Student Exchange Program

Student Work Exchange Program/Internship For Sustainable Living and Embodied Spirituality Teachings

Kutira and Raphael created this unique program in 1997. They have since hosted over 200 people to whom they have taught the art of sustainable living and individual empowerment through the wisdom from within. Kahua in Hawaiian means “to empower the wisdom from within”.It has been a safe haven for many people from all walks of life, especially for young students, who come to Maui to spend some quality time and deepen their awareness of living ecologically and responsibly with Mother Nature. It is also a time for deepening the awareness of self and experiencing inner and outer wisdom.

forest path at Maui Retreat

Forest Path At Maui Retreat

Our farm has an emerald jungle of native plants, bamboo and a waterfall lagoon. Our land has been declared a “resting place of mature souls” by the ancient Hawaiians. We are only 35 minutes from the airport.

We are an artistic and educational community living ecologically responsibly on 15 acres of sustainable land on the pristine North Shore of Maui. Surrounded by 18 acres of cliffs and oceanfront, our hiking trails lead to fresh water pools and 150 foot tall waterfalls. Yet we are only 20 minutes from Paia and Ho’okipa, the surfing capital of the world. With solar power and with Maui’s own recycled vegetable oil our generator pumps our own well with the sweetest water. The rain fills our ponds. We specialize in structural bamboo. We feature unique and elegant bamboo housing, a grand view of the ocean and lush tropical surroundings. Come with your passion and your skills. Help to create magical gardens and landscape, support our educational center with your skills and learn about farming and living off the grid.

Work trade students

Work Trade Students at Maui Retreat

Our goal is to expand our food garden and create more permaculture designs. We provide beautiful rooms, tents on raised platforms and bamboo structures with shared accommodations. Hot water showers, phone, wireless Internet access, washer/dryer, toilets, communal kitchen, a living room with a DVD and book library and a Balinese meditation temple. Yoga and embodied spirituality classes are available during your stay. Our students come from all over the world. The work is demanding and when your work is done the time is yours to learn, play or focus on what nourishes your spirit.

chickens at Maui Retreat

Egg laying chickens at Maui Retreat

Our students have enlarged our circle of friends and belong to our extended world wide family. All of them have brought their own unique skills and contributed in the growth and beauty of the land.

We invite you to come and spend some time with us and learn about sustainable living, organic farming, landscaping and enjoy the many teachings of Kutira and Raphael and other guest teachers.


If you are considering spending some time with us we would like you to submit an application with a picture, personal data and include your WOOFER member number if you have one (World Organization of Organic Farming). Write about your previous experiences, skills and a bit about your family background.

We also would like you to answers to the following questions:

  • What would I like to experience in my 3-6month stay?
  • What would I like to contribute?
  • What are my biggest hopes?
  • What are my biggest fears?
  • What brings me the most joy in life and what is my passion?
  • What would I like to learn about sustainable living and organic farming?
  • What would I like to experience as a WOOFER?
  • What would I like to experience as student of Embodied Spirituality?

After your application is reviewed and accepted, please coordinate a time for a telephone interview with Kutira. It is important for us to choose the right person, as we are a small community-family with visiting retreat guests from all over the world. We want to make sure that we invite the right people to harmonize with our center. This program is very popular and booked out in advance. If you get accepted to be one of our next work exchange students, we will be entering an agreement to be held with the best intentions and integrity. The time period we have mutually accepted is to be honored and is not subject to change.


We expect good communication skills and openness to improve.

We provide you with sleeping accommodations of our choice, a tent on a platform with covered roof or a room in the main house or in a bamboo structure with shared accommodations. Hot water showers, phone, wireless Internet access for your own computer, washer/dryer, toilets, communal kitchen, a small bamboo house, called Tiki house, with a DVD and book library and a Balinese meditation temple. If you come from an other country we will assist you in getting the right visa.

In exchange, you do 24 hours of work per week doing cleaning, repairs, maintenance, landscaping, gardening or special projects agreed upon with Kutira or her designated person in charge. We do not expect you to do work for which you are unsuited and before you come we will make sure you understand the jobs you will be doing. Your hours are mostly flexible, however, we do expect the weekly hours to be done each week and some jobs might need daily attention. We mostly work in teams and designate the different chores in our weekly group meetings. We are always open for improvement and if you have a special skill and you would like to contribute, we are open to explore with you. We hosted cooks, artists, computer wizards, green thumb people and many many more incredible talents. You will have access to a full kitchen and a shared bathroom and shower. Bedding and linens are provided.

You are responsible for your own food, personal supplies and transportation; however transportation into town to get food can be arranged. From time to time we have a community dinner, organized by everybody. Once your group is settled you end up cooking and shopping together as this is truly a community living. Our gardens are growing and what ever we can provide from our gardens can be used as well. We do have the best apple bananas! Of course all is seasonable and depends on availability. You can also have your own green patch and grow your greens yourself. Everything grows fast and we have a seed bank.

Students who stay for 3 to 6 months are welcome to join any teaching of Raphael and Kutira for cost only (materials and food during the retreat). Non-residents pay $500 to $1000 for the Embodied Spirituality Retreat. Check our website for retreat dates. This only applies to our Maui retreats.

Once a week we give a weekly class on Embodied Spirituality or have a guest teacher or the students present their skills. Non-residents pay $25.00 or work 2.5 hours before the class. We are linked with an other neighbor farm and their wwoofers are taking classes with us and you will be able to take classes with them. If you are a musician you will additionally gain insight from Raphael’s vast musical knowledge. Bring your instrument.

Sometimes there are opportunities for special classes on organic farming and landscaping for the tropics as part of our internship program held here, at our place, or at the near-by Launa I’O Eco-Education Center.

Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 8:00 am to 9:30 am and Friday at 7:00 to 8:30 am you can join the Pranayama breathing and Yoga class which costs non-residents $15 per class. We encourage our students to participate once or twice a week. Walking distance. Other morning classes are sometimes offered too. Chi Kung and Mediation classes.

Phone: No long distance calls, you need to have your own calling card. There is only 1 phone line for all our guests. Calls from your friends/family are to be received during office hours only, 9am to 8pm. Most of the cell phones work here, depending on carrier. To receive phones, once you are here, is 808 572 6523.

Our office computer is not available for checking your email (only for emergencies). You can visit any of the cyber cafes or bring your own laptop as we have wireless access. Again your phone time is limited, as this is a shared phone for the all the guests and residents such as you. We encourage you to bring a cell pone.

Transportation: there is no public transportation where we are. Half of our students have been hitchhiking, as it is legal, and half of them have bought old Maui cruisers and then sold them before they leave. Check out for used cars. We provide transportation when any of the family rides to town (usually twice a week). Since the rise of gas prices we are carpooling for our town rides.

What to bring beside your normal clothing: rubber boots or shoes you can work in when it rains, rain gear, small umbrella, gardening clothes, water bottle, flash light, personal supplements/medicine. Maybe you want to bring a journal to write down what you learn in the classes. And what you forgot to bring, don’t worry we have an incredible recycling store for clothes and many other things for very reasonable prices and we love to go there.

To receive snail mail:

Your name
c/o Kahua Hawaiian Institute
P.O. Box 80080
Haiku, HI 96708

Note: This address is only for personal mail. You may not use this address to open a bank account, credit cards, cell phone, auto registration or other official matters. You must open your own PO Box for these purposes.

We encourage a healthy diet. Living off the grid, being totally supported by Mother Nature needs a lot of awareness and tuning in with what nature provides us. (Turn off lights when not needed, short showers, etc.). It is an absolutely incredible experience to feel free of thought pollution and of power lines. We are sure it will be very beneficial for your soul, mind and body.

Visitors: Depending on availability we can extend a special rate to your friends and family to visit during your stay.

We are a family/community here and love to have people bring their special talents and share them with us. We look forward to including you in our group. If more questions come up for you and they are not covered, please feel free to call us anytime.

Please note: We have a family dog, her name is Mochie and she loves to hang out in the staff house and socialize with the staff and the woofers. Interaction with her or her fur is unavoidable. If you are allergic to dogs, please consider whether or not you want to stay with us.

Please visit our and find out more about us. More information may also be found here.


Kutira at 808-572-6006 or email with the subject line: WWoofer/Internship and your name.

Peace and blessings,
Kutira, Raphael and the Kahua Staff

Phone: 808 572 6006 (Please remember the time difference in Hawaii is GMT -10:00 BEFORE you call)