The Voices of the Kūpuna


Read this article in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

Aloha friends, those who love this land. As I am tucked in my humble home perhaps, like you, I remember my education at UH Mānoa and the assigment to go and listen to the tapes of the “Ka Leo Hawai‘i” programs for my Hawaiian language class. Also at Kamehameha High School, we were urged, us “coconut fiber” ears, to listen to these programs. My ears were not really accustomed, however the stories were interesting. One story was from Moloka‘i called “Moloka‘i that struck (with feet towards land) the fish.” Another was about the ‘alo (a kind of crustacean). I am still looking for this sea creature.

While at home getting education and strengthening the health and wellness of mind, search online and listen again to the voices of the elders. You can search for them at these data bases.

Larry Kimura (l) and Joseph Maka‘ai (r) interview a guest on Ka Leo Hawai‘i. – Photo: Courtesy

Kani‘āina: ( Kani‘āina is the repository of “Ka Leo Hawai‘i,” the first program on radio to interview native speakers of the Hawaiian language. It was started and coordinated by Hui Aloha ‘Āina Tuahine, and Larry Kauanoe Kimura was the first host along with his uncle, Joseph Maka‘ai. Approximately 400 tapes (1972-1973) have been uploaded. The first guest was John Kameaaloha Almeida followed by a host of guests thereafter.

Clinton Kanahele. -Photo: Courtesy

Interview Collection of Clinton Kanahele: ( Clinton Kanahele (1902 – 1979) was a teacher, principal and leader in his Mormon faith-community. In 1970, he and W. Sproat interviewed twenty Native Hawaiian speakers – many from the Ko‘olau side of O‘ahu. When finished, the interviews were stored at BYUH at Lā‘ie. We are fortunate to have had them digitized to the web to enable us to listen to them. The beauty of this collection is that both mp3 and transcriptions of the entire interviews are available. I found the interview with Solomon Kupihea of Keahapana (Keālia), Kaua‘i interesting. Although he was born in Honolulu, he may have adopted the use of “t” in his pronunciation as such:

CK: Ehia makahiki oe i keia manawa? (How old are you?)

SK: Keia manawa ai wau i loko o ka makahiki kanahitu kumalima. (Now I‘m 75.)

Hailama Farden, Kahu Lei Recca, Elizabeth Kauahipaula. – Photo: Courtesy

Mānaleo: ( Another collection of native speaker voices is “Mānaleo,” the first cable program in Hawai‘i that was produced at ‘Ōlelo Community Television. Elizabeth Kauahipaula, Hailama Farden, Melelani Pang and I were hosts. About 200 programs were recorded. When programming stopped, the programs were left at Ka‘iwakīloumoku (at Kamehameha Schools Kapālama) and a few were digitized such as the interviews with Lei Recca, Sarah ‘Ili and Mary Jane Makua, Kawika Kapahulehua, Elama Kanahele and Harry Fuller

Therefore, in your spare time at home and as a means to increase your knowledge, please listen to the voices of our elders at Kani‘āina (at Ulukau), the collection of Clinton Kanahele (at BYUH), and Mānaleo (at Ka‘iwakīloumoku).

“E ho‘olohe i nā leo o nā kūpuna. Pūlama iā mākou. Pūlama iā mākou” – Palani Vaughan from “Voices in the Wind.”