Honolulu Wetland Revival Project

While downtown Honolulu is rich in artistic and cultural diversity, it is lacking in the biological diversity and native species that make Hawai’i unique. We cannot reintroduce swamps and wetlands to this city that was once a series of taro lo'i, but we can pay homage to the creatures that were displaced and are starkly absent in Hawai'i’s urban centers.

The Honolulu Wetland Revival Project (HWRP) is an ongoing series of integrated small-scale murals on Pauahi street in Chinatown depicting native wetland birds and plants that might have existed in this very location. My goal for this project is to seamlessly integrate native species into an urban setting, and set up a starting point to build conversation around endangered species conservation, and the ongoing displacement and loss of native species in Hawai'i.

Thus far, two Koloa maoli (Hawaiian duck) have been painted at Scarlet Honolulu on the end of Pauahi street as well as the 5 planters and 4 concrete pillars on the intersection of Pauahi street and Nuuanu avenue. All 5 endangered Hawaiian waterbirds have been represented including the aforementioned Koloa maoli (Hawaiian Duck), Alae' ula (Hawaiian Moorhen, ), Nene (Hawaiian Goose, ), Ae'o (Hawaiian Stilt), and 'Alae ke'oke'o (Hawaiian Coot) as well as an assemblage of native plant species such as Makaloa (Cyperus laevigatus) and Akaakai (Schoenoplectella tabernae-montani).

The project was originally proposed to Hawaii FEAST, and at their first event in June 2017, the HWRP was selected by members of the community to receive its initial funding. Later, the project was extended with additional funding from SSFM International and Arts at Marks. This project is currently ongoing, with more murals planned pending additional funding and permissions. After project completion, small booklets will be printed featuring a 'species checklist' so that residents and visitors to downtown Honolulu can be naturalists for a day by learning about the natural history of Hawaii, its wetland ecology, and species conservation.