DTF Awards

Nov 2019- EAGLE PROJECT by Shion Ward


Sierra Club honorees saved land and water

Lifetime achievement awards handed out to four Mauians

Maui News 2/25/19

Marti Townsend (from left), director of the Sierra Club of Hawaii, presents the Ed Stevens Award for Lifetime Achievement to Art Medeiros, alongside Annette Kaohelaulii, former chairwoman of Sierra Club of Hawaii, and Lucienne De Naie, conservation chairwoman of the Sierra Club Maui Group. Medeiros was among nine Maui residents recognized for their conservation efforts at the Sierra Club’s annual meeting on Sunday. The Maui News / COLLEEN UECHI photo

PAIA — Conservationists who have brought back the forests, saved land from developments, worked on Kahoolawe and restored water to streams were honored Sunday by the Sierra Club Maui Group.

Art Medeiros received the Ed Stevens Lifetime Achievement Award from the statewide chapter of the Sierra Club. Martha Vockrodt-Moran, Tony Ramil and Burt Sakata received Onipa’a awards from the Maui chapter for a lifetime of conservation efforts.

Vernon Kalanikau, Koa Hewahewa, Elle Cochran, Hokuao Pellegrino and Lele Simon received the club’s yearly awards for their efforts to protect the island’s natural resources.

For many awardees, the fruits of their labor have been a long time coming. Medeiros, founder of the Auwahi Forest Restoration Project, recalled how the leeward slopes of Haleakala were “a tree museum,” basically dead, when he first started the project two decades ago.

Medeiros wanted to bring back the understory around the trees. He thought nobody would care. But volunteers started to show up, and the forest took shape. From 1997 to 2012, native shrub cover increased from 3 percent to 82 percent.

Martha Vockrodt-Moran (left), who runs the arboretum at Pu‘u Mahoe started by her grandfather David Fleming, accepts the Onipa‘a award for lifetime achievement alongside Lucienne De Naie, conservation chairwoman of the Sierra Club Maui Group. The Maui News / COLLEEN UECHI photo

“To me, the main thing is that the babies (of the trees) started coming back,” Medeiros said. “That’s the thing that could make me cry as a biologist.”

Now when he takes people hiking through the area, there’s a noticeable difference between the hot, dry brush and the cool confines of the restored dryland forest.

“When people care, it’s almost like nature meets you halfway,” Medeiros said.

Ramil is another longtime conservationist, Sierra Club member and avid hiker who used to trek from Kihei to Central Maui “just to see what you could see,” Sierra Club conservation chairwoman Lucienne De Naie recalled. Ramil raised awareness of history and environment, authoring a book on Maui County’s history that’s now out of print. He also advocated to make Makena into a state park and was among the first group of civilians to spend time on Kahoolawe.

“When I look at this award, I will remember these people,” Ramil said, mentioning Emmett Aluli, Hokulani Padilla, Mary Evanson and many others.

Burt Sakata, the first president of Hui o Na Wai ‘Eha, speaks after receiving his Onipa‘a award for lifetime achievement. The Maui News / COLLEEN UECHI photo

Like Medeiros, Vockrodt-Moran and Hewahewa also were honored for their plant and forest restoration efforts.

Vockrodt-Moran runs the D.T. Fleming Arboretum at Pu’u Mahoe, a haven for dozens of rare and endangered plant species. Her grandfather, David Fleming, first had the vision back in the 1950s to set aside the area for conservation.

“Any award to me is an award to my grandfather and all our volunteers,” Vockrodt-Moran said.

She recalled how her family would hold “famous turkey lunches” for the 50 to 60 volunteers who came to the arboretum every six months to help clear the land. When Vockrodt-Moran inherited the place from her parents, she focused on plant propagation and seed collection with some very rare trees in danger of dying out.

Hewahewa, meanwhile, is the director of forestry operations for Hokunui Maui, a land management group working to develop 258 acres in Piiholo into a regenerative farming community. Hewahewa and his family are native reforestation experts working to grow canoe crops and native trees on the property.

Tony Ramil, a longtime Sierra Club member, said his Onipa‘a award would remind him of the people he spent time with during efforts to restore Kahoolawe. The Maui News / COLLEEN UECHI photo

Hewahewa said he just lost “my last kupuna” last week, and that the award honored them. He said his mission is to provide opportunities for his keiki in the future.

“Because we cannot keep training our kids to aloha aina and malama the wai if they don’t have that opportunity,” he said.

Other awardees have advocated for the island’s water resources. Sakata was the first president of Hui o Na Wai ‘Eha and helped grow the fledgling organization into a successful effort to restore “the four great waters” of Central Maui.

A kalo farmer from Waihee, Sakata is also known for his work on Kahoolawe and for intervening on plans for a golf course that instead became the Waihe’e Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge under the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust.

“When I intervened in Waihee, I never thought it would take nine years,” Sakata said. “You just got to get in there and just do what you can. Even if you lose, you put it on record, because that could serve you or somebody in the future. So, very important to testify and put things on the record.”

Sakata’s eventual successor was Pellegrino, the current president of Hui o Na Wai ‘Eha, whom De Naie called “a shining example” of the Hawaiian immersion education system. Pellegrino, winner of the Ola I Ka Wai award, has been instrumental in “the last leg” of efforts to restore the streams, De Naie said.

Pellegrino said that his great-grandfather four generations back, Na’ili’ili Kane, was one of the last konohiki of the Wailuku ahupua’a.

“The work that I do day in and day out, whether it’s my full-time job or work at our farm or the work with our hui, he always is at the forefront of my mind and the work that I’ve done,” Pellegrino said. “In addition to that is my own parents that have really reared me with the values to aloha everybody.”

Cochran, the former County Council member from West Maui, also was honored with the Malama Kahakai award for being a “true champion of our oceans and waters.” Cochran recalled how her efforts to save Honolua Bay from development launched her career into politics.

“Sierra Club also has been there from Day 1, from when I started running for office, getting into office,” she said. “(They) believed in me and what I stood for and where my heart, soul and passion was involved.”

Cochran, who gave up her council seat to run for mayor last year and eventually lost to Michael Victorino, said it’s been “very eye-opening” from the outside looking in, and that she’s trying to get more educated and testify on issues at the state Legislature. She’s also been staying busy with Waiola Church and is interested in maybe leading out a pilot program for tiny homes in West Maui. Much of her time these days is spent caring for her 93-year-old mother, whom she called “the foundation I stand upon.”

Other awardees spread awareness and education. Kalanikau, the po’o of the Aha Moku Council for Kula Kai, received the Malama ‘Aina award for his recent efforts to install signs in South Maui educating people on the ahupua’a, or land division system, in the area. Kalanikau worked with Council Chairwoman Kelly King and the Kihei Community Association to install the first sign in October.

De Naie said that Kalanikau is also the person that residents in the area come to when they see activity that seems out of place or that might impact the environment.

“It’s hard to keep up,” Kalanikau said. “You think you got two issues down this week, and then come Friday get five more. We got a lot of action going on in our moku. We try to take care of what’s in our moku, and everybody else should do the same thing.”

Meanwhile, Simon received the Aloha ‘Aina Award for founding the Malamalama Maui Project, inspired by the ongoing transition of 36,000 acres of former sugar cane land. The project aims to collect “36,000 wishes, creative visions and proactive solutions, straight from the heart of the people of Maui, and beyond.”

Simon, who raises awareness through art and song, said that it was “a little bit awkward” to accept the award because she grew up watching her mother advocate for the community and never expect recognition in return.

“I used to think that if people would just know Hawaiian culture . . . we wouldn’t experience the issues we have with our aina right now,” Simon said. “I thought it was that simple. But actually, I learned over the last two years, it’s not that simple anymore.”


2017 Eagle Project completed at the Fleming Arboretum

2017 sept -Julian Askov for MN Eagle Proj -CeremonyLR PDF

Eagle Scout Celebration at the Fleming Arboretum

“With the importance of Pu’u Mahoe & the Fleming Arboretum is the importance of Aolama’s Eagle Project” stated David Moran Arboretum Project Manager.” Aolama’s project has progressed Pu’u Mahoe.” Please click Aolama’s picture to read this entire story



Click to enlarge


July 20, 2011

Maui’s D.T. Fleming Arboretum Honored by Prestigious Awards 

from left: Heidi Bornhorst (Scenic Hawaii director), James Hunt Fleming (grandson of D.T. Fleming) and wife Joan Fleming receiving Awards

Scenic Hawaii presented the 9th annual Betty Crocker Landscape Awards June 27, 2011 at the Outrigger Canoe Club on Oahu. The awards are held annually to recognize and acknowledge those promoting and preserving the beauty of Hawai’i. Top honors of the evening went to The D.T. Fleming Arboretum at Pu’u Mahoe earning the prestigious Scenic Hawaii’s Legacy Award for preserving historical and cultural resources. In addition, the Fleming Arboretum was given the 2011 Betty Crocker Award of Excellence in the Community Garden division “for preserving and promoting Hawaii’s beauty”. Two other Maui landscapes were recognized: the Maui Nui Botanical Garden and the Wallace G. Sanford Memorial Garden, with an Award of Honor.


2010 Volunteer of the Year Award

2010 Fleming Arboretum Photo Awards

To students of Kamehameha Schools Maui

First Place

Rachel Bega -Grade 11
Second Place

Tyler Akaka -Grade 12
Third Place

Kali Sanico -Grade 12
Arboretum Choice Award

Taylor Harris -Grade 11


Rodney Calasa

In 2009, Rodney Calasa volunteered weekly “animal control” services to eradicate feral pigs and deer at Pu’u Mahoe. A total of 21 animals were eradicated humanely in 2009 with a high powered rifle and skilled marksmanship.

The deer meat was smoked for popular deer jerky, and pig used for imu- a Hawaiian style ground oven lined with hot rocks and ti leaves. Fresh organic meat fed family and friends during poor economic times, while Pu’u Mahoe was spared further damage.
Click here for award announcement

December 2008

Friends of D.T. Fleming Arboretum2008 VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR AWARDGOES TO:


Stephanie is leader of the Maui Nui Gardens Weed & Pot Club AND Volunteer organizer for The Native Hawaiian Plant Society.

In 2008, both groups, under the organization of Stephanie, performed valuable volunteer hours at the Fleming Arboretum.

Mahalo Stephanie, the Weed & Pot Club and the Native Hawaiian Plant Society.

November 2008

2008 Calendar Photo of Maggi Moran

Maggi Moran was chosen Miss November for the 2008 Maui Humane Society Calendar.

Photogenic Maggi was also chosen for the 2006 MHS Calendar’

August 2008

The D.T.Fleming Arboretum Receives
2008 Keep It Hawai’i Award

Fleming Arboretum Received the 2008 Keep It Hawai’i -Lehua Maka Noe Award “for demonstrating a commitment to the growth and development of Hawaiian Culture.”

The Pu’u Mahoe Arboretum was established over 55 years ago to impede the unrelenting destruction of native plant species. Today, the arboretum has become a statewide seed bank for rare native species. Through the tireless dedication of Martha Vockrodt-Moran and the Friends of Fleming Arboretum, many Native Hawaiian plant species are not only being preserved but also propagated. Preservation of these Native Hawaiian plants allows visitors and kama’aina of all ages to become educated and see firsthand the commitment and necessity for preserving the native plants of Hawai’i.

Conservation and educational projects at the Fleming Arboretum work to preserve and perpetuate Hawai’i’s cultural and natural resources, providing a unique and enriching experience for the Hawaiian community, students and Hawai’i’s visitors.
Cousins Jim and Joanie Fleming from Kailua, Oahu attended the ceremony on Oahu to receive the engraved plaque.

December 2007

FOFA 2007 Volunteer of the Year Award goes to … Ernest Rezents. Ernest, a registered consulting horticulturist, has generously donated his time regularly for the last five years, contributing to the health of the Fleming Arboretum.

November 26, 2006

The Maui Invasive Species 2007 Award goes to … Friends of the D.T. Fleming Arboretum with acknowledgment to David and Martha Moran. The Hawaiian Islands are under siege by an infestation of invasive species that continue to find their way to our shores. Our efforts are ongoing. (L-R) Susie Mastroianni, Teya Penniman, Martha & David Moran, and Kuhea Paracuelles. 

October 2006

Kamehameha School Art Students Receive Awards.   Click here

August 2006

Elliot Cost’s Award-winning Film of the D.T. Fleming Arboretum to Be Shown WorldwideIn May Elliot won the Maui County short film/documentary award for his video about the D.T. Fleming Arboretum. His winning entry represented Maui at the Sister Cities International Competition in Washington, D.C. His video was selected as one of the 14 entries to be shown nationally

May 2006

FOFA Board Member Receives Outdoor Circle Award

The Outdoor Circle Beautification Award for all Hawaiian Islands was awarded to Ernest H Rezents of Makawao, Maui. Ernest Rezents is responsible for the planting of a one mile stretch of 74 trees along Hana Highway.

Over a 7 year process, Rezents applied for grants,solicited donations and coaxed this project through various local bureaucracies and businesses. Irrigation was installed, holes dug, mulch delivered. On July 28, 2002 the trees were planted.100 volunteers helped with the planting. These trees line the highway to Maui’s main town of Kahului. Althogh many people and groups helped Ernest with this project, the new corridor of trees lining Hana Highway was his creation and management. Ernest Rezents is a well-known and respected horticulturalist.He is Agricultural Professor Emeritus of U of Hawaii/MCC on Maui. He is a registered consulting horticulturist and Certified Arborist.He is Maui’s instructor for Arborist Certification. He is on the board of the County of Maui Arborist Committee and the Friends of the DT Fleming Arboretum.

Installation: 34 Monkeypods, 23 Royal Poinciana and 17 Kukui Trees are planted along a one-mile stretch of highway. The irrigation system consists of a burried irrigation pvc line, drip tubing encircling each tree and a battery timer -giving the trees weekly watering.

Overall Asthetics: This once barron corridor of highway now is lined with trees. The Poinsianna are about 5 to 6 feet tall now; the Monkey pods and Kukui Nuts 8 to 10 feet Maui Highways are nowhere near the landscaping of Oahu. What is barron normally stays barron. Trees ripped out for highway expansion are not normally replaced. It took an outstanding citizen, Ernest Rezents, to step forward and create a tree-lined boulevard to someday be a shady spreading canopy.

Community Value: Ernest Rezents created, designed organized and planted the highway with trees that are appreciated by many every morning on the way to work. It is a pleasure to watch these trees grow. Ernest Rezent’s selfless wish to beautify Maui.

November 20, 2005

Martha Vockrodt-Moran received the 2nd annual Malama Kula Award
from the Kula Community Association for her work to help save the rare Alani.

August 20, 2005

Celebrating the 100th Year Anniversary of Maui County, D.T. Fleming is awarded “Citizen of the Century” at the Centenial Celebration. One hundred citizens were chosen for this honor. who made a difference since 1905.

Click here for the nomination of David Thomas Fleming


December 31, 2004

Anna Palomino of Hoolawa Farms is selected by The Maui News as one of the “People Who Made a Difference in 2004.” Hoolawa Farms is one of our main nurseries for propagating Arboretums seeds.

November 12 , 2004

Martha Vockrodt-Moran is named the honorary chairperson of Arbor Week by the by the Maui Arborist Committee for her work at D.T. Fleming Arboretum. 

October 25 , 2004

Retired professor Ernie Rezents is honored by Maui Outdoor Circle (see below)
Retired Maui Community professor Ernie Rezents was honored by the Maui Outdoor Circle on Saturday afternoon when a shower tree was planted in his honor at Rainjbow Park in Paia. Rezents was singled out for his longtime efforts on behalf of Maui’s trees, particularly the recent tree-planting project along Hana Highway in Kahului. “I’ve planted many trees, but this is the first tree planted in my honor,” Rezents said.

An Alani seedling at the Ulupalakua Agricultural Fair 2003 won First Place for “rare and unusual.” The Alani seedling was displayed amongst the remains of an Ohia tree draped with a 10-foot lei, 5 inches thick, of flowers and foliage of the dryland forest from the Fleming Arboretum, a memorial to Auwahi and its past.
Historic Hawaii Foundation honored Jack and Euphence Vockrodt with the Historic Preservation Award of 2000-2001 for their 45 years of devotion to the preservation of the D.T. Fleming Arboretum.

Hula Halau under Ka Imi Na’auao O Hawaii Nei performed the opening ceremony August 30th, 2003 for the exhibit of endangered plants native to Hawaii at the U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory in Washington, D.C. The Fleming Arboretum provided sacrimonial specimens of native species for the offering to the altar

Fleming Arboretum won 3rd place in the Floral Competition at the Ulupalakua Ag Fair 2001… using native flowers, seeds and foliage from the Arboretum. It was arranged in a coconut-frond basket made by Caird Kidston of Kihei, Maui, on a tapa place mat with matching place settings.