Dr. Ku Kahakalau is an award-winning native Hawaiian educator, song-writer, story teller, researcher and expert in Hawaiian language, history and culture residing with her family on rural Hawaii Island. Of Hawaiian and German ancestry, and fluent in English, Hawaiian and German, Aunty Ku as she is affectionally known throughout Hawaii, has over 30 years of experience teaching about Hawaii and the Pacific at the secondary, university and community level. Before becoming the first person in the world to earn a Ph.D. in Indigenous Education, Aunty Ku attained teaching degrees in Hawaiian and German languages and completed a master's degree in European Languages and Literature comparing early German travel accounts with native sources about life in pre-contact Polynesia. As an international Indigenous education consultant, Aunty Ku has traveled and worked extensively in Indian country and throughout Polynesia to revitalize native languages by creating models of education that are culturally-driven, family-oriented, place-based and empower students to walk successfully in multiple worlds. Founders of Hawaii's first fully-accredited native-focused charter school, Aunty Ku and her husband Nalei raised their daughters in a remote Hawaiian valley, where they have taught thousands of learners of all ages how to live off the land and the sea, speak the Hawaiian language, and practice native Hawaiian traditions as a way of life. This includes growing and cooking with Polynesian staples like taro, breadfruit, sweet potato, coconut and bananas, taking care of sacred sites and teaching traditional Polynesian oratory, poetry, protocol and ceremonies to the next generation.
Dr. Ku Kahakalau