Millions flock to Oʻahu’s North Shore each year to catch the best of big wave surfing. Along the way, they pass an ancient hidden treasure – Kupopolo Heiau. But now, a partnership between Kamehameha Schools and the University of Hawaii to create the North Shore Field School is unearthing more knowledge about this wahi kupuna.
“We needed a field school for the students to give them the kind of training they’ll need both in doing archaeology but also working within the community,” said Assoc. Professor Ty Kāwika Tengan of the University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa.
In one moʻolelo, Kupopolo Heiau was built by the Oʻahu chief Kahahana who contemplated invading Kauaʻi. Not receving a sign at Kupopolo, he asked another heiau be built more upland where his kahuna nui eventually indicated that the peace should be maintained.
According to Tengan, “We don’t know exactly what happened with the heiau after that, if it continued to be used or not. And that’s part of why we’re here.”
“So for Kamehameha Schools, instead of hiring a contract archaeology firm, we instead want to collaborate with an educational institution so that we can get the required information and start to lean and study about this area. And at the same time, start to train our own students to then do this work, become professionals in the field, and further develop as future cultural resource managers,” said Jason Jeremiah, Senior Cultural Resource Manager at Kamehameha Schools.
For UH-Mānoa Graduate Assistant Pūlama Lima, ” This type of learning environment – ʻāina-based education – is much more beneficial to us as students not only because we get to come out to the site, learn about it, see it, we actually get to live it.”
“So this field school will help us deepen our understanding of our cultural resources of Kupopolo Heiau in Kawailoa and ties in with our North Shore Masterplan for the region. This project is going to help us achieve those goals of the plan and really engage with the community on the stewardship of our wahi kupuna in this region,” said Jeremiah.
Lima expects to learn from much from this class. I hope to gain not only the technical side of archaeology and how to do archaeology survey, excavation, recording, but also to just get a better understanding of the moʻolelo and really meeting the people of this ʻāina and bringing back the connection between the scientific technology that we can use now with the moʻolelo and have that connection. It really brings a better sense of how to kahu and how to mālama our cultural resources.
The North Shore Field School invites the community to Kupopolo Heiau from 8am-10am every Saturday for the next 16 weeks. To lend a hand, email firstname.lastname@example.org.