Hale O Ho‘oponopono

The hale restoration in process! Some of the kūpuna who inspired this project are shown at the top of the image. From left to right: Calvin Kelekolio, Herb Kane, Haleaka ʻIolani Pule, Tutu Clara Manase and Sir Renwick Iliʻilipuna Tassill (“Uncle Joe”).

The Hale o Ho’oponopono (house of making things right, bringing things into balance, healing) was constructed at Hōnaunau Bay in the mid-1970s by a team of Maoli builders and students, as part of the creation of a school of the same name.

The school, an early precursor of the current network of Hawaiian-focused and immersion schools, had been established to fill the need of many Hawaiian children who had a difficult time relating to the education process as presented by the local public schools. The students went fishing and ‘opihi (Hawaiian limpet) picking and were taught canoe maintenance, paddling and malama ʻaina (land stewardship) principles, along with a Hawaiian language curriculum. In the process, the students began to excel at their academic studies as well.

The newly constructed traditional hale halawai served as the center for many of these activities, which had a significant positive impact on the lives of many young Hawaiians coming of age in the 1970s.

The school was closed in 1984, and gradually the hale fell into disrepair. For the past 20 years, prior to this project, the only parts of the structure that remained were the original foundation and upright support poles – a constant and poignant reminder of its former intensive use, and of its potential value for our community, now and into the future.

The building project was been a long time coming – the idea of restoring the hale had been discussed at the canoe club for more than 20 years, and when a grant application written by a club member was approved by the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) in 2015, the long-awaited project could finally begin.

The process of rebuilding the hale was accomplished over a two-year period with a small core team of experienced and new hale builder haumana (interns) assisted by a cadre of community volunteers who participated in the seven hale building workshops that took place over the course of the project.

The hale building process was led by one of the most experienced practitioners in the state, master hale builder Walter Wong. Uncle Waltah, as he is known, orchestrated the project from start to finish, which was built according to Hawaii County’s building code for traditional and indigenous structures.

Puna Kihoi, who officiated the hale blessing, was a teacher at Hale o Hoʻoponopono in the 1980s. One of the hale builder haumana, Randal Kahele, was one of her students at the school and their reunion at the blessing ceremony was an emotional reconnection for both.

The hale will be used for educational and ceremonial purposes and will serve to strengthen the cultural landscape of Honaunau Bay ­— a visible, enduring reminder of the significant and sacred nature of this place.