Kāneʻohe Elementary School and Kamehameha Schools teamed up to create a memorable summer for keiki exploring the Hawaiian culture and place-based lessons. Video courtesy: Kāneʻohe Elementary School
Contributed by Nadine Lagaso
From Hawaiian healing techniques to the farm-to-table movement, haumāna explored cultural activities and ʻāina-based education offered through a new collaboration between Kamehameha Schools and community partners this summer.
KS provided funding for 33 Kaulu Huakaʻi Kauwela programs that enrolled 1,931 students across the pae ʻāina. One collaborator, ʻAha Kāne, connected with middle school haumāna on Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi and Hawaiʻi island. The Ka Pā o Lonopūhā program aimed to foster healers in homes by teaching participants about lomi techniques, hoʻoponopono and cultural protocols.
“We did a bunch of different things this summer, but I think the most exciting part was to see the engagement of the students, the haumāna,” said Bella Finau-Faumuina, a Ka Pā o Lonopūhā kumu. “They came on a Sunday, all day, when they could have been at the beach or other places, but their ʻohana obviously are dedicated to ʻike kūpuna, ʻike Hawaiʻi, and the practices of healing that our lāhui is in need of, and is relearning and reestablishing those roots in the hearts and minds of our keiki.”
As the students developed skills to promote well-being, they also gained confidence in a short period of time.
“They have that drive because we know that it comes from their kūpuna; it’s innately in them, and to help them mālama, kākoʻo them to search out, to see who or what they need to do, and allow them to grow and just support them, I think, is the main thing. Let them know the sky’s the limit,” explained Kēhaulani Fergerstrom, a Ka Pā o Lonopūhā kumu.
Another community collaborator, Kāneʻohe Elementary School, offered students outdoor learning opportunities through Luluku Farms and the Estria Foundation’s Mele Murals program.
“The kids are learning that farming is a very big part of the Hawaiian culture, and all of the things that we learn from farming – from growing it to putting it on our table to eat and feed our family – is an entire process that we can learn from,” said Mark Paikuli-Stride, a mahiʻai of Luluku Farms.
Most of the keiki had been doing distance or blended learning for more than a year.
“They have a greater appreciation of where they live and how they can respect that going into the future so that we’re not overtaxing the land,” said Kāneʻohe Elementary School principal Derek Minakami. “We want kids to be leaders in their community. We want them to be alakaʻi, to take on that kuleana or responsibility of caring for and making it more sustainable.”
The Huakaʻi Kauwela programs were offered through Kaulu by KS Digital, a new online portal that will expand to connect haumāna and ʻohana to a broad range of community-created learning opportunities.
“The community collaborators engage learners through a deeply rooted Hawaiian worldview that celebrates their spaces,” said Makana Garma, a senior project manager with Kealaiwikuamoʻo. “KS’ partnerships and community engagement efforts reflect a renewed focus on ʻōiwi leaders as the drivers of meaningful change and the foundation of community resilience.”
Haumāna on four islands learned about Hawaiian healing traditions through a summer program supported by Kamehameha Schools. Video courtesy: ʻAha Kāne.