A Kaua’i Story

You may have noticed that we spent some time in Kaua’i lately. There has been a seemingly endless slideshow of magnificent landscapes bursting from our social media channels, gently blended with pictures of photographers hanging out car doors and super macro’s of various amphibious creatures. We have launched hashtags like #leocoulddronethis, #dawnpatrol and #renegadestyle, but what have we actually been up to in Hawai’i? Those islands don’t usually get snow, do they? Are we not an action sports production company? Do we not usually have at least ONE pro athlete hanging around, drinking our beer and making us look less attractive?

Not this time. Instead we teamed up with producer Josh Thome and the 4REAL team to create a documentary on sustainability, water quality and the future of Kaua’i. It will not come as a surprise to anyone that this island is one of the most beautiful places on earth, but it is also one of the most ecologically sensitive. The rain that falls on the mountains will end up in the creeks and rivers that are watering the farm lands, and the water that passes through these farms will eventually end up in the ocean, deciding if the coral reef live or die. For centuries, the Hawai’ian native population has known how to care for the lands and the water. This knowledge has been transferred over generations, leading to sustainable land management procedures, often referred to as ahupua`a. Traditionally, the ahupuaʻa most frequently consisted of a slice of an island that went from the top of the mountain all the way to the shore.

This type of land management has worked for the Hawai’ians for centuries and only recently have new, modern ways of farming been introduced in Kaua’i. Big corporations are performing heavy research on the island and are using extreme levels of pesticides to manage the lands. This might affect the water and the surrounding, traditional farms, but does it also affect the people and the culture of Kaua’i?

We went there to find out what kind of role water and ancient traditions play in the life of the people of Kauai today but ended up finding and learning a lot more than we expected. We got to capture ancient chants and stories about how the Hawai’ian ancestors set sail into unchartered waters. With the help of the sun, the stars, the winds, the fish and the birds, they were able to navigate safely and make their way across the ocean to end up on these islands. We would like to say that spiritual journeys took place, encouraging us to connect with and explore our own heritages. The people we met during this trip are the direct offspring of these native Hawai’ians and they still use this knowledge about the signs of nature to navigate their lives. One example of this is on the difficult topic on what sustainability really is and what each person can do to preserve our precious surroundings. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming and it can be difficult to see how a single individual could have the power to make a change. On this journey, we were once again reminded that it is up to each and every one to look at their own life and see what small or big part they can play to preserve this planet and its resources for generations to come.

For us, it was a true enlightenment to be inspired by the Hawai’i people’s way of balancing their relationships, also their relationship with nature. Our modern way of looking at life seems to so often circulate around how much it is possible to consume, rather than how much we are able to give back. If we could find a way to focus more on giving than taking, then everyone would always have fresh water to drink and enough food to feed their families.

As always when we have the honor to meet such knowledgeable, inspiring and humble people that we did on Kaua’i, we leave with an even deeper and stronger will to do what we can to preserve the unbelievable resources that the earth is presenting us with – clean water, fresh fish and healthy crops. In the Hawai’ian language the word for water is ”wai”. The word for being rich or wealthy is ”wai wai”. With that, we have had our minds officially blown and will hopefully be back again very soon.

Until you can see the full results of our trip, take a minute and read one of these articles to understand more of what is going on in Kaua’i:




  • Etienne P-c

    I`ve just returned from a 10 days journey on the island and I second the choice of your subject. Anyone traveling to this destination with a flight ticket and a backpack will be immersed into the reality of this subject, respectfully and ferociously defended by the local community. The world travelers are welcomed to this land of paradise and are invited to participate to the safeguard of the natives land. Signs like ”No GMO” are everywhere and the population is the reflection of the constant battle of the land against pesticides and chemicals used on the farms by the corporations. You have bio farms workers sharing their fear of seeing the GMO`s spreading and invading their crop. I`ve assisted to a local night where the present mayor was there and local people speaking their mind to defend the same wisdom against a man who is known for his ”Pro GMO” campaign. The world needs to know this story, and for this, I want to thank your team for putting together this adventure. I couldn`t have done it better than your team of artists and for that I am thankful.

  • Melba Toast

    OK. I’ve watched AINA three times now and want to compliment you on the films excellent aerial shots and macro shots. Truly top rate and makes me want to hire you for my next tourism video.

    Your story telling skills however needs some serious work. AINA comes across as a propaganda film. I’ve lived on and off in Kauai for over 5 years so I’m acquainted with the isle quite well; particularly the west side (I have a place in Waimea).

    The problem is you fail to balance your argument about pesticides or Monsanto/Dupont with interviews from the opposing viewpoint.

    A brief clip of 1940s DDT spraying and a story from 2006 with some Waimea kids (close up on their “sad eyes”) and no follow thru. You appear manipulative with deliberate glossing over of the facts.

    And what is your point exactly. That pesticides are “bad”? If so where are your stats about that? Pesticides have been a compelling factor in increasing agricultural productivity – not cancer. In fact Agro firms consistently argue that they want to feed the world. Again – you did not follow through on proving your point. Facts; not slow motion close ups make the case.

    And about the “4 major” Agro firms on Kauai – you failed to explain how exactly they got the rights to operate on Kauai. Did they buy the land? Did they lease it from the Sinclair or Robinson family (who own 80% of the island). Why didn’t you go after that angle? If the gov’t leased it to the agro-firm then take the vote to the people. It should be an easy evict if you put that on the ballot; or better yet tackle the issue of the selfishness of the Sinclairs and Robinsons.

    And if you truly “care” about Kauai – why on earth did you not mention that the US military is basically using Polihale (in the cliffs) as a storage facility for explosives. They have enough bombs tucked away to sink the island.

    Unfortunately this is the fatal flaw of AINA; it is a one sided viewpoint and that makes you two, Dave and Josh no different that the industrialists trying to pull a fast one over the public. Your intentions may be good but you fail to be fair.

    And one final comment which is a bit philosophical.

    AINA talks about Hawaiian “ancestors” and the importance of protecting that heritage. And you contrast that starkly with Agro industrialists killing the traditional “organic” heritage of true Kauai/ Hawaiʻi. Did you consider the irony that the first Polynesians arrived in Hawaiʻi in the 4th century from the Marquesas, and were followed by Tahitians in AD 1300, who then conquered the original inhabitants. We’re talking genocide (ie. Where are the Menhune?). All your nostalgia about preserving ancestral ways neglects to mention that murderous bloody Hawaiian heritage. And now your narrative is about gentle earth loving Hawaiian’s “battle” with the evil Agro firms. Perhaps you reap what you sow; it just takes a while. Now that would be a profound message.