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Kamehameha Schools was founded by the will of Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the great-granddaughter of Kamehameha the Great.

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Maui-based KS Hawaiian Resource Coordinator/singer-songwriter Kalani Pe‘a recently won a Grammy Award for his debut album, “E Walea.” His music helps him inspire students to embrace their Hawaiian identities. Pe‘a composed the mele “Ku‘u Poli‘ahu” – comparing the beauty of the snow goddess of Mauna Kea to his mother – as part of a Hawaiian music composition class at UH-Hilo that he attended while he was a high schooler at Ke Kula ‘o Nāwahīokalani’ōpu‘u.

One for the Lāhui

Kamehameha Schools cultivates a strong Native Hawaiian identity in its learners giving them the confidence and resiliency to thrive. Kalani Peʻa is a stellar example of the many caring KS educators who enrich Pauahiʻs keiki.

Kamehameha Schools has a Grammy award winner in the house.

Hawaiian Resource Coordinator Kalani Peʻa’s debut album “E Walea” was named Best Regional Roots music album at the Grammy Awards on Feb. 12.

It’s the first time a Hawaiian artist has won a Grammy since Hawaiian music was put into the roots category in 2012.

“E Walea” means to be elated, exuberant and joyful, and Pe’a said he felt all those emotions and more when they called out his name on stage to accept the Grammy.

“I was in shock,” he said. “I was proud to be among the nominees and the only representative from Hawaiʻi, but shocked. I was overwhelmed with joy and happiness.”

The album features seven haku mele (original Hawaiian language compositions) and five of Peʻa’s favorite cover songs. Three of the mele were written by KS colleagues (Kanoe Kamaliʻi-Ligsay, KS Maui learning designer and facilitator; Kalehua Simeona, KSH Hawaiian language kumu;  and Makana Garma, education officer for KS’ Public Education Support Division – Kauhale Kīpaipai)  for use in KS campus or community education programs.

For more see this story from Dec. 2016.

“I told my colleagues let’s continue to haku mele and impact the world with Hawaiian music,” Pe’a said. “I want to still collaborate with my KS co-workers and build bridges.”

Peʻa started with KS in 2008 as a temporary staff preschool teacher at the KS-Kona campus. He later became a permanent preschool teacher in Kona before moving to community education in 2012, first working as a Hawaiian resource coordinator in Kona before moving over to the same position on Maui which he currently holds.

He is a proud 2001 Hawaiian immersion graduate of Ke Kula ‘o Nāwahīokalani’ōpu’u in Kea’au, Hawai’i. He holds a BA in mass communications from Colorado Mesa University and is currently working on a master’s degree in early childhood education from Concordia University-St. Paul.

“I create Hawaiian language and cultural curriculum for Explorations Series programs, specifically Ipukukui, Ho’olauna and now the new Kilohana programs for Maui,” Peʻa said.  

“I coordinate the logistics, locations, learning sites, community and education collaborations, facilitate temporary staff teacher training dates or temporary staff development meetings, focus on temporary staff payroll, curriculum planning and creating workbooks for these programs. I’m overseeing all Maui and Kaua’i Ipukukui programs this year.”

Peʻa said the thing he most enjoys about his day job is “working with like-minded people. I love collaborating and building relationships with students, teachers, colleagues and ‘ohana who are all on the same page. I love serving my lāhui Hawai’i.”

In fact, Peʻa dedicated his album and his Grammy award to the lāhui.

“I created this album to bring hope to our future, to educate the world about haku mele Hawai’i and build pilina as we educate and motivate our young Hawaiian keiki to become leaders of today and tomorrow,” he said. "I wanted this album to educate the world about the significance of Hawaiian music.

“I enjoyed everything about being part of the Grammy’s festivities. I’m so happy to carry out the name “Pe’a” and share my music throughout the world and receive worldwide recognition. I do this not for me. I do this for my lāhui Hawai’i, the students and families I serve each day at Kamehameha Schools and the people who love Hawaiian music."

STRATEGIC PLAN 2020
SP2020 is a five-year strategic plan that will guide Kamehameha Schools from 2015 to 2020. The plan marks a starting point toward KS’ Vision 2040, which envisions success for all Native Hawaiian learners.

Kamehameha educators across the state support Goal 3 of SP2020 which calls for KS to cultivate a strong Native Hawaiian identity in learners for the betterment of the lāhui and Action 5 of Kamehameha’s Ten Actions for fiscal year 2017, which calls for KS to integrate cultural principles system-wide.

Related Articles

December 08, 2016

Pe‘a honors nā pua a Pauahi with Grammy-nominated album, ‘E Walea’

Hawaiian Resource Coordinator and singer-songwriter Kalani Pe‘a dedicates his debut album to the children of Pauahi and the families KS serves every day.


January 04, 2016

Ho‘olauna Maui helps students build valuable skills

The one-week summer program delivers more than just a memorable experience for students. Through project-based learning, students develop valuable speaking and listening skills they can apply in their future.


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