I ka ʻōlelo nō ke ola; in language there is life. ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language) carries the life and spirit of the Hawaiian people. It enables us to better understand our history and collective identity and helps us express ourselves through a Hawaiian world view.
Since 2013, February has been celebrated in Hawaiʻi as Mahina ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, Hawaiian language month, to acknowledge the progress made and encourage further efforts to renormalize ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. We are excited to release this print on the 10th anniversary of Mahina ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi to join in the celebration and do our part to spotlight ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi in our community.
ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, like many other indigenous languages, was once at the brink of extinction due to population decline, colonization, and accompanying anti-Hawaiian policies and communal sentiment. For over 80 years, ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi instruction and education was removed from schools and young Hawaiians were generally discouraged from learning the language. Even within our own families, our kūpuna (elders) were influenced to believe it best for their children to not be taught Hawaiian. As a result, forty years ago, surveys found there to be less than 50 ʻōpio (youth) fluent in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi.
Thankfully, since then, new generations of Hawaiians have once again been taught and educated in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. The resurgence of ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, in tandem with many other cultural practices, has come to be known as the Hawaiian Renaissance. Today, more than 26,000 individuals identify as Hawaiian language speakers and thousands of students are learning ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi in public, charter, and private schools and universities across Hawaiʻi.
The effort to revitalize ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi began first at ʻAha Pūnana Leo by educating our youngest haumāna (students) in Hawaiian immersion preschools. As such, for this print, we decided it would be fitting to create a design featuring simple hua ʻōlelo (words) for keiki (children), including mahina (moon), lā (sun), ānuenue (rainbow), hōkū (star), moʻo (lizard), manu (bird), and pua (flower).
We hope this print inspires you to learn and speak Hawaiian with your keiki! E ola mau ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi! Long live the Hawaiian language!
This print was created in collaboration with Coco Moon Hawaii, which will be carrying a number of their products in the same print, and illustrated by Design Jord.