In 2015, Kamehameha Schools made an organized commitment to uplift language and culture. One part of this commitment was our ‘Ōlelo Kahua program, which was an unprecedented initiative to normalize ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i at Kamehameha Schools. The move to have monthly employee training sessions on Hawaiian language and culture was a true investment in staff – a unique gift of professional development—and a catalyst for change.
KS CEO Jack Wong extends a heartfelt “mahalo” to KS staffers for working diligently to normalize ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i throughout the organization: “We are living proof that Hawaiian identity is key to Hawaiian success – something Princess Pauahi knew all along.”
To nurture our growth as Native Hawaiian organization, Kamehameha Schools developed cultural principles of Hawaiian identity to serve as a foundation for all that we do. KS groups, campuses and divisions flexed their cultural change muscles and identified their own initiatives around the principles of:
Members of our Strategy & Transformation Group embrace the cultural principle of loina Kamehameha (shared customs and practices) by fashioning lei out of laua‘e fern and lā‘ī (ti leaves).
While in-person gatherings and exchanges have been put on hold as communities around the globe remain mindful of the COVID-19 pandemic, a robust network of cultural collaborations continues to thrive throughout the Pacific. For the first time in its history, Kamehameha Schools has created and continues to build a Pacific network of indigenous partnerships that promotes ancestral knowledge and worldview to help shape local and global solutions through cultural, educational, and professional exchanges.
‘Aha Moananuiākea Pacific Consortium encompasses KS, the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Bishop Museum, and the University of Hawai‘i System, and is led and organized by KS’ Ho‘okahua Cultural Vibrancy Group. Based at the Ka‘iwakīloumoku Hawaiian Cultural Center, an emerging Pacific indigenous institute on the KS Kapālama campus, the consortium’s purpose is to honor the ancestral oceanic home of Native Hawaiians – Moananuiākea – where profound human achievements have taken place for millennia.
The ‘Aha Moananuiākea Pacific Consortium – gathered for an ‘aha hoʻokipa at KS’ Ka‘iwakīloumoku Hawaiian Cultural Center to ceremonially welcoming the Honorable Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu – minister of Culture and the Environment for French Polynesia – to Hawai‘i. The purpose of the event was to explore the possibilities for a Hawai‘i/Tahiti cultural partnership. A partnership was eventually forged and Maamaatuaiahutapu and President of French Polynesia Édouard Fritch signed a declaration representing French Polynesia’s commitment to a cultural, educational and environmental partnership with ‘Aha Moananuiākea.
Kamehameha Schools is a founding member of Kanaeokana – a network of over 50 Hawaiian language, culture, and ‘āina-based schools and organizations (preschool through university level) collaborating to develop and grow a Hawaiian education system. That system will nurture the next generations of leaders strengthened by a strong Hawaiian language and cultural foundation. Kanaeokana is supported by the KS Kealaiwikuamo‘o Division, which facilitates and supports the needs of the network by providing communications services, advancing network projects and initiatives and producing resources for network members that amplify Hawaiian perspectives.
‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i is the language of Hawai‘i, and learning it opens up the stories and history of Hawai‘i as the Hawaiian culture lives on and is transmitted from generation to generation. In an effort to share ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i with learners around the world, Kanaeokana and Kamehameha Schools partnered with the language education platform Duolingo to make Hawaiian language accessible to everyone from keiki to kūpuna.