Haley Kailiehu, a graduate student in the University of Hawaii at Manoa College of Education Masters of Education in Teaching program, is working with the Kapolei community to bring art, history, and a sense of Hawaiian place to parts of Kapolei Regional Park, according to university officials.
Kailiehu has been cleaning and painting an old military bunker in the park with the help of high school students, fellow artists, and community members.
Through a mural, they are depicting the daily lives of Hawaiian people living in the area during the pre-contact era.
Since August 2011, Kailiehu has been a part-time art teacher at Kapolei High School as part of her student teaching requirement. She enrolled in the College of Education's Hookulaiwi program because she is interested in teaching in schools with a higher percentage of Native Hawaiian students.
"This community project has taught me so much about myself and how the relationships I have with my community can determine the success of a project," said Kailiehu. "As a teacher, I want my students to learn the values of community service, selflessness, and respect. As an art teacher, I hope my students gain skills that will help them in their future drawing and painting art projects."
The mural consists of seven different landscape panels, each depicting a specific trade or specialization. Some of the scenes include people making kapa, farming dry land plants, fishing, dancing hula, and weaving vines. Completion of the project will be marked by a celebration in April.
The town’s plan, according to Kailiehu, is to convert the military bunker into a functional community center some day.
"This would require a full renovation of the inside as well and take a lot of community support and financial backing, so we are definitely hoping that through improving the exterior parts of the bunker, we will attract more attention from other people in the community who might be able to donate money or time to make this happen," said Kailiehu.