homepage logo

Cultural event to celebrate the expansion of Ke Kula Kaiapuni

By Staff | Sep 7, 2017

Ke Kula Kaiapuni students will perform at the third annual Ho‘oulu, along with Lahainaluna High School’s Hawaiiana Club, ‘Ohana Feig, Maui Music Mission, Marvin Tevaga and Mark Yamanaka.

LAHAINA – The community is invited to commemorate the growth of Ke Kula Kaiapuni (Hawaiian Language Immersion Program) in Lahaina on Saturday, Sept. 16.

The third annual Ho’oulu, a family-oriented cultural fair, will be held on campus at Princess Nahi’ena’ena Elementary School, where the HLIP has taken root over the past two decades.

It’s been a long uphill battle to bring the language back to the culture.

After the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893, teaching and learning through the medium of Hawaiian was banned in 1896.

Remaining onipa’a (steadfast), the Hawaiian language immersion community on the West Side has nurtured its growth since the late 1990s.

As such, Ho’oulu 2017 is an occasion for a colossal celebration, with ono food, live entertainment, keiki zone, rummage sale, silent auction and arts and crafts.

The public is invited to attend in support of our youth in the public school immersion program, where Hawaiian values are not only taught but practiced daily.

Kumu Liko Rogers has been one of the champions of the resurgence of the language.

“I have seen the program grow from its inception in Lahaina with the opening of Punana Leo O Lahaina in 1998 to where the program is today with three immersion sites in West Maui at Princess Nahi’ena’ena Elementary, Lahaina Intermediate and finally we have reached our ultimate goal of having the Hawaiian immersion program at Lahainaluna High School,” the Kula Kaiapuni o Nahi’ena’ena kindergarten teacher and Lahainaluna High School graduate (Class of 1987) observed.

Its foundation was established at “Princess” under the direction of Kumu Leina’ala Vedder in 2000 to a combination class of about 20 kindergarten and first grade students, Rogers told the Lahaina News.

Today, it’s vital and flourishing with 103 students in grades K-10, and 14 enrolled in the Punana Leo o Lahaina private preschool.

There are eight kumu, including Rogers, Puali’i Kamalu, Leilani Franco, Kauna’oa Garcia, Ku’uipo Kaya, Kekaialoha Keahi, W. Kamaunu Kahaiali’i and Kauai Spitalsky.

The first Hawaiian language immersion class is anticipated to graduate from Lahainaluna High School in 2020.

Lahela Kulukulualani (Class of 1999) is the president of Na Leo Kalele parent group. She has two children in the program. Nainoa, soon-to-be 14, is a sophomore at LHS, and Naiomi is in the seventh grade at LIS.

“I love this program, because growing up we didn’t have this. The closest thing we had to our culture was hula in my aunt’s garage. My very last year of high school here at Lahainaluna, we were offered Hawaiian 101. I always knew I wanted my kids to have more, to learn more and enrich in their culture,” she said.

Her feelings run deep, and she is passionate.

“Being a part of this program for my kids, watching them flourish in their culture and expanding this program for many generations in this strong, close-knit community of Lahaina and allowing these children to graduate from Kula Kaiapuni from the BEST school in the world, Lahainaluna, is so heartwarming. These children are our future; they will mold our community and hopefully one day restore Lahaina.”

Kumu Franco is a strong advocate of the immersion program as well.

“Ho’oulu is an important event, because it supports the Kula Kaiapuni education,” she said.

“The Kula Kaiapuni learning experience extends beyond the four walls of a classroom and the written pages of a book. Students engage in hands-on, experiential learning that links Hawaiian thought and wisdom to contemporary applications.

“Ho’oulu,” the second grade teacher continued, “helps to fund the K-10 Kaiapuni program here in Lahaina, and it also brings awareness to what Kula Kaiapuni is all about. Ho’oulu is also a fun day for ‘ohana to come enjoy the mea’ai (food), the mele (music) and being surrounded and embraced by the ‘olelo Hawai’i.”

The donations also help to pay for “program resources, educational supplies, excursion transportation and essential tools that provide education based on the Hawaiian language and culture,” Ho’oulu co-organizer Sissy Rogers explained.

The festival opens at 9:30 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m.

The menu of food choices will tantalize the most discerning local palette, like barbecue pork ribs, pastele, fried soup, ulu poke, Wailemi, shave ice, smoothies and a variety of snacks.

The Keiki Zone is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The cost is $15 for a “re-entry” wristband, with fun activities like bouncing castles, face painting, henna tattoos, games and prizes planned.

The live entertainment lineup includes Punana Leo o Lahaina, Na Keiki o Na Kula Kaipuni o Lahaina, Lahainaluna’s Hawaiiana Club, ‘Ohana Feig, Maui Music Mission, Marvin Tevaga and Mark Yamanaka.

Tickets are $5 each (children five years and under are free) and $7 at the door. Tickets may be purchased at Native Intelligence or Queen Lili’uokalani Trust.