KSM landscape change remains under close watch

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Photo by Kelsie Chong

Kamehameha Schools Maui groundskeepers work on one of many projects to establish xeriscaping in front of Keōpūolani Hale to help reduce water usage. The stage in front will be used for hula performances in the future.

By Kelsie Chong, features co-editor

PUKALANI – A few on-going landscaping projects around Kamehameha Schools Maui High School Campus have been going on this past school year to reduce maintenance and water usage.

Replanting in areas by the Charles Reed Bishop library, Pākī and Kōnia and the front parking lot is being monitored by Director of Operations Carl Alexander and other KSM groundkeepers.

Mr. Alexander said that the remodeling around campus has become more evident this school year than any other. The change in landscape, caught the attention of some KSM faculty.

“People do notice,” freshman teacher Kumu Lōkahi Antonio said. “I think that this is our school, and since this is our house, there’s no reason that we can’t help. Get us involved.”

Yellow hibiscuses that once bordered the curb along stalls in the front parking lot have been dug out due to “lots of maintenance,” groundskeeper Mr. Mike Fujimoto said.  “We plan to replace it with grass.”

Groundskeepers also began to replace the hibiscus this past year due to a disease, which has been destroying them. “They [the hibiscus plants] weren’t looking good,” Mr. Alexander said.

One of the current projects KSM groundkeepers recently finished had been implementing a xeriscaping landscape in front of the CRB.

“I know that certain plants were taking too much maintenance time, like the ones by the CRB…but I liked the native plants there,” said Hawaiian Language teacher Kumu Ululani Kepani.

Kumu Ulu said that she used the māmaki plant for tea and other native ferns for cooking in her class before they were all pulled out and replaced by rocks. “I do hope that they replant more of the native plants in the future,” she said.

Hana No’eau classes also used some plants for crafting fresh headpieces for the Ho’olaule’a and Spring Concert.

In some cases, the decision to eradicate the native plants could not be prevented. “Sometimes, you cannot help. So we try to just use what’s already here,” Fujimoto said.

There is “no reduction, but instead increase in Hawaiian plants,” Mr. Alexander said. He said there have been new additions of native plants. Groundskeepers planted kalo by Pauahilani and ‘uala on the back side of the office.

A current project is underway by Keōpūolani Hale, to convert grass into xeriscaping. It will help to meet the budget and to save water.

For now, there are no plans to remodel any other parts of the landscape on campus.

However, “If things present themselves to help the reduce amount of maintenance and water usage in the future, then we will do so,” Mr. Alexander said.