At HPA, you will experience many irreplaceable learning opportunities, including the chance to study Hawaiian culture, history, and language. Native Hawaiian culture reaches back thousands of years and today provides ingenuity and wisdom for some of our greatest global challenges, including sustainability, social responsibility, and cultural understanding. Whether you are a newcomer or your family has lived on Hawai‘i Island for generations, you are warmly welcomed to explore the wealth of knowledge offered in all three school divisions.

Lower School

At the Lower School, Hawaiian studies is a weekly enrichment offering taught by Kumu Kūwalu Anakalea. Students become familiar with simple Hawaiian words, cultural protocols, native plants, mele (song), oli (chant), and hula. In this way, they begin to know, understand, and appreciate the extraordinary place in which we all live. They also explore different cultural or geographic themes each year, as well as Makahiki celebrations and games. All of this learning builds toward a special hō‘ike (showcase of knowledge) at our annual May Day celebration.

Middle School

At the Middle School, Hawaiian studies is housed primarily in our social studies department, although it is also woven through our curriculum with field trips, class activities, Theme Week, and especially our eight-grade transition ceremony. From Kumu Kūwalu Anakalea, students learn the basics of Hawaiian language, oli (chants), and hula. They explore Hawaiian cosmology and research their own mo‘okūauhau (genealogy); delve into migration of the Hawaiian people and those of other cultures; and study leadership through the season of Lono and Makahiki games.

Upper School

At the Upper School, we introduce Hawaiian language in addition to Hawaiian studies. Classes are housed within our modern language and social studies departments. We offer four years of Hawaiian language, taught by Kumu Ka‘ai Spencer , and this comprehensive sequence allows students to reach a high level of language acquisition, along with a greater understanding of cultural protocols and crafts and Hawai‘i’s significance on the international stage. Kumu Pualani Lincoln-Maielua teaches the Hawaiian studies program, beginning with a required, introductory semester for all incoming ninth graders. From there, students have access to an array of classes covering history and class systems, mythology and storytelling, forestry, aquaculture, and many other aspects of pre- and post-contact Hawai‘i, along with a dynamic, hands-on capstone class, Migrations of Moananuiākea (Oceania): Traditional Navigation and Modern-Day Voyaging.


Upper School course catalog