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Manoa Valley Ahupua’a. An Ahupua’a is a natural land division, which is bordered by streams from Mauka to Makai. Typical Ahupua’a. Ohana: Family Life. Hawaiian tradition recognizes that people are descendants of the kalo plant Ohana comes from Kalo Makua = parent Oha (sprout) = child.

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Manoa valley ahupua a
Manoa Valley Ahupua’a

  • An Ahupua’a is a natural land division, which is bordered by streams from Mauka to Makai

Ohana: Family Life

Hawaiian tradition recognizes that people are descendants of the kalo plant

Ohana comes from Kalo

Makua = parent

Oha (sprout) = child

Ohana were guided by family spirits called ‘Aumakua

They were ancestors of the family who provided guidance and advise

They took on forms of nature such as mano: sharks (most revered), honu: turtles, pueo: owls

Illustrates how Hawaiians are connected to nature, their surroundings

A premier of indigenous learning

Indigenous learning
Indigenous Learning

  • Spiritual and secular worlds are connected

  • Knowledge embedded in cosmology

  • No clear distinctions between intangible and physical elements

  • Knowledge is holistic and cannot be separated from land, resources, nature

  • Early education

  • Strict discipline

  • What they needed to learn they learned at home

  • Child’s age based on his physical abilities

  • Chores based on child’s strengths, size

  • 2 year old = carries water

  • 6 year old = carries coconuts

  • 10 year old = carries sibling

Pre contact education
Pre Contact Education

  • Education a child received depended on birth status:

  • Ali’I children had kahu (tutor) - they learned about leadership, royalty

  • Maka’ainana children taught by kupuna (grandparents) -- they learned about legends, their families kapu (guardian)

Pre contact education1
Pre Contact Education

  • Goal: teach children to be responsible members of society

    • Content:

      • Chants

      • Hula

      • Genealogies,

      • Legends

    • Formal ways of learning:

      • Imitation

      • Oral history

      • Observation

    • Informal ways of learning:

      • Direction from kupunas

      • Play

  • Older girls worked with the women

  • They learned how to make baskets, mats, and gourds for carrying food and water

  • They took care of the children, cleaning, collected shells, seaweed, etc.

Post contact
Post Contact

  • First material printed in Hawaiian was by missionaries -- contained sentences and spelling words from the Bible

  • 1830, over 1,000 schools -- taught by native teachers, under the guidance of the missionaries

  • Education in the Hawaiian language

  • Ho’ike -- a quarterly exam of students -- which were festive occasions attended by ali’i where students demonstrated what they had learned

Post contact 1900
Post Contact 1900

  • Children ages 6 to 15 had to attend school

  • No longer run by missionaries but by state government

  • Underlying problem: why educate people if they are just going to work on the plantation?

  • Same problems today existed then: too little tax money supported education -- a federal commission found that too little tax money supported education - the old Territorial school which taught teachers became part of the new UH Manoa


  • Williams, J. S. (1997). From the Mountains to the Sea: Early Hawaiian Life.

  • Kamehameha Schools Press, 1997

  • Kamehameha Schools Hawaiian Studies Institute (1994). Life in Early Hawaii: The Ahupua’a, 3rd ed. Available online at,

  • Chapin, H. G. (1999). Hawaiian Historical Society. Available online at

  • Menton, L. K., & Tamura, E. H. (1999). A History of Hawaii, 2nd ed. Curriculum Research & Development Group, Honolulu, HI

  • Kamakua, S. M. (1991). Tales and Traditions of the People of Old. Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu, HI 1991

  • Kamakua, S. M. (1964). The People of Old. Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu, HI 1964