Created by world renowned Native Hawaiian muralist Estria Miyashiro, Mele Murals Youth Intersession Program are designed to advance the protocols, perspectives, and values of the Kānaka Maoli culture that were nearly eradicated when the Hawaiian Islands became a U.S. territory.
Daily lessons employ cultural-based, aloha ‘āina and creative and performance arts curricula intentionally designed to foster indigenous pride and places importance on preserving and advancing Hawaiian culture and the wahi pana (storied places) that connect Kānaka to the ‘aina and their kūpuna (ancestors). The program provides culture-interested students and families opportunities to engage with and develop into generational leaders in the indigenous cultural movement that fosters connectedness; preserves the mo‘olelo (history), ‘ike (knowledge), and wahi pana (storied places) of old Hawai‘i; and creates valuable public art assets that uplifts the Hawaiian culture.
Arts engagement with young people increases participation in schools and communities, increases civic and cultural pride, and reduces social isolation. Creative outlets are not always available to our young people, especially since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Education budget challenges and school decisions to prioritize other subject areas often mean young people do not have access to structured creative learning. Mele Murals Youth Intersession Programs build on the desires of our team of leading Native Hawaiian artists to provide just the sort of structure and creative outlets we needed when we were keiki.
Students are taken on weekly huaka‘i to historically significant wahi pana within their ahupua’a in other ahupua‘a across O‘ahu and Hawai‘i Island to provide each student with a comprehensive cultural experience focused on Hawai‘i’s host culture. Huaka‘i sites visited during past program offerings included Waikalua Loko I‘a, Luluku Farms, Ka Papa Lo‘i O Kānewai Cultural Center, Paepae O He‘eia, Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, the Polynesian Cultural Center, and Ka‘ala Farms. Visiting these historic cultural sites are integral to the delivery of our Mele Murals curricula as a means of grounding students in authentic Hawaiian culture, engaging them in deep cultural knowledge, and allowing each student to feel the mana (spiritual energy) of each wahi pana. Each wahi pana engages each student’s five senses in different ways – deep cultural knowledge, the innate interconnectedness between Kānaka Maoli and the ‘āina, and ancient ways to mālama ‘āina (care for the land).
Beyond engaging in traditional Hawaiian culture, students are also presented opportunities to journal about their individual experiences and cultural awakenings, engage in visual arts lessons that are focused on perpetuating Hawaiian culture, and create public works of art that honor Hawai‘i’s host culture.
All TEF arts and cultural education programs are centered around the fundamental Hawaiian values shared with Hawai‘i by poet and philosopher Aunty Pilahi Paki including:
Akahai – Kindness, to be expressed with tenderness
Lokahi – Unity, to be expressed with harmony
‘Olu‘olu – Agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness
Ha‘aha‘a – Humility, to be expressed with modesty
Ahonui – Patience, to be expressed with perseverance
It is through these values that TEF has developed the following program goals for its Mele Murals Youth Intersession Program.
Program goals include –
Create an all-islands public art project that is artistically excellent, deeply connected to the history of Hawai‘i, and a source of pride;
Build and sustain an Art in Public movement across the island chain, filling the islands with professional works of art;
Develop arts-interested youth into visual storytellers by educating them on Hawai‘i’s history, showing them how to connect to ancestors, and developing their artistic skills;
Provide opportunities for youth to explore Hawaiian oral storytelling tradition, to learn how to read kaona (hidden meanings), and to educate about Hawai‘i’s cultural heritage and values;
Teach public art techniques that are not taught in conventional arts classes which will help to develop leadership, organizing, and public speaking skills;
Increase cross-generation and cross-island engagement by creating new and exciting opportunities for all generations to learn and share mele (song) and mo‘olelo (stories);
Enhance student creative and critical thinking skills through the mural arts process and support from arts educators and teaching artists;
Increase social connection among youth artists by developing and supporting a network of youth mural clubs across the islands and connecting these clubs to area cultural practitioners; and,
Use a broad set of media tools to share the stories of the mele with a global audience, highlighting important artistic, cultural, and historical themes.
Through the delivery of the Mele Murals Youth Intersession Program, TEF aims to achieve the following educational, cultural, and arts-based learner outcomes –
The learner will understand the interconnections between Kānaka Maoli and the ‘āina (land) that sustains life in Hawai‘i;
The learner will understand the concept of wahi pana (storied places) and how wahi pana within their communities play important roles in preserving and perpetuating Kānaka ‘Ōiwi culture;
The learner will understand creative arts principles and techniques and how Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners and indigenous artists are utilizing the arts to preserve and perpetuate Kānaka ‘Ōiwi culture; and,
The learner will understand their role as future Kānaka Maoli community leaders and how they will individually and collectively serve as kia‘i (protectors) to protect and maintain balance in our islands.
Kauwela (Summer) 2023, June 12 – July 14, 2023
For Summer 2023, The Estria Foundation will continue its partnership with the Hawai‘i, Honolulu, and the Windward Complex Areas to deliver its Mele Murals Youth Intersession Program.
Program hours will run from 8:00am – 3:00pm Monday – Friday, serving one hundred and thirty (130) keiki at in-person settings at community-based locations within the three target Complex Areas.
Collectively, our Mele Murals Youth Intersession Program is designed to nurture ʻōiwi leaders – people who use their knowledge, skills, and passion to strengthen Hawai‘i and its people. By engaging each student in authentic cultural learning, culture-focused arts curriculum, and placed-based learning through weekly culturally-focused huaka‘i to wahi pana in and outside of our ahupua‘a, our Summer programs intends to create multiple cohorts of Native Hawaiian learners who are culturally-knowledgeable and committed to doing their part to mālama ‘āina, perpetuate Hawai‘i’s host culture, and that in time are poised to become Hawai‘i’s next generation of ʻōiwi leaders.
For this five (5) week program, students will be offered:
Up to four (4) huaka‘i to wahi pana within their respective ahupua‘a to connect them with the ‘āina and their kūpuna; learn about the history, culture, ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i and mo‘olelo of their community; and engage in both creative and performance arts.
Opportunities to engage with kūpuna and cultural practitioners from their communities who are preserving and perpetuating Hawaiian culture.
Opportunities to learn both creative and performance arts from professional artists and arts instructors.
Opportunities to participate in daily physical activities including hikes, traditional farming, walks, dance, and play.
Opportunity to create a large-scale, culturally focused public mural developed around a community’s mo‘olelo and mele.