A Cultural Sense Of Self

By Bonnie Kahapea-Tanner
Wednesday - February 16, 2011 Share

By Bonnie Kahapea-Tanner
Co-director, Mana Maoli

“Kanehunamoku saved my young life and, most definitely, preserved my sanity. When nothing was going right, this beautiful wa’a gifted me a cultural sense of self and a grounded connection to the heavens. I am eternally grateful ... these opportunities have exhaled the pilikia and allowed me to simply exist while sailing on the sea.” - Pomaika’i Freed, HKM alumna

Conceptually, Mana Maoli (MM) is the people and Halau Ku Mana (HKM) the place of our learning ohana. Officially, MM is the nonprofit providing facilities, funding and staff support for HKM, a public charter school.

MM is comprised of youths, educators, musicians, cultural practitioners and families who share a common vision of community healing and empowerment and positive, systemic change through community-based education and awareness; pooling and sharing of resources; and sustainability, both environmental and economic.

In 1999, MM began holding monthly community events and weekly classes for youths in its host communities of Papakolea and Maunalaha. Within two years we earned 501(c)(3) nonprofit status and founded HKM, Oahu’s first startup public charter school.


Each year HKM averages 100 students while additionally serving about 1,000 youths, families and community members. We also run two other programs for youths: Our wa’a program, through the Kanehunamoku voyaging canoe, provides a “floating classroom” for learning academics, culture, values and life skills; and in our Maoli Music program, youth and professional artists collaborate on MM CDs and concerts as a means for raising funds and awareness of the successes of Hawaiian charter schools. Future plans include musician-led music classes in schools and a community co-op studio.

We strive to be less dependent on grants through a combination of donations, volunteers, and marketing products and services. Our greatest challenge and need, however, are resources to implement and grow our programs.

For more information on ways to support, including our upcoming fundraisers on Feb. 18 and 19, visit “Mana Maoli” and “Mana Maoli Collective” on Facebook or contact us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 295-MANA (6262).


Hawaii charitable organizations may send requests for space in either Proof Positive or the free advertisement below to dchapman@midweek.com.

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