Ke Kanakolu arts-education program helps keiki create culturally significant murals statewide

Nov. 8, 2017

Contributed by Kaulu Lu‘uwai

On a hazy afternoon, in the parking lot of the Keauhou Shopping Center, sit 115 haumāna from Ke Kula ‘o ‘Ehunuikaimalino. To the backdrop of a hypnotically calm Kona sea, they listen quietly as John “Prime” Hina, one of Hawai‘i’s premier graffiti artists, stands before them.

“Uncle Prime,” as he’s affectionately known, begins with a proclamation: “The hand has mana,” while casually raising his left hand above his po‘o. In this mana‘o lay many truths. For one, the hua‘ōlelo for finger in ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i is manamanalima. At the same time, it also can be interpreted as “the power of the hand.” The hand indeed has mana, as Uncle Prime proceeds, “to create and to destroy.”

As part of the Living Legacy Series and in collaboration with the Kamehameha Schools Innovations Team, Ke Kanakolu is an innovative arts-education program in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Ke Kula Kaiapuni Hawai‘i, the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program administered under the State Department of Education.

The program will elicit the participation of 21 kula kaiapuni (Hawaiian immersion schools) and kula ho‘āmana (charter schools) across Hawai‘i to create 10 culturally significant art murals. Ke Kanakolu celebrates Kula Kaiapuni across ka pae‘āina, ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i, mo‘olelo, and the ability for the creative genius of our kūpuna to serve as inspiration in a modern context.

It also celebrates the many lima that have contributed to the revitalization of ka ‘ōlelo o ka ‘āina, the language of this land. What was once thought impossible, Kula Kaiapuni is a perfect example of the Hawaiian community working together to achieve one of the greatest accomplishments of the Hawaiian Renaissance era—public K-12 education conducted in ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i.

Flash back to that hazy Kona day at Keauhou Shopping Center. The haumāna of Ke Kula ‘o ‘Ehunuikaimalino are the first participants of Ke Kanakolu, which through the murals, will portray the well-known mo‘olelo of Kalapana, the riddling child of Puna who travels to Kaua‘i to face the masters who had defeated his father in the game of riddling and then executed him.

Just as Kalapana travelled across the islands, so too will Ke Kanakolu travel across Hawai‘i, O‘ahu, Kaua‘i, Maui, and Moloka‘i, to engage haumāna in learning through an arts curriculum grounded in ‘ike kūpuna, Hawaiian values, ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i, and Hawaiian culture.

With a grand mission ahead them, Ke Kanakolu is working to achieve some of the critical outcomes of KS’ Innovations Team, such as social restoration and ‘ōiwi leadership, through haumāna and communities.

Programs like Ke Kanakolu are integral to our work at Kamehameha Schools as we look to Strategic Plan 2020 and beyond to Strategic Vision 2040. This project also gives way for deep reflection as an organization in terms of the work we will employ our own manamanalima to do and the legacy we want to leave for our lāhui.

What is Ke Kanakolu?

The KS Innovations Team has partnered with Ke Kanakolu (30), an innovative arts-education program created in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Ke Kula Kaiapuni Hawai‘i, the DOE’s Hawaiian Language Immersion Program. Today, there are 21 Kula Kaiapuni across the state.

As part of the collaboration, keiki from over 20 Hawaiian immersion and charter schools across Hawai‘i will create 10 culturally significant art murals under the guidance of renown local graffiti artist, John “Prime” Hina.