KAPOLEI, Hawaii -  Hawaiian and English are both official languages in the state but as of the 2010 Census only 3% of the islands' population actually speak Hawaiian.

The push to increase the number of Hawaiian language speakers topped the agenda at the 2nd annual 'Aha Kumu at Disney's Aulani Resort and Spa on Monday. Hawaiian language teachers from O'ahu and several neighbor islands exchanged ideas about curriculum in the classroom with hopes of attracting more students. 

"Really it's to give the kumu, Hawaiian language teachers, the opportunity to gather together to share ideas and share things that really work with them or maybe post questions that will help them reach their students, their haumana," said Kumu Hailama Farden, Kamehameha Schools Kapalama Vice-Principal. 


Kumu Melelani Pang from Kamehameha Schools shared what works for him in class. He requires students to utilize old Hawaiian language newspapers to help them grasp concepts firsthand.  

"It reinforces some of what they learn in class grammar wise, vocabulary wise but then again it helps them to get a deeper understanding of language uses. How did it flow," Kumu Pang said. 

Two decades ago many kumu experienced an explosion of interest among students wanting to take Hawaiian. 

"On O'ahu in the 90's every school taught Hawaiian language except three. There was a growth of Hawaiian language desire and desire to learn the language and then because of issues with standards and 'No Child Left Behind' I guess different schools started to focus differently," Kumu Farden said. 

Organizers say think of this as a re-focusing, finding ways to ensure Hawaiian language lives on among all who call Hawai'i home. 


"It doesn't matter if you have the blood or not if you Hawaiian or not, you could be full Filipino, you could be a mix like many of us are. You honor the ethnicities that you have, but this is our homeland. Hawai'i is our homeland, it has a language and it has a culture," Kumu Pang said. 

 This is the second year of the conference at Disney's Aulani. The resort's cultural advisor tells KITV Hawaiian culture is an important part of Aulani's identity and Disney hopes to host the conference year after year.