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On Maui, from a simple plant comes complex creations, and now you can learn how

On Maui, from a simple plant comes complex creations, and now you can learn how
For centuries, native Hawaiians have used leaves from the hala tree to create useful tools, baskets and fishing nets. The skills will be taught during an upcoming conference on Maui. (Aubrey Hord)

You may have never heard of the hala tree, but its leaves will be abundantly present at an upcoming weaving conference on Maui.

The flowering hala, also known as the Hawaiian screw pine, can take a decade or more to bear fruit, according to Native Plants Hawaii. It is drought tolerant and can grow in sandy soil, the website says.

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Native Hawaiians for centuries have found a multitude of uses for the hala tree. Besides the leaves being used for weaving, the seeds and fruits are used in leis. The fibers in the tree’s roots are used to make rope.

The tree’s long, slender leaves, which can reach as much as 6 feet, will be used to create objects as varied as bracelets, baskets and fishing nets during the inaugural Ola I Ka Pu Hala weaving conference Oct. 17-20 at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel on Maui’s West Shore.

The ancient art of hala weaving will feature some of Hawaii’s best-known practitioners during the four-day conference.

Master weaver Pohaku Kahoohanohano, who has apprenticed under seven mentors, will be the lead kumu (teacher).

Hala leaves can be woven into intricate patterns in products such as place mats and baskets.
Hala leaves can be woven into intricate patterns in products such as place mats and baskets. (Aubrey Hord)

The classes take skill levels into account. Beginners, for example, will learn how to make items such as bracelets and fans. People with intermediate skills will weave small baskets, place mats or perhaps a clutch purse. Those with advanced skills will tackle complex projects such as headgear and cup-and-saucer sets.

The four-day conference costs $350, which includes four lunches and one dinner. Lodging is not included.

For info and registration: Gayle Miyaguchi, (808) 667-0219 or gmiyaguchi@kbhmaui.com.

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