Kamehameha Schools Ipukukui Program

The Kamehameha Schools Ipukukui program recently visited the Kalaeloa Heritage Park in October. Ipukukui is a week-long day program that takes place throughout the year and has a regional focus on the values and resources in its district. The program is facilitated statewide on Maui, Molokaʻi, Kauaʻi, and Hawaiʻi island. The motto for the program is ka ipukukui pio ʻole – the light that will not go out. This is figuratively illustrative of the will of Kamehameha Schools founder, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, in respect to educational empowerment and enlightenment for youth of Hawaiian decent.

The theme for this year’s program was the makahiki season, or Lonoikamakahiki! I can imagine that ka poʻe kahiko, the people of ancient Hawaii, greatly anticipated and looked forward to this time of the year. They understood that water was precious especially due to their arid and karst environment. The coming of Lono signified the coming of the rain or hoʻoilo – the wet season. The makahiki was a celebration amongst other things. It was the “first fruits festival,” which interestingly enough is called pararaʻa matahiti in Tahiti and in the Marquesas, was celebrated in the season of mataiki. In Tonga, during the time of the first fruits, the sport of wrestling, boxing, and club fighting took place. These are similar to the sports and activities that would have been witnessed during Lonoikamakahiki in Hawaiʻi. As it pertains to Kualakaʻi, the stories of the kiamanu or bird catcher from Kānehili comes to mind, “smoking” the manu oʻo for its prized yellow feathers; a prestigious hoʻokupu or offering to the Aliʻi during makahiki. Or the agricultural mounds of fragmented coral found in the heritage park, used to plant sweet potato before the coming of the rains. This too would have been offered. Geographically, we can imagine the abundance of salted fish and limu that grew on the Ewa shoreline near Kualakaʻi, this probably too would have been offered to the Aliʻi during makahiki season. These are the stories of Kalaeloa Heritage Park that are shared with students.

120 students from Ipukukui’s Ewa chapter were hosted by docents Eric Matanane, Linda Kane, Chuck Chambers, and Kawika Shook. Students were welcomed into the kauhale or communal house following traditional protocol. They participated in a 1-hour docent tour of the 3-acre cleared parcel referred to as Site 1753. After lunch, the students were divided into groups and participated in various malama ʻāina initiatives.

At the closing of the day, an oli mahalo was offered by students, teachers, and docents channeling grateful hearts and voices in the direction of the crypt that secures the kupuna iwi or ancestral remains of Kualakaʻi. As if on cue, a light rain came down on our group and stopped shortly after the offering was made. I would suppose that the average person would consider such an event a coincidence. I think we could all agree that it was, however, a special moment shared between the ancestors and current stewards of Kualakaʻi.

The KHLF was excited to host the Ipukukui program and looks forward to continuing our partnership as we share a common vision of being ka ipukukui pio ʻole – a steadfast light in education, excellence, and cultural preservation.

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