Our Ohana


The mission of Kahua Pa‘a Mua is to enhance communities through economic, conservation/preservation, social and educational programs for youth and adults.


Kahua Pa‘a Mua is a 501-c-3 based in North Kohala. Kahua Pa‘a Mua was originally formed in order to assume and expand upon the work of the Palili ‘O Kohala project—an economic development project based upon the production of value added products from taro.

Palili ‘O Kohala project founder and mentor David Fuertes and his wife Carolyn Fuertes—both with over 30 years of community service in North Kohala in agricultural, economic development and youth mentorship—initiated the formation of the non-profit Kahua Pa‘a Mua for the benefit of the community.

Kahua Pa‘a Mua—Board of Directors

Kahua Paa Mua is managed by a highly qualified Board of Directors from diverse backgrounds:

John Hirota, President
Retired Land Manager & Public Relations Director
Wailua Sugar Company

Alexa Tim, Vice President
Product Group Manager, Honsador Lumber

Robert Lindsey, Director
Trustee, Office of Hawaiian Affairs

David Shiigi, Board Member
Owner, Bromeliads Hawaii, LLC

Kealoha Sugiyama, Board Member
Kahu, Hawaii Weddings and Blessings

Kahua P‘aa Mua—Staff

DavidDavid Fuertes, Executive Director
David Fuertes is the “grandfather” of agriculture in North Kohala. David served 30 years in the Hawaii State Department of Education teaching Agriculture, Career Technical Education and was the West Hawaii District Resource Teacher, and State FFA Executive Secretary. Currently Mr. Fuertes serves as Chairperson for the State’s Department of Business Economic Development and Tourisms’ (DBEDT) Community Based Economic Development Board and serves on numerous County, State, and Federal boards and commissions. Mr. Fuertes is a former Hawaii County Deputy Managing Director, and has served as the Hilo/Hamakua Community Liaison for the revitalization of plantation communities for State’s DBEDT.

Mr. Fuertes is a part-time rancher, Hawaiian saddle-maker, and advocate for increased food self-sufficiency statewide. David is certified in Natural Farming and has been growing taro for the last 10 years. Mr. Fuertes has successfully executed numerous programs, events and educational activities in his 30+ years of community service in North Kohala.  His particular passion is working with families and youth in entrepreneurial development programs.

He is currently the Program Director for Ka Hana No‘eau, an innovative youth mentoring program that melds traditional knowledge with contemporary methodologies.

Carol Fuertes, Secretary
Recently retired, Ms. Fuertes was employed at the Kohala Dental Center for the past 32 years as Business Manager where she was responsible for all aspects of office management including, but not limited to:  Accounts Receivables, Accounts Payables, Staff Payroll, Business Taxes and General Office Duties. She is proficient in QuickBooks Business and QuickBooks Payroll systems. Ms. Fuertes was responsible for patient billings and collection (with experience filing collections in the Small Claims Court system); audits of patient’s accounts, insurance billing and payments, and all financial matters.

Mrs. Fuertes served as Project Assistant and Bookkeeper for the Community Harvest Hawaii project, funded by the Island Innovation Fund of the Hawaii Community Foundation. Carol was also responsible for bookkeeping and reporting for the Natural Farming Educational Training grant through the Hawaii Community College at Hilo and the Hawaii State Department of Labor. Mrs. Fuertes was also responsible for the fiscal management and reporting of the Noho Lio program, an educational program brought into Laupahoehoe, Konawaena, & Kohala High Schools and funded by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.


Current Sponsors

County of Hawai‘i, County Council
Hawai‘i Community Foundation
Hau'oli Mau loa
Dorrance Family Foundation
Honsador Lumber

Past Sponsors

Local Initiatives Fund-RSF Social Finance
Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaii Tourism Authority-Living Hawaiian Culture Program
County of Hawai‘i-Department of Research and Development

Community Partners

Hawai‘i FFA Foundation
North Kohala Eat Locally Grown
Laulima Center for Rural and Cooperative Development at the Kohala Center
Chris Trump
Jim Cain, King Laulau Poi Company