Acknowledging Kahalu’u-Keauhou as a historically important place of Hawaiian culture and leadership, Kamehameha Schools has prioritized its efforts to perpetuate this knowledge and expand land-based educational opportunities.
“Here in Kahaluʻu Makai, there are a lot of bold decisions that leadership have made in the last few years. Really starting with the decision, well really started with the decision to restore these heiau here.” says Kaʻeo Duarte, the Director of Strategic Initiatives at Kamehameha Schools.
Cultural Specialist, Mahealani Pai, says that, “when the trustees began to lift up the pōhaku, they were actually elevating the community; and actually beginning to elevate the ʻāina. They didn’t want to make the same mistakes, to learn from their mistakes, but also to involve the community.”
The closing of the Keauhou Beach Resort in 2012 was the next major step by Kamehameha Schools in shifting its priorities for Keauhou-Kahaluʻu, one of its most valuable land holdings.
“We, as an institution are re-establishing that that connection, that kuleana, as a Hawaiian institution, with place. And we are doing it with the people of this place. There are five values that we are charged with managing to at Kamehameha Schools, of culture, community, education, economics and environment and we have an opportunity here to engage with all five.” says Kaeo Duarte.
With these values in mind, Kamehameha Schools is taking an innovative approach to its kuleana between people and land. This began years ago with the heiau restoration, and will continue with more cultural land-based educational opportunities.
Mahealani Pai says that, “there are two programs, hallmarks that came from the restoration, Kiaʻi ʻĀina Kualoloa, guardians of the long back of the land, and the Hui Kāha Pōhaku, the group that measures and draws the placements of the stones. That are two programs that really are the foundational outcomes of the, our work.”
While working with the students, Mahealani, and other community experts, share the value of this area, its history as well as mathematical and scientific skills that are relevant to the restoration of these sites.
“The subjects that we speak about that’s engrained in our culture is mathematics and geometry, algebra, Hawaiian physics, and science; from the very deep and cultural perspective.” says Mahealani Pai.
Alton Kauahi, a student participant passionately shares that he “never use to look at my Hawaiian culture as something cool. But then when I got into doing the Kahaluʻu Manowai – like going and seeing all the heiaus and just being there where my great ancestors use to put up all these heiaus, like it took all of them to do that just for us know.”
“As we begin to put the stones back together, you can see that we’re actually building the community.” says Mahealani Pai.