Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu



I am Kanaka Maoli — a native person descended from the original inhabitants of the islands of Hawai’i. Our survival as indigenous people depends on our ability to know and practice our cultural traditions, to speak and understand our language, and to feel an authentic connection to our own history. We need to be active participants in telling our own stories in our own way.

I am also mahu, which like many indigenous gender identities was once respected but is now more often a target for hatred and discrimination. I want our young people to understand that the ability to embrace both the male and female aspects of their spirit is not a weakness but a strength, a reason to rejoice not to fear.

As a teacher, a culture bearer and a media maker, my work aims to fulfill the goal articulated by Native Hawaiian historian S. M. Kamakau in 1865:

He makemake ko’u e pololei ka moolelo o ko’u one hanau, aole na ka malihimi e ao ia’u I ka moolelo o ko’u lahui, na’u e ao aku I ka moolelo I ka malihini.