We are From, A Video-Poem by Kamanukea Kekoa

What began as a poem became the beautiful video, We are From.  Using a writing prompt from the Pūpu A ʻO ʻEwa website as a jumping off point, Kamanukea Kekoa wanted to explore what it means to be Hawaiian but, she says, “with a broader perspective, leaning on the idea that the Hawaiian people are strongest when banded together.”  Learning the traditions of place and genealogy in Hawaiian Studies class, she discovered the importance of place-based learning and how that contributes to the cultural identify and the kanako maoli way of thinking.

Featuring video clips from YouTube and the voices of Kamanukea Kekoa, Aukai Kekoa, Kuʻulei Kekoa, and Bruce AhChong, We are From weaves both ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi and ʻōlelo haole and is a poignant statement of what it means to have a genealogical connection to the āina.

Pūpū A ʻO ʻEwa is proud to present We are From, the Ka ʻUmeke Kāʻeo award-winning video-poem by Ke Ala ʻIke Scholar and Leeward CC graduate Kamanukea Kekoa.

Meet the author: Kamanukea Kekoa


We are From


I am from rocks
that which holds my culture
because it is, I am
the small pebbles on a kōnane board, the foundation of the kuapā
the sibling boulders resting in Hāʻena, the koʻa that forms all life
ua lawa makou i ka pōhaku i kaʻai kamahaʻo o ka ʻāina
I come from strength, from solidity
from consciousness, awareness if born
e ola nā pōhaku no laila e ola mau

I am from trees
that which holds my culture
because it is, I am
the ʻulu of Kū that ended in famine, the trunk carved into kiʻi and waʻa
the fish charming branch Mākālei, the ever deepening roots clinging to soil
i ulu no ka lālā i ke kumu
I come from growth, from resiliency
from consciousness, awareness if born
e ola nā kumulāʻau no laila e ola mau

I am from flowers
that which holds my culture
because it is, I am
the messages carried by the blooms of Paoakalani, the separated naupaka lovers
the lehua blossoms strung in a lei poʻo, the koʻoloaula tucked behind my ear
mohala i ka wai ke maka o ka pua
I come from beauty, from virility
from consciousness, awareness if born
e ola nā pua no laila e ola mau

I am from fresh water
that which holds my culture
because it is, I am
the droplet held in the piko of a kalo leaf, the spring thrusted from the earth by Kāneʻs staff
the re-diverted streams of Maui that flow freely, the shrouding mists embracing lovers in Waimea
aia i laila ka wai a Kāne, he wai e mana
I come from wealth, from fluidity
from consciousness, awareness if born
e ola nā wai no laila e ola mau

we are from Hawaiʻi
the stars our maps, the birds our songs, the winds and rains our books
because it is, we are
connected by ʻāina, cemented by aloha, sustained by pono
we are Hawaiʻi
ke hoʻoiki nei au i koʻu kūpaʻa ma hope o koʻu lāhui
na kanaka maoli o kēia ʻāina nei
e hoʻomanaʻo mau ana au
I recognize myself in the water, I give myseflt in the flowers
i value myself in the trees, I find myself in the rocks.

credits: bio photo courtesy of Kamanukea Kekoa