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Kumu Ekela Kaniaupio-Crozier and Kumu Kanoelehua Kamaliʻi-Ligsay, Hawaiian Culture Based Education coordinators, read from Kamehameha: The Warrior King as part of the Wā Moʻolelo program at Māhele Lalo. Wā Moʻolelo brings in kumu, staff and older haumāna to read to K-5 students.

Building Strong Relationships Through Moʻolelo

Nov. 3, 2022

Kumu Alex Souza’s fifth-grade haumāna filed back into class from recess to find two guests waiting for them.

In her hand Kumu Ekela Kaniaupio-Crozier, Hawaiian Culture Based Education coordinator, held a copy of Kamehameha: The Warrior King. As the students took their seats, some asked the visitors who they were.

“Your kumu invited me to come read to you today. And I brought along my friend,” Kaniaupio-Crozier said, gesturing to Kumu Kanoelehua Kamaliʻi-Ligsay, also an HCBE coordinator, sitting beside her.

The kumu were there as part of a new initiative at Māhele Lalo, dubbed Wā Moʻolelo. Centered around the Kamehameha Schools Maui value of pilina, the monthly opportunity lets K-5 haumāna meet groups of leaders, kumu, and even Māhele Luna (6-12) students from across the Maui campus. From Kumu Ketra Arcas, Māhele Luna (9-12) librarian, to Dr. Scott Parker, KS Maui's poʻo kula, each Māhele Lalo class got to hear a story from a Maui staff member, kumu or leader.

Kaniaupio-Crozier held up her book, which featured a cover image of Hawaiʻi’s most famous aliʻi aboard a canoe. “We’re going to be reading about Kamehameha, because you can’t know too much about him,” she said. “Who knows when he united the Hawaiian islands under one kingdom?”

Some guessed 1874 or 1856. Others guessed 1712 or 1798. Finally, Caleb Recopuerto’s hand shot up in the air and he blurted out, “1810.”

“Winner!” Kaniaupio-Crozier cheered.

She held their rapt attention as she began to read from the dramatic first chapter of the book chronicling the tumultuous birth of Kamehameha. A comet blazing in the night sky heralded the birth of a new chief, Kaniaupio-Crozier read. And this alerted a rival aliʻi to the baby’s existence.

“Nae‘ole ran through the soaked darkness, clutching the tiny bundle,” Kaniaupio-Crozier read of the Kohala chief tasked with taking the baby Kamehameha into hiding. “The baby slept secure in his arms, unaware of the dangers of the night.”

Kaniaupio-Crozier passed the book over to Kumu Kamaliʻi-Ligsay who read a chapter about the young chief’s upbringing while in hiding. She read of his experience learning to fish, interrupting the story to ask if any of the haumāna had also learned fishing growing up. Many raised their hands.

With just a few minutes left in the day, and Kamaliʻi-Ligsay reaching the end of her chapter, Kaniaupio-Crozier told the haumāna, “I think that’s enough for today. Any questions?”

River Kaimikaua raised her hand. “Can you come back tomorrow?”

Kaniaupio-Crozier laughed. “Maybe if we ask your kumu nicely, she’ll let us come back again and we’ll move on to chapter three.”

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