Hawaiian Culture

Hawaiian culture stories from Molokai

Standing for the Mauna

Thursday, July 25th, 2019

Standing for the Mauna

“Ku Kia’i Mauna!” chanted about 1,000 Molokai residents gathered at Kaunakakai Ball Park last Friday evening, standing in support of Mauna Kea, opposing construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Hawaii Island. Carrying hand painted signs and upside-down Hawaii flags, keiki to kupuna, primarily of Native Hawaiian descent, stood together in a show of solidarity. Gathering leaders encouraged aloha and positivity, reminding the crowd of the historical importance of the moment.

“We are making history,” said resident Zhantell Lindo, who led the event. “Hawaii will never be the same because of what we did today.”

“Kia’i,” or “protectors,” as those who oppose TMT call themselves, formed a huge mountain-shaped triangle on the ball field.…

Teacher Pushes for Native Acknowledgement

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

Teacher Pushes for Native Acknowledgement

Molokai teacher Uluhani Waialeale of Kualapu’u Public Conversion Charter School was instrumental in helping to pass an important measure for Native Hawaiians at the National Education Association (NEA)’s recent assembly in Houston, Texas.

New Business Item 64 proposed, “At the beginning of all NEA convenings, NEA will acknowledge the native people of whom this land originated.”

The proposal resonated with many teachers from Hawaii. Waialeale said when she first saw the item on the agenda, she gathered fellow Hawaii teachers together and reached out to Martin Thompson, a delegate with the California Teachers Association who initiated the proposal. They strategized how to get the business item passed, and it ended up getting unanimous support.…

Recalling Kulaia History

Sunday, September 9th, 2018

Molokai Canoe Festivals Committee News Release

Historical records dating back to 1865 note Hawaiian outrigger canoe race competitions as one of the many events our kupuna took part in during annual la kulaia, days of festivities honoring the Kingdom of Hawaii and especially honoring our beloved monarchy.  During that era, kulaia generally occurred once a year during a national holiday or birthday celebration of a mo’i (monarch). 

After the overthrow of our beloved Hawaiian Kingdom, kulaia festivities changed focus and no longer celebrated the Kingdom and monarchy.  In historical records, we see the shift from national celebration to simply canoe race competitions.  Therefore, pieces of our historic kulaia were lost and forgotten.…

Tapping Into Tradition

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

Tapping Into Tradition

The rhythm of tapping, like a heartbeat, filled Kulana ‘Oiwi Halau last Tuesday night. It was the sound of a traditional tattoo, or uhi, coming to life — in what might have been the first time on Molokai in more than a century.

Residents gathered around in the dim evening light to watch as cultural practitioner Keli’i Makua brought forth a new uhi before their eyes. Makua studied under renowned Hawaiian tatau artist Keone Nunes, who revived the practice in Hawaii as it was on the verge of extinction. In 2016, Makua went through a historic ceremony in which he became a Kahuna Ka Uhi, or priest of tattooing — the first to receive this honor in Hawaii in more than 200 years.…

Two More Monk Seals Dead

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018


The deaths of two young male Hawaiian monk seals on Molokai in June are being investigated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This comes after a young female was killed at Mo’omomi in May, with injuries showing human-inflicted trauma as the cause of her death. 

An unidentified juvenile male was found dead at  Paka’a beach on Molokai’s west end on June 25. The other young male, identified as RJ26, was born at Kalaupapa last year and found dead on June 18 on the east end near mile marker 22. NOAA’s Jolene Lau said no other details could be released at this time, pending the investigation.…

Finding Unity in Hula

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

Finding Unity in Hula


Honoring a tradition thousands of years old, the 27th annual Ka Hula Piko celebrated the birthplace of hula at Ka’ana on Molokai and carrying forward hula’s value into modern times. Halau and music groups from around the state came together last Saturday at Kualapu`u Community Center to honor dance, language and culture with locals and visitors alike.

The three-day event included a guided cultural excursion to Ka’ana in Maunaloa where hula began, and a Talk Story session with kumu hula, culminating in Saturday’s Ho’olaulea.

Ka Hula Piko was founded by the late Kumu Hula John Ka`imikaua and Halau Hula O Kukunaokala, which is now led by Kumu Hula Elsie Ryder.…

Kamehameha Schools Funds Aka`ula Scholarships

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

Kamehameha Schools Funds Aka`ula Scholarships


A new agreement between Kamehameha Schools (KS) and Molokai’s Aka`ula School will allow more children to attend Aka`ula through financial assistance provided by KS. The agreement was signed last week and the scholarship, called Ho`okahi Ka `Ilau (“wield the paddles together”), will offer tuition assistance and other support for Molokai students demonstrating financial need to attend the small, independent school for students in grades five through 12.

“Today is going to be a game changer for our school,” said Dara Lukonen, Aka`ula School principal, in a KS press release last week. “This partnership with Kamehameha Schools is going to allow us to offer opportunities to students we have not been able to reach yet.”

Akaʻula School was founded 13 years ago, originally as a middle school, then expanded to include high school education in 2012.…

Kuhio’s Homestead Legacy

Saturday, March 31st, 2018

The Molokai community joined Hawaiian homesteaders in celebrating the birthday of Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana`ole last Saturday evening. Held for the first at Mitchell Pauole Center, the annual event is organized by Ahupua`a o Molokai, a nonprofit organization that encompasses all Hawaiian Homestead Associations on Molokai.

“The Prince Kuhio celebration on Molokai is probably the most important event for me,” said Kilia Purdy-Avelino, one of event’s organizers. “As a homesteader, it is an honor and a responsibility to help coordinate an event where we can mahalo Prince Kuhio for advocating for his people, leaving a legacy, seven generations and going. We are blessed to be on this `aina where we can live, truly live, by turning our hands to the soil — huli ka lima i ka lepo, ola!”

Prince Kuhio was born on March 26, 1871, and when he was 21 years old, the Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown before he was called upon to become a successor to the throne.…

Mesmerized by Moana’s 

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Mesmerized by Moana’s 

Moana’s Hula Halau’s annual fundraiser dinner show once again dazzled a captivated audience under the banyan tree at the Molokai Community Health Center last Saturday night. Now under the guidance of Kumu Raquel Dudoit, the halau has been dancing for more than 60 years, according to founder Kumu Moana Dudoit’s grandniece, Zhantell Dudoit Lindo.

The show featured Moana’s wahine, kane and keiki as well as fire dancers from Po`ohala Productions of Maui. One of the evening’s numbers was a dance honoring Aunty Moana written by musician Kuana Torres. The hula referenced her bus service and described her as the “ambassador of aloha,” said Dudoit Lindo.…

Kealopiko Shirt Supports Kualapu`u Immersion Students

Friday, February 16th, 2018

Kealopiko Shirt Supports Kualapu`u Immersion Students

Each morning, students at Kualapu`u School start the day by joining together in chanting a Hawaiian `oli. The third line of the `oli — “Aia i hea ka `uala Lanikeha e wili ai ka lei kalina” — talks about the Lanikeha varity of uala, or sweet potato, from Ho`olehua. This line will soon have special significance and visual representation on a shirt that will both celebrate February as Hawaiian Language Month and raise money to support Hawaiian language learning at Kualapu`u School.

The T-shirt is the result of a collaboration between Hui Makua, the parent organization of Ke Kula Kaiapuni `o Kualapu`u Hawaiian Immersion program at Kualapu`u, and popular local clothing company Kealopiko.…