Hawaiian folktale showcases at national festival

By Chelsea Wallis
September 28, 2011 – KHON TV Honolulu

WASHINGTON – A young Hawaiian author had the opportunity to share his heritage with the nation at the 11th annual National Book Festival in Washington this week.

Kekaulele Kawaiaea, an 11-year-old from the island of Oahu, displayed his book Kohala Kuamo’o: Nae’ole’s Race to Save a King at the Hawaii booth in the Pavilion of States. States and territories taught an estimated 200,000 festival goers about their unique literary traditions.

“It’s overwhelming all of the things going on now, but looking back it’s worth it,” said Kawaiaea.

The story, aimed at children aged 6 to 8, passed down through family oral traditions. It describes the journey of Chief Nae’ole to save an infant Kamehameha who was prophesied to some day rule over all Hawaiian chiefs.

Kawaiaea attended the festival with his father Aaron Kawaiaea, the book’s illustrator, and grandfather Walter Kawaiaea, another contributor.

“We are blessed and proud,” said Aaron Kawaiaea, “It’s been a journey over three years and it’s still continuing.”

“We’ve done book readings and we’ve been to the American University,” added Walter Kawaiaea. “I don’t need to tell the story, he does it all by himself. And when I look back, that was the initial goal. So I should be thrilled, I can retire now.”

Festival project manager Jennifer Gavin said the theme of the festival this year was to celebrate the joys of reading aloud, especially reading with young children. “All families should try to do this with their kids. It’s a very special time just for the family,” she said.

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