KĀNEʻOHE, HAWAIʻI – Reforest Hawaiʻi and its property in the Kealakekua district of Hawaiʻi Island “Nani ʻEkolu” will be recognized at the Historic Hawaiʻi Foundation’s 2019 Preservation Honor Awards Ceremony. The Preservation Programmatic Award will be presented on Friday, May 31, 2019 at the YWCA Laniākea’s Fuller Hall in Downtown Honolulu.

As stated in the award letter: “Nani ʻEkolu is being recognized for its efforts to rehabilitate a lost forest landscape through restoration, conservation, and reforestation for the benefit of future generations…”

Reforest Hawaiʻi was created by Kanileʻa ʻUkulele founders Joe & Kristen Souza. They wanted to find a means to give back in a way that was both meaningful and in alignment with their values. “Our most important material, the wood to build our koa masterpieces, comes from the ʻāina…the land,” says master luthier Joe Souza, “so giving back to the ʻāina just makes sense.” In 2014, the Souzas acquired 96 acres of land in the Kealakekua district of Hawaiʻi Island. Then in 2016, they made the commitment that for every Kanileʻa built, a koa tree is planted. These trees are protected, maintained and allowed to flourish without threat of clear cutting or invasive species.

The Historic Hawaiʻi Foundation also acknowledged the Souzas for their dedication to Hawaiian music and culture. The award letter went on to state: “This award also recognizes your efforts to connect ʻukulele musicians and composers with the land, contributing to the perpetuation of Hawaiian music as a cultural tradition. We congratulate you on your exemplary preservation efforts.” This comment refers to the Ola Ka ʻĀina CD project which is comprised of 13 original compositions gifted by award-winning artists for the purpose of restoring Hawaiʻi’s native forests. Ola Ka ʻĀina has made the final ballot for the 2019 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards for Compilation Album and Instrumental Composition.

Tickets for the 45th annual Preservation Honor Awards are available online at For more info, call (808) 523-3900.


About Reforest Hawaiʻi:
“Ola ka ʻĀina, ola ke Kānaka.” When the Land lives, the People live.

Based on this ʻōlelo noʻeau (wise saying), the mission of Reforest Hawaiʻi is to plant endemic Hawaiian plants and trees that will live out their lives in a native Hawaiian forest. The overall goal is to encourage others to help revive, replenish, restore, reconnect, and reaffirm people with the native Hawaiian forests by reforesting with endemic Hawaiian plants and trees. They offer individuals and groups the opportunity to sponsor endemic plants and trees that will never be cut or harvested.

Each plant and tree will receive GPS coordinates that will allow the sponsor to locate their tree on Hawaiʻi Island.

WHY DOES HAWAIʻI NEED OUR HELP? The Hawaiian Islands have lost about 90% of their endemic rain forests over the past 100 years. The Koa tree is a nitrogen rich species that provides nutrients for all other endemic under-story plants in the rain forest. The Koa is a keystone species that provides food and habitat for Hawaiʻi’s native insect and plant species. Endemic trees of Hawaiʻi protect the watershed of the ecosystem and combat erosion of the forest floor. For more information or to sponsor a tree, please visit


About the Ola Ka ʻĀina CD Project:
Never before heard music by Willie K., Kapena, Ben & Maila, Kenneth Makuakāne and more can be found on this full-length album. All proceeds from album sales go to Saving Hawaiʻi’s Forests, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to planting endemic Hawaiian plants and trees that will live out their lives in a native Hawaiian forest.

 Ola Ka ʻĀina is available in hard copy with a full-color booklet including lyrics and translations. Copies can be obtained at Kanileʻa ʻUkulele in Kāneʻohe or online via Digital downloads can also be purchased via and through other digital channels such as iTunes, Spotify and CD Baby.


About Kanileʻa ʻUkulele:
Husband-wife team Joe and Kristen Souza founded Kanileʻa ʻUkulele in July of 1998. Joe apprenticed under master luthier, the late Peter Bermodez, learning “uncle Pete’s” traditional Hawaiian building techniques while working to integrate today’s 21st century technologies. This mash up of old and new has proven effective in creating a full-bodied, rich sound that is distinctive of these playable masterpieces. All Kanileʻa instruments are handcrafted in the Souzas’ hometown of Kāneʻohe, Hawaiʻi. While Joe concentrates on design and training, Kristen oversees administrative operations, retail sales and dealer support. Together, the Souzas employ a team of expert artisans, retail salespeople and admin staff members.

Kanileʻa ʻukulele are available worldwide through authorized dealers and directly from the factory. For more details or to meet the team on a free Kanileʻa tour, call (808) 234-2868 or visit



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