Shawn Kanaʻiaupuni: Seeing System Change, Close Up

Seeing system change, close up – e hoʻomau kākou, e mālama honua kākou!
Education blog by crewmember Shawn Mālia Kanaʻiaupuni

One of the coolest parts of my job at Kamehameha Schools in the past few years has been the chance to become intimately connected to the Worldwide Voyage. Alongside the incredible kuleana as crewmember on several legs of the Voyage, I’ve witnessed the efforts of courageous educational leaders across the state working to transform education in ways that benefit our haumana, communities, and ʻāina. And little by precious little, changes in our educational systems are happening!

How change happens is a result of the collective efforts of many hands, some inspired by Mālama Honua, others by Nā Hopena Aʻo learning environments and Hawaiian culture-based education, and still others in their sustained commitment to strengthen community-school partnerships. Making change happen is through shared commitments guided by a navigator mindset, being courageous, and taking risks for a better future. Seeing change happen is an opportunity to say mahalo and remember the importance of shared values including the exchange of diverse perspectives, respect, and gratitude.

In the last four years, students and kumu have been a part of the voyage right here at home. Many of us at Kamehameha and in our communities have supported the Promise to Children and its educational commitment to inspiring children to care for our island earth. The Promise to Children was established in November 2013 and signed by educational leaders and hundreds of individuals in support of the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s worldwide voyage and the mission of Mālama Honua. The agreement emphasized the commitment to inspire students through education to explore, learn about, and protect Island Earth.


Photo Credit: DOE.

As a shining example, after implementing nearly four years of lessons connected to the Worldwide Voyage of Hōkūleʻa, the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education (DOE) brought together education leaders, teachers and students to say mahalo and to celebrate the homecoming of Hōkūleʻa. At a recent event to celebrate the work of the Department of Education to support the mission of Mālama Honua, Superintendent Kathy Matayoshi and Department of Education leadership celebrated the work of local educators and students who have participated so enthusiastically in this Voyage. The DOE produced this fabulous video to share the voices of students and teachers who have been engaged on this collaborative voyage. Superintendent Matayoshi also announced a newly signed agreement between the Department and Tahiti’s Ministry of Education that will carry on the mission of Mālama Honua.


Photo Credit: DOE.


Photo Credit: DOE.

Click here to learn more about HIDOE’s integration of the Promise to Children and Mālama Honua into its schools and curriculum.

Other changes have taken root in the University of Hawaiʻi (UH). For example, in the College of Education, under the leadership of Dean Donald Young, the entire faculty has embraced Nā Hopena Aʻo and Mālama Honua values in their meetings, planning, and coursework. As a system, UH strives to expand access to voyaging courses, which offer multidiscipinary learning spanning oceanography, astronomy, social studies, geography, anthropology, cultural studies, Hawaiian studies, and history. Another planning team of DOE, UH, and KS folks is developing voyaging courses for high school students that earn high school and, at the same time, early college credits that accelerate college completion.

At Kamehameha Schools, the awesome fifth graders and kumu put on their annual play featuring another leg of the voyage as they have for the past several years. High school students have the opportunity to take voyaging as an elective in Environmental Science, others developed global competencies and leadership through learning journeys to Aotearoa, Cape Town, the Galapagos, Rapa Nui, and Tahiti. Classrooms from throughout all three campuses have been connecting to the Hōkūleʻa crew through a variety of wa‘a talks and visits, allowing students to see the relevance of their lessons first-hand.

The voyage has been an opportunity for many of our alumni to grow into leadership roles, several serving as navigators throughout legs of the voyage. The lead navigator on Hōkūle‘a’s journey home will be Ka‘iulani Murphy, a KS Kapalama 1996 graduate who has been working and studying with PVS for nearly two decades.

When Hōkūleʻa returns home, she will embark on a statewide sail to visit our schools and communities to mahalo them and to learn about and celebrate their stories and progress on this journey.

The voyage does not end in June, it’s just beginning!

Homecoming - Save the Date - Banner Feb 17 Update

Hōkūle‘a Homecoming:
Event registration is live!

Join thousands of supporters and fans to welcome Hōkūleʻa home to Hawaiʻi in June 2017! Register now for the Mālama Honua Summit, reserve your tour aboard Hōkūleʻa, and RSVP for the Polynesian Voyaging Society benefit dinner.

Register for Homecoming Events Now!

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