Helping Lahaina: A tragedy of loss
and symbol of hope

Arizona Aloha Festival is offering this original design teeshirt as a fundraiser.

All sales proceeds (plus donations) received will be donated to the Maui Strong Fund

"But when the fires are extinguished and the time comes for rebuilding, the tree might well be a symbol of Lahaina's history and its future.."
NPR, August 11, 2023

The shirt in white will be sold at the Festival.

The shirt in Maui's color pink (for its flower the Lokelani rose) is offered online only... ORDER HERE

Many of you already know that on August 8, 2023, the effects of drought and wind caused many fires on Maui. The stories are heartbreaking.

That day, a day of tropical-storm force winds, wildfires appeared not only in Lahaina but also Upcountry in Kula/Pukalani plus Kihei/Pulehu.  While strong winds sent Lahaina’s fires directly to the sea, it was Saturday before Kihei/Pulehu was under control.  And to this day, ‘spot fires’ occasionally pop up in Upcountry due to underground roots still smoldering in the ground.

Fire destroyed the historic town of Lahaina and much of the surrounding area. Tragically, there are 100 people confirmed lost in the fire andothers are still missing, hopefully they will be found or identified. The loss of homes and businesses that were totally annihilated was and is tragic. One Lahaina symbol, the banyan tree, was charred and thought lost.

Losing Lahaina meant the loss of the ‘heart of Maui.’  The significance of the land went back to days of Hawaiian royalty and was the royal capital until 1845. The town held buildings, artifacts, and stories of the days of whaling, missionaries, pineapple and sugar plantations, and the growth of tourism. The tree, a gathering place for celebrations and commemorations, artist fairs, community events and so many memories, was burnt and blackened.

The immediate impact to not only Lahaina but also the greater Maui economy continues to impact Maui residents.  Homes and jobs were lost immediately, leaving hundreds of families homeless without income. Tourists were evacuated, with about 40,000 flown off the island in the next 3 days in an ‘airlift’ to Oahu and the mainland.  Rebuilding Maui’s economy will take time. Maui's people must rebuild while mourning many facets of loss.

Lahaina has become a symbol of rebirth.  The people of Maui are fighting to build the town back and not let it become a theme park or shopping mall for tourism but a live community symbolizing both respect for its history and its meaningfulness to the culture. The 150 year old banyan tree's new leaves has become a symbol: it is showing life in the face of incredible disaster.

This is why the Festival has chosen it as a symbol for our support for Maui's future.

"Already, they are starting to see improvements, but like Lahaina and its people, there is no quick solution. It will need a lot of help from many people and patience to grow stronger. So for the land, the trees, the ‘aina, and its Kanaka — its people, the work continues."
Hawaii News Now, 9-10-2023

We have chosen the Maui Strong Fund, directed by the Maui Community Foundation, as our charity of choice. It has taken the role of meeting immediate needs AND investing in Maui’s people for the long haul ahead.
All sales proceeds (plus donations) received will be sent to the reputable and respected non-profit organization Maui Strong Fund .

Background: A sample of news about the Maui tragedies:

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