During our June meetings on the island of Lāna‘i, we heard from various community members and organizations, regarding the work they are doing on the island and some of the issues they face. One of the presentations, by students from Lāna‘i High and Elementary School, was especially moving, because we got to hear as they demonstrated their progress as haumāna in ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i.
Students of LHES from grades Kindergarten through sixth grade are now being taught ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i by Kumu Simon Tajiri and Hawaiian culture by ‘Anake Irene Davis. Although this is not meant to be a substitute for a Hawaiian language medium education, Lāna‘i students have shown an active interest in ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i and Hawaiian culture. It is even said that this is the highest engagement of Hawaiian language and culture in the curriculum in the school’s history. Kumu Simon brings his knowledge and expertise as the former program manager of E ‘Ike Hou iā Lāna‘i Hawaiian education summer initiative at the Lāna‘i Culture and Heritage Center.
The students in the school’s summer program attended our Lāna‘i meeting with their Kumu and shared with us one-by-one in ha‘i ‘Ōlelo why learning ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i is important to them, and some of their favorite things about their classes. Many students shared that some of their favorite parts of the school year included OHA-sponsored activities, such as Hōkūle‘a engagement on Lāna‘i, oli workshops as part of OHA’s I Mana Ka Lāhui series, and the Lāna‘i May Day Program. It was special to get these mahalo from the keiki of Lāna‘i for OHA’s work in the community, and to know that beneficiaries there are taking full advantage of OHA programming.
Their Kumu shared with OHA that not all the students are Native Hawaiian. It is so touching that these students have an aloha for the language and culture even if not Hawaiian in their genealogy. I am hopeful that this program will continue to grow and that many more keiki on Lāna‘i take advantage of this opportunity. In order for ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i to continue to thrive, we need dedicated speakers to continue to perpetuate our language. E ola mau ka ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i!
The Board continues our travel and is next on Moloka‘i Nui a Hina. Our Community Meeting will be on August 7, 2019 and our Board Meeting will be on August 8, 2019. The agenda for these meetings can be found on www.oha.org/BOT once they are filed.