ʻOhana kōkua with Thanksgiving imu


Photo by Brianne Reformina

Staff from Puʻu Kukui Watershed, ʻohana and haumāna at Kamehameha Schools Maui prepare turkeys Wednesday night to put into nā imu behind Charles Reed Bishop Learning Center.

Kahu Kalani Wong and Pu’u Kukui Watershed director Pomaika’i Crozier headed up the annual Thanksgiving imu early Wednesday morning at Kamehameha Schools Maui, while students arrived for school.

The Thanksgiving imu cook turkeys for Kamehameha ‘ohana, and a portion of the imu is always set aside to prepare food to donate to select families.

In addition to bringing their own fixings, administration, students and faculty donated Thanksgiving goodies like stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy and rice to round out the meals.

“That was the whole point of the food drive,” Kahu Wong said.

Donated canned foods were packaged and given to families with a whole kalua turkey.

Haumāna and ‘ohana were invited to help, donate food and prepare it throughout Wednesday night until Thursday morning. The Kamehameha Maui groundskeeping crew also worked hard to make sure that the imu were dug out, loaded, uncovered, and refilled.

Everyone had a role, whether it was working directly with the imu, staging the food, or handing out and delivering the finished products.

Throughout Wednesday afternoon, people drove up to the Keōpūolani Hale parking lot and added to the donations that had been received beforehand.

After donation pick-ups, volunteers counted the turkeys in the high school dining hall and numbered them for each family.

All turkeys were hauled to nā imu where staff from Pu’u Kukui Watershed prepped the banana stumps and ti leaves.

The gas and rocks were then placed and moved around until a flat surface for the turkeys was made.

Uncle Pomaika’i directed everyone on putting the turkeys in the imu without any complications.

The first imu filled up quickly with each volunteer working hard on their parts.

“When we worked together, the imu filled quickly and perfectly,” Uncle Pomaika’i said.

Although there was some serious times, the atmosphere was mostly joyful during the tasks.

After each imu was filled, most volunteers and staff went home while a few stayed behind for the night.

“We have to make sure there aren’t any gas leaks because that means there’s air getting through,” Kahu Wong said.

If there is a gas leak, there’s a “crack” in the “pressure cooker” which means the turkeys aren’t cooking well.

A few haumāna stayed overnight with Kahu Wong, but thankfully, there weren’t complications.

Early Thursday morning, families drove in to pick up their cooked turkeys. The Thanksgiving imu was a success once again thanks to hard-working organizers, volunteers and lessons learned in previous years.