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Event to support Lahaina Hawaiian Language Immersion Programs

By Staff | Sep 10, 2015

LAHAINA – “E ola ka ‘olelo Hawaii” – the Hawaiian language is alive and well, with its roots well established and growing on the West Side.

In celebration, the community is invited to attend the first annual Ho’oulu 2015 at Princess Nahi’ena’ena Elementary School on Saturday, Sept. 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A benefit for Kula Kaiapuna o Maui Ma Nahi’ena’ena and Kula Waena o Lahaina (Hawaiian Language Immersion Programs at both Princess Nahi’ena’ena Elementary School and Lahaina Intermediate School), the fun, family, cultural festival will feature continuous live entertainment, onolicious food, a silent auction, keiki zone and arts and crafts.

Kumu Kau’i Spitalsky teaches the fourth and fifth grade immersion program students at Princess. Her understanding of the meaning of Ho’oulu is as eloquent as it is poignant.

“The hua?olelo ‘ho’oulu’ is a very special Hawaiian word! It comes from the root word ‘ulu,’ or to grow. What a clever name to bless our event as the kaiapuni program of Lahaina continues to grow from grades kindergarten to eighth.”

Like many Hawaiian words, there are hidden layers of meaning (kaona).

According to Mary Kawena Puku’i (a renowned Hawaiian scholar), Kumu Kau’i added, “it also means to propagate or sprout. At Kula Kaiapuni, we are planting cultural seeds of enlightenment every day through the traditions and customs based in our Hawaiian language.”

With nonprofit 501(c)(3) status recently granted by the IRS, Na Leo Kalele, the parent support group, is hosting the fundraiser.

It is led by a very active and dedicated board: Tiara Ueki, Makana Haia, Rena Pali, Sissy Rogers, Lani Kane, Deidre Ruiz-Rockett and Pamela Hamakua.

“Our goals are to advocate for Hawaiian language education in our public schools, ensure the needs of our students are adequately met and support teachers. Our mission is to assist our program to achieve quality education based on the knowledge of the Hawaiian language and culture. Our vision shall be the foundation upon which excellence is built, thereby determining, shaping and guiding the future for all of Hawaii’s people,” the president of the board, Tiara Ueki, espoused.

Event emcee is Kamalapua Kanuha. She is the cultural advisor of the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas. Her participation is heartfelt, with two mo’opuna (grandchildren) enrolled in the immersion program.

“Our ‘olelo Hawaii; Hawaiian language spoken by our ‘keiki o ka ‘aina,’ are truly the adhesive that binds our community as one. To be present at this event is to be in the presence of our Na Kupuna. You will definitely feel the heartbeat of Hawaii through the voices of our kamali’i. When we support our children, we’re supporting our tomorrows,” Kanuha observed.

Sissy Rogers is the parent group treasurer; she was fervent about recognizing Na Kupuna O Maui.

“Aloha First/Na Kupuna O Maui has been a tremendous supporter in many different ways. Whenever we are in need of anything, we are able to reach out to them, and they have always been there for us. We ‘mahalo nui’ Tutu Patty Nishiyama and Na Kupuna O Maui for their continuous generosity, support and love!” Rogers said.

For the Ho’oulu event, Na Kupuna is donating the cost of the insurance.

“Kupuna,” Nishiyama explained, “know how vital it is to the culture to bring back the Hawaiian language to the capital of Hawaii.”

Joshua P. Kahula is entertainment chairperson, and he’s done an awesome job scheduling continuous live performances from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The lineup includes Reuben Pali (Maui Music Mission), 10:30 to 10:50 a.m.; Mapuana Samonte and Halau Hula Malani o Kapehe accompanied by accomplished Hawaiian trio Ahumanu, 11 to 11:45 a.m.; Leohone (Hawaiian trio Ikaika Blackburn, Dana Pi’ilani Arias and Kamakoa Lindsey Asing), noon to 12:45 p.m.; Old Lahaina Luau (luau show and cast), 1 to 1:45 p.m.; Homestead (six-piece band), 2 to 2:45 p.m.; MATAGI (Marvin Tevaga, Kalani Miles and Kimo Brehm), 3 to 3:45 p.m.; and Malino (four-piece island reggae band), 4 to 5 p.m.

Old Lahaina Luau has contributed to the perpetuation of the culture through the HLIP from its beginning on the West Side in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Many of their employees have graduated from Kula Kaiapuni; some have children currently enrolled,

With all children welcome, “we have seen the benefits and services of the immersion program firsthand. These alumni are knowledgeable, respectful and fervent in their positions with us because of their learning through the immersion program,” its general manager, Judee Mae Aki, told Lahaina News.

The Keiki Zone has bazaar games and prizes for kids of all ages, two bouncing castles, obstacle course castle, face painting and various other activities.

Kanuha encourages the community to attend the benefit.

“When we participate and support educational programs, we build healthy communities,” she said.

Kumu Kau’i provided a connection of the Ho’oulu 2015 to Lahaina, past, present and future.

“Lahaina is famous for the many ?’ulu trees and thus given the name ‘Malu-‘ulu-o-Lele’… which describes the great cool shade that was provided by the many ?’ulu trees of the olden days here in Lele, Lahaina,” Kau’i said

“I believe this is what makes ‘Ho’o-‘ulu’ so special to Lahaina and nowhere else. The original name of our community, Malu-‘ulu-o-Lele, is embedded in the event name ‘Ho’o-ulu.’ It describes who we are as people of Lahaina and our intentions to grow, to feed, and inspire our community to increase knowledge and cultural well-being by looking into the rich mo’olelo of our past and nourishing our keiki to become native Hawaiian leaders of their own community.”

For more information about the event on the 19th, call Ueki at 385-2782 or e-mail her at tkavalley@yahoo.com.