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Extra care goes into Iao Valley grounds

Volunteer Ali Pate cleans around the base of the hale Saturday. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

WAILUKU — Maui Native Hawaiian Club members and volunteers worked on the grounds surrounding the foundation of the Hawaiian Hale at Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens in Iao Valley on Saturday morning.

Members said the former hale was destroyed last month, apparently by a copper thief or thieves who knocked down the aging structure made of ohia wood and palm fronds to steal the copper pipes used for the building’s fire suppression system.

“The day I came up and it was pushed over was heartbreaking,” said club founder Joe Franco. “It’s not like it fell. It was gut-wrenching.”

Franco said the club has always focused its mission on caring for the grounds around the hale by cleaning, maintaining and preserving the plants and gardens.

He added that the club does not have a stated position on what the future of the hale structure should be. He said the decisions on whether to rebuild the hale, or what to build, are up to members of the nearby community and the County of Maui.

Volunteer Layla Sheikh takes a selfie with Maui Native Hawaiian Club member Kahala Maui on Saturday morning. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Franco said the club meets every Saturday morning and volunteers are welcome. Volunteers must sign a waiver before going to work.

Volunteers care for grounds surrounding former Hawaiian Hale at Iao Valley. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

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