“Music is probably the purest language; it comes straight from the soul out.” says co-founder, Mahani Teave. “This island, and all the islands in Polynesia, I feel it’s part of the air we breathe – it’s part of who we are.”
Kamehameha Schools and Ke Kula ʻO Samuel M. Kamakau students joined Hōkūleʻa crew members at Toki School to share in a day of music, a day of work, and a day of wanting to transform education.
“You know, in that space of time, in that place, and just the sharing of those things that are so imporatnt to them and to us – when you can be a part of that you understand that.” says Pwo Navigator, Bruce Blankenfeld. “It’s not just doing pule (prayer), it’s really expressing from deep within who we are, what we are about, and what we intend to do.”
“I am a musician, a pianist. I started here on the islands, when the first teacher just happened to be here for a year. And, as all the other children on the island, I was really curious for the music – for anything which was new.” says Teave “So I went in search of her, and begged her to teach me, and I started. But shortly after, she had to leave, and that was the reccuring story of the island; somebody would come, they would teach something, and then get all the illusions up in the children, and then go. You don’t choose what talent you are born with. It’s was part of this awakening in a way to say ʻWhy? If you are born with a talent, which you don’t choose, why don’t I have a chance to develop it in my own place, and my people, and my language?’”
Without a stable outlet to further her lessons home in Rapa Nui, Mahani’s parents took her to Chile so that she could pursue her passion. Today, she is back in Rapa Nui fulfilling another dream she had.
“I was away giving concerts and I just mentioned how I had had the chance because I had to leave the island, but then that would not be the idea. The idea is that the children will be able to develop their talents in their homeland. A couple of people from out of the island heard about this and said, ‘well we’ll help you’.” says Teave. “So it has been a lot of work, but we got our first instruments, and our concept is we need to rescue what is ours, our traditional culture, and give opportunities that are not in existance in this island.
Toki School is an earthship-designed, sustainable music school using earth-friendly technology to provide free education to children of Rapa Nui. Along with learning music, children are taught how to live in harmony with their surroundings, even with the influx of non-biodegratable materials to their small island.
“One of the linchpins of this voyage is to help transform education; to look at education outside of the box a little bit.” says Blankenfeld. “Just looking at this, they can see how they can create an amazing space using what is at hand. So all of the trash from the canoes, all the plastic, and everything that’s non-biodegratable, was taken off the waʻa, and they wanted it. So it’s an empty tire, lined with the cardboard, so it wouldn’t lose the soil. Then all the sides got stuffed with all the plastic, the non-biodegratable stuff. Then soil, you know, we tapped it all in till the thing is just became part of the rock. I haven’t seen it in Hawaiʻi yet, but it’s awesome that they are doing it. These guys are living it, by building a structure and a place like this, which is a school. You can do that! Look at this!”
The way we see it, is that you have choice.” says Teave. “Our choice is to work together, to hold our hands together, between everybody. Start connecting, start reviving all the knowledge of our ancestors and bring the best of what is in the world to this place too. We’re all different in the world. We all have different cultures, and we have to treasure these cultures and take care of them. But we have to learn to live togehter, communicate together, and work together. The concept is that we are each a toki (carving tool), and we are carving the present – our life, and the future of this planet – our kids. It’s our big responsibiliyt to do that – I mean, we are alive! So there is no sitting back and watching how life goes by…we have to do something.”