CRDG’s NHEP projects realized early on that part of helping students achieve success in school, leading to success in life, was providing support through key transition points in their schooling—from middle school to high school and from high school into post-secondary options. As this aspect of the project developed, it depended on strong community support, and as a result, the project began working with cultural specialist Malcolm Nāea Chun to provide both students and their communities with authentic cultural knowledge to give them a strong sense of cultural grounding. Through this initiative, the project eventually published these books, which were distributed free to project participants and continue to be available for sale from CRDG and bookstores around the state.
The Ka Wana series consists of twelve short volumes covering a range of subjects including ethics and philosophy, leadership, education, health, management, protocol, and religious beliefs. Each volume is illustrated with historical documents accompanied by detailed cultural descriptions or with photographs of contemporary cultural practices.
Author Malcolm Nāea Chun uses traditional and historical examples to show behavior, thoughts, and values, then analyzes events in both traditional and contemporary contexts. All descriptions are cited so the reader can explore them in their original context. Chun asks readers to think about whether we are following those traditions today, or whether we have changed them or are making them up. The implications of his findings will cause some to reexamine and rediscover a true sense of Native Hawaiian values and virtues.
As a researcher and scholar, Chun has worked throughout his life with Native Hawaiian agencies and organizations, and has accumulated years of cultural experiences, both in Hawai‘i and while living among other Polynesians and Pacific Islanders. The Ka Wana series is a lifetime achievement, a masterful work that pieces together fragments of historical and cultural information to form a clearer picture than we have ever had before.
In 2011, CRDG co-published, with the University of Hawai‘i Press, No Nā Mamo, Traditional and Contemporary Hawaiian Beliefs and Practices, an updated and enlarged compilation of books in the acclaimed Ka Wana series, published from 2005 through 2010. The new volume is revised and updated, with each topic as a chapter. It also includes a 32-page color section showing images of early Hawaiian culture with commentary and analysis, a new afterword, and an editor’s preface and appendix that offer insights into the process of publishing indigenous material.
Hāpai Nā Leo is a literary companion to the Ka Wana series that responds to Chun’s work with a wide range of voices and perspectives far-ranging in style, form, and generation. From the powerful opening words of the Kumulipo to the propulsive rhymes of contemporary slam poetry, Hāpai nā Leo celebrates a diverse range of voices that explore, carry, and regenerate Hawaiian culture.