This past school year, fifth graders from Kamehameha Schools Maui were challenged with projects that explored the writings of our ancestors in nūpepa kahiko (old newspaper) printed in ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i.
Created by KS Maui social studies teachers Hulali DeLima and Alex Akana in collaboration with colleagues Kauʻi ʻAikala and Clarke Tuitele, the class unit set out to help students improve their research and writing skills while learning Hawai‘i’s history and the importance of nūpepa in documenting the past.
As part of the class, the haumāna studied two mele written by Queen Liliʻuokalani during her imprisonment at ‘Iolani Palace – “Kuʻu Pua I Paoakalani” and “Ke Aloha O Ka Haku.” Delving into the lyrics and historical meaning, the students were amazed at the queen’s use of similes, metaphors and personification throughout the songs.
While examining “Ku‘u Pua I Paoakalani,” in particular, the students learned of the never fading flowers delivered to her purposely wrapped in nūpepa to share the latest news of her people.
To fully grasp the queen’s experience, the students took a trip to O‘ahu to tour ‘Iolani Palace and sing both songs in the very room that they were written. The performance was captured in a music video produced by Josh Tatofi and Antonio Agusto, which was later shared at the end-of-year hō‘ike.