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The Mālama Ola Minute is a series brought to you by the Kamehameha Schools Mālama Ola Division to increase awareness, promote discussion, and offer tools to improve the physical and mental health of our haumāna.

Mālama Ola Minute: ‘Ōlelo Hawaiʻi and student well-being

Feb. 24, 2021

As we celebrate Mahina ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian Language Month), we reflect upon the important role of ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi in student well-being. Hawaiian culture and spirituality are core components of KSʻ whole-child approach to student safety and well-being. That approach also includes safety and security, cognitive health, physical health, mental health and environment and school climate.

Ōlelo Hawaiʻi is foundational to our Hawaiian culture and spirituality.

‘O ka ‘Ōlelo o ke ka‘a o ka Mauli – Language is the fiber that binds us to our cultural identity. In the following excerpt from a January 1927 edition of the Hawaiian language newspaper “Ka Puuhonua o na Hawaii” (The Hawaiian Refuge), the author opens by addressing the important connection of a people with their mother tongue:

I ʻike ʻia nō ke kanaka no kekahi lāhui ma kāna ʻōlelo. Inā e nalowale ana ka ʻōlelo makuahine o kekahi lāhui, e nalohia aku ana nō ia lāhui. I kēia lā, ua nalohia aku ko kākou kūʻokoʻa, a i ka pau ʻana o kā kākou ʻōlelo makuahine, ʻo ka pau ʻana nō ia o ka lāhui Hawaiʻi.

A person’s ethnic/national identity is evident through the language he or she uses. If the mother tongue of a people were to disappear, so too would those people disappear. Currently, as we have already lost our independence, the loss of our mother tongue would certainly mean the end of the Hawaiian race.

With a strong cultural identity, our haumāna learn and grow in confidence and personal agency, fortifying their well-being and their capacity to thrive. KS and many others have embraced their kuleana to ensure the perpetuation of ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi in order to ensure the strengthening of cultural identity.

There are many ways that our haumāna honor the deep Christian faith of KS founder Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. How fortunate we are that ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has been preserved and perpetuated through multiple mediums of spiritual practice in our schools including hula, oli and mele. While many recognize the importance of these cultural traditions in the perpetuation of ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, the important role Christianity has played in the perpetuation of ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi is sometimes less realized. Our kūpuna who embraced Christianity refered to Iesū (Jesus) as Hoʻōla ke Akua (God saves).

KS Cultural Specialist Hauʻoli Akaka shares, “This expression in our native tongue brings clarity to our understanding of ke Akua’s benevolent nature and it is no wonder that our hale pule (churches) would become beacons of ke Akua’s hope and the puʻuhonua (sanctuary) for our ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi to ola through pule (prayer and meditation), hīmeni haipule (choral singing), heluhelu Baibala (Bible literacy), kula Sabati (Sunday School), and haʻi ʻEuanelio (preaching of gospel). Ma ka inoa o ka Makua, ke Keiki a me ka ʻUhane Hemolele, e ola! In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, live and thrive!”

May ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi live so that our haumāna and lāhui will thrive!


Perpetuating culture through ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i
KS Kapālama kumu ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi Kahanuola Solatorio has amassed a global social media following of his ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i language-learning resource, “E Ho‘opili Mai” (Repeat After Me). Read about “E Ho‘opili Mai” in our 
I Mua Newsroom and join Solatorio’s ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i haumāna as a family, by following “E Hoʻopili Mai” on InstagramFacebook and YouTube.

Honoring our Christian faith
Ke Ali‘i Pauahi’s deep faith in Ke Akua moved her to create a school for young Hawaiians, giving them the knowledge and skills to thrive in an ever-changing world. Along with that gift, she sought to share with our haumāna a foundation of Christian values to shape their character and guide their actions. Visit the 
KS “Our Faith” page with your keiki for inspirational mele, daily devotionals and more!

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Kawaiaha‘o Plaza

567 South King St
Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 523-6200

KS Hawai‘i

16-716 Volcano Rd
Kea‘au, HI 96749
(808) 982-0000

KS Kapālama

1887 Makuakāne St
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 842-8211

KS Maui

275 ‘A‘apueo Pkwy
Pukalani, HI 96768
(808) 572-3100