The Kūkulu Kumuhana Project Bears Fruit

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Read this article in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

By Kekaianiani Irwin

With humility, we share the latest curriculum development efforts of the Hale Kuamoʻo Hawaiian Language Center and its Kūkulu Kumuhana project. Like a compass with aloha ʻāina as its pull, the project name was chosen to continually orient thoughts towards working together to rebuild ancestral knowledge. As described by Joseph Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu in 1895, “Aloha ʻĀina is the magnet constantly pulling the heart of a people towards independence and liberation grounded in their own place.”

In order to collaboratively follow the pull of Nāwahī’s aloha ʻāina compass while nurturing a new generation of ʻōlelo resource developers, Hale Kuamoʻo convened a new development process joining younger writers with more experienced staff in each of four grade level writing groups: the Piko team (papa mālaaʻo), the Aliʻi team (papa 1), the Pele team (papa 2), and the ʻOnipaʻa team (papa 3). Each writing group collaborated with Hawaiian medium teachers, subject matter experts, artists and photographers, as well as senior faculty of Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language. All in all, more than 50 people worked together in this development process!

Photo: Tatooing
Mai ka moʻolelo nūpepa na S. M. Kamakau (1870) ma ka nūpepa ʻo Ke Au Okoa i kiʻi a haʻi hou ʻia ai ka moʻolelo no Kahekilinuiʻahumanu ma ka pae heluhelu o nā keiki papa 1. – Kiʻi: Hana Yoshihata, © 2019 na ka Hale Kuamoʻo

The result is a wide array of new Hawaiian language materials including 40 new leveled ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi books for students in the target grades with supporting kumu-generated curricula, and a series of resources supporting ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi in families, classrooms, and the broader community. Community resources currently nearing completion include: Ke Ola Nani, a word book focused on verbs of all kinds; interactive vocabulary-building activities utilizing the Quizlet platform; a book on the history and shared values of the kaiapuni movement; two ʻōlelo noʻeau collections; a volume sharing mele and oli from across the islands featuring ʻāina where kaiapuni schools are situated and accompanying voice recordings to facilitate learning and teaching; and Ke Kūlia e Kāmau ai (described in Kamalani Johnson’s article in this edition of Ka Wai Ola).

All of the above resources are currently being finalized and published for distribution to kaiapuni schools and ʻohana by September 2021, after which time they will be available to the broader community. Many other ʻōlelo resources are currently available at Hale Kuamoʻo’s website and e-commerce store (under construction) at www.halekuamoo.com.


Kekaianiani Irwin is a former kumu of 10 years at the kula kaiapuni of Pāʻia, Pūʻōhala, and Kamakau. Since 2005 he has served as a writer, curriculum and evaluation specialist, program developer, and project director at the Hale Kuamoʻo Hawaiian Language Center at UH Hilo with collaborative perpetuation of ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi as his ongoing goal.