New Hilo home for Hawaiian language

January 13, 2014  |   |  2 Comments
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The movement to preserve and perpetuate the Hawaiian language—that started decades ago—took another step forward in 2014 with the opening of Haleʻōlelo, the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo’s Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.

Previously, the college’s programs and operations were scattered throughout the campus.

“Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani has now a honua, an environment where language, Hawaiian language, can sustain and be used, at all times,” said Keiki Kawaiʻaeʻa, the College of Hawaiian Language director.

The $21 million dollar, two story, 36,000 square foot complex features a performing arts auditorium, classrooms, library, media resource room, computer lab, meeting rooms and offices.

“A lot of my teachers have been fighting for this, for years, years and years, decades, way before I was even thought of,” said UH Hilo student ʻĀlika Guerrero. “So to be a part of it, this new building, I mean it is a victory, not only for me, but my parents, my grandparents, and my kids to come, my grandkids.”

group of students

The Haleʻōlelo blessing ceremony at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo on January 11, 2014.

The Haleʻōlelo blessing and grand opening was steeped in Hawaiian tradition with a ʻOki Piko ceremony, symbolizing the severing of the umbilical cord and the start of the building’s new life; heahea, or calls of welcome and singing of traditional Hawaiian songs.

The festivities then moved to the college’s new auditorium for hula performances and speeches.

“This building represents, to the members of UH Hilo, our dedication to being a Hawaiian university and all of the meanings of those words,” said UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney. “A university where you learn all subjects in Hawaiian, a university where Hawaiian language and values inform what we do.”

“This is a beautiful and spectacular building and traditional building,” said UH System Interim President David Lassner. “And it is also a modern building. This is a building that will connect Hawaiʻi, Hawaiians and Hawaiian language to the world.”

The College of Hawaiian Language is already internationally recognized for its undergraduate, master’s and PhD programs; indigenous teacher training, distance learning programs and Ulukau electronic library.

Alongside the Hawaiian curriculum work and the Hale Kuamoʻo Hawaiian Language Center, the college serves as an important example for other indigenous language efforts around the world.

Haleʻōlelo provides needed state-of-the-art infrastructure that will allow the college to grow, develop and expand and further perpetuate the Hawaiian language and culture.

“It is a huge contribution into moving us to that that next level,” said Kawaiʻaeʻa.

<p>The front entranceway to Haleʻōlelo, the home of of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language. Haleʻōlelo is Hawaiian for house of language.</p>

Hawaiian language lives at UH Hilo

The front entranceway to Haleʻōlelo, the home of of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language. Haleʻōlelo is Hawaiian for house of language.

<p>A stairwell in Hale‘ōlelo, the new home of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.  On the left is an image of Papa, mother earth, with exerpts from a mele, or song, written in honor of Princess Ruth Ke‘elikōlani,  for whom the college is named. The image on the right is of  Wakea, father sky, with exerpts from traditional chants that describe the birthing of the Hawaiian islands.</p>

Hawaiian language lives at UH Hilo

A stairwell in Hale‘ōlelo, the new home of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language. On the left is an image of Papa, mother earth, with exerpts from a mele, or song, written in honor of Princess Ruth Ke‘elikōlani, for whom the college is named. The image on the right is of Wakea, father sky, with exerpts from traditional chants that describe the birthing of the Hawaiian islands.

<p>A mural of Papa, mother earth, in the stairwell of Hale‘ōlelo, the home UH Hilo's Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language. The college was named after Princess Ruth Ke‘elikōlani and part of her signature can be seen on the left side of the image.</p>

Hawaiian language lives at UH Hilo

A mural of Papa, mother earth, in the stairwell of Hale‘ōlelo, the home UH Hilo's Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language. The college was named after Princess Ruth Ke‘elikōlani and part of her signature can be seen on the left side of the image.

<p>Hale‘ōlelo, the new home of the UH Hilo’s Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language. The $21 million complex on Nowelo Street in the University Park of Science and Technology was designed by WCIT Architects of Honolulu, led  by Rob Iopa, a graduate of Waiākea High School and Hilo native.</p>

Hawaiian language lives at UH Hilo

Hale‘ōlelo, the new home of the UH Hilo’s Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language. The $21 million complex on Nowelo Street in the University Park of Science and Technology was designed by WCIT Architects of Honolulu, led by Rob Iopa, a graduate of Waiākea High School and Hilo native.

<p>The ceiling of the Performing Arts Auditorium in Hale‘ōlelo, the home of UH Hilo’s Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language opened in January 2014.</p>

Hawaiian language lives at UH Hilo

The ceiling of the Performing Arts Auditorium in Hale‘ōlelo, the home of UH Hilo’s Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language opened in January 2014.

<p>A key feature of Haleʻōlelo is the high roof design inspired by the pili grass thatched home of Princess Ruth Ke‘elikōlani, for whom the College is named: Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language. Ke‘elikōlani's home, on the grounds of Hulihe‘e Palace in Kailua-Kona on Hawaiʻi island, was known as Hale‘ōlelo, or house of language.</p>

Hawaiian language lives at UH Hilo

A key feature of Haleʻōlelo is the high roof design inspired by the pili grass thatched home of Princess Ruth Ke‘elikōlani, for whom the College is named: Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language. Ke‘elikōlani's home, on the grounds of Hulihe‘e Palace in Kailua-Kona on Hawaiʻi island, was known as Hale‘ōlelo, or house of language.

<p>In addition to Haleʻōlelo being a cultural and architectural landmark, the two-story complex is also a highly functional facility, spanning 36,760 square feet. Among its key features is a Performing Arts Auditorium and special-use rooms that include a library, curriculum and media resource room, tutorial, archive and telecom conference rooms, a computer lab, student and faculty meeting rooms and 30 offices.</p>

Hawaiian language lives at UH Hilo

In addition to Haleʻōlelo being a cultural and architectural landmark, the two-story complex is also a highly functional facility, spanning 36,760 square feet. Among its key features is a Performing Arts Auditorium and special-use rooms that include a library, curriculum and media resource room, tutorial, archive and telecom conference rooms, a computer lab, student and faculty meeting rooms and 30 offices.

<p>Haleʻōlelo is situated in a spectacular landscape with mountain and ocean views and designs that reflect Native Hawaiian culture and Hawai‘i island’s natural resources.</p>

Hawaiian language lives at UH Hilo

Haleʻōlelo is situated in a spectacular landscape with mountain and ocean views and designs that reflect Native Hawaiian culture and Hawai‘i island’s natural resources.

<p>Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani's students performing at the grand opening of Hale‘ōlelo, the new home of the UH Hilo’s Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.</p>

Hawaiian language lives at UH Hilo

Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani's students performing at the grand opening of Hale‘ōlelo, the new home of the UH Hilo’s Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.

<p>Under the tutelage of kumu hula and facultly Kalena Silva and Kekoa Harman, Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani's students perform dances honoring Princess Ruth Keanolani Kanāhoahoa Keʻelikōlani at the grand opening of Haleʻōlelo.</p>

Hawaiian language lives at UH Hilo

Under the tutelage of kumu hula and facultly Kalena Silva and Kekoa Harman, Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani's students perform dances honoring Princess Ruth Keanolani Kanāhoahoa Keʻelikōlani at the grand opening of Haleʻōlelo.

<p>The piko and the koʻi, traditional Hawaiian axe, used during a formal ‘Oki Piko ceremony during the grand opening of Hale‘ōlelo, the new home of the UH Hilo’s Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.  The ceremony symbolized the cutting of the umbilical cord to separate Haleʻōlelo from its birth mother to begin its life.</p>

Hawaiian language lives at UH Hilo

The piko and the koʻi, traditional Hawaiian axe, used during a formal ‘Oki Piko ceremony during the grand opening of Hale‘ōlelo, the new home of the UH Hilo’s Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language. The ceremony symbolized the cutting of the umbilical cord to separate Haleʻōlelo from its birth mother to begin its life.

<p>Hundreds attended the official grand opening of Hale‘ōlelo, the new home of theUH Hilo Ka Haka ‘Ula O Keæelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language on Saturday, January 11, 2014. Associate Professor Hiapo Perreira gave the opening speech in Hawaiian on behalf of the college.</p>

Hawaiian language lives at UH Hilo

Hundreds attended the official grand opening of Hale‘ōlelo, the new home of theUH Hilo Ka Haka ‘Ula O Keæelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language on Saturday, January 11, 2014. Associate Professor Hiapo Perreira gave the opening speech in Hawaiian on behalf of the college.

<p>Pūnana Leo student Kahaʻiʻōlelo Helm introduces himself in Hawaiian before hundreds of people during the grand opening of UH Hilo’s new home for the school's Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.</p>

Hawaiian language lives at UH Hilo

Pūnana Leo student Kahaʻiʻōlelo Helm introduces himself in Hawaiian before hundreds of people during the grand opening of UH Hilo’s new home for the school's Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.

<p>Among those who attended the Haleʻōlelo grand opening were (from left to right) UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney, UH Interim President David Lassner, UH Regent Carl Carlson, Hawaiʻi County Mayor Billy Kenoi representative Ilihia Gionson, Governor Neil Abercrombie and members of the Royal Order of Kamehameha.</p>

Hawaiian language lives at UH Hilo

Among those who attended the Haleʻōlelo grand opening were (from left to right) UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney, UH Interim President David Lassner, UH Regent Carl Carlson, Hawaiʻi County Mayor Billy Kenoi representative Ilihia Gionson, Governor Neil Abercrombie and members of the Royal Order of Kamehameha.

<p>UH System Interim President David Lassner with UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney at the dedication of Hale‘ōlelo, the new home of the UH Hilo Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.</p>

Hawaiian language lives at UH Hilo

UH System Interim President David Lassner with UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney at the dedication of Hale‘ōlelo, the new home of the UH Hilo Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.

<p>A traditional Hawaiian greeting, or honi, just before the grand opening ceremony of Hale‘ōlelo, the new home of the UH Hilo Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.</p>

Hawaiian language lives at UH Hilo

A traditional Hawaiian greeting, or honi, just before the grand opening ceremony of Hale‘ōlelo, the new home of the UH Hilo Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.

<p>Hundreds of people attended the  opening ceremony of Hale‘ōlelo, including dignitaries from the Hawaiian community, University of Hawaiʻi and local and state governments, including Governor Neil Abercrombie.</p>

Hawaiian language lives at UH Hilo

Hundreds of people attended the opening ceremony of Hale‘ōlelo, including dignitaries from the Hawaiian community, University of Hawaiʻi and local and state governments, including Governor Neil Abercrombie.

<p>UH Hilo Hawaiian language students and high schools students from Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu laboratory school holding ti leaves, symbolizing spiritual blessings for the dedication ceremonies.</p>

Hawaiian language lives at UH Hilo

UH Hilo Hawaiian language students and high schools students from Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu laboratory school holding ti leaves, symbolizing spiritual blessings for the dedication ceremonies.

<p>The women of the ʻAhahui Kaʻahumanu were among the organizational representatives at the grand opening of Haleʻōlelo, the new home of the UH Hilo's Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.</p>

Hawaiian language lives at UH Hilo

The women of the ʻAhahui Kaʻahumanu were among the organizational representatives at the grand opening of Haleʻōlelo, the new home of the UH Hilo's Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.

<p>Keiki Kawai‘ae‘a (center), the director of the UH Hilo Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language with UH Mānoa Hawaiian Studies Professor Lilikala Kame’eleihiwa (left) and her daughter Punihei Lipe (right) at grand opening of the college's new home, Haleʻōlelo.</p>

Hawaiian language lives at UH Hilo

Keiki Kawai‘ae‘a (center), the director of the UH Hilo Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language with UH Mānoa Hawaiian Studies Professor Lilikala Kame’eleihiwa (left) and her daughter Punihei Lipe (right) at grand opening of the college's new home, Haleʻōlelo.

<p>Keiki Kawai‘ae‘a, the director of the UH Hilo Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language with her grand daughter Hāweoʻulakaumaka Mākaʻimoku (center), UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney (left) and UH System Interim President David Lassner (right) at grand opening of the college's new home, Haleʻōlelo.</p>

Hawaiian language lives at UH Hilo

Keiki Kawai‘ae‘a, the director of the UH Hilo Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language with her grand daughter Hāweoʻulakaumaka Mākaʻimoku (center), UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney (left) and UH System Interim President David Lassner (right) at grand opening of the college's new home, Haleʻōlelo.

<p>Keiki Kawai‘ae‘a, the director of the UH Hilo Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language with her grand daughter Welina (center) alongside Maenette Benham (left), the dean of the UH Mānoa Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge and UH Mānoa Hawaiian Studies Professor Lilikala Kame’eleihiwa at grand opening of the college's new home, Haleʻōlelo.</p>

Hawaiian language lives at UH Hilo

Keiki Kawai‘ae‘a, the director of the UH Hilo Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language with her grand daughter Welina (center) alongside Maenette Benham (left), the dean of the UH Mānoa Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge and UH Mānoa Hawaiian Studies Professor Lilikala Kame’eleihiwa at grand opening of the college's new home, Haleʻōlelo.

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  1. Lorri Cardoza says:

    What a beautiful building and the hawaiian culture which it represents. I am very pleased to see this come to fruition. Blessings to all future endeavors and lives that will be touched.

  2. Ine Wheeler says:

    This is so blessed for the opening of the hawaian college of language.Te are uri reo..ole’oleo..it is so beautiful and so interesting seeing this beautiful building..I can see your kau matua is doing a pouwiri(blessing the inside of the building..mahalo nui loa for sharing..kia manuia kia kotou katoatoa…Good luck and bless you in the years to come…kia kaha..

    Ine Wheeler

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