The Role of Oli at Kamehameha


Because oli was such an integral part of traditional Hawaiian society, many of our traditions and historical accounts are stored in these chants and poems. For this reason, Kamehameha has begun to incorporate oli and hīmeni (Hawaiian singing) into our curriculum as a means to help our students get a glimpse of the  world through the eyes of our kūpuna. Kalaninuiliholiho Kamehameha II once said,

"Na wai ho‘i ka ‘ole o ke akamai, he alanui i ma‘a i ka hele ‘ia e o‘u mau mākua?" "Who would not be wise, when it is a road often traveled by my parents?"

Wise men throughout the ages like Liholiho have often said that history repeats itself. When someone truly understands the triumphs and faults of the past, he/she can then make a more informed decision of how to navigate the future. And there is no better way to take a glimpse into the minds of our kūpuna than to study the mele oli and the mele hula of our ancestors.

It is our hope here at Kamehameha that the haumāna will not only feel a deep sense of pride in being Hawaiian while using these chants, but that they will also be able to discover the wealth of information and understanding contained within each piece of poetry. Within these mele are little hints on successful leadership skills, environmental protection and methods of sustaining a vibrant society. Through learning and using these chants, we hope that the students will gain a deeper understanding of the world around them as well as to gain an appreciation for all of the things that our kūpuna left behind.


Jonah La‘akapu Lenchanko
Hawaiian Language
Kamehameha Schools
KS Kapālama