Connect with Hawaiian culture at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park

Listen to this Article
3 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is a cultural landscape.

During May, to celebrate Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the park is offering new digital content and in-person programs to provide a deeper understanding of Native Hawaiian culture.

Virtual cultural offerings:

  • The Language of the Land: What does sacred mean to you? This new story map reveals the meaning behind cherished place names across the summit region of Kīlauea. For example, Wahinekapu, “sacred woman,” is where steam billows from the earth. The volcanic steam is considered sacred especially to wāhine (women) who engage in steam ritual.
  • ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi: Join the revitalization of the Hawaiian language and learn common greetings and vowel pronunciation then try learning how to pronounce Hawaiian place names.
  • ʻIke Hana Noʻeau (Experience the Skillful Work): Watch a new season of this park-produced video series that shares authentic Hawaiian cultural practices.
  • Moʻolelo: Learn about 10 fascinating moʻolelo (stories). Some may be familiar, others may be lesser-known tales like that of Punaʻaikoaʻe, a chief of Oʻahu whose kinolau (supernatural body form) is represented in the koaʻe keʻa (white-tailed tropic birds) that soar above Kīlauea caldera.

In-person events:

  • Let’s Play Hū, May 10, 10 a.m. to noon at ʻŌhiʻa Wing (across Crater Rim Drive from Kīlauea Visitor Center): Early Hawaiians devoted time to games, amusement and relaxation. Hū, or top-spinning, was an absorbing activity for children, but making hū with a kukui nut was equally engaging. Join rangers and staff from Hawaiʻi Pacific Parks Association as they share their love and knowledge of traditional arts. Part of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park’s ongoing ‘Ike Hana Noʻeau (Experience the Skillful Work) Hawaiian cultural programs, and co-sponsored by Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association and the Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Free, but park entrance fees apply.
  • The Battle of the Bitter Rain, May 23, 7 p.m. at Kīlauea Visitor Center auditorium . It was a time of feathered capes, shark-toothed clubs and long spears. A time when warring chiefs battled for control of the islands. One such fierce battle took place partially within what is today Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Join retired park ranger Jay Robinson as he transports us back to a time when control of the island of Hawai’i teetered on the brink at a place and time known as the Battle of the Bitter Rain. It is part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park programs and is sponsored by the Friends of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Free, but park entrance fees apply.
  • Living History at Kahuku: Nani O Kahuku, May 27, 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. at Kamehameha Schools Kahuku Ranch property. Re-live a day on the Kamehameha Schoolsʻ historic Kahuku Ranch and watch a one-woman living history play performed by Alya-Joy Kanehailua. The in-situ performance is based on a journal written by Hannah Piʻilani Jones, the hapa-haole (half Hawaiian, half Causasian) daughter of George Jones, who owned Kahuku Ranch from 1871 to 1887. It is free, but reservations are required. Email Wendy Vance, [email protected] to reserve a seat and for detailed directions to the property.


Sponsored Content

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily or weekly
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Big Island Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments