Hawaiian hero Kawelo - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaiian hero Kawelo

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaiians were a very literate people, producing amazing works about legends and stories of heroes. With the resurgence of the Hawaiian language, many of these stories are surfacing, such as the epic tale of the Hawaiian hero Kawelo.

Here in 420 pages is his story which exemplifies the wealth of traditional Hawaiian literature of the past. In order to get that a make it engaging and useful for modern readers, there are certain steps that we have to take, at least at this preliminary stage.

"And modernizing the Hawaiian into ways that people are more comfortable with reading and providing context is an amazing thing that Hiapo has done with this Kawelo book," said Ron Cox Director, Bishop Museum Press.

As with his Master's thesis, Hiapo took Kawelo from an old Hawaiian newspaper, rewrote it using diacriticals and added a wealth of footnotes that gives insight into this work of art.

It is important to realize that these intricate, well-written epics are a glimpse into how our kupuna thought. During the mid-19th century, Hawaiians were one of the most literate people in the world. And with the development of the printing press, many Hawaiians took to documenting epics, as did Ho?oulum?hiehie, the author of Kawelo.

His passion to retell the story was fueled by a desire to ensure that this story was told correctly and in a way that maintained a high standard of the language, which seemed to be waning even then.

"Hiapo's work helps bring this to light for us. With Hiapo he has taken this larger than life character of Kawelo and really kind of put it together in a way that makes sense for us," said Ron.

But the whole text is in Hawaiian. "We absolutely need to have varying texts; simple ones for keiki or new learners as well as more complex ones like this Kawelo that is done by Hiapo," said Ron. Because, these stories in our language give true insight into who we are as a people.

Visit bishopmuseum.org/press/ to get your copy of Kawelo.

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