Aulani Celebrates the Hawaiian Language
Did you know there was a lounge at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, that is dedicated to the Hawaiian language? The ʻŌlelo Room has gorgeous wooden shadow boxes lining the walls with sculptures of people, animals, and other items labeled with their Hawaiian language words.
Castle – kākela. Dolphin – naiʻa. Mouse —ʻiole. “This is where it comes alive,” Kuanoni, a Cast Member at Aulani says. “This space represents so much progress in our effort to keep ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi going.”
Ōlelo Hawaiʻi is the Hawaiian language. The language was once illegal to use, but now is flourishing once again in its native land. Cast Members like Kuanoni take great pride in representing and teaching the native language.
Aulani is celebrating Mahina ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, which is the Hawaiian language month, with a series of events and activities to teach and increase awareness of the language to guests and the community.
Guests can sit in on readings of Hawaiian stories as well as demonstrations of how natives interpreted the various phases of the moon, and a community showing of the movie “Moana” in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi,
Kuanoni is a bartender in The ʻŌlelo Room. he has taken on the task of Aulani Resort’s efforts to promote Mahina ‘Ōlelo Hawaiʻi.
“My personal journey with ōlelo Hawaiʻi started at home,” Kuanoni said. “My parents both spoke Hawaiian, and it was the primary language of our family. There wasnʻt a choice about whether to learn it or not – and I’m better for it. My entire world revolved around Hawaiian knowledge in some way. By day, I was going to an immersion charter school and working a loʻi (taro patch) with my dad. In the evenings I was dancing hula, and on Sunday I was attending church in ōlelo Hawaiʻi.”
But access to the Hawaiian language wasn’t always easy, or legal. The Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown in 1898 by American forces, banning ōlelo Hawaiʻi. The only language that was allowed in schools and public places was English. By the 1960s, only an estimated 2,000 people spoke Hawaiian and the language.
A resurgence of Hawaiian culture and traditions began in the 1960s and 1970s, and in 1978, the Hawai‘i Constitutional Convention restored Hawaiian as an official language when a resurgence of the Hawaiian culture and traditions was brought back to life in the 1960s, 1970s, and in 1978.
“Personally, I feel that Mahina ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi celebrates and reaffirms that our language lives on today, and more importantly, it honors those kūpuna (elders) who have taken part in passing ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi to all of us despite the adversity they faced. I’m excited to celebrate and to share this message within our company,” he said. “Our cast events are always my favorite because they create lasting change here at Aulani Resort that will continue to make an impact.” says Kuanoni.
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