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Haleakalā National Park to roll out 1st distance-learning program in Hawaiian

Haleakalā National Park’s Summit District
Jayna Omaye
Haleakalā National Park’s Summit District.

Honeygirl Duman didn’t grow up speaking Hawaiian. But she is finding her way back to her roots.

“Hawaiian language is such a passion of mine because my grandmother was full Hawaiian, and she spoke the language but never taught any of her children,” she said. “So by the time it came down to the grandchildren, we didn’t know anything.”

For the past year, Duman, Haleakalā National Park’s interpretation and education specialist, has been leading an effort to create the park’s first program in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. It will offer natural and cultural lessons about the park and is targeted to fourth graders.

The distance-learning curriculum will be free and accessible to the public, and Duman said they plan to upload it to the park’s website next week.

Interpretation and Education Specialist Honeygirl Duman at Haleakalā National Park
University of Hawaiʻi News
Honeygirl Duman is Haleakalā National Park's interpretation and education specialist.

“The Hawaiian language was almost lost. And if you don’t have these programs available for our upcoming haumāna, our students, and teachers, then they’re going to struggle more,” she said. “So it’s very important — it’s the language of the land. It’s the language of our people.”

Through a grant from the National Park Foundation, Duman hired two Hawaiian language teachers to develop lesson plans, worksheets and activities.

One of them is Kaleialoha Kaniaupio-Crozier, a Hawaiian immersion teacher at Pāʻia Elementary School. Her lesson focuses on the ʻāhinahina, a silversword plant found on the slopes of Haleakalā in the Summit District.

“Now seeing Haleakalā from my classroom is very different. I’m consciously thinking about the ʻāhinahina. How’s it doing? Is it OK?” she said. “I hope that with this lesson, it brings that type of consciousness or it awakens that type of consciousness inside of my students.”

Kaniaupio-Crozier’s lesson includes what it takes for the ʻāhinahina to grow and its connection to Native Hawaiian culture.

She also wrote moʻolelo, or stories, about the plant that incorporate social-emotional learning. She said she hopes it shows students how they can be like the ʻāhinahina and flourish in their environment.

The ʻāhinahina is a silversword plant found on the slopes of Haleakalā National Park's Summit District.
Jayna Omaye
The ʻāhinahina is a silversword plant found on the slopes of Haleakalā National Park's Summit District.

“I think another goal for me in creating the ʻāhinahina lesson was hoping that our students find agency in aloha ʻāina,” she said, “that they see that they are a vessel themselves… to carry out this type of responsibility.”

Heitiare Kawehi Kammerer, a former Hawaiian immersion student and teacher, has family ties in Hana and focused on the traditional Hawaiian hale built by community members in the park’s Kīpahulu District.

Her lesson includes the plants used to build hale, Hawaiian proverbs and the hale’s importance to the community. Kammerer, a Hawaiian culture-based education coordinator at Kamehameha Schools Kapālama, visited Kīpahulu and connected with community members. She was also able to participate in hale building this summer.

“That’s kind of my hope, that it’s going to be a resource to our own Hawaiian immersion program but also to bring kānaka to that space,” she said. “Because I think we need to… make it more of a space where kānaka can gather for hula, gather for different purposes. So it’s just building on that pilina (relationship) with kānaka and the national park.”

Duman said they’re already planning for more park programs in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi.

“So it’s kind of like a stepping stone into what Hawaiian language education programs for the park can be and what we’re building on,” she said. “So this is just a good start for us.”

Jayna Omaye was a culture and arts reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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