Holualoa’s Lauhala Weaving History

Lauhala woven hat
Lauhala hat

Holualoa is known for its art galleries, estate-grown coffee and, of course, the Holualoa Inn. But did you know that Holualoa has been a hub for lauhala weaving for generations?

Indeed, some of the state’s finest lauhala weavers come from Holualoa, including the legendary Aunty Elizabeth Maluihi Lee. Named a Living Treasure by the Office of Hawaiian affairs in 1993, Aunty Elizabeth has been at the forefront of perpetuating this quintessential Polynesian art. Holualoa is also the site of Kimura Lauhala Shop, established in 1914 and originally a place where weavers could trade their products for staple items. Today, the little shop at the junction still features the work of Kona-based weavers — everything from hats and purses to fans, boxes and bracelets — as well as the work of third-generation shop owner, Renee Kimura, an accomplished weaver.

Aunty Elizabeth Lee of Holualoa
Aunty Elizabeth Lee of Holualoa

In Old Hawaii, the leaves (lau) of the hala tree were used to create functional items like hats for working in the fields and baskets for picking coffee.  Leaves are collected dry, either from the ground or picked from the tree after they turn brown. It takes time to clean the leaves to make them pliable for weaving.

The abundance of hala trees in Kona made it a hotbed for lauhala weaving. As in year’s past, Kona continues to be the state’s prime destination for lauhala weavers. Weavers from throughout the state attend the annual weaving conference in Kona founded by Aunty Elizabeth Lee. There are also several Kona weaving clubs that teach the craft.

When staying at Holualoa Inn, be sure to visit Kimura Lauhala Shop, located just minutes from the Inn. Plan your romantic Hawaii vacation at our Kona bed and breakfast and let us assist you in arranging your island activities.

Innkeeper Holualoa Inn