Students, faculty, staff and community members are invited to experience Hua Maka, the new weekly video series by University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo students designed to give viewers an immersive approach to learning ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, or the Hawaiian language, using common Hawaiian words and place names found in Hilo and Hawaiʻi Island. Quick, digestible lessons in Hawaiian language are being offered through the Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani, College of Hawaiian Language (KHʻUOK)

In celebration of ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi Month (Hawaiian Language Month), Hua Maka launched February 8, on Hale Kuamoʻo – Hawaiian Language Center’s Instagram account (@halekuamoo) and UH Hilo’s social media platforms (@uhhilo on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube). Plans are also underway to broadcast the audio portion on University Radio Hilo, KUHH 101 FM.

Written and filmed by KHʻUOK students, each video focuses on a single word with examples of usage, spoken entirely in Hawaiian. English captions are included for those who are not fluent or familiar with the language.

Lecturer and Curriculum Specialist Kamalani Johnson named the program Hua Maka, referring to huaʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian words) that will serve as points of origin for people to hear, speak and use ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi on campus, encompassing “hua” of “huaʻōlelo” (words) and “maka” of “hoʻomaka” (start up).

Entry point

“It is my hope that Hua Maka serves as an entry point for our university community to learn ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi—both Hawaiian place names and Hawaiian words relevant to our place—so that we do our part in perpetuating ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi,” Johnson said.

Johnson also led students from Associate Professor Jason Cabral’s third-level Hawaiian class in both word descriptions and video filming. Videos are edited by student videographer/photographer Kapuakea Isaak of the Office of University Relations.

KHʻUOK Director Keiki Kawaiʻaeʻa said, “It is my hope that by increasing venues where Hawaiian language can be easily accessed in useful and relevant ways, that we as a university community also serve as better stewards of our language through continued aʻo—teaching and learning—of our precious Hawaiian language.”

Hua Maka is one of the first KHʻUOK student-led initiatives to perpetuate ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi using digital media.

Revitalizing Hawaiian

Kolokea Kauaʻula, a student of Cabral’s, shares her perspective of Hua Maka (ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi translation provided by Johnson):

Noʻu, he koʻikoʻi ʻiʻo nō ka noke mau ʻana i kā kākou ʻōlelo ma nā ʻano hana like ʻole i loko nō o ko kākou ola. ʻO kēia papahana Hua Maka, ʻo ia kekahi o nā mea a kākou e hana nei i mea e ō mau ai ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. He papahana ia e kamaʻāina ai iā Hilo nei a leʻaleʻahoʻi. I koʻu manaʻo, e ō mau ana nā inoa o nā wahi pana o ia ʻāina a me ko kākou mau aliʻi ma o kēia papahana no ka pono o ke kaiāulu.”

(“For me, itʻs important that we strive to revitalize our ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi in various aspects of our life. Hua Maka is one way ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi will live on. It’s a project that familiarizes people with Hilo in a fun and innovative way. I believe the place names, storied places and our chiefs of Hilo will live on through this project for the benefit of the community.”)

In addition to the Hua Maka program, the community is invited to engage with KHʻUOK through email at, Hawaiian language content on the Hale Kuamoʻo Instagram account @halekuamoo, or by enrolling in Hawaiian language courses. Visit KHʻUOK’s website for more information.

UH Hilo’s Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language