Scroll Top

About Us


Formally established as a not for profit organization in 2006, Papahana Kuaola, located in the ʻili of Waipao, in the ahupuaʻa of Heʻeia, in Koʻolaupoko on Oʻahu, is aloha ʻāina-based education organization that is connecting the area’s past with a sustainable future.  

Papahana Kuaola is committed to creating a functional model of economic sustainability and environmental health in which Hawaiian knowledge is the means of decision-making to ensure that Hawaiian culture and native ecosystems are perpetuated. PK’s approach to cultural sustainability is through the development and operation of educational programs.

Papahana Kuaola provides multi-faceted programs with an annual operating budget of approximately $850,000 that looks to ensure that the future we build today will sustain us into tomorrow; Focusing upon economic self-sufficiency without sacrificing ourselves and our relationships to ʻāina; Focusing upon environmental sustainability through direct community engagement with the natural environment and not restricting them from it with no trespassing signs. Most importantly, we do it in a way that has a meaningful impact on their personal lives.


Papahana Kuaola, a nonprofit organization, was established by Matthew Kapalikū Schirman and Richard Kaponowaiwaiola Barboza, who wanted to create a place where Hawaiian culture and natural history could be preserved and perpetuated. With the support of Kamehameha Schools’ ‘Āina Ulu program, 63 acres of land located in the uka ‘ili of Waipao, in the ahupua‘a of He‘eia, in Ko‘olaupoko on O‘ahu became home to Papahana Kuaola. In 2006, Papahana Kuaola incorporated under the laws of the State of Hawaii. In 2008, it received its IRS 501(c) (3) tax-exempt status.

Richard Barboza
Matthew Kapaliku Schirman
Board of Directors

President: Dr. Hālona Tanner
Licensed clinical psychologist in private practice.
Engaged in activities and education programs that focus on the Hawaiian art of canoe sailing and non-instrument navigation.
Documented Native Hawaiian ancestry
Hawaiian language speaker

Vice President: Robert Kealohapumehana Domingo
Owner of Nui Kealoha Catering Business specializing in Hawaiʻi’s native culinary experiences.
Active participant with Nā Papa Kānaka O Pu‘ukoholā Heiau and Ke Kula ʻo Samuel M. Kamakau.
Documented Native Hawaiian ancestry

Treasurer: Hawley Iona
Director of Finance & Operations, The Nature Conservancy.
Served in private and public sectors in over two decades managing financial and investment portfolios for individuals, businesses, and public trusts. Documented Native Hawaiian ancestry

Secretary: Hiʻilei Kawelo
Executive Director, Paepae o He‘eia.
Responsible for managing an 88-acre fishpond and education program and member of Ko‘olaupoko Hawaiian Civic Club.
Documented Native Hawaiian ancestry
Hawaiian language speaker

Our outreach education division encompasses a variety of educational opportunities that occur outside of the ahupuaʻa of Heʻeia. Our educators extend the lessons developed at Waipao to public and private schools, and the general communities on Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Maui, and Lānaʻi. In partnership with teachers, scientists, cultural practitioners, and community organizations, we conduct classroom presentations, field trips, and service learning activities to impart the scientific and cultural knowledge and skills needed to become responsible stewards of Hawaiʻi.

  • Lelekamanu Oʻahu
  • Lelekamanu Maui
  • Lelekamanu Molokaʻi 
  • Hoʻopoeko
Hanaola (Sustainability)

Our goal over the next two years is to create a model of innovative economic development that is environmentally sustainable and culturally  minded. While fundraising is an important aspect of any not for profit organization, we strongly believe that by creating a sustainable living project, we will be able to diversify our funding stream to provide sustainability for our programs while filling a need for high quality agricultural products.

Kupualau (Community Education)

At its core, Papahana Kuaola educates and advocates for a healthy Hawaiʻi, focusing on people and our relationship to ʻāina and each other. Education is our primary purpose and Waipao is our classroom without walls. Our educators conduct ʻāina-based education opportunities for students, educators, and the community. We have established general educational goals that are age-specific and cater to a variety of contact situations which are intensive daily contact, once a week involvement, and one-time field trips. The goal is to maximize contact hours and favor contact situations with multiple visits and to produce and implement educational programs and curriculum that emphasizes modern issues and problem-solving skills through Hawaiian knowledge.

  • Huliāmahi project
  • Pilimai project
  • KS Aloha ʻĀina 
  • KS Hoʻomākaʻikaʻi
  • Service Learning

ʻIliʻilikauhale is our cornerstone program, located entirely in a 63-acre parcel of Kamehameha Schools land in Heʻeia. This is the center of our educational and community programming, our administrative hub, research and lending library, a test site for economic sustainability projects, and the future site of a kauhale, complete with a contemporary function­ specific house complex and a resident ʻohana . The goal of this program is to restore and reestablish relevant aspects of the kauhale system of human and natural resource relationships and management to this parcel. Waipao is a place where cultural practitioners teach and practice traditional arts and practices; and the community learns and engages in aloha ʻāina principles and practices.