CPIS graduate assistant and MA student Leora “Lee” Kava initiated “Pacific Verse,” a project focused on developing and encouraging indigenous Pacific languages in songwriting. Lee, a poet and musician, has been looking for ways to promote Pacific language songs; she developed this series of events in the hope that it will lead to a music festival in the future. The project began in March 2014 with a song-writing and music composition workshop at Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies and will continue in future semesters with public performances, recording sessions, and follow-up sessions with the participating musicians.
The workshop was facilitated by Aaron Salā, assistant professor of Hawaiian Music and Ethnomusicology in the Music Department, and Dr Raukura Roa, instructor of Māori Language in the Department of Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures, with assistance from language partners Kamahana Keaola and Doris Tulifau, and Jason Mateo and Melvin Won-Pat Borja, CPIS MA students and co-founders of Pacific Tongues, a nonprofit organization that cultivates an active artistic Oceanic community.
As a community component of Pacific Verse, Lee conducted a workshop at Pālolo Community Homes as part of the Pālolo Pipeline program through the Pālolo ʻOhana Learning Center.
All events for Pacific Verse are free, and the only requirement for participants is that they be proficient in at least one instrument (including voice) and be interested in working with indigenous Pacific language(s). Pacific Verse is sponsored by the Center for Pacific Islands Studies and the Office of Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity (SEED).
Lee Kava with workshop participant Britanica Sene and Samoan language partner Doris Tulifau. Photo by Yu Suenaga.