Hearing Hawaiian Spoken Should be a Regular Thing


Read this article in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

Ma‘amau (vs. Usual, customary, regular, habitual, ordinary, common.)

Photo: Sylvia Hussey

Aloha mai kākou,

At our home in Kohala, hearing my mother and grandparents (all of whom were mānaleo) laugh and talk story in Hawaiian was he mea maʻamau – a regular thing.

I regret not learning the language from them, but by the time I was born, Hawaiian language had been banned from schools for almost 70 years.

So of course, when I was growing up there were no constructs or systems in place to support teaching or learning ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. My educational options were to remain in Kohala public schools or, perhaps, to board at Kamehameha, as I approached the seventh grade.

I’ve often wondered how different an ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi school experience would have been if my mother had the educational choices that the current generation of parents now have. From Pūnana Leo and the Kula Kaiapuni to Hawaiian-focused charter schools and the University of Hawaiʻi, ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi medium education has taken root and flourished over the past 40 years.

I am always delighted when I overhear ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi in ordinary places like the grocery store or the bank. But the fact that I find myself craning my neck to see who is speaking is a reminder that hearing ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi spoken outside of classrooms or formal events is not yet he mea maʻamau.

Our ʻōlelo is core to the health of our ʻohana, moʻomeheu and ʻāina, so as we celebrate what has been achieved, we are mindful that there is still a long way to go.

E ola mau ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi!

Sylvia M. Hussey, Ed.D.
Chief Executive Officer