The Kennedy Center

Mapuna Leo


M?puna Leo (lit., Arising Voices) is a consortium of award-winning musicians, kumu hula (hula masters), and academic colleagues who have come together to celebrate the revitalization of Hawaiian culture and language. “Mele (Hawaiian song) and hula (Hawaiian dance), recount the stories of our people since the beginning of time and, through their performance, we remember and share those stories with all of you.” Hawaiian is a success story in bringing a language back from the brink of extinction. The use of this centuries-old language was actively discouraged in the early-20th century and 

Hawaiian was nearly destroyed. By the 1970s, the community of native Hawaiian speakers had dwindled to only a small number of elders and very few speakers under the age of eighteen. It now boasts over ten thousand fluent speakers, five times more than in the 1970s. This was done with great effort. The introduction of the P?nana Leo (“language nest”) immersion schools and a vibrant Hawaiian cultural renaissance movement have raised a new generation in the Hawaiian language and traditional arts: including canoe building, taro cultivation, and poi pounding.
Mapuna Leo