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Haumāna from KS Maui’s summer papa hoʻokele waʻa take hold of the hoe aboard the waʻa Moʻokiha O Piʻilani during a huakaʻi to Honolua Bay.

Kamehameha Schools Maui summer programs offer transformative experiences

Jan. 8, 2024

What did you do during your summer break? For your typical haumāna ʻōpio, that nīnau is answered with a shoulder shrug and a reply of “not much”. But you’ll likely get a much more enthusiastic answer from haumāna enrolled at Kamehameha Schools Maui’s summer and extended learning program – Hālau ‘o Kapikohānaiāmālama. That’s because the K-12 course offerings are focused on experiences in the community, not the classroom.

“We're not campus-based, we're island-based. We really thrust them [haumāna] into the community,” said Jay-R Kaʻawa, the head of summer and extended learning at the Maui campus.

 So what exactly does community-based learning look like?

A huakaʻi last summer to Honolua Bay in west Maui typifies the kind of experiences and opportunities haumāna have in the KS Maui summer program. Instead of arriving on a school bus, dozens of high schoolers voyaged into the bay, many aboard the 62-foot Polynesian waʻa, Moʻokiha O Piʻilani. But these haumāna from papa hoʻokele waʻa (wayfinding class) weren’t mere spectators or passengers, they were crew members demonstrating what they’d learned by deftly navigating into the pristine bay.

Aerial view of the Polynesian waʻa Moʻokiha O Piʻilani as it makes its way to Honolua Bay in West Maui.

This huakaʻi was much more than a sailing demonstration, it was a convergence and sharing of knowledge and experiences as haumāna from several other summer classes also entered the bay aboard another vessel.

Haumāna (including the lifeguarding and surfing class) make their way to shore at Honolua Bay.

Students from papa heʻe nalu (surfing class), papa laʻau Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian ethnobotany class), papa ka uluwehi o ke kai (marine science class) and papa kiʻai ola (lifeguarding class) all dove into the waters of Honolua Bay.  They were welcomed ashore during a traditional protocol ceremony involving members of Puʻu Kukui Watershed Preserve, a community group serving as caretakers of the bay and over 9000 acres from ma kai to ma uka.

This was the first time these summer classes had converged in such a way.

“We really wanted to have that synergy amongst our haumāna to understand that none of us are living in our own world. We all have to share our resources. And for them to see how one side impacts the other. For instance, if there’s erosion on the āina the ocean is going suffer.  If the ocean isn't being taken care of, the ʻāina suffers. It’s all connected,” said Ekela Kaniaupio-Crozier, Hawaiian culture-based education coordinator for the Maui campus.

High school haumāna offer an oli seeking permission to come ashore as Honolua Bay.

Members of Puʻu Kukui Watershed Preserve deliver an oli in response, welcoming the haumāna ashore.

Once arriving ashore, haumāna continued their learning journey. Some surveyed and measured coral in the bay. Others took time to debrief what happened at sea as they prepared to continue their huakaʻi over several days in forests ma uka.

Haumāna equipped with waterproof clipboards and markers make observations about coral health in Honolua Bay.

Makia Lorenzo, a 2019 KS Maui graduate and field technician for Puʻu Kukui Watershed Preserve offered this manaʻo on why experiences like this are so important for haumāna.

“Sometimes you have to huli ka lima i lalo, you have to turn your hands down, you have to work because it’s only by that will you find haʻawina in things.”

Community-based learning that deepens cultural understanding and connection is the hallmark of the KS Maui summer learning programs.

“Hawaiians were thrivers. They were able to really understand the space that they lived in and what it offered them to not just survive but to thrive. So, we want students to know that. We got to take them off of their devices, out of the classrooms and into spaces where they can appreciate ʻike of their kūpuna and how they used these spaces, and that they too can still use it in this contemporary time,” said Kaniaupio-Crozier.

KS Maui’s summer and extended learning programs offer a vast array of experiences for K-12 learners. To learn more and find out how to apply, click here. Applications are now being accepted through Feb. 15, 2024.

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