Mahina ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi - Denise Kuʻuipo Kelekolio
Inoa: Kuʻuipo Kelekolio
Kūlana: kumu papa ʻekah
Kula: Ka ʻUmeke Kāʻeo
ʻIli, Ahupuaʻa, Mokupuni: Keaukaha, Waiākea, Hawaiʻi
No ke aha ʻoe i ʻauamo ai i kēia kuleana e hana ma ke ʻano he kumu a luna hoʻokele paha ma ka papahana kula kaiapuni?
Mai ka piʻina a ka lā i Kumukahi a i ka welona a ka lā i ka mole ʻolu o Lehua, aloha nui mai kākou. ʻO wau ʻo Kuʻuipo Kelekolio, he kumu papa ʻekahi ma Ka ʻUmeke Kāʻeo. Ua hānau a hānai ʻia ma ka ʻāina hoʻopulapula ʻo Keaukaha. He mamo wau na Pearl Kumukahi Makaokalani lāua ʻo Felix Mahi Jr. He mau mānaleo kēia mau kūpuna aloha oʻu akā he ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi lāua me nā ʻohana a me nā hoa wale nō o ka hanauna like ma kahi kaʻawale. Hōʻole ʻia mākou keiki e hoʻolohe i ka walaʻau kanaka a lākou. Iaʻu ma ka papa ʻeono, ua noi ʻia wau e haʻiʻōlelo no ka ʻoki piko ʻana o ka hale hou i kūkulu ʻia ma ke kula haʻahaʻa ʻo Keaukaha. He mea maʻamau ka haʻiʻōlelo ʻana ma ia wā iaʻu, eia nō naʻe ua noi ka hoʻolaukaʻi e mālama piha ʻia ma ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. Ma waho o nā ʻōlelo pōkole a nā kūpuna ma ke kula i aʻo ai i kēlā wā, ʻaʻohe aʻu ʻōlelo. No laila ua kaukaʻi ʻia koʻu kupunawahine, nāna e haku, nāna e aʻo mai a nāna nō e hoʻomaʻamaʻa i ka puana pololei me aʻu a paʻa. Pā nui ka naʻau o nā kūpuna ma ia ʻaha a pēlā pū ke kiaʻāina i ko lākou lohe ʻana i kaʻu haʻiʻōlelo. ʻAʻole wau i manaʻo he ʻike lihi nō ia i koʻu ala e kūpaʻa ai ma hope.
From the rising of the sun at Kumukahi to its setting beyond Lehua island, greetings. I am Ku'uipo Kelekolio, a first grade teacher at Ka ʻUmeke Kā'eo. I was born and raised in the Keaukaha homestead. I am a descendant of Pearl Kumukahi Makaokalani and Felix Mahi Jr. My dear grandparents were native speakers but they both only spoke Hawaiian with family and friends of their same generation. We children were not allowed to listen to their conversation. When I was in sixth grade, I was asked to give a speech for the dedication of a newly constructed building at Keaukaha Elementary School. I was comfortable with public speaking, however, the coordinator asked that it be all in Hawaiian. Apart from the short words that the kūpuna at school taught me at that time, I could not speak the language. Therefore my grandmother was the one who wrote my speech and she practiced with me how to properly pronounce the words until I had them memorized. The kūpuna at that gathering were very touched and so was the governor when they heard my speech. I didn’t know that was a hint of what would determine my path later.
Ma mua o ka hoʻomaka ʻana o ka papa ʻumi iaʻu, ua hala kēia hulu kupuna oʻu. Luʻuluʻu Hilo i ka ua nui. I loko nō o ke kaumaha, ua hoʻi kēia i ke kula ʻo Kamehameha ma Kapālama e like me kā kuʻu kupuna i paipai mau ai. I kekahi lā, e kāʻalo ana wau i kahi lumi papa o laila a lohe kā ʻia maila ka ʻōlelo huna a koʻu mau kūpuna e heleleʻi mai ana mai nā lehelehe o nā keiki liʻiliʻi. No ka Pūnana Leo ia mau keiki, he kula kamaliʻi hou loa ia i ia manawa. Pohā nō ka lae i ka hiki i ia mau keiki ke kamaʻilio e like hoʻi me koʻu mau kūpuna. Kāhāhā maila ka naʻau i ka ʻae ʻia o ia mau keiki e aʻo i ia ʻōlelo aʻu i manaʻo ai he kapu na nā kūpuna wale nō. ʻO ke kulu ihola nō ia o nā waimaka oʻu i ka hāliʻaliʻa aloha i kuʻu kupunawahine. Mai kēlā mua aku, ua paʻa ka manaʻo i loko oʻu e aʻo nō i kuʻu ʻōlelo Makuahine, pau pele pau manō.
Before my sophomore year started, this beloved grandmother of mine was gone. Hilo was dark with sorrow. Despite the sadness, I returned to Kamehameha School in Kapālama as my grandmother always encouraged. One day, I was passing by a classroom there and heard those secretive words of my kūpuna coming from the lips of little children. Pūnana Leo for those children was a brand new preschool at that time. My mind was blown to hear children talk like my kūpuna. I couldn’t believe that these children could learn a language that I had thought was forbidden to all but the kūpuna. It brought up fond, wistful memories of my grandmother. From that moment, I made a promise to myself to learn my mother tongue.
I maikaʻi koʻu kahua ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, ua hoʻoholo wau e hele i ke kulanui o Hawaiʻi ma Hilo. No ka nui o koʻu ʻiʻini e paʻa ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, ua ʻimi wau i hana ma Ke Kula Kaiapuni Hawaiʻi ʻo Keaukaha ma ke ʻano he kumu kākoʻo.
Ma ia wā hoʻokahi, he limahana wau ma ka Hale Kuamoʻo, he keʻena hoʻomōhala a hoʻomākaukau haʻawina na nā Kula Kaiapuni. Ma o ia mau hana wau i ʻike ai i ke koʻikoʻi a me ka nele hoʻi o nā kumu Kaiapuni. Ua ʻike ʻē wau e lilo ana nō i kumu mai koʻu wā liʻiliʻi.
I kēia manawa naʻe, ua hoʻoholo wau e lilo i kumu Kaiapuni a e aʻo ma kuʻu one hānau. I ka makahiki 1998 ua lilo nō wau i kumu Kaiapuni kūhelu.
Mai kēlā wā a i kēia wā e kū nei, ua aʻo i ka papa mālaaʻo, ka papa ʻekahi, ke kula kauwela, nā papa ma ke kulanui a me ke kula ahiahi - ma ʻō aku o 500 haumāna aʻu i aʻo ai. Mahalo wau i kuʻu mau kūpuna, no lāua mai ia ʻiʻini nui a mākia hoʻi aʻu e ʻonipaʻa nei.
To improve my Hawaiian language skills, I decided to go to the University of Hawaiʻi in Hilo. Because I really wanted to master the Hawaiian language, I looked for a job at Ke Kula Kaiapuni Hawai'i as a kumu kākoʻo.
At the same time, I was an employee at Hale Kuamoʻo, a curriculum development and preparation agency for immersion schools. Through those jobs I got to know the importance of and need for Kaiapuni teachers. I knew from when I was young that I would be a teacher.
At this point, however, I chose to become a kumu Kaiapuni and teach where I was born. In 1998 I became an official kumu Kaiapuni.
From then to now, I have taught kindergarten, first grade, summer school, college classes and evening school – well over 500 students. I am grateful to my grandparent; it is from them that I have gained my desire and purpose to remain steadfast.