Elected officials and community leaders joined together on Saturday, Sept. 30, at Puʻuhonua o Nēnē, a temporary shelter, to bless the newly established facility for Maui Wildfire survivors who were homeless pre-disaster.
Kahu Kanani Franco, Kahu for Kamehameha Schools Maui performed a blessing, while County of Maui Mayor Richard Bissen thanked Project Vision Hawai’i, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Transportation, and all of the organizations and volunteers who helped to make the project possible. Maui Council Member’s Yuki Lei Sugimura and Tasha Kama were also in attendance.
“DHS’s mission is for all people of Hawai’i to thrive. When the call to establish this shelter came in from Governor Green we immediately moved into action with our partners to provide this option as a safe place and shelter,” said DHS Deputy Director Joseph Campos II.
The site opened on Sept. 29, 2023 and began welcoming residents. Residents will continue to be transported to Pu’uhonua o Nēnē, or may arrive on their own. Pu’uhonua o Nēnē has a capacity of 150 residents.
“Less than a month ago, this was a grass field. It took an incredible effort from so many people to transform this empty space into a village and a community,” said Project Vision Executive Director Darrah Kauhane,” We will continue this strong partnership as we strengthen this community based on our Hawaiian values.”
Maui Medic Healers, Maui Rapid Responders, Na Kia’i O Maui, County of Maui, Hawai’i Department of Transportation, Mālama Mau Nui, Adaptive Maui and many others helped establish Pu’uhonua o Nēnē.
Noelani Ahia of the Maui Medic Healers Hui talked about the activities that are available for residents, “What they are going to gain here is community, what they are going to gain here is people to talk story with, people to play music with, movie night, art projects, ag, growing food and building our village.”