Community Connection and Kanu o ka ʻĀina’s Hula Drama

Education is not just about giving our haumāna skills in math, reading, and writing; it is also about teaching them values. Teaching them the relationship between kānaka and land. How to navigate to new places while always knowing how to come home to your culture and your ʻāina. How to use the wisdom of our kūpuna to find solutions for modern problems. How to feed your community and rely on them for strength when you need it.

Kanu o ka ʻĀina on Hawaiʻi Island takes this approach to heart, even in the way that they assess the progress and success of their students. They center the ʻāina and the people upon it in all of their educational efforts. The students come from the community, they learn from the community, and they perform for the community, and it is the community that assesses their success. All of Waimea comes together to put on a hula drama every year at Kahilu Theater. Parents help make costumes and dress the student performers. Haumāna are mentored in theater production, lighting, sound, etc. And they perform the moʻolelo and ʻike that they were given by the community as a way to show the community that they are caring for their stories and knowledge, and that they will make sure that those things live on.

“What Kanu has taught us is you go out and experience your experience, know where you’re from, but then you come home to feed your people and take care of them and make sure your community grows through everything else.”

Keliko Hurley, Haumana, Kanu o ka ‘Āina