Preserving Hawaiian culture

Members of the Ku Pono club help build a Hawaiian garden located near Hale A‘o - Courtesy of Winston Kong

Members of the Ku Pono club help build a Hawaiian garden located near Hale A‘o – Courtesy of Winston Kong

Hawaiian culture abounds in counselor Winston Kong’s office in ‘Akoakoa 210. His door is adorned with photos and flyers, Hawaiian stickers and a coconut hat. On the hat sits a sign that reads “I SMELL Like IMU-boiled PEANUTS!!” Slippers lay atop a lauhala mat.

Kong is the adviser of Kū Pono Hawaiian Club and exemplifies Hawaiian culture at its finest. The club practices traditional Hawaiian values through community service projects.

“Through our daily expression of these values, we hope to symbolically reconnect with the po‘e kāhiko, ancient people,” said Kong. “Bring the Hawaiian way into modern time. Preserve our culture.”

The club originated as Hui Laulima in the early 1980s by Frank Kawaikapuokalani Hewett, a well-known kumu in the Hawaiian community. Its purpose was to bring people together. Currently, the club has 50 members, who include WCC students and members of the community.

One of the club’s activities is maintaining Kīheipua Māla ‘Ai, a Hawaiian garden located near Hale A‘o. Several varieties of kalo and native Hawaiian plants are cultivated. In addition to the garden, the site will eventually feature a multimedia art gallery and a performance mound. Club meetings are held there every other Saturday.

Ho’olaule‘a is the club’s biggest fundraising opportunity. Monies raised help to support the club. “In the past, we’ve helped our own members with books, school supplies and toiletries,” said Kong.

To join Kū Pono Hawaiian Club, contact Winston Kong at (808) 235-7458 or wkong@hawaii.edu.

by Tammy Pratt, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter