In 2020, Auntie Kuuipo had received a video transcript of her ohana's DLNR court proceedings regarding their property in Aleamai. In 2004, they received a notice stating they were being fined $20,000 for landscaping without a landscaping permit. Her Daddy, Uncle Kamuela, had cleared a portion of the land that was overgrown after the sugar companies left. Auntie Kuuipo reached out to her brother, Puakea Nogelmier. Together, along with friends and family, they presented testimony regarding the land. Most important were three mele written by Puakea, Auntie, and Uncle Kamuela respectively. Along with their mele, hula was also shared. The result - the case against her ohana was dismissed and told they would never need to obtain permits to do what Hawaiians have been doing for generations - malama ka aina.
Auntie Kuuipo, motivated by the need to preserve our moolelo through mele, turned to Auntie Jeninne and said, 'let's form a foundation dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and perpetuation of mele Hawaii.' And so it began. They recruited two others to be executive board members, Alaina Fukui, Secretary/Treasurer, and Beth Post, Vice President.
from Kuʻuipo Kumukahi
Where has the year gone? As we reflect on 2022, let us celebrate our shared achievements. We’ve seen Ho ‘okela grow leaps and bounds! We went from a 300+ square foot space to a 2200+ square foot space in October 2021. Uncle Herman Lee Helemano generously loaned us his beautiful collection of kahili and Brook Parker paintings to grace our space. Many kanaka that come to visit us say they can feel the mana. We’ve extended our hours from 20 per week to 35. Since Kekoa Hager, Communications Director, implemented an automated sign in process, we are able to track the number of people participating in the many immersive Hawaiian cultural experiences offered at Ho‘okela. Between May and October of this year, we hosted over 2,500 guests – an average of 417 people per month! None of that would’ve been possible without the hard work and dedication of our HMPS staff and community volunteers. Let me introduce them…
Auntie Ilima DeLaCruz volunteers her time with us once a week. She conducts classes with guests and shares our rich culture through mele and mo‘olelo.
Auntie Delcy Saito, retired teacher at St. Andrew’s Priory, volunteers her time with us when she can. She also brings PAA (Papakolea Anake & Anakala) when can. Their gentle ways and loving smiles are always a joy to be around. Sometimes, they come with their instruments in hand…such a treat!
Jeninne Heleloa is the Executive Director of HMPS. She works alongside me to develop programs for Ho‘okela. If you come when we’re open, join her for hula-cise, a low-impact exercise program utilizing hula steps. It’ll get your blood flowing and your body moving!
Kekoa Hager, Communications Director, is responsible for maintaining our website, creating printed collateral, and providing us tools to keep us organized and on track. He, along with Kamaluhia Cheong, an integral part of our volunteer team, create this fabulous monthly newsletter and the words of the week. We love this dynamic duo!
Tulutulu Mana, Project Coordinator / Site Manager: Ho‘okela, is responsible for recruiting and training personnel to lead the immersive Hawaiian cultural programs. Her kuleana is to ensure guests receive accurate information with aloha. Her beautiful smile and sweet ‘ano welcomes all that visit us.
Tasha Dinulong, once intern, then volunteer, now contractor, has blossomed in her role. She still conducts classes with guests, but her primary role now is as our resident photographer. We are helping her to hone her skills as she develops her craft. Photography is her passion and we support her 100%!
Bridgette Reclusado, once intern, now contractor, has also found her place with us at Ho‘okela. She welcomes guests and leads them in Hawaiian cultural experiences. As part of her internship, she developed a model to provide tours for our guests. We plan to launch it during the second quarter of 2023.
As we close out 2022, let us be thankful for one more year of life, to live, love, and serve as our ‘ōpū ali‘i did.