ICYMI: Ongoing podcast series visits traditional districts of Hawai‘i Island; current episode first stop in moku of Puna

In Episode #5, educator and kumu hula Ryan McCormack talks about the great ʻŌlaʻa forest of Puna.

By Susan Enright

Map of Puna with inset photo of Ryan McCormack and waterfall.

Episode #5 of the 24-episode Ka Leo o ka Uluau podcast series is now available. Listeners of the series, which is produced at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, are joining a huaka‘i or journey clockwise around the island, starting in Hilo and moving to Puna, Ka‘ū, Kona, Kohala, and Hāmākua for a total of 24 episodes. The first four podcasts were on the moku of Hilo, and Episode #5 is the first stop in the moku of Puna.

For Episode #5 hosts Lei and Drew welcome Ryan McCormack to talk about the great ʻŌlaʻa forest of Puna.

Ryan McCormack

McCormack is a long-time resident of Puna who is dedicated to the well-being of the native community and endemic environment, a strong advocate for indigenous lifeways. He is a ‘uniki ‘ai lolo of Unukupukupu, having completed his formal rites of passage in hula under the tutelage of Taupōuri Tangarō, and is now kumu hula of his hālau Māunuunu.

Originally from Waimānalo on Oʻahu, McCormack has traveled far and wide on his hula journeys, from Bali to Washington DC. His academic journey took him to Stanford University in California, and most recently to Pacifica Institute to complete a master’s degree in depth psychology. He also embarked on personal ancestral journeys to Ireland.

McCormack served as an educator at Kua O Ka Lā Charter School and also at Kalani Honua Retreat in Puna, and has given many workshops, presentations and performances in the Hawaiʻi Island community.  He also taught Hawaiian studies and history at Hawaiʻi Community College. He was recognized in 2020 as the college’s Outstanding Lecturer of the Year.

Ka Leo o ka Uluau

The podcast name, Ka Leo o ka Uluau, honors a Hawaiian makani or wind of Hilo and the conveyance of voices and thought. Each podcast installment lasts about 30 minutes and features storied places, histories, people, traditions and lessons through mo‘olelo or stories told by community members with connections to those places. Published twice monthly to podcast platforms on the 1st and 15th of each month, episodes are posted on the project’s blog, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify. Additional resources such as images, maps, and storyteller bios are also available on the podcast blog.

Use the StoryMap to help guide the huakaʻi  (journey) to visit the moku of Puna for this fifth episode of Ka Leo o ka Uluau. Learn more about all of the mea kipa along with this episode’s guest, Ryan McCormack.

Listen to earlier Ka Leo o ka Uluau installments in the moku of Hilo:

Learn more about Bruce Torres Fischer, an alumnus of both Hawai‘i Community College and UH Hilo, now a graduate student in the Hawaiian language and literature program at UH Hilo, who is leading the production of the podcast series.


Story by Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.