The Maui Nui Botanical Garden Staff
Tamara was the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens' Nursery Manager and Curator from 2002-2005 and helped collect and establish the Gardens’ current collection of plants. She was active with the Native Plant Society during this time, the organization that assisted Rene Sylva in the creation of the Garden in the late 1980’s. She left in 2006 to complete her Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources and Environmental Management from University of Hawai'i at Mānoa. While she attended school, she also worked as a research assistant for the University and as a biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She returned to MNBG in 2009. Since 2009, she has prioritized building and verifying the Gardens’ collection of pre-European contact Hawaiian varieties of kō (sugarcane), kalo (taro), mai‘a (banana), ‘uala (sweet potato), and ‘awa (kava). In 2015, she began working to improve MNBG’s seed storage capacity to assist natural area managers in Maui County.
Whit was born on the Big Island, and raised in Maui. He is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools, Kapālama, and holds a B.A. from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. Whit has been managing MNBG's programs and events since May 2010 and is the creator of the “Hawaiian Plant of the Day” daily Facebook Post.
Chris has a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies – Environmental Studies: Agroecology from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa and brings his experience in farm and nursery production of food crops and ornamentals, strong data management skills, and an interest in taking an ecological approach to agriculture. He has been with MNBG since 2014 and supervises interns, garden staff, and volunteers in both Nursery and Garden operations.
Cathy joined the MNBG team in February 2020 with the support of Hawai‘i Tourism through the Aloha ‘Āina Program. Cathy has a M.S. Botany from UH Mānoa; over 20 years teaching UH-MC courses such as Ethnobotany, Hawaiian Field Biology, among others; and she’s a retired Hawai`i State Agricultural Inspector. She is part of an ambitious effort to step up our management and collection of wild sourced Maui County seeds, with a special emphasis on coastal species and ‘ōhia lehua.
Kalo Varieties Manager
Namea holds an AA in Hawaiian Studies with an emphasis on Hawaiian Language Immersion from the University of Hawai‘i Maui College. From 2011 until the present, MNBG has been working with a grant from the Ceres Trust to create “huli bank” of verified Hawaiian kalo cultivars. Namea took over this project in 2014. More than 60 varieties of Hawaiian kalo are being grown for distribution to Maui farmers and other growers as part of a statewide effort to mālama Hāloa.
Maintenance & Repair Technician
Kara was born and raised on Maui and joined the team in 2019. She has worked in natural resources on Kahoolawe, Hawai‘i island, Molokai, Johnston Atoll, and Malaysia, and has a B.A. from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo in Hawaiian Studies and Kinesiology and Exercise Science. A speaker of ‘ōlelo Hawai’i with nursery and field work experience, Kara helps to maintain the native plant collection.