Our Story

On a sloping hillside in Hāna, Maui, kukui trees cast the light of their distinctive green foliage on the tranquil grounds of Ala Kukui, a place of healing, education and celebration. Literally translated as “Path of Enlightenment”, Ala Kukui is a cultural center for native Hawaiian spiritual and intellectual advancement. Our retreats offer a unique opportunity to engage with our local community of cultural practitioners who pay respect to the environment through traditional Hawaiian practices. Whether you wish to privately conduct your own programming in our secluded environment, or immerse yourself in our community offerings, Ala Kukui provides access to rare cultural practices that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Our Vision

Ala Kukui is a cultural center for native Hawaiian spiritual and intellectual advancement in order to elevate the consciousness of Hāna, Hawaiʻi and the globe.

Ala Kukui is a non-profit organization founded on a community-based model. Retreats support our weekly cultural programs and an annual veteran’s retreat. In turn, retreat participants are offered a rare opportunity to engage with the local community and learn traditional cultural practices of celebration, healing and communication.

Honoring Hawaiian principles and values, the Hāna community plays a foundational role in Ala Kukui’s policies, stewardship and operations. Led by Executive Director Kauʻi Kanakaʻole, a respected kumu, or instructor and practitioner of traditional arts, all staff positions are held by longtime Hāna residents.

our missionUtilizing the all-encompassing foundations of traditional hālau, we instill, foster and share beliefs and practices on a local and global platform through workshops, retreats, and performances.
our identity

ala kukui

“The logo should portray a solid base/foundation, an inner strength, and the emanating movement out from that core. Like the pele that has to puka out from within the earths core, or the oha that puka out from the kalo corm, or any kind of protrusion that a maka makes as it mu’os out then kupu, then lau, then lālā. It’s the radiating energy of creation, growth or life force that can’t be contained or held back.

Then that emitted creative energy impacts all that surrounds it whether it means to or not. The gamut can range from simple acknowledgment to intricate feeding, either way a communal relationship begins. Because of this influence the core is strengthened through the reciprocal creation out, feeding and acknowledgment back in.”

our ‘ohana

ko makou ‘ohana

Kauʻi Kanakaʻole

Executive Director

Ala Kukui’s Executive Director Kau‘i Kanaka‘ole is a kumu hula trained in the renowned Halau o Kekuhi with more than 20 years of experience in cultural advocacy. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and has 14 years of teaching experience, including 11 years at Hana School. She was born and raised in Hana and maintains extensive ties to the community.

Moani Aiona

Board Member

Born and raised in Hana, Moani Aiona is currently a school counselor at Hana High and Elementary School. Moani joined our board in July 2016. She brings her years of experience as a hula practitioner to Ala Kukui and is a dedicated advocate of empowering Hana’s youth to achieve their goals.

Phillip O’ Connor

Board Member

Philip O’Connor is a Managing partner at Blackhorn Ventures, and has been an entrepreneur, investor and advisor focused on water technology, energy, and bioscience. Philip’s interest in early stage ventures started with his appreciation for the natural world. This grew with his work at The Biomimicry Institute in Montana, which helped team engineers with biologists to create the next generation of clean technologies. He has since been dedicated to working at the crossroads of nature and technology, aiming to reduce humanities impact through innovation.

Rozitta Hoopai

Board Member

Rozitta Hoopai was born and raised in Hana. This is where she chose to raise her family. Upon graduation from Hana High School Rozitta worked as an educational assistant to the High School counselor assisting students with their post graduation plans. She served as Hana School’s Student Services Clerk before moving on to the hospitality industry at Hotel Hana Maui. Rozitta Worked her way up the hospitality career ladder from cocktail waitress, Spa Concierge, Spa & Retail Manager and most recently was promoted to Hospitality Manager at Travaasa Hotel Hana. In addition to full time work, Rozitta was the assistant coach for Hana High School girls volleyball and softball teams.

Susie Rauch

Board Member

Susie Rauch founded and served as Executive Director of InterConnections 21, a 501 C 3, based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which promotes learning and action in schools and communities in the Northern Rockies about critical global issues . Previously she had worked for UNESCO HQ in Paris on education programs in Eastern and Southern Africa for over a decade. She also worked as an educational consultant for international NGOs such as Save the Children and World Education, while earning an Ed D in International Education. She lives in Wilson, WY.

Rick Rutiz

Board Member

Executive director of Hana nonprofit Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike, Rick Rutiz combines over 30 years’ building experience with a lifelong passion for mentoring youth. Since founding his vocational training program in 2000, Rick has won numerous awards for his work in the community, including a 2001 Maui News award as one of 10 “People Who Made a Difference” on the island, the 2004 Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement’s “Nonprofit of the Year Award,” a Maui County Council resolution for national Discovery Channel coverage, the Hawai’i State Governor’s “Innovation Award” in 2010, the Maui County Mayor’s “Laulima Award” in 2011 for environmental leadership, Maui No Ka Oi’s “Environmental Hero” award in 2012, a TEDx presentation at the 2014 TEDxMaui conference, and the 2016 “Humanitarian of the Year Award” from the Maui Nonprofit Directors Association. Rick previously worked as a homebuilder, a chef for restaurants in Paris, and a schoolteacher in the Kenyan bush.