This past Tuesday night I had the honor and pleasure of viewing an amazing film: KUMU HINA. This film shared the struggle of maintaining Pacific Islander culture & values within the Westernized society of modern day Hawaiʻi. This was shot through the eyes of an extraordinary Native Hawaiian who is both a proud & confident māhū, or transgender woman, and an honored & respected kumu (teacher) cultural practitioner and community leader.
During a significant year in her life in modern Honolulu, Hina Wong-Kalu, uses traditional culture to inspire a young student to claim her place as leader of the school’s all-male hula troupe.
Hina is also married to a headstrong Tongan (Niuafoʻou Island in the Kingdom of Tonga) man (Hema Kalu), which has posed it’s own interesting and sometimes difficult struggles.
“Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu is a Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) teacher, cultural practitioner, and community leader. Born in the Nu’uanu District of O’ahu, Kumu Hina was educated at Kamehameha Schools and the University of Hawaii. She was a founding member of Kulia Na Mamo, a community organization established to improve the quality of life for māhū wahine (transgender women), and served for 13 years as the Director of Culture at a Honolulu public charter school dedicated to using native Hawaiian culture, history, and education as tools for developing and empowering the next generation of warrior scholars. Kumu Hina is currently a cultural advisor and leader in many community affairs and civic activities, including Chair of the O’ahu Island Burial Council, which oversees the management of Native Hawaiian burial sites and ancestral remains. In 2014, Hina announced her bid for a position on the board of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, one of the first transgender candidates to run for statewide political office in the United States.” -bio from the website