Lāhui Rising: ʻAumiki’ inspires a new generation of Hawaiian language content creators

Aug. 10, 2021

Contributed by Hoʻokahua Cultural Vibrancy Group

The KS educational series “Lāhui Rising” returns in digital form to celebrate the collective hana of people who love and uplift the Hawaiian community. Our newest episode of Lāhui Rising features the digital content creators behind the ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi website “Aumiki.”

Social and digital media have allowed ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, moʻolelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian stories), and kuanaʻike Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian perspectives) to be shared with global audiences on a much larger scale than at any other time in our history. We have new opportunities to record and preserve cultural knowledge, continuing the innovative and adaptive traits of our kūpuna, who began recording more than a million pages of information in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi in the nūpepa (Hawaiian language newspapers) from 1834.

Kamehameha Schools alumni Kuʻulei Bezilla KSH’08, Kamalani Johnson KSK’11 and Kapuaonaona Roback KSK’10 ended their time at the University of Hawaiʻi Hilo campus with strong foundations of ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, but also with the desire to see ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi live and thrive in areas outside of a classroom.

This shared desire led the friends to create “Aumiki,” a creative media entity of ʻōlelo housed on the website aumiki.com but which is also found on social media platforms Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. The website strives to normalize ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi so that the people of Hawaiʻi can have better relationships with our ʻāina (land), mauli (identity), and nohona (lifepaths).

“Aumiki is a way for us to get the ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi community and the larger Hawaiian community engaged in these types of discussions, ma ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi [in Hawaiian Language],” Bezilla said.

The word “aumiki” can refer to fresh water mixed with noni juice, which is usually served after drinking ʻawa. The aumiki was a sign that the elevated ceremonial portions associated with consuming ʻawa was concluded; ceremonial restrictions were lifted and formal speeches were finished. People would sip aumiki and were able to have conversations, enjoying each other’s company. The freedom of flowing and pleasant conversation was what the group had in mind when they formed Aumiki.

“Instead of waiting for something like a Pinterest blog to happen ma ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi or wishing that there was a tutorial ma ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, we decided that we would try and create that pathway, learning as we go,” Bezilla shares. “There are people who can ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi and who want more than just to learn ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi; they want to engage ma ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi in current topics and situations that are relevant today and to them.”

Creating a wide variety of content in different digital mediums can be challenging; doing it ma ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi adds another layer of complexity to the effort. Bezilla, Johnson, and Roback actively try to strengthen their creative media processes, though the fact that the group started off as friends makes this work easy and enjoyable.

“The three of us come from different backgrounds,” BeziIla said. “We use technology, we use video and printing, some of us are really good editors; but really trying to put those things together to bring forth a particular kind of voice and brand that is Aumiki is something that we have been trying to perfect.”

The team hopes Aumiki will serve as an inspiration for others and jumpstart the creation of even more resources and environments that help ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi thrive.  “We hope that what we put forth will inspire people to actively engage ma ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi and to think ma ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, and to create their own products ma ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi” says Bezilla.

E ka ʻohana Kamehameha, ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi was the language of our founder, Princess Bernice Pauahi, and continues to be one of the foundations of our work at Kamehameha. Uplifting and promoting ka ʻōlelo o kēia ʻāina is an important part of our kuleana as a KS ʻohana. Telling our stories in Hawaiian through digital mediums like the team at Aumiki is doing, invigorates our kaiaulu Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian communities), helps to reimagine the world, and enables our mauli (identity) to continue and thrive in every new generation. E holomua kākou!

Aumiki is a creative media resource in the Hawaiian language. Learn more about this valuable resource at aumiki.com.