Ko Ka Leo O Ko Kākou Mau Kūpuna: The Voices of Our Ancestors

"Mai Makaʻu! E Kūpaʻa Ma Ke Aloha I Ka ʻĀina, A E Lokahi E Ka Manaʻo
Do Not Be Afraid! Stand Firm In Love For This Land And Unify In One Thought

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) along with its Community Engagement Team has been promoting its most recent endeavor, The Hawaiian Patriots Project. The project aims to strengthen Kanaka Maoli voices of both the past and present, featuring four short videos of Kanaka Maoli students from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, who give voice to the words of our most courageous aloha ʻāina - Hawaiian Patriots. Four patriots are featured in this project: George Helm, Alice Kamokila Campbell, James Kaulia and Piʻilani (from the story of Kaluaikoʻolau). It was through these patriots, that many others and myself were inspired to strive and make a difference for our lāhui.


The idea for this project stemmed from a course taught by Dr. Noelani Goodyear-Kaopua, with the goal of helping students explore political paths for our lāhui.
This class is important because it teaches you the foundation for self-determination. It allows you to create your own opinions and ideas and share it with others in an intellectually safe space. This class became a space where the learning came from not only the professor, but from the students as well. The beauty of this all was that we were encouraged to take what we learned in the classroom and apply it out in the various communities.

Dr. Goodyear-Kaopua had us haumāna (students) bring to life the words of these revered patriots by recreating their speeches and/or writings through our own leo (voice). The mana (power) that these orators possessed continues to live on through us, the haumāna, who chose to bring new life to their words. It is through this style of learning that allows us to reconnect with our past. "Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻIke, Knowledge Is Obtained Through Doing." As we learned the speeches of these great patriots, we were not only learning what was going on during that particular era, but we were given a platform in which we could inspire other people to speak their voice. These speeches have reminded us that we as a people have been quiet for too long and we cannot remain idle for any longer.

Under the guidance of our kumu, we were able to use the teachings of our kūpuna and apply them to our lives. They taught us to live aloha ʻāina - to develop a deep connection to our land, our pae ʻāina and our lāhui. They have inspired us to call upon our ʻike kūpuna (ancestral knowledge) and use it to take a firm stand, to stand up for what is pono (righteous) and to ensure that the legacy that our ancestors have left will never be forgotten. It is important for all of us to perpetuate the teaching and works of our ancestors because it is our kūleana (responsibility) to carry on their legacy. In everything we do, we represent more than just our selves, but we represent all of those who have come before us. It is because of the sacrifices that they have made, that we have become the individuals that we are today.

I Ka Wā Ma Mua, I Ka Wā Ma Hope

Whether you are Kanaka Maoli or not, it is important for all of us to look to the past for the tools we need to survive in this ever-changing world. We must look to our kūpuna for direction on how to live our lives because they have helped shape us into who we are today, and we reflect them in our every action. In this journey, we must remember that our kūpuna are always with us, walking along side us in every step we take.

By bringing new life to their words, we honor their legacy and acknowledge all the hard work they have done for our lāhui. We are also placing our kāhea (call), to seek their wisdom and guidance, as we attempt to advance our generation in the most pono way possible.

These speeches are more than just words on a piece of paper, they are inspiration for us to pupukahi i holomua - to unite to move forward. We must come together rather than be divided.

It is the love for this ʻāina and love for our lāhui that has helped bring new life to our culture when it was on the verge of extinction. It was the teachings of the past that have helped us perpetuate our language, culture and traditions. It was kūpuna like James Kaulia, George Helm, Kamokila Campbell and Piʻilani, who paved the path for us to follow.

We have heard their voices! Now it will be up to us to follow their lead and live aloha ʻāina. Will you answer their call?

"E naʻi wale no ʻoukou, i ke kūpono ʻaʻole au"
"Prevail and continue my just deeds, for they are not yet finished."
-Kamehameha I

Nelson Gaspar, courtesy of OHA.

Nā Kanaka Aloha ʻĀina (from left to right): Pulama Long (as Kamokila Campbell), Jacob Bryan Kaʻōmakaokalā Aki (as James Kaulia), Anuhea Chong-Sriwongtong (as Piʻilani) and Kawelakai Farrant (as George Helm)