Sharing Memories of Our Friend Ali‘i

Posted on Apr 15, 2011 in News | 5 Comments

Ali‘i picking lavenderA beloved leader of Hawaii’s Agriculture passed peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday, April 13, 2011. Ali‘i Arlington Chang is truly missed but always in our hearts.

A “Celebration of Life” will be held on Saturday, July 9, 2011 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Ali‘i Kula Lavender. Details about the event and the Ali‘i Chang Foundation can be found at the Sustainable Aloha blog.

“I got to know Ali`i when he started the lavender farm just up the road from me. I will remember him with his friendly smile and always making sure everyone was happy with his ‘easy going’ attitude. We have lost a member of our Farm Bureau family not just on Maui but across the state. When it came to Farm Bureau, he always told me ‘Whatever you need, let me know.’ ” Warren Watanabe, Executive Director, Maui County Farm Bureau

Ali‘i giving a tour of the Ali‘i Kula Lavender farm“Thereʻs so much I loved about this great man. At the top of my list is his kind and loving spirit and the honest and kolohe (rascal) way he passed on information and interacted with locals and visitors that always made people feel welcomed.

You know, he was all about hospitality and making sure people were happy and comfortable. Thatʻs totally the Hawaiian value of hoʻokipa and its agritourism at its finest! Aliʻi had wisdom that comes only from personal experiences and things passed on from generation to generation. He was a doer and a man with impeccable business savvy.

He would always say, ‘Bebe how you? Good you help Farm Bureau cause ag is important. You and Lani take care all that marketing stuff, you let me know what you need.’ So with the Maui County Farm Bureau and the Maui Visitors Bureau, Aliʻi gave of his time, manaʻo and aloha. He spent many, many, many hours taking local and national travel writers and film crews around Aliʻi Kula Lavender and in doing so gave a little of himself each time and he enriched so many lives.” Charlene Kaʻuhane, Kaʻuhane, Inc.

“He repeatedly told me much the same. ‘Bebe, you doing good work with our visitors. Thanks for bringing all the travel writers to us. I always try to give them a personal tour. If you need anything, let me know.’ Most times, I would simply thank him. But on my last visit, I responded, ‘Uncle, what I need is more visitors to come to Maui!’ His response? ‘Bebe, no worry. When people are ready to travel, they will. Promise. And Maui will be the first to climb back up. We always are.’ He was right.” Keliʻi Brown, Director, Public Relations & Promotions, Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau

Ali'i picking lavender“I will always have fond memories of Ali‘i. His smile. The way he said ‘Bebe’ and his generous spirit. His life will live on through his garden. He recently told me not to be so busy. He said ‘stop to smell the lavender’ and I will take his advice to heart.” Dania N. Katz, Secretary, Slow Food Maui

“I am deeply saddened to hear of Ali‘i’s passing. I enjoyed talking to him about his farming activities. He was in my mind a man constantly seeking a new activity to involve himself—a visionary. Last month, our OED office sponsored a workshop concerning olive oil production. He had already started to grow some trees on his property to see if it had potential as a crop. He shared with the audience what he had already discovered with this new crop. I will truly miss his aloha spirit so much.” – Kenneth Yamamura, Agriculture Specialist, Office of Economic Development, County of Maui

“He was my Kind of Guy. A great farmer and an innovative person. He will be missed by all that knew him. May he rest in peace with flowers. Aloha my Friend.” – Doug MacCluer, Haliʻimaile Pineapple Co.

“I remember many fond moments with Ali‘i. His smile, warmth and genuine ‘aloha’ made everyone in his presence feel welcomed. I remember Ali’i hands. They were a symbol of the great person he was; of the earth, strong, skilled, tanned from honest work, and full of special knowledge.” – Chris Speere, Program Coordinator, University of Hawaii Maui College, Maui Culinary Academy

“Although I had met Ali‘i only a few times, I know I speak for many in that it just took one meeting with him to feel his Aloha and deep passion for agriculture and community. I’m sure he’s already starting to cultivate the seeds of lavender and aloha in that eternal resting place that we’ve lost him to.” – Eleanor Nakama-Mitsunaga, Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation

“My heart is really heavy today with this one. He was such an embodiment of what I remember growing up and being around that generation. His body language and vocal cadence was from a different time… but those hands… spoke volumes to me.” – Kealiʻi Reichel, Musical Artist & Kumu Hula

Ali‘i inviting guests to feel the lavender“I met Ali‘i many years ago, just after his lavender farm opened. My enduring memory is of Ali‘i scooping up an armful of various lavender varieties and telling his guests to ‘squeeeeeze the lavender, loooove the lavender.’ His enthusiasm elevated a simple herb that I’ve known my whole life, imbuing it with magical properties. He was down to earth, charismatic, and a pile of fun.” Shannon Wianecki, Associate Editor, Maui No Ka ‘Oi Magazine

“I met Ali‘i in 2006, shortly after moving to Maui. I was working as a professional photographer at the time, and did a lot of shooting for the farm. Whenever he saw me running around in the fields with my camera and tripod, he’d always drive up in his cart and ask how I was doing. He was always smiling and affable. He loved the farm and the bounty it produces. I’ll miss seeing him driving around in his cart.” Peter Liu, Social Media Consultant, Kaiscapes, LLC

Ali‘i on a tour with guests“He was the always smiling and welcoming farmer of Ali‘i Kula Lavender. My family’s experiences with him were warm and memorable.  In 2004, we were new to the island.  Back home, my husband and I taught herbalism and aromatherapy classes, so the smell of lavender has always been wafting through our lives. Coming to Maui and learning of Ali‘i’s lavender farm made us feel at home.  We just knew we were meant to live in Kula.

Moving to Maui was not without it’s struggles for us. Ali‘i Kula Lavender farm became a sanctuary for us and we visited often.  Ali‘i always welcomed our family and was very happy to share his knowledge of growing.  We would often marvel at how he transformed the land that is now the lavender farm.  He was a gregarious storyteller and my kids loved him for that. Ali‘i sent us home with a lavender plant that has inspired a love of growing in my kids.  We now have several, thriving varieties around our home.  He was a true steward of the land and the embodiment of Sustainable Aloha.

Ali'i with guests at Ali‘i Kula LavenderFestivals at the farm have always been quite jovial and fun.  I admit that I came to see Ali‘i more than all of the other festivities.  He knew the value of eating locally and supporting Hawaii’s agriculture.  He would come to my booth and pick out his favorite fruits and veggies for me to reserve for him at the end.  I always got such a kick out of it.  He loved these red bananas I brought to one of the festivals and told me how his family cooked them with butter and brown sugar. From then on, I would look everywhere for those to have at my booth just for him whenever we did a festival together. His smile was my reward.” The Tiffin Family, Kula Fields, Inc.

“When I first moved to Maui six years ago a friend took me to the Lavender Farm. I was instantly blown away by the beauty caressing every cell of my body. When approaching the house I was introduced to Ali‘i. The moment I met this man, so full of sparkling grace, I was imprinted by the Aloha spirit. His twinkly eyes and beautiful smile touched me profoundly and I suddenly saw the reflection of him in the gardens he created. He treated me like I was a celebrity showing genuine interest in who I was. What impressed me was his total and complete presence.

Ali'i celebrating the bounty of the Ali‘i Kula Lavender farmThis morning when I heard of his passing I felt a deep sense of loss and much gratitude for having this lasting memory of him. Later, on my walk I gave thanks for meeting him and vowed to carry on his graceful, joyful presence and dedication to the Aina as best I could. Thank you Ali‘i, for gracing us with your many gifts to our island and your beautiful human spirit.” Susan Teton Campbell, Chair, Slow Food Maui

“Anyone who knew Ali‘i recognized one thing—he was truly a steward of aloha. He was an old-school, strong-minded, often stubborn Chinese-Hawaiian farmer. Yet he was a gentleman committed to an impeccable work ethic who was in-tune with nature, a magnificent storyteller, and unbeknownst to him, a comedian who was a hoot to be around. Above all, he was wise and gifted.” Lani Weigert, Co-owner, Ali‘i Kula Lavender


  1. Jon Brown
    April 15, 2011

    I’m so happy to hold memories of talking with this sweet charismatic father of Maui Agriculture. Confident he is still surrounded by love where ever he is.

    • Dania Katz
      April 15, 2011

      Mahalo for your memory and kind words Jon. We need to remember his garden will live on forever, that will keep his memory alive.

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