Directed by Justina Mattos, PhD, Nā Kao Pūkalakī ʻEkolu is an excerpt from a performance that toured Hilo area after-school programs in spring 2018. The production shared three well-known children’s tales as told by a pidgin-speaking narrator and characters who speak Hawaiian. This program was geared toward Hawaiʻi’s local children, who come from diverse ethnic backgrounds with ancestral roots from all over the world. The stories and rhymes most of them are exposed to in school come from European-American culture; stories like the Three Little Pigs (from England) or The Three Billy-Goats Gruff (from Norway); or rhymes like Three Blind Mice. Our social environment here is Americanized but rooted in the host culture of Hawaiʻi, and flavored by many other cultures. The native language of these islands is still one of the official languages of our state, but due to the colonial history of the past century, most people here are not raised speaking Hawaiian. The first language of most of these children is pidgin, which emerged during the early plantation days in Hawaiʻi. This program was created to support current efforts to raise the visibility of the Hawaiian language in our community. The pidgin narration and familiar scenarios were used to ensure that the local children in our audiences could follow along with the storyline even if they weren’t familiar with the Hawaiian language. Let’s see if you can follow along with our re-telling of The Three Billy-Goats Gruff.
To learn more about Nā Kao Pūkalakī ʻEkolu and other performances, visit the University of Hawai'i at Hilo's Performing Arts website.