Oct 082013
Alohalani Housman

Alohalani Housman

April R. “Alohalani” Housman is an associate professor of indigenous education at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. She currently serves as division chair and director of Hale Kuamo‘o Hawaiian Language Curriculum Center, a division of UH Hilo’s Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language. She specializes in language arts and her research focuses primarily on the literacy curriculum used in Hawaiian language immersion schools statewide.

“My research activities support the goal and efforts of the Hawaiian language revitalization movement,” says Housman, who has the distinction of being the first Hawaiian immersion teacher on O‘ahu in 1987. (Immersion schools use Hawaiian language for instruction and administration. For context, see the 2007-2011 Progress Report produced by ‘Aha Pūnana Leo, the non-profit that spearheaded and provides leadership for the Hawaiian language revitalization and immersion school movement.)

Housman has been affiliated with Hale Kuamoʻo and UH Hilo in various roles since her work in the late 1990s as a Department of Education teacher, when she was a curriculum developer and coordinator, and project director of the Nā Maka O Kana Hawaiian Language Newspaper. She then served as a Hawaiian immersion teacher for grades K-3 at Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u Iki, a laboratory school of UH Hilo’s College of Hawaiian Language located in Keaʻau. Her specialty areas at Nāwahī were Hawaiian language arts and literacy.

Since 2003, she has received over $5 million in extramural funding at UH Hilo, where she has been principal investigator of three grants and project director of one grant. The grants have focused on literacy development, language acquisition, and evaluation in the Hawaiian language.

One notable accomplishment of her work was the development of a Hawaiian language assessment instrument and rubric to evaluate the proficiency levels of 270 elementary immersion students at seven different schools located on four different islands. Housman says the pre- and post-test data gathered during 20-30 minute sessions with each individual student provided a wealth of information on language acquisition.

“It was also the impetus that guided the development of literacy and language materials, teacher training, and family workshops,” she says. Since 2003, a total of 168 new books in Hawaiian have been published by Hale Kuamoʻo and in the past five years over 132,850 books were sent out to Hawaiian language medium/immersion schools, families, and community organizations throughout the state. Housman has directed 16 teacher training workshops with a total of 347 participants over the last 10 years and 15 family workshops with over 600 participants since 2010.

Between 2005 and 2008, Housman served as principal investigator in development of 91 children’s books published with grant money under the He Aupuni Palapala Literacy Program. During the expansive project, she led team meetings, gave feedback to contracted authors, mentored university students in story writing, composed short picture descriptions of stories for illustrators, edited stories, and read galleys before final printing.

Currently, Housman is principal investigator of the Ka ‘Ōlelo ‘Ōiwi project, the Pū‘ā i ke ‘Ōlelo grant, and the Ka ‘Ōlelo Ola grant:

  • The Ka ‘Ōlelo ‘Ōiwi: Hawaiian Oral Language Development Project (ANA) is funded by the Administration for Native Americans ($900,000 for three years). This grant targets three domains of oral proficiency growth: grammar, fluency, and Hawaiian perspective. Workshops are provided for Hawaiian Language Immersion Program (HLIP) teachers and families. Curriculum materials and books are developed and distributed to 15 HLIP schools. Housman is co-writer, principal investigator, and project director.
  • The Pū‘ā I Ka ‘Ōlelo (PIKO) grant is funded by the Kellogg Foundation ($800,000 for four years). This P-3 grant supports the development of early childhood literacy books, curriculum, and materials that are used in Hawaiian language immersion schools statewide. Workshops are provided to train teachers as a means to advance the reading proficiency level of students. Housman serves as principal investigator, project coordinator, and teacher trainer for the project.
  • The Ka ‘Ōlelo Ola (KOO) grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Education ($1 million for three years). This K-3 Oral Language Proficiency Project supports the development of oral language acquisition skill curriculum and assessments for the Hawaiian language immersion program. Housman is principal investigator, project coordinator, and co-writer of the grant.

About her accomplishments, Housman says it’s important to give credit to the small staff at Hale Kuamoʻo: Kaulana Dameg, Māhealani Kobashigawa, Kekaianiani Irwin, Hiʻilei Vuta, and student workers Lepeka Aiko and Kaʻiu Carvalho.

“All of our work is a collaborative team effort,” she says. “Together we have been able to provide invaluable services to the Hawaiian community, especially to the Hawaiian language medium (and) immersion community who are still in dire need of resources in the classroom and home.”


“Alohalani” Housman is an associate professor of indigenous education at UH Hilo. She also serves as faculty at the Kahuawaiola Indigenous Teacher Preparation Program and is teacher training coordinator for the He Aupuni Palapala Literacy Program, the Hawaiian medium literacy curriculum model. She holds a Hawai‘i State Department of Education License and Basic Elementary Teacherʼs Certification.  She received her master of arts in education from UH Hilo. Contact info.


In the News Update:

UH Hilo press release, May 2, 2014: “Faculty honored by Hawaiʻi Book Publishers Association”

Mar 182013
Hiapo Perreira

Hiapo Perreira

Hiapokeikikāne Kichie “Hiapo” Perreira is an associate professor of Hawaiian language and literature at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. His research focuses on the recovery of traditional Hawaiian oratory.

“My research is unique in that classical Hawaiian oratory enjoys almost no literary legacy from which to build upon,” he says. “In paying attention to traditional writing styles exhibited in Hawaiian language newspapers and other forms of classical writing, I pieced together a system with which to revitalize what I believe to be a form of traditional Hawaiian oratory.”

Perreira says the revival of traditional Hawaiian oratory has the potential to play a vital role in the overall revitalization of the Hawaiian language by providing yet another, more formal context for Hawaiian expression. He says the most surprising discovery of his inquiry is finding “absolutely no written legacy specific to traditional Hawaiian oratory,” and that his most significant contribution to the literature is the revival of the tradition. He hopes his work sparks a “vibrancy of Hawaiian oratory and traditional literary styles throughout the Hawaiian language community.” He says the revival of Hawaiian oratory could perhaps serve as an example for the revitalization efforts of other native peoples worldwide.

conducting traditional ceremony for soon to be graduates of Ke Kula ʻO Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu Hawaiian Language Laboratory School

Hiapo Perreira (standing, in yellow) conducts a traditional ceremony for soon-to-be graduates of Ke Kula ʻO
Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu Hawaiian Language Laboratory School.

Perreira was the recipient of a Mellon-Hawaiʻi Doctoral Fellowship in 2010, and received his doctor of philosophy in Hawaiian and indigenous language and culture revitalization from UH Hilo in 2011. He wrote his dissertation on traditional Hawaiian oratory and his method of revitalization (see English summary of dissertation). Since becoming associate professor in 2010 at UH Hilo’s Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language where he began as a lecturer in 1996, Perreira has developed a Hawaiian literature and oratory strand of academic courses. He developed three upper division courses on Hawaiian literary analysis, an introduction to advanced Hawaiian literature, and a course on the research and performance of traditional Hawaiian oratory.


Ka Moʻolelo Hiwahiwa o Kawelo published in 2009.

In 2009, Perreira edited Ka Moʻolelo Hiwahiwa o Kawelo (Bishop Museum Press).

Originally serialized in the Hawaiian language newspaper Kuokoa Home Rula from January 1909 to April 1910, this new edition of KA MO‘OLELO HIWAHIWA O KAWELO presents Ho‘oulumahiehie’s text in modernized Hawaiian with notes and an introduction by Native Hawaiian scholar Hiapokeikikane Kichie Perreira.

Ho‘oulumahiehie’s telling of the Kawelo story is the longest and most comprehensively written in Hawaiian on this larger-than-life historical figure, from his exploits as a youngster to his battle for rule of the island of Kaua‘i. Ho‘oulumahiehie masterfully weaves ha‘ako‘iko‘i (formal) and kauhale (informal) styles of language, utilizing oratorical expressions, exhaustive explanations, precise terminology, and conventional discourse–an addition to the corpus of Kawelo literature that is unparalleled in scope, depth, and literary history. This work is intended as a useful guide for high school and college students, as well as other serious students of the Hawaiian language seeking a more comprehensive understanding of Hawaiian cultural practices.

Recently, Perreira had a 57-page article accepted for publication in the journal Hūlili: Multidisciplinary Research on Hawaiian Well-Being, due out in fall 2013. From the abstract:

The scope of the paper, based on the Kumu Honua Mauli Ola Philosophy of Hawaiian Being, centers on the explication of meiwi mo‘okalaleo (Hawaiian ethno-literary devices) and hualekikona (lexical-items). When applied to the study of traditional Hawaiian literature, meiwi mo‘okalaleo and hualekikona provide a contemporary way to analyze literary pieces, not only for cultural content, but more importantly for style and makeup. Proficiency in this respect can have a great impact on the enrichment of Hawaiian speech in general, and can contribute greatly to the composition of a neo-classical Hawaiian literary corpus (pāpā‘ōlelo, mo‘olelo, kākā‘ōlelo, etc.), thus preserving traditional Hawaiian style for posterity.

In the works are two upcoming academic articles: one on a specific type of ancestral worship found in the story of the high chief Kaweloleimakua, and the other on metaphorical referents in Hawaiian sacrificial offerings. Perreira also is planning two book projects: one on ethno-literary devices and lexical items as exhibited in a traditional full-length story on the high chief Lonoikamakahiki; the other on his dissertation.

Hawaiian Language community at dissertation defense

Members of the College of Hawaiian Language community celebrate with Perreira and his family at his dissertation defense in 2011.

Perreira points out that his academic work is but one part of his contribution to the revitalization of Hawaiian language and oral tradition.

Perreira with his wife and two daughters at his dissertation defense.

Hiapo Perreira at his dissertation defense with (left to right) wife Hanakahi and daughters Keakamaluhiwa and Keanokualani.

“In conjunction with my academic activities, I am a fluent speaker of Hawaiian who promotes this living language with all other speakers of Hawaiian,” he says. “My wife is fluent and we are raising our daughters in Hawaiian. They are both students in the Hawaiian medium educational program here in Hilo. Our oldest is in the first grade at Ke Kula ‘O Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u (Hawaiian language immersion school), and our baby is in the Hi‘ipēpē infant-toddler program of the Pūnana Leo o Hilo Hawaiian preschool.

“I not only engage in academic activities, I live my academic activities,” he says. “I not only study language and culture revitalization, I live it. My family and I join other families and individuals across the state in choosing Hawaiian as our primary choice language of life.”


Hiapo Perreira is an associate professor of Hawaiian language and literature at UH Hilo. He received his master of arts in Hawaiian language and literature and his doctor of philosophy in Hawaiian and indigenous language and culture revitalization from UH Hilo. Contact info.

Oct 172012

William Wilson

William H. “Pila” Wilson is a professor of Hawaiian language, Hawaiian studies, and linguistics in Ka Haka ‘Ula O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. He serves as chair of the Division of Academic Programs of the college.

Wilson came to UH Hilo from Honolulu in 1978 to write up the first bachelor of arts program in the United States to be taught through the medium of an indigenous language. He has served as the principal writer of the extensive programs of what is now the most developed program in an indigenous language in the United States. The college has a full P-20 program in Hawaiian from an infant-toddler program at the college’s Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu Laboratory School to a PhD in Hawaiian and Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization. Both programs are the first of their kind in the world.

Wilson and Kauanoe Kamanā, a founding member of ‘Aha Punana Leo immersion school and the first of Native Hawaiian ancestry to receive the PhD in Hawaiian and Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization from UH Hilo in 2010, were the first of a number of couples in Hawai‘i who revived Hawaiian as the first language of their home and children.

Wilson is recognized internationally for his work in Hawaiian language revitalization, notably for providing pathways for other indigenous groups to learn from the highly successful Hawaiian language revitalization work occurring in Hilo. That intensive work in the Hawaiian language has given him a unique knowledge base from which to do linguistic research into what the Hawaiian language can teach us about the ancient history of Hawaiʻi.

“I do historical linguistic research as a way to take a break from the intensive work of the college in language revitalization,” says Wilson. “When I’m not working with a student on a thesis or dissertation, teaching undergraduates, or developing some new program proposal or language-oriented law, I’m pondering old questions relating to Polynesian voyaging.”

One question Wilson ponders and investigates is this: From where did the first people to reach Hawaiʻi sail their canoes?

“This is a question that has intrigued Westerners from the time of the early European explorers of the Pacific,” he says. “Hawaiian tradition does not see this as a major question, as it holds that the Hawaiian people grew up with the land itself. The common question in Hawaiian tradition has related to the location of the lands visited by Hawaiian ancestors in voyaging canoes. Where were these lands?”

Wilson, who holds a PhD in linguistics, says language provides strong evidence for the places visited by the distinctive Hawaiian people once they became a distinctive population of these islands. It also provides strong evidence of source of the first settlers of Hawaiʻi who formed bonds with the land to become the first Hawaiians.

“Anthropologists and linguists have long known that Hawaiians are East Polynesians, closely related to the peoples of Tahiti, Easter Island, New Zealand, Rarotonga and the Marquesas,” he says. “The question has been what particular part of Western Polynesia served as the source of the East Polynesians. The assumption has been that the original settlers of East Polynesian came from Sāmoa. Yet there is no clear archeological evidence for this.”

Using linguistic evidence, Wilson shows that the assumption about Sāmoa is wrong. He provides a surprising answer regarding the source of the East Polynesians, an answer that shows what great navigators these ancestors were. The East Polynesians came from the tiny populations of Polynesians living on the small atolls off the east coast of the Solomon Islands even farther from East Polynesian than Sāmoa.

“All languages are constantly changing, and shared changes can be used to show that languages have a shared history,” says Wilson. “The Northern Outliers, especially the tiny atolls of Takuu, Nukuria, Nukumanu, and Luangiua are the home of languages that share many similarities with East Polynesian languages.”

The Northern Outliers and Northern East Polynesia

In an article to be published in Oceanic Linguistics in December 2012 (editor’s note 1/13: article is now published), Wilson identifies a number of distinctive changes in words that are shared uniquely by these atoll languages and East Polynesian languages. Some of these words are familiar to English speakers in Hawaiʻi today, for example, the change from earlier kiu, “bird with a curved beak,” to kiwi (Maori kiwi, Hawaiian ʻiʻiwi); the change from earlier watuke, “type of sea urchin,” to fatuke (Marquesan hatuke, Hawaiian hākuʻekuʻe and hāʻukeʻuke); and the change from earlier taʻe, “feces,” to tūtaʻe (Hawaiian kūkae).

Wilson also shows that East Polynesians including Hawaiians voyaged back to these atolls after the separate East Polynesian languages had developed.

“Those return voyages are marked by distinctive East Polynesian and distinctive Hawaiian words being sporadically found mixed with older words in the Northern Outlier atoll languages,” he says.

For example, Hawaiian wahine from earlier fafine represents a change distinctive of a subset of East Polynesian languages. This word is found in the language of Nukuria, while the languages on the surrounding atolls retain the earlier fafine term.

Similarly, the Hawaiian term tahuna (a dialectal pronunciation for kahuna) is found in the Nukuoro language along with an earlier term tufunga that is widespread in the atoll languages. Wilson says this shows again that these atoll languages had contact with Hawaiian.

In earlier research, Wilson shows that the languages of the Tuamotu atolls between Tahiti and the Marquesas have a connection to Hawaiian. As with the distant atolls in the Solomon Islands, there are terms that are in Hawaiian from the Tuamotu language and terms from Hawaiian in the Tuamotu language.

“However, the influence between Hawaiian and Tuamotuan occurred many years after the initial settlement of East Polynesia from the Northern Outliers,” Wilson says. “Many geologists believe that the Tuamotu Islands were still under water when East Polynesian was first settled. Archeological confirmation of a connection between Hawaiʻi and the Tuamotus occurred with the discovery of an adze made from stone from Hawaiʻi.”

Wilson continues his research on the relationship between East Polynesian languages at the same time that he and colleagues at Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College assist other Polynesian peoples with contemporary language revitalization.

In addition to that work, Wilson does linguistic research into what the Hawaiian language can teach about the ancient history of Hawaiʻi. Two of his recent publications are of major relevance to determining the closest relatives of the Hawaiian language.



William H. “Pila” Wilson is a professor of Hawaiian language, Hawaiian studies, and linguistics in Ka Haka Ula O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. He was awarded the UH Regents Medal for Excellence in Teaching in 1999. He received his master of arts in linguistics and doctor of philosophy in linguistics from UH Mānoa. Contact info.


In the News: 

Hawaii Tribune-Herald, Jan. 11, 2013: Scholar tracks origins of Hawaii ancestors. Read full story in PDF.

Apr 242012

Keiki Kawaiʻaeʻa

A decade ago, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo assistant professor Keiki Kawaiʻaeʻa and education specialist Keola Donaghy, at Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language, had a shared vision to create a digital archive of Hawaiian language materials. Kawaiʻaeʻa came up with the concept and Donaghy had the expertise in computer and telecommunications technologies necessary to execute the project. Joining the two principals at the inception was Robert Stauffer, formerly of the non-profit Alu Like and serving as project manager to this day.

Keola Donaghy

The result of this collaboration is Ulukau, or the Hawaiian Electronic Library, and its companion site, the Hawaiian Digital Library, launched in 2004 and still growing. The comprehensive website is a repository of Hawaiian language source material — not recycled translations — available for the use, teaching, and revitalization of the Hawaiian language and for a broader and deeper understanding of Hawaiʻi.

“The idea to create two seamless libraries, Ulukau and the Hawaiʻi Digital Library, as a one-stop digital center that was easily accessible from any location, that had access to the world wide web as an educational tool and free service, supported through community partnerships, filled a huge public access need for teachers, students, families and the broader community,” says Kawaiʻaeʻa.

With 1.4 million hits a month on the dictionary section of the site (wehewehe.org), coming in from all over the world, the creators say Ulukau is likely the largest and most used digital repository of indigenous language knowledge in the world.

Ulukau contains an extensive collection of Hawaiian language books, historic and contemporary dictionaries, newspapers from the 1800 and 1900s, music, photos, Hawaiian curriculum materials, a database of place names, and more.

“It is the first Hawaiian electronic library that can be viewed through a Hawaiian or English browser,” says Kawaiʻaeʻa. “Individuals, teachers, students and families are able to easily access the resources found on Ulukau and its sister site the Hawaiʻi Digital Library through its many wings like the genealogy, land documents, school curriculum, story books, photographs and its many other resources at the convenience of the user from any place that has access to the world wide web.”

Original source materials like Hawaiian newspapers, genealogy, 18th century texts, and the māhele documents are all crucial for Hawaiian studies, says Donaghy, and access to these materials strengthens knowledge about the Hawaiian language and Hawaiian society of that era.

“Because of this access, and the number of people who have and are achieving fluency in Hawaiian, we are no longer dependent on translations, sometimes dubious, of these source materials, or non-Hawaiian accounts of events of that era,” he says. “It is helping to broaden the base of Hawaiian knowledge, which provides a firmer foundation to move into the future.”

Example of a digitized Hawaiian newspaper from 1870.

The Ulukau project is made possible through many collaborations and partnerships.

“Ulukau is a community endeavor,” says Kawaiʻaeʻa. “It contains a wealth of Native Hawaiian language and cultural resources contributed by its many community partners.”

The building of Ulukau was co-sponsored by Hale Kuamo‘o, the Hawaiian Language Center within the College of Hawaiian Language, and Alu Like, a private, non-profit service organization assisting Native Hawaiians in their efforts to achieve social and economic self-sufficiency. Initial funding came from the Administration for Native Americans and the Hawaiʻi Department of Education in addition to several other grants.

A glimpse into the complex behind-the-scenes collaborative work on building, upgrading and running the site can be found on Donaghy’s blog.  Ulukau uses Greenstone, a suite of software for building and distributing digital library collections, an Apple operating system, Apache web application, MARC21 bibliographic format, and XML web display format. UH Hilo provides and maintains the server.

It also took collaboration to synthesize and build on previous digitization projects. Prior to Ulukau, says Donaghy, many source materials were inaccessible to people outside of O‘ahu who couldn’t go directly to Bishop Museum, the UH Mānoa libraries, or places like the Mission House Museum.  For example, the newspapers in Hawaiian, which began publication in 1834 and ran continuously until 1948, were already available on microfiche at many libraries, but not in complete sets (Donaghy estimates that there are about 125,000 pages total). Hamilton Library at UH Mānoa began digitizing the newspapers in 1997, though it was a very limited project.

“Ulukau partnered with Alu Like and Bishop Museum to expand the digitization work about 10 years ago, and a lot of significant work is being done by Awaiaulu, a private non-profit,” he says. “We’ve all worked together to make it happen.”

Ulukau has inspired many other indigenous peoples to both document and strengthen access to their ancestral knowledge as well, whether in print, audio, or video. But there are challenges.

“There are always issues, not all knowledge is meant to be shared with everyone, so the ability to restrict access is sometimes necessary as well,” says Donaghy. “We have had to deal with that issue, too, but not to the extent that some other indigenous peoples have. But [Ulukau] definitely shows them what is possible in allowing easy access to this kind of knowledge for cultural and language revitalization.”



UPDATE: Keiki and Keola in the news! Maui Now, November 8, 2012: “New Microsoft Windows Supports Hawaiian Language”

Keola Donaghy collaborated with programmers in Microsoft’s Local Languages Program for several years to develop resources and see that they were included in the new Windows 8 operating software.


Keiki Kawaiʻaeʻa is an assistant professor of Hawaiian studies at UH Hilo, and program coordinator for the Kahuawaiola Indigenous Teacher Education Program. She is the recipient of the 2011 Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi Award for Excellence and Innovation. She has been instrumental in the development of the Na Honua Mauli Ola Hawaiian cultural pathways and the Moenaha culture-based curriculum design and instructional method that impact native learners in culturally healthy and responsive ways. She is a published author on Hawaiian education, language revitalization and has written numerous children’s books and songs. She received her bachelor of arts in Hawaiian studies and master of education from UH Mānoa, and doctor of philosophy in indigenous education from Union Institute and University, Cincinnati, Ohio (to be conferred July 2012).  Contact info

Joseph “Keola” Donaghy II is an education specialist at UH Hilo. In addition to his work at the university, he is very active in the Hawaiian music community. He is the webmaster of Nahenahe.net, a Hawaiian music news site, a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (“Grammy Awards”) and a member of the Board of Governors of the Hawaiʻi Academy of Recording Arts (“Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards”). He received a bachelor of arts in Hawaiian studies from UH Hilo, a graduate certificate in telecommunications and information resource management from UH Mānoa, a master of arts in Hawaiian language and literature from UH Hilo, and doctor of philosophy in music (ethnomusicology) from the University of Otago in Dunedin, Aotearoa, New Zealand. Contact info.