Sisters youths play for Maui Strong


Last updated 8/22/2023 at 10:04am

Photo by Angela Marshall

Gemma and Tristan Marshall played their Hawaiian ukuleles at Fika Sisters Coffee House in a fundraiser for Maui Strong.

Maui, Hawaii, is as much home to Tristan and Gemma Marshall as Sisters is. When they saw the devastation wrought by a wildfire that destroyed the town of Lahaina, they wanted to help.

But Tristan is 13, and Gemma is 11. They don't have an income from which to make a donation - so they decided to leverage their musical passion to raise funds for Maui Strong. The Hawaii Community Foundation Maui Strong fund is providing financial resources that can be deployed quickly for emergency relief and recovery for the devastated island.

The siblings, who learned to play ukulele on Maui, brought their instruments out last week to play at Fika Sisters Coffee House. A donation jar was set up on a table in front of them - and quickly filled. Their mother, Angela Marshall, reported that, "This morning's fundraiser brought in $419 in cash donations. Two thoughtful contributors who donated via the QR code (on a flyer) came up to show the kids $350 they donated online, so that the kids could see their impact. So $769 was raised that we know of. We do know several others scanned the QR code and donated as well."

The brother and sister plan to play in other locations to keep the fundraising going.

The family moved to Maui when Tristan and Gemma were young, and lived there full-time for several years. Angela was raised in Sisters and has family here, so they recently began splitting their time between Sisters and Maui. Mike Marshall is a business owner, and Angela homeschools the children.

"We're lucky to have community in both places," Angela said.

The siblings got their instruments in Maui, and have been playing ukulele for a long time.

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"I had a uke when I was, like, six," Tristan said. "There's this little green church on the beach... and every Thursday night, one of the local Hawaiians whose whole family had lived there a really long time hosted a Thursday night uke jam," Tristan said.

The church is a 100-year-old institution in Kihei; the jams are led by Kumu Kealoha.

"The jam emphasizes traditional Hawaiian music and culture," Angela said. "The wonderful community there really embraced our kids. They fostered Tristan and Gemma's love of ukulele, Hawaiian music, and culture."

Music seemed like the natural way to reach out to help a community they care deeply about.

"We love that community, and they're going through a hard time, and we wanted to help them," Tristan said.

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In addition to music, outdoor activity is a big part of the allure of both of the Marshalls' homes.

Asked what she loves about Maui, Gemma said, "Definitely the beach. All the people there are really nice. The sunsets there are really pretty."

Here in Sisters, the Marshalls enjoy all the bounty the forest has to offer.

"We like to bike ride, we like to go camping, we go paddling," Gemma said. "Camping is one of my favorite things we do here."

Mike Marshall said the brother and sister want to continue their efforts.

"We are working on setting up more opportunities for them to play, raise awareness, and raise funds for Maui," he told The Nugget. "They will be playing at the First Friday art walk (in Bend) on September one, starting around 5 p.m. and playing off and on until about eight p.m. They will be set up directly across from the Oxford Hotel outside of Thump."

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Anyone interested in having the Marshalls play for a Maui Strong fundraiser may email Angela at [email protected].

To donate directly to Maui Strong, visit http://www.hawaiicommunityfound

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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