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Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi fifth graders got to share a special moment with musicians from Project Kuleana recently as they started work on a new inquiry-based project. Students are seeking to answer the question, "What is our kuleana?"

Inquiry-based project on kuleana results in beautiful mele, lessons learned

Sept. 29, 2016

Contributed by Shaundor Chillingworth

Students in Karyl Ah Hee’s fifth grade class at Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi campus used an inquiry-based project into kuleana as a chance to learn more and look to different sources to discover new information.

Three members from Project Kuleana—Sean Nāleimaile, Kīhei Nahale-a and Kamakoa Lindsey-Asing—recently visited the classroom and spent time with students examining the concept behind kuleana.

The class is affectionately known as the 5BFish, a reflection of Ah Hee’s call to swim strong, dive back and a Fish! Philosophy to create a culture where people bring their best work.    

The essential question was “What is our kuleana as KS haumāna, as Hawaiians, as global-citizens?”

“So many times we as a class seek answers in our research in books, text, articles, videos, etc. and often ask the questions, ‘what is the mana’o nui?’;  ‘What is the author trying to teach us?’; ‘What is the author’s message?” said Ah Hee.

“We use our best reading strategies…we re-read, review and articulate with each other. We track our thinking and make inferences and search for information that would support it.”

But the question allowed the class to take a different approach to learning and went straight to the source—Nānā i ke kumu. They prepared as they normally do, but with this special visit, students were able to tap the creative minds behind Project Kuleana.

“We got to hear the reasons why they all had a strong need to share their Hawaiian music, why music helps the Hawaiian culture to thrive, why they felt it was their kuleana to make this video, the ‘ike behind it, their thought process, the business end of it, heard all about the pilina they built with each other, other Hawaiian musicians, our ‘āina and much, much more!” shared Ah Hee.

Haumāna got some of their inferences validated, questions answered and were able to generate additional questions to dive deeper into the question.  

Ah Hee posted a blog about the undertaking and the many lessons learned from throughout the day and a video of a kani ka pila of the mele “E Nā Kini O Ka ʻĀina” the group shared together, taught to the students by kumu Pumehana Silva.

On the blog, you can also read student reactions and reflections from the day.

“We’d like to send out a mahalo nui to Anakala Sean, Anakala Kīhei and Anakala Kamakoa for their generous gifts of time, sharing an immense amount of mana’o and ‘ike, and for strengthening our Hawaiian culture, one musical note at a time! He Hawai’i au, Mau a mau!” shared Ah Hee.

Project Kuleana was created by three Native Hawaiian men who share the perspective that KULEANA is what makes music Hawaiian. A Kuleana to the ‘āina (land) and our strong ancestral connection to it. Project Kuleana aspires to increase the innate value of Hawaiian music and the performance of it to inspire people to reflect on one’s own Kuleana. Project Kuleana seeks to encourage people to re-discover, re-connect and re-instill what Hawaiian music and performers of Hawaiian music represent. Learn more about Project Kuleana at   

Kamehameha Publishing was involved with launching this music project and the viral videos created. See those videos on

Project Kuleana: Kaulana Nā Pua

In partnership with Kamehameha Publishing and 4 Miles LLC, Project KULEANA proudly presents an inspiring rendition of "Kaulana Nā Pua."

Project Kuleana and the 5BFish of Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi.

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