On October 31, 1883, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop signed her will that established the Kamehameha Schools. Exactly 130 years later, her legacy continues at the groundbreaking ceremony for a future Kamehameha Community Learning Center in Māʻili.
“These will be places of learning, places that will allow innovation to grow, innovation in education. Will also provide a nexus for the KS presence here on the Wai’anae coast. And lastly these will be places that will reduce barriers for service providers and families to come and gather. And so we’re expecting that our community learning centers will be used by this community from people womb to tomb, twinkle to wrinkle,” said Kalei Kaʻilihiwa, director of community programs for the Ka Pua Initiative.
Located in the shadows of Puʻu o Hulu and Puʻu Māʻili, the complex is the result of collaborative efforts by Kamehameha Schools and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to better serve Native Hawaiians.
“We know that to be successful in our mission to improve the capability and well being of Hawaiians through education, the most important place for us to be is here on the Waiʻanae Coast for the simple reason that the highest concentration of Native Hawaiians anywhere in this world live between Kahe Point and Kaʻena Point,” said Kaʻilihiwa.
“The beneficiaries that we serve are a subset of the greater beneficiaries that Kamehameha serves. But many of the families overlap. And so what we do well is looking at the housing that becomes a home, a center for these families. And what Kamehameha brings are the educational opportunities, which meet a different set of needs for our families. So by working together we are able to provide a full range of services to help our families grow, help our communities grow, and help the lāhui grow. This project is a representation of that coming together in a real way, which is very Hawaiian, you know,” said Hawaiian Homes Commission Chairperson Jobie Masagatani.
Preschool classrooms are expected to open in August 2014.
“Phase I is for our earliest learners, the very youngest in our community. It will feature an infant and toddler center, 12 preschool classrooms, and an early learning kauhale. Of the 12 preschool classrooms, Kamehameha will occupy two. The remaining ten will be operated by many of our collaborators in the community,” said Kaʻilihiwa.
One of the partners is the Pūnana Leo o Waiʻanae, which currently serves 30 families through its unique Hawaiian language curriculum.
“No laila, kēia, kēia wahi, kēia ʻāina a mākou e neʻe ana i kēia pilina me ko Kamehameha he pōmaikaʻi nō ia no ka mea e ʻae ʻia ana mākou e hana ma ke ʻano he ʻohana nui o Waiʻanae. [Being able to work with Kamehameha Schools is such a blessing. We are expanding as one big family of Waiʻanae],” said Kalehua Caceres, a teacher at the Pūnana Leo o Waiʻanae.
The vision for our work, Kamehameha Schools’ Ka Pua Initiative is that all children on the Waiʻanae Coast will be connected to place, supported in learning, and succeeding as tomorrow’s local and global leaders. When I say connected to place, we can double the numbers of graduates from our community, but if they’ve forgotten who they are where they come from, we haven’t done our job,” said Kaʻilihiwa.
“Oiai wau he kupu o kēia ʻili ʻo Māʻili. Hauʻoli loa wau i ke ʻike ana i kēia ano papahana i hana pū ʻia me na ʻano pāʻoihana, ʻano hui hoʻonaʻauao keiki no ka mea he mea kūikawā i hiki ke launa ai, ke hoʻonaʻauao ʻia ko Waiʻanae poʻe i hiki ke hōʻea i ‘ānuʻu hou aku mai kēia mua aku no ka pono o ka lāhui, no ka pono o kēia kupa o Waiʻanae. [I’m pleased to see this collaboration in my homeland of Māʻili. This unique type of learning environment is the start to many educational opportunities for our Waiʻanae community and Hawaiʻi as a whole],” said Caceres.