HANALEI — “They need to know what I am,” Hanalei School Principal Nathan Aiwohi joked.
“Some thought I was Indian, some thought I was Filipino. But I’m Hawaiian,” Aiwohi said while checking out one of the presentation stations Wednesday.
Mona Ewald was the Hanalei School coordinator for the 16th Annual Hawaiiana Day program, and she is focused on getting members of the community into the school, with numerous hands-on activities.
“The event is designed to provide an environment so the students can see and experience what they don’t see every day,” Ewald said, citing the ‘ulu maika and haka moa games as examples. “You don’t normally see the children playing these games.”
“It seems like the school has had this for a long time,” said Kaili Chandler, one of the presenters.
Chandler was leading a session on net-throwing (“throw net”) and said, “I’ve been doing this (Hawaiiana Day) for a long time.”
The school campus was divided into different arenas of activity, with leaders of various activities aimed at bringing awareness into their respective areas, including culture, agriculture, environment, and recreation.
In Chandler’s area, he prefaced his presentation with a short discussion and demonstration before allowing the students the opportunity to throw their own net.
Surfer Titus Kinimaka was scheduled to appear alongside members of the Hanalei Civic Canoe Club, where both discussed various aspects of water sports to encourage as well as teach the students respect for that arena.
Kawika Winter, director of the Limahuli Gardens, worked alongside Stacy Beck of the Waipa Foundation, as they presented a demonstration on the making of poi.
“I was glad he (Winter) could come to this,” Beck said. “This is our way of reaching out to the community.”
Following the end of their poi demonstration, the students were treated to a sample of fresh poi, the students somehow figuring out how to make the tasting session become a game as they smeared it on their hands.
Beck also offered up samples of taro fritters that were prepared by members of the Haraguchi family, who were involved in their own presentation on the culture and uses of taro, in another classroom.
“They always prepare good food,” Ewald noted.
“Throughout the day, there will be lots of food around the campus. And, for lunch, the parents were invited to come and join their children for some Hawaiian lunch.”
Additionally, because of the nature of the event, Ewald said the students were encouraged to don aloha wear and bring lei for their presenters.
Ewald said, for the event, the parents as well as nearby Menehune School and the Aloha Preschool students, teachers and parents, were also invited to visit the Hanalei School campus.
In another part of the campus, John Kaneholani had musical instruments and hula implements on hand, so students could get a close-up look at and hands-on experience with the various instruments.
“We have one in our back-yard, so probably the Hanalei Watershed Hui people will be having the students out in the back part of the school,” Ewald said, noting that their original station was one of the classrooms.
Takeshi Fujita left his home in ‘Oma’o just after 7 a.m. to get to Hanalei School for the presentation, his area allowing students a chance to make oshibana projects in the school library, while in a neighboring classroom, Donna Kirkpatrick was impressed that members of entire classes were able to learn a kahiko (ancient) hula in just 30 minutes.
Ewald said that this kind of program would not be possible without the help of members of the community. Some of the major players who made the experience possible included representatives of the Waipa Foundation, the Hanalei Watershed Hui, Fujita, Caradyn Colburn, the Hanalei Civic Canoe Club, the Haraguchi family, Kaneholani, and kumu Kirkpatrick.
- Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or firstname.lastname@example.org