About the Authors

Kumu Maile Naehu

Kumu Maile Naehu is a co-founder of Ka Hale Hoaka, an online Hawaii-based curriculum created in March 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Learn more about Ka Hale Hoaka at KaHaleHoaka.com and through Facebook and Instagram pages.

Kalani Ho-Nikaido

Kalani Ho-Nikaido is a co-founder of Ka Hale Hoaka, an online Hawaii-based curriculum created in March 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Learn more about Ka Hale Hoaka at KaHaleHoaka.com and through Facebook and Instagram pages.

It’s been two years since the Covid-19 pandemic started. Two years since students experienced a “normal” school day. Two years since parents were hurled into home schooling with no road map or lesson plan.

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Even after two years, many families are still in limbo. Many are still wondering if their keiki are behind because their schools were ill-prepared for a pandemic and unable to pivot in a productive way.

Hawaii needs to take action now to ensure our keiki are ready to lead us in the future, and it can be done by using tools already available.

The pandemic’s effect was harsh and polarizing especially when it came to education. While many private schools were able to adapt at a swift pace, families relying on public education were left floundering. Many public schools had no plan for lessons and no comprehensive or uniform plan for health and wellness when students returned to campus.

We saw how ohana were struggling to keep keiki connected to their education while remaining rooted in their culture. As parents, as educators and as Native Hawaiians, we couldn’t let that happen. As mothers, we experienced the challenges firsthand, and we knew we could help make a difference. That’s why we created our own education program: Ka Hale Hoaka.

Ka Hale Hoaka is the only Hawaii-based online educational program available to help students in traditional and home-school environments and their families thrive during an uncertain time. Aside from using traditional forms of teaching with a website, we also leaned on social media to grow our community and help teach the lessons our keiki so desperately needed.

Perpetuating Hawaiian Culture

We offered free lessons via Facebook Live, which helped our small kanaka and wahine-owned business reach people around the globe and thrive. We’ve been able to share not just Olelo Hawaii but our culture as well. We’ve connected students through oli, crafts and other activities. By developing the lessons ourselves, we were able to weave traditional and modern instructional tools to bridge the cultural and educational divide that was created by the pandemic.

Our program started small with only a few hundred participants. Two years later, through live streaming courses, contests and sponsored Facebook ads, we have been able to connect with more than 12,000 people who take part in free and paid courses and now have a vested interest in perpetuating Hawaiian culture.

Since Ka Hale Hoaka’s inception, we have been able to foster a new cohort of Hawaiian language teachers, and have been able to teach the Hawaiian Language to communities from as far away as Europe and New Zealand.

What Our Keiki Need

As Hawaiians, we are raised to malama each other. As a kumu, Maile Naehu knew what needed to be done, what our keiki were missing as they spent days, weeks, months, now years, trying to learn in a different way. She also knew how important that cultural connection would be to help ohana navigate the educational challenges presented.

Our curriculum is created where we live. It has a sense of place and pride and connection. The online platforms provided to parents right now are developed on the mainland, and while they may be a fine fit for children there, they are lacking what our keiki need.

At a time when the high cost of living in Hawaii is driving families away from the islands, Ka Hale Hoaka offers a way to keep them connected to their birthplace and their culture, no matter where they settle. Our programs are designed for the whole family to come together and share this learning experience — where parents and children can be students together.

The curriculum was developed by us: two working mothers who saw a need to teach their keiki at a time when the traditional education system couldn’t. There needs to be a way to better integrate the indigenous language and culture into classrooms.

As Hawaiians, we are raised to malama each other.

The two official languages of Hawaii are Olelo Hawaii and English, yet the only distance learning available to most students, including those in immersion programs, was in English. If we could build an entire program in both Olelo Hawaii and English, there should be a way to use both in classrooms statewide. More culture-based and Hawaiian language-based courses need to be available to not just students, but also teachers and parents who are raising these keiki to be better citizens of Hawaii.

The pandemic has certainly made its mark on modern history, and while it brought with it so much loss, it also brought us opportunities. As mama, we rise to the occasion for our keiki and our communities. We ensure that the history of our people, the foundation laid by our kupuna, and the legacy of incredible contributions of wahine live on in our children.

We need to implement programs that can educate our keiki and prepare them for the future. Two moms could do it. Hawaii can, too.

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Column lengths should be no more than 800 words and we need a photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to news@civilbeat.org. The opinions and information expressed in Community Voices are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.


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About the Authors

Kumu Maile Naehu

Kumu Maile Naehu is a co-founder of Ka Hale Hoaka, an online Hawaii-based curriculum created in March 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Learn more about Ka Hale Hoaka at KaHaleHoaka.com and through Facebook and Instagram pages.

Kalani Ho-Nikaido

Kalani Ho-Nikaido is a co-founder of Ka Hale Hoaka, an online Hawaii-based curriculum created in March 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Learn more about Ka Hale Hoaka at KaHaleHoaka.com and through Facebook and Instagram pages.


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