimal vitality. Sami is a humble listener and energetic learner, always taking notes and coming to work with a new finding from researching the night before. She most enjoys learning about the plants, how to care for them, and their cultural uses. We are so very grateful that she accepted our request to learn and take care of this land with us!

Sami and Kevin install an awesome new propagation table!

MHC caretaker/educator/builder Kevin Prior has been working hand-in-hand with Sami daily. He is truly appreciative of her work ethic and “above and beyond” attitude when caring for the gardens: “without even asking, she went home and researched a plant that we did not know much about and came to work the next day with her newly gained knowledge.”

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  1. Diane Perushek, docent says:

    Welcome, Sami. Hope to meet you soon.