Our Ohana


The mission of Kahua Pa‘a Mua, a public charity is to enhance communities through economic, conservation/preservation, social and educational programs for youth and adults.  Hawaiian meaning of Kahua Pa’a Mua, “to build a strong foundation”


Kahua Pa‘a Mua, Inc. is a 501-c-3 non profit organized in 2010, based in North Kohala. Kahua Pa‘a Mua was originally formed to assume and expand upon the work of the Palili ‘O Kohala Cooperative project—an economic development project based upon the production of value added products from taro.  Since then, it’s expanded projects are based in Korean Natural Farming methodologies for education, farm tours, allowing students and organizations with hands on experiences on the farm in Crops, Animal husbandry and the process of making NF Inputs.

Project founder and mentor David Fuertes and his wife Carol Fuertes—both with over 40 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, Inc. 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/

Retired Hawaiian Airlines Public Relations Trainer

Kahn Pa’a Mua—Staff

David 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, was the West Hawaii District Resource Teacher, and State FFA Executive Secretary. Mr. Fuertes has also served as Chairperson for the State’s Department of Business Economic Development and Tourisms’ (DBEDT) Community Based Economic Development Board.  He has served on numerous County, State, and Federal boards and commissions including 8 years with the State Board of Agriculture.   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.  His Agriculture experiences are extensive and has gone through Korean Natural Farming Certification with Master Cho of Korea and taken 3 follow up training including a site visit to South Korea.

Mr. Fuertes is a part-time rancher, Hawaiian saddle-maker, and advocate for increased food self-sufficiency statewide. Mr. Fuertes has successfully executed numerous programs, events and educational activities in his 40+ 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 of Ho’okahua ‘Ai Youth Mentorship with grant funding from Hau’oli Mau Loa Foundation,  an innovative youth mentoring program that melds traditional knowledge with contemporary methodologies.

Carol Fuertes, Officer Secretary/ Treasurer

Retired,  Mrs. Fuertes was employed at the Kohala Dental Center for 32 years as Business Manager where she was responsible for all aspects of office management, accounts receivables, accounts payables, payroll, business taxes and general office duties. She is proficient in QuickBooks Business and QuickBooks Payroll systems.

Currently she is a Grants financial administrator – administering funding from KPM’s many projects and coordination of budgets.  She is a grant writer, reporting logistics and human resource coordinator for Kahua Pa’a Mua.

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.  She 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. Earlier in grant funding, she served as 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.

Meet our Mentors

Leslie Nugent, Korean Natural Farming 

Currently the Associate Director at North Kohala Community Resource Center where she supports successful project development for the community. As a Mentor she has applied her training of Korean Natural Farming to Ho’okahua ‘Ai Mentorship Program. She plans and implements farm-based curriculum focused on the practical use of Korean Natural Farming methods to raise healthy animals and crops. Leslie’s extensive training also includes understanding microbes in the soil which she brings to our youth in a way that they can apply to their agricultural skills. Leslie has also worked closely with North Kohala Eat Locally Grown who is an advocate to our community goal of being self sufficient. 

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