Waiola Church benefits from student volunteers


Seniors Travis Haas, Jonah Aruda, Lilinoe Bal, and Kamahoe Bal move tree limbs at Waiola Church on Sept. 29, 2011. The students volunteered their time to clean up the church as part of their Hawaiian History class.

By Kiana Kamalu, Op-Ed editor

Kumu Kapulani Antonio and her senior students volunteered to clean up Waiola Church in Lāhaina, Maui, on Sept. 29, 2011.

The seniors began the day with the A Uka Ho‘i Au o Haleakalā chant then honored the High Chiefess Keōpuolani with ‘O ‘oe ia e Keōpuolani. After the students had toured the cemetery and Moku‘ula, they were given different tasks.

The students were spread out over the property to accomplish the many tasks the church needed done. They cleaned the church, raked leaves, trimmed trees, and also painted walls. There was much to be done.

Senior Kalena Ka’eo, who raked leaves and put them in trash cans, said the experience was fun.

“It felt good helping the church and all the people over here. I had fun with all my friends,” she said.

Mr. Kent Stewart, the moderator of the church, said he appreciated all the work the students did.

“There are relatively few of us who can do the work over here,” Stewart said. “What they have done today would take [us] a month to do.”

He said that sometimes all three Kamehameha Schools campuses bring teams to work. He can remember five times the schools have come since he moved here in 2004.

“It’s a special church, and being a Hawaiian church, we have a special connection to Hawaiian schools. We feel that same kuleana for this sacred place because this land for the church was given to us by Keōpuolani,” he said.

Stewart feels it is important for students to do this type of volunteer work, “I can’t think of any activity that is of greater potential and importance to you as students than to come and get your hands dirty over here. It is so valuable to do things together–to learn to work together. Here you get a combination of history, the experience of working together, and knowledge that you have done something really significant for us.”

Kumu Kapulani Antonio is also glad to see her students working together.

“I notice that everybody jumps in,” she said. “Huki pau is what we call it: pull together and get the job done.”

Kumu Kapulani believes it is important for students to visit the church to connect back to their roots, including the ali‘i,and to give back to the church and community. She hopes to come back for another trip with her second semester students in 2012.

She said she feels like a student when going to Waiola. “I’m not from Maui, so I like to talk to all the aunties and hear their stories. I’m a student too. I like to go there and learn more,” she said.

Aunty Grale Lorenzo-Chong has a personal connection to Waiola Church.

“My grandfather was a minister back then for the Waine‘e Church from 1932 to 1947,” Aunty Grale said. Her house used to be where the parsonage is today.

The Waiola Church today is the sixth one to be rebuilt since 1823, but she was there when one of the churches’ roofs burned down in 1947, and she was also there when the severe Kaua‘ula winds blew down the church in 1951.

“The wind was like a hurricane,” she recalled. “You could hear the wind coming; it was eerie.”

It was not until much later that Aunty Grale was told that those winds were not ordinary winds.

“My grandfather was from a family of Kamehameha, and he was in the hospital at the time,” Aunty Grale said. “I [only] found out about ten years ago that the winds come when an ali‘i dies.” Her grandfather had died that night.

Aunty Grale has been through a lot with the church and knows a lot of its history. She is still a part of the church today.