kiaʻi = protector

This series of original designs is inspired and dedicated to our kuleana (responsibility and privilege) to be protectors of and stewards for nature and our communities. First in the collection is Pilina Wai.

No product


A note from Iris …

A few years back, I was hiking with a long-time friend visiting from Oʻahu. As college friends and hula dancers, we never run out of things to talk about. After many tangents, he told me of his decision to go back to school to become a farmer. The more he spoke about his aspirations, the more excited (and intrigued) I became.


A few days after my friend returned home, I did some research online and discovered The Kohala Center - a wonderful non-profit organization on Hawaiʻi island doing important work and providing much needed support (especially due to the pandemic) for local farmers, gardeners and food producers.


“Founded in the year 2000, The Kohala Center is an independent research, education, and ‘āina stewardship non-profit for healthier ecosystems. We turn ancestral knowledge and research into action to improve the conditions that lead to stronger relationships with our place, water, food, and people.” (from 


One of their many important programs is the Kohala Watershed Stewardship. “Our Kohala Watershed Stewardship program is dedicated to restoring and protecting the native forested watersheds of Kohala Mountain. . . These actions ensure that both native ecosystems and human communities in North Hawaiʻi have an abundant supply of fresh water, and protect downslope coastal ecosystems from the detrimental effects of land-based pollution.”


We also enthusiastically applaud this organization for educating food producers to utilize native, sustainable farming techniques while also incorporating practical Western knowledge systems. Check out their Ōhāhā Mahi ‘Ai Agricultural Training and Education Program, dedicated to “training new farming families on Hawai‘i Island and inspiring island youth to consider careers in agriculture.” 


We acknowledge the pilina (connection) to life-giving wai (water) and that we must protect the health of all the systems that affect it. In appreciation and support for The Kohala Center, our environment, and Hawaiian farmers like my friend, we will make a donation from sales of our Kiaʻi Series Pilina Wai T-shirt, as well as from the following original items, to this important organization: