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Hawaiian Studies Program: Kūpuna Component

The Kūpuna Component brings people from the community into the classroom. As "Kūpuna" or Cultural Personnel Resources (CPRs), practitioners and community members share their knowledge and experience with students from kindergarten to grade 6.

​​Program overview​

The Kūpuna Component began the 1970's in the Windward District on the island of Oʻahu.  Kūpuna means grandparent, ancestor, and/or honored elder. In the Hawaiian culture, kūpuna were highly respected and seen as an important link as keepers of ancestral knowledge. For this reason, Native-Hawaiian elders were invited into the classroom to share their cultural knowledge, life experiences, and the Hawaiian language.  The demand for this interaction expanded to more schools and in 1980, the Kūpuna Component officially became a part of the Hawaiian Studies Program.

Kūpuna are referred to as Cultural Personnel Resources (CPR). Elementary schools statewide receive funding to hire CPR's as part-time teachers on the school staff. However, with the dwindling population of Native Hawaiian elders, the component has expanded to include community members who have knowledge in the Hawaiian culture and share their mana'o. Today's CPR may be a grandparent or someone of that generation; there are also CPR's who are makua (parent or people of that generation in relation to the students). Some CPR's are even recent college​​​​​ or high school graduates.  Although the wisdom that often comes with age is preferred, the rich knowledge base that recent graduates offer is a testament to the overall success of Hawaiian-focused programs of the past 30 years.  The important thing to remember is that all CPR's take their jobs and responsibilities seriously. They see themselves as the connection to the ancestors and step forward to share their knowledge and experience just as an honored elder would have in traditional times.

The Kūpuna Component aims to enrich students' learning about cultural practices, historical information, and the Hawaiian language. A valuable lesson gained from CPR's is that of their life experiences within Hawaiʻi, as a special place they call home. Place-based learning is emphasized to encourage a sense of belonging, appreciation, and stewardship for Hawaiʻi.​

  • ​Interview: ​Kū​puna Minerva Pang [VIEW]

Kupuna Program in the news​

  • ​​​Hawaiian Language Immersion | Think Tech Hawaii
    "Education is all about being able to identify with who you are, and use that as a place of strength to be able to access different concepts." [VIEW]

Contact Information

Ku‘ulei Makua

Phone: 808-305-9656

Email: kuulei.makua@k12.hi.us


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