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Bess Press - Rainforest Puʻuhonua

Kahikāhealani Wight grew up in a time when Honolulu society did not value Hawaiian language, culture, or landscape. Like so many post-colonial indigenous populations, Hawaiians internalized the feeling of inferiority. Kahi’s Hawaiian father always emphasized learning Western ways and would not directly teach his daughter about their genealogical roots, although he couldn’t help but transmit to her his indigenous sensibilities and wisdom. Her New England mother, like most parents at that time, discouraged her daughter’s interest in her Hawaiian heritage.

Kahi grew up conflicted. She loved Hawaiian stories and songs and wanted to learn Hawaiian language and connection to the natural world, but she was discouraged from doing so. Then, in the 1980s, she bought a cottage near the erupting summit of Kīlauea in a native rainforest in Volcano village on Hawaiʻi Island, and lived there for five years.

Rainforest Puʻuhonua is her eloquent and moving memoir of those years of awakening. She found puʻuhonua—sanctuary, refuge—in the endangered Hawaiian rainforest ecosystem, and she shares with us the feeling of being in a landscape alive with ancestral voices singing through mist and fire, native birds and insects, plants and ferns. Discovering the fullness of herself in these sacred uplands, Kahi Wight inspires us to find our own healing places, to connect more fully with the intuitive knowing that springs out of ancient awareness embedded in our land, and continues to be chanted on the wind. Kahikāhealani Wight’s rhythmic prose along with 62 exquisite paintings and photos by local artists, convey the depth and magic of the Hawaiian rainforest and bring the ancestral songs to life.


  • Trade paperback original
  • Color, 230 pp

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