When Kumu Kehani Guerrero was approached to have her eighth-grade haumāna help name a new fire truck for the Airport Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) facility at Kahului Airport, it wasn’t a task she and her students took lightly.
“They understood how much kuleana comes with names in our culture. When they saw where this project was heading, they thought it was a little daunting,” Guerrero said.
Despite the haumāna’s uncertainty of being up to the task, step by step Guerrero walked them through the traditional process of naming people, places and things. It all began with getting her students to learn how they received their own names.
“All names come from somewhere. They might express a trait our parents hoped to bestow on us or something that’s passed down through our ʻohana,” she said.
Then came meticulous research of the ʻāina where the Kahului Airport fire station sits. The haumāna uncovered info about the historic landholder Ke Aliʻi Victoria Kamāmalu, along with the natural features and plants of the area.
“Everyone had different ideas based on what they researched,” said haumana Matilda Stone. “I think we all took it really seriously, and I’m proud of what we came up with.”
Kauakiaweopuʻuohala, the name the haumāna gifted the Kahului Airport ARFF, includes multiple elements. Ka ua, meaning rain, invokes the image of firefighters spraying water from a fire hose. Kiawe speaks to the natural brush in the area, while Puʻuohala is the original place name of where the fire station sits.
All of the students involved are part of Kumu Guerrero’s advisory period, meaning all the work that went into the project was extracurricular. But they approached the assignment with the same passion and intensity they would a graded project, Guerrero said.
After a semester of work, the haumāna last week finally got to see the name they collectively chose for the new truck emblazoned on its side in gold letters. On hand for a blessing of the truck, haumāna had a chance to meet the firefighters — many of whom are KS Maui graduates — who would be using the vehicle to save lives.
Haumana Kahikina Kaona said the research component was quite challenging, but seeing the final results makes all the work worth it.
“It was hard to find maps of the area from the 1800s,” Kaona said. “It really was a team effort. It’s kind of shocking, honestly, to see our words up there.”
Maui District Airports Manager Marvin Moniz said he was impressed with how “earnest” the KS Maui haumāna were about this task.
“We felt strongly that we needed a cultural element for our airport fire department’s vehicle,” Moniz said. “Given the school’s reputation with Hawaiian language and culture, it made perfect sense for KS Maui to be involved.”
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