de Silva, Kahikina

Mea Nīnauele: Melehina Groves


"If Hawaiian is going to be anything, it's gotta be everywhere."
Talking Story with Kahikina de Silva

Melehina Groves and Kahikina de Silva
Melehina with Kahikina de Silva, right. Photo: Melehina Groves

Kahikina de Silva is an instructor in the Hawaiian Language Department at the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa. A 1995 graduate of the Kamehameha Schools, Kahikina recently received her Masters Degree in English from UH Mānoa. She is many things: a kumu hula, an accomplished chanter, a haku mele, and a DJ at KTUH (90.3 FM or 91.3 FM in North Shore)) radio station.

Her family is from Mānoa, Hilo, and Kona, though she was born and raised in Ka‘ōhao, Kailua, O‘ahu, where she lives today.

The three words that best describe her?  Kū‘ē.  Dedicated.  And...silly?

M: Aloha e Kahikina!

K: Aloha e Melehina.

M: No ko kākou po‘e heluhelu, hiki paha ke ‘ōlelo ‘ia kou inoa piha, ke ‘olu‘olu?

K: Hiki nō, ‘o ko‘u inoa piha ‘o Kahikina Kawaiponoakekīpuka de Silva.

M: Mahalo, a no hea mai kou ‘ohana?

K: Well, no Ka‘ōhao mai au, aia nō ma Kailua, a ua kapa ‘ia ‘o "Lanikai" i kēia mau lā e ka po‘e kūkulu hale. Akā na‘e, ‘o ko‘u makuahine no Mānoa nei ‘o ia. Ua hānai ‘ia ‘o ia ma‘ane‘i a hiki i kona makahiki ‘elua. No laila, ma hope o ‘elua makahiki, ua ne‘e aku kona ‘ohana a noho ma Ka‘ōhao. 

A ‘o ko‘u makuakāne, no Hilo mai ‘o ia. No Hilo mai kona makuakāne kekahi, a no Kona mai kona makuahine. Noho lākou i Hilo, ma Kīlauea Avenue, a hiki i ka piha ‘ana iā ia he ‘umi makahiki. ‘Ano nui ka noho ‘ana i laila. A laila, noho mai lākou ma O‘ahu nei, ua ne’e mai, a ma mua, ua noho lākou ma Lanikai, ma kaki o ko‘u makuahine e noho ana!

M: ‘O ia nō? A ‘a‘ole i ‘ike iā lākou?

K: Yeah! ‘A‘ole nō lāua i ‘ike.  Hoihoi, ‘ea? He mau mahina wale nō paha.

M: ‘O ka makahiki hea kēia?

K: Ma kahi o ka makahiki ‘umi o nā mākua, he ‘umi makahiki iā lāua. A noho i laila, a laila, ne‘e aku, ne‘e mai ko‘u makaukāne, a noho pa‘a ma Maunawili.

M: Mahalo, hoihoi nō kēlā. What I’d like to talk to you about now, is your now long stint as a DJ for KTUH, the UH student radio station. You have your own show?

K: Yes, I do.

M: And how long have you had the show?

K: Let’s see, I started in December of 2002, so it will be just about three years before I’m pau.

M And the show is on every Sunday?

K: Every Sunday, from 3-6 pm, and it’s all in Hawaiian.  So, I speak all in Hawaiian and the music I play is Hawaiian. If people call up, they can talk to me in any language, but if they’re going on the air, then they speak Hawaiian! Guest interviews are done in Hawaiian, although a couple of times, I’ve had non-Hawaiian speaking guests, because I thought having them share their mana‘o was more important. I had ‘Ale‘a in to do a soundbite, and they did the interview in English. That was fun.

M: I also wanted to ask you how you’ve gotten so knowledgeable about "old" mele. Your show is really different from all the other shows, in that you don’t do "contemporary" music, because you can find that anywhere.  How did you get so interested, and/or knowledgeable in that particular genre?

K: I just have my upbringing to thank for that, because it’s not like I turned 16 and thought, "Hey, I want to listen to some old Hawaiian music!" and went out and found it, ‘cause you’re not really gonna do that. I was exposed to it from when I was a kid, because that was my dad’s favorite kind of music. 

Before he went to college, he wasn’t into the Hawaiian stuff at all. Of course, they did the regular kind of stuff, but it wasn’t as if Hawaiian culture all over the place. He was busy being a smart kid and trying to get through school and do water polo, and all that kind of stuff. 

He went away to Pomona to get his degree in English, and, within the first couple weeks, he had this experience where he realized that he was Hawaiian.  He missed his home, and all of the things he had had around him, but taken for granted. This realization was expressed through music.

So, when he got to Pomona, he had somehow gotten one of Gabby’s records, and he kept playing it over and over again. Then he wanted more, so that’s where he started getting into Hawaiian music. When he was away, it was how he would reconnect with home. He couldn’t come home that often, because they didn’t have much money.

Then, when we were growing up, that’s the kind of music that we heard.  We listened to KCCN 1420. So, it was just being around it and being in that environment. Not only being around it, but actively engaging it, because my dad would always comment on it. We’d talk about music and songs, and when new things come out now, we still talk about it, "Is this a good one," or "Nah, that’s not so good." I think that kind of discussion gives you an opinion without even realizing it. Then later on, when it comes up, you go, "Wait, I do have an opinion about this. I don’t like that stuff," or "I do like it."

M: Considering we’re in a time where maybe not as many people listen to traditional Hawaiian music, did you have any problems starting at KTUH, or was the station receptive to this program format?

K: Oh, yeah! The station itself, and the people, the listeners, too, have been pretty receptive. I think that there are people out there who know this music, mostly in our parents’ generation, but not all. It’s just not out there as much. I don’t think that the problem- yet- is that people don’t know about it. But, if things continue on the way they have been, without there being an outlet, then that’ll be a problem. 

If we’re not careful, in maybe 10 years, our generation and our children’s generations, are not gonna know this stuff. It’s really bad, because then they’ll be building their culture and their music from a history that doesn’t include that part of us.

M: Sort of like they’re drawing on different influences than our traditional ones, without knowing our own musical heritage?

K: Yeah ...I was going somewhere! Then, we don’t have that appreciation for our kūpuna, knowing what they sounded like, and how they sang and what they composed. It’s really important, and that’s how you keep them with you. That’s how you build upon a foundation, instead of just coming out of nowhere. Building upon the contemporary reggae scene, instead of building upon Johnny Almeida’s recordings.

M: That’s really true in a lot of things, if you know what your foundation is and where you’re coming from, then you can go forward from there. 

K: Yeah, I have no problem with creating new things, but know where you come from. Just being at the station has really taught me a lot. There’s stuff there that I didn’t know, either, and just from having to find "new" things every week…...

M: What is the collection like? Was it hard for you to find music, did you have to supply a lot of your own?

K: The vinyl at KTUH, the records, are AWESOME. Their collection is bigger than mine! I have some stuff that they don’t have, but most of it is really good to draw from. Their CD’s though, are mostly contemporary stuff. They don’t go out and solicit people to give them music, or go out and buy music or anything like that. Everything they have is donated. The CD’s are given by the artists when they do their promo thing, so there’s a lot of contemporary stuff, but not as much old stuff.

M: So all the people with their vinyl collections sitting in the garage, you can take them to KTUH and donate them!

K: No, bring them to me! Nah, only playing. What’s weird is the (Sinclair) library has stuff that KTUH doesn’t have, and vice versa, and it’s all the same place [UH campus], but they can’t really exchange back and forth. It should be that whatever UH has can be played on the radio, but you can’t take the records out. The fact that they’re rare, says they should be on the radio, they should be on the air. The fact that a song is rare makes it even more important that it’s out there, I think.

M: Considering the fact that your show did get popular, and you have your regular listeners and callers, is there anybody lined up to take over when you leave in August? And you’re leaving, just to clarify, because you graduated, right?

K: Right, nobody kicked me out. Once you graduate, you’re gone. Well, I could have applied as a faculty member, but I really want to open this up for the next generation. Or maybe not "generation," ‘cause they’re not that much younger than me, but the next level of up-and-coming students.

M: So is there anyone lined up?

K: Not yet! Not yet, I don’t know of any...I’ve taught a few people who said they were interested, but they’re still waiting on the application process, ‘cause you do need to apply. It is technical, so you do need to be trained, and it takes a little while. My training was uncommonly quick, because they really needed someone. They needed me, and that might actually happen with the next DJ.

What’s good about this station is that they maintain their diversity. They’re really keen on keeping that Sunday slot for the Hawaiian language/ Hawaiian music show. Traditionally, that’s what it has been. In fact, Hau‘oli Akaka, who went on to KCCN and is now one of the best emcee/DJ personalities around, started at KTUH! He was one of their very first Hawaiian language DJ’s. To follow in that kind of footstep is amazing to me. When I found that out, I was floored.

So traditionally, that slot has been left open for Hawaiian music and Hawaiian DJ, but if they don’t have somebody to fill it, then they’re forced to open it up to other things. I’m hoping that somebody interested, dedicated, and excited about it will jump in there and take the opportunity.

M: When you began, did you realize that you would feel the way you do today, as far as how important the program has become to you?

K: Yeah! I definitely went in with this huge excitement.  I think the thing that might have changed is that I’ve gotten more faith in the listeners of Hawaiian music. My faith has grown in them, because I went into it thinking, hoping, that I would get at least five listeners! You know, thinking "Who’s gonna listen to all this old style Hawaiian music on a station that’s not commercial, or very widely advertised or anything?" Even more so if I’m talking in Hawaiian for three hours! 

But most of the calls I get, 95% of them, are people who have thanked me for doing what I’ve done. Not only for playing this old music that is rare to hear today, but also for sticking to the Hawaiian language on the air. Even people who don’t understand will call up and say, " You know, I don’t speak Hawaiian, but listening to your show makes me think that I should," or, "I don’t understand what you’re saying, but I really think it’s important that it be on the air," things like that. You can even give the few ignorant ones that call up something to think about, and they actually learn something from the experience.

I’ve always known there was value in this type of program, and there was excitement in it, but this experience at KTUH has just proven it to be so. It’s just proving to me that my feelings are well-placed.

M: Any plans for your own station in the future?

K: Ha! Hopefully, hopefully! Well, three hours of Hawaiian music and Hawaiian language a week is great, but it’s not enough. It’s so not enough. 

I was doing research on native radio stations, and even though I think we shouldn’t always compare ourselves to New Zealand,  they’ve got at LEAST 20 radio stations, not just programs, but stations, that are in Māori language. They play all different kinds of music. Some of them play Māori, some of them play pop, but they speak Māori on the air.  And there’s at least 20 of them, one for every iwi, one for every tribe, I guess, is what you’d call them. And they’re all government funded

It’s written into the language of their constitution that language is valuable; it’s like a valued treasure. Also, the government is responsible for taking care of these Māori treasures, so one way that they do that is to pay for these radio stations.

M: How do we get that amendment?!

K: I know! But, I can’t ever imagine that happening here, because of the way that our government is run.

M: I think what you said earlier was really interesting, that those Māori stations don’t just play traditional Māori music. They play rock, or pop, or reggae, all kinds of music, but it’s all in the medium of Māori! That’s something I never even thought of and might be really cool.

K: Yeah, the students that I’ve talked to who are interested in DJ’ing at KTUH wanted that. The sad thing with that is, well, I kind of asked KTUH about it, and they weren’t too hot on the idea. They’d rather have the music than the language, whereas we’re thinking, ok, let’s make the context Hawaiian and present things from that perspective, which I think is even more valuable.

M: So now that we have more Hawaiian programs and language speakers, and are fostering a cultural awareness, we need to infiltrate more areas, so Hawaiian language and culture becomes more than just something taught in school.

K: Yeah, we don’t all have to be teachers, and, in fact, we all shouldn’t be teachers. Now we know our language, let’s use it, and let’s use it as a means of communication, as well as an assertion of our identity. Practice it instead of perform it, that’s the thing. 

Actually, when you were asking about a possible station, I think a KTUH kind of station would work really well, where every block is a different DJ, and a different type of music, but all Hawaiian language speakers.  So, you can listen to whatever you’re into, I don’t know...I don’t really like pop, but if you’re into it, you can listen to it on the radio with Hawaiian. I think if we had something that funky and different, it would catch everybody’s attention. It’s just that juxtaposition of, yeah, I speak Hawaiian, but I don’t only listen to Hawaiian music. That’s what I think we’re missing sometimes today. 

The other reason that my show is different from AM 940, which plays similar music, is that the DJ of each show [on KTUH] gets to choose his or her own playlist, so you’re not given this list on the computer where it’s already plugged in and you just talk about whatever they have there. That’s another reason I really like KTUH.

So, I can arrange songs in ways that draw connections and make it an experience, instead of just listening to the songs that are playing, and going "aw, nice music." For example, this past July 3, I did a Hawaiian independence theme. Because I’m the Hawaiian music and language show, I want do things that represent Hawai‘i on the days that are important to America, like a kū‘ē kind of thing. I did a mele kū‘ē theme, using all different kinds of songs that you probably wouldn’t think of as kū‘ē, yet they worked together.

M: Could you define 'kū‘ē?' 

K: Oh, kū‘ē'to stand different'nah, I’m kidding. Well, mele kū‘ē are usually considered songs that show protest, because that’s what kū‘ē is, to protest something that is considered a wrong or an injustice, or a potentially harmful thing. 

What I did for the July 3 show, was to group songs and present them in a way that could identify them as mele kū‘ē. There were sections like mele lāhui, which contained the songs we usually associate with Hawaiian patriotism - Kaulana Nā Pua, which is a subtle rebellion against annexation and ho‘ohui ‘āina, that kind of stuff; and Ka Māmakakaua, which talks about the Wilikoki rebellion. So, you have ones that people automatically associate as mele kū‘ē, but there are also other songs written with a different kind of perspective and sentiment. They’re mele kū‘ē, as well.

There were also mele aloha 'āina, or songs that honor and celebrate places. They’re saying this is our land, this is what we know about it, and it’s different from what is being placed on top of it right now. Mele kīpūlani (songs showing loyalty to our chiefs) offer more subtle sentiments of protest by supporting and praising those distinctly Hawaiian values and expressions. I also tried to choose categories and songs that would require a bit more of a mental leap to be thought of as mele kū‘ē.  Alone, they may look very innocent, but as a group they make an impact.

My favorite was the group I called "mele au hou" - songs that rely on introduced, non-Hawaiian objects for their imagery. This includes boat songs like Na ka Pueokahi, traveling songs like Nu Ioka Hula and Waiomina, and songs like Kolopā, Telephone Hula, and Piano Ahiahi.  The last three are the most interesting to me because they take a decidedly non-Hawaiian object, like a telephone or crowbar, and make it into a decidedly Hawaiian image or symbol. By not only incorporating these foreign items into our experiences and expressions, but actually engaging them in a way our kūpuna and their kūpuna did, we as a people achieve both "progress" and perpetuation. To me, that, too, is kū‘ē. And it's presented here in a way that is encouraged by creative broadcast formatting.

I also did a set of songs written for Hawaiian gods and goddesses, such as Pele and Kamapua‘a. Remembering their stories and their histories is like reclaiming something. You can present these songs and talk about them, as they’re playing, and it becomes more of an experience than just turning on the radio for background music.

I think that’s what our kūpuna used radio for. Of course, you have times when it’s just background music, but there’s also so much more than it can do.

M: Definitely.

K: Or sometimes, I’ll play one song done by four or five different people. We’d start with the kahiko version, and then hear what they did with harmonicas and mandolins, and funky instruments, all they way up to today, where it’s been turned into a ballad. Just seeing that history is really interesting. It’s rare that you’re actually going to go looking for all these things unless you’re doing a history project. 

M: Some people have made comments to me concerning Hawaiian music, and how it’s "so simple," and it all sounds the same. I find myself having to defend it and explaining that our kūpuna didn’t have to re-invent the wheel every time they wanted to write a mele. It was the words and the mana‘o in the song that they were most concerned with conveying to listeners.

K: Exactly, it’s all in the ‘ōlelo. All the tune and the leo that comes out of it, that’s like gravy. But I think part of it, is that the culture we’re immersed in today is a disposable culture.  Everything is only good for as long as it’s new, and then once it’s not new and exciting, it’s no good anymore. It’s old, and people think "don’t go back there."

Hawaiian culture from what I’ve seen and studied is completely the opposite.  If it’s old and it’s been said a thousand times, then you say it again! The more you say it and the more you use it, the more mana you give to it, so there’s that idea of repetition and of holding on to things. You’re not holding on to the past, because you can’t go forward, but rather, because you take all of these important things with you. Everybody chooses, "Ok, what is my thing that I like that I’m going to carry forward," and that’s the way that everything continues to live in the present. The past lives in the present; it is not just brought forward.

The other comment, about everything sounding the same, that’s what happens when people don’t know what they’re listening to. That’s what happens when you don’t know the music. If I listen to, I don’t know...rock on KTUH, to me, it all sounds the same. I don’t know who’s doing what, it’s boring, and I don’t really like it. 

M: Appreciation for Hawaiian music can stem from a lot of experience in it.

K: And because it’s not on the air all the time, you don’t get that experience, and so you’re ear’s not used to it. Then, when you hear it, you think, "What’s that?" It’s foreign to you. That’s another thing, what should be native and familiar to us is all foreign. Listening to Hawaiian on the air should be normal, but it’s foreign to us. It’s like when I talk, I still have to think about it. You can definitely find a better Hawaiian language DJ out there, there’s no doubt about that! 

But by doing it, you get better. Better to be aware of your own ignorance, because then you’re open to whatever comes your way and to looking at it as a learning experience. That’s how I went into this gig, thinking, "I’m gonna learn so much." 

M: Moving to your experiences teaching, what is the most important thing you would want your students to get out of your course? 

K: Wow! That’s a big one!

M: Or, why did you decide to start teaching, and when? 

K: Well, I was really lucky. I have to thank my kumu, Noenoe Silva, who watched over me as I was having my nervous breakdown!  When I graduated from college in 2000, I didn’t know where I was going or what I was gonna do. 

M: That was also about the time you were preparing for Miss Aloha Hula, right?

K: Yeah... I graduated in December of 2000, and I was freaking out. I had no idea of what I was gonna do, but I knew I needed to do something! For those of us who are in Hawaiian language and Hawaiian studies, we’re there because it’s what we want out of life. When you graduate, you feel like it’s your turn to do something, to give something back.  I had to make my place, but I didn’t know what I was gonna do or how to do it. 

M: And they’re not going to hānai you anymore, in the way they used to.

K: Yeah! But you know that you have to turn around and do something for people, because that’s why you got into it in the first place, right? Lucky for me, one of my kumu was co-head of the department at the time and told me that they were looking for emergency hire teachers.  For those of you who want to be teachers, there are NEVER enough teachers anywhere! Don’t EVER think that if you go into Hawaiian language, you’ll be jobless! So, they were looking for emergency hires, and I went to the department and got it.

M: That was five years ago, now. 

K: Woah, yes it’s kind of what I always thought that I would be doing. I knew that I wanted to teach, at least for some part of my life, and I knew I wanted to teach Hawaiian language. I think it’s partly because education has always been in my family. My dad teaches, my mom teaches, and my mom’s mom taught, and my dad’s parents taught, and now I teach. It’s a natural thing for me to want to be in that educational setting.

M: Is it your dream job?

K: Oh, yeah. Well, it’s m y dream job for now, but I’m not saying that there’s nothing else I would like to do, like be a DJ on the radio, or something like that! I’ve just graduated with my M.A., so everyone’s asking me, "Now what are you gonna do?" and I’m thinking, "I’m doing it!"  I like where I’m at, it’s a good place to be.

Part of what I want my students to take away is that they can use this language with anything. It’s not...just...for teaching, or just for a university setting or just for places like the lo‘i. I think you have to have a balance between the classroom learning and hands-on learning.  Someone made a comment to me once about how Hawaiians didn’t learn in the classroom, we learned in the lo‘i, and places like that. It kind of got to me, and I thought about it for a long time. Then I realized, to me, that opinion made it sound like there is no place for Hawaiian at the university or similar arenas. To me, if Hawaiian is going to be anything, it’s gotta be everywhere. You’ve gotta give it its place in everything that you’re doing, including writing an academic paper or working in the lo‘i. 

If Hawaiians and our language just stay in the lo‘i, then that’s all people are ever gonna think of us. It’s all we’re gonna really do with ourselves. Not that that’s not vital, because we do need people in the lo‘i, and we should all get in the lo‘i every so often, but we also need balance. We have to stop thinking, ok, Hawaiian is that, and hula is for that, and that’s all there is. But, that’s what’s been ingrained in us. 

M: Yeah, there should be a place for both, and if it doesn’t start with us, no one’s gonna start it for us. I forgot to ask you, what does the name of your program "Kīpuka Leo" mean?

K: Well, before I actually chose a name, I had about three shows on the air, because I was still in training. They kept asking me, "What are you gonna name it?" and I didn’t know. I just knew it’d be something Hawaiian. 

Even before I named it, I was thinking of the show as a kīpuka, an oasis, something that’s different from everything else around it. It’s kind of calm, and there’s growth within it, there’s life and there’s growth and there’s revitalization. If you think about kīpuka in its physical sense, it’s those pockets of lehua and kupukupu, all that lush green growth that pops out of the lava flow. So, either the lava goes around it, and it continues to grow from the forest that was there before, or it’s the first place where a new shoot would com e up. There’s barren lava everywhere, harsh, black, lava, and then little kīpuka that pop up, places where there’s still life and growth and stuff. 

That’s how I was thinking of the show, as this spot on the air, on the radio dial, where you stop and you go, "Oh, that’s something different," and it’s something where there’s growth and there’s life. I was already kind of thinking that, and then on the last day of my training, Palani was with me. He had done the Hawaiian show before me, and he also trained me. On the last day, we were joking around, and he asked, "So what are you gonna name your show?" He speaks Hawaiian, too, so he said something like, "It’s like a kīpuka! Yeah, Kīpuka Leo!"

I said, "That’s exactly what I was thinking!" So, that’s how it got named.  I’d thought, "what about ‘kīpuka leo,’" but I wasn’t sure if it sounded too corny! Then he said that, and I thought, "OK, that’s it, that’s what it’s gonna be." Laiana likes it, because it can be 'kīpuka leo,' or it can be 'kīpū ka leo.' He said, "You sure it’s not kīpū ka leo? ‘Cause I like that; it’s like, ‘the leo shoots like a gun’."  I just said, "no." He also had another possibility, but I forget. But, if you go onto my website, you can find a better explanation.

M: What is your website address? All one word. There’s a link to listen to KTUH from there, but the website is very NOT updated, so don’t look for anything new. Oh, and another reason why I think the radio is such a good language tool, is because you can hook it up and use it in the classroom so easily! Just having somewhere else for students to go and listen is great. If they hear Hawaiian being used outside of their classroom, it’s amazing. And they can listen to it in their car; it can be amazing for them. So, some of the teachers, like Kekeha, have actually done things in the classroom that are really awesome. 

One of the projects he did kind of centered around the radio. He had them tell a story that was related to a song. So, they had to pick a song, research its story, and then memorize it. Then they came in to the station on the last Sunday during school, told their stories over the air, and then I played the songs. It was the greatest experience! 

I think that as language teachers, we try to use every available resource, and if the radio is there for us to use, then it can only help. Technology can help you; it can be against you, but it can also help you. And I love it when other people get to talk on air, instead of me! And that’s the perfect kind of set up, because every song in Hawaiian has a story behind it, and many of them have stories on different levels. You hear the song, and then to hear the story, too, just makes it a bigger experience.

And you never know who’s listening! I get calls from, let’s see...Puakea called me up! Kainani Kahaunaele called me up one day, and Keao Costa! I was thinking, omigosh... you don’t realize that these people are listening to you! 

M: And those are just the ones who call! 

K: But every time I go somewhere, somebody new will say, "Oh, I heard you on the air." It’s scary. It’s a big kuleana! But a fun one, though. 

M: When is your last show?

K: August 28th (2005). [Kahikina's program may be extended past August 28, so stay tuned!] So everybody listen! Call in, so I know people are listening! 

M: Well, hopefully you will find a venue, an outlet for your kind of show in the future.

K: Yeah, and I think that our people are just naturally good at that kind of thing, at entertaining, but doing it with education involved. Being entertaining, not just for the sake of entertainment, but because it means something to you. And I think that if we could get a good band of people together, we could make a really good radio station!  I know a few people who would be ready... Chad! All we need is money! 

M: If you could sit down and talk with any one person, past or present, who would that be, and why?

K: I even thought about this question...let’s see...I’d definitely choose one of my kūpuna... and I know which one, but I’ll keep that to myself. I will say it’s my kupuna from Hōnaunau, who lived there in that intermediary time, when things had changed already, but not as much as they have now. I think I would just like to choose this person, because that was my first generation of hi‘ikua ancestors. They’re the ones whose faces you don’t really know. They’re there, and you feel their presence, but that’s about it. I think that would be my dream, to sit and cruise with them and see what they were really like. 

I would definitely choose one of my kūpuna, because you can go through the list of people, Lili‘u, Pauahi, but then I really wouldn’t want it to be a research project. I would want to get to know my own koko, my own iwi. Hopefully, see myself in them. And that’s one good reason to learn Hawaiian, one of the reasons that I did, anyway. If you think about it, when I talk to my kūpuna, I have to talk to them in Hawaiian, or how are they gonna hear me?

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