Solution Overview

Solution Name:

Hale Unfolded

One-line solution summary:

Hale Unfolded is a (k)new playful cultural educational tools used to build our future traditional Hale, Cultural, & Community builders.

Pitch your solution.

This educational project serves as a bridge to create new pathways for the next generation of kanaka to become “Hale Builders”. We have created a fun, engaging, and interactive manipulative tool called “Hale Unfolded”. Our educational device coupled with hybrid workshops promotes the transference and revitalization of this threatened indigenous practice. And thus, we are creating a culturally relevant education model to increase career interest for Native Hawaiians in Hale Building and STEM workforce. During this time of social distance due to COVID-19, we will deploy the Hale Unfolded kits and document the process through social media.

Film your elevator pitch.

What specific problem are you solving?

Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders are the most underrepresented ethnic group in the US in STEM employment. From 1898, Hawaiian language and many practices were banned due to the illegal American overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom. The traditional way of building Hale (indigenous Hawaiian engineering/architecture) is through values. Up until 2004, no legal, permissible mechanism existed to allow for the building of traditional Hale anywhere in the Hawaiian Islands. A pathway process for “certification of Hale builder” designation is supported by the legislation created. As per the code, today in 2020, we have only 1 certified master hale builder and a hand full of living treasures that also carry this sacred knowledge. There is a scarcity of the next generation of hale practitioners and critical need to create a pathway for Native Hawaiian Hale Builders. 

Since the codification of Hale Building, many have participated to learn and reconnect with this endangered practice. However, there is little opportunity to access this knowledge outside of hale builds. The proposed activities--family involvement, culture-based learning--are not limited to Native Hawaiians. Hale Unfolded has a broader impact that can serve as a model that can be replicated to other critically endangered indigenous practices. 

What is your solution?

In Hawaii, there is systemwide transformation underway to integrate indigenous ways of knowing into our K thru 12 and higher education curriculums. Research on Modern Hawaiian ethnotheory of learning has shown enhanced student understanding at an advanced levels when culturally-relevant materials are integrated in the standardized STEM curriculum. 

Hale Unfolded is an educational “toy”. These tools expose future kanaka builders and keiki to three values in the traditional Hale Building practice. This includes: (1) Hale design; (2) Hale mathematics; and (3) Hale build. The tools utilizes blended traditional and contemporary technology to create an effective “learning community”.

Strong preference will be given to Native-led solutions that directly benefit and are located within the Indigenous communities. Which community(s) does your solution benefit?

Native Hawaiians (NHs), our target population, are not faring well in our own homeland. Seven out of ten NHs in the USA live outside of Hawaii. In the Hawaiian islands, NHs comprise 23% of the population. The 2004 building code is an attempt to bring equity to traditional and Western practices by permitting the construction of Hale structures and a pathway for certified Hale Builders. Our target population is NH wahine, mahu and keiki not represented in this STEM career. Hale Unfolded is K-12 and adult learner education pathway for all to reach their potential to become Hale Builders.

Our solution targets all Native Hawaiians wanting to better understand and practice traditional Hale building. We focus attention to our K-12 and adult learners that are wahine, mahu, and keiki who are underrepresented in the STEM workforce.

Our team comprises of six Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander practitioners including: 

  1. Tiana Henderson, ʻAlakaʻi in the practice of Hale Building, Kumu for the education of Hale building with Purple Maia

  2.  Ida F Aspinall, Haumana and Site Manager for Hale Building

  3. Kanakolu Noa, Community Building Consultant

  4. Kari Moana Kuruangi, MA, Indigenous Education Consultant, Lecturer of Maori Medium Education at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, Aotearoa, New Zealand

  5. Kealohi Reppun, Hawaiian Language and Education Consultant

  6. Dr. Lelemia Irvine, EIT, Assistant Professor of Physics, University of Hawaiʻi at West Oʻahu

Which dimension of the Fellowship does your solution most closely address?

Support language and cultural revitalization, quality K-12 education, and support for first-generation college students

Explain how the problem, your solution, and your solution’s target population relate to the Fellowship and your selected dimension.

In Hawaii, the 2004 Indigenous Architecture Building Code has aided in the creation of a (k)new career pathway for traditional Hale builders. Today, there's a high demand to access Hale building knowledge. However, there is paucity of culturally and community recognized knowledge holders to share & respectfully honor Hale Building traditions.

Hale Unfolded, our collective & collaborative solution, is a tool and process created by cultural knowledge holders. Our project addresses underlying causes of low participation of K-12 and adult Native Hawaiian learners to begin to unlock ʻike kukulu Hale and the unfolding of it within themselves.

In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Honolulu, HI, USA

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Pilot: An organization deploying a tested product, service, or business model in at least one community

Who is the primary delegate for your solution?

Tiana Henderson

Please indicate the tribal affiliation of your primary delegate.

Kanaka Hawaii/Maoli/Oiwi (Native Hawaiian and Hawaiian Kingdom Subjects)

Is your primary delegate a member of the community in which your project is based?


More About Your Solution

Describe what makes your solution innovative.

There is a known paucity of Native Hawaiian representation in the engineering and physics disciplines both the traditional and Western systems. For traditional Hawaiian Hale (house) Building, there exists 1 living master keeper of the knowledge, 9 alakai (successors), and 30 haumana (trainees). Globally, there exists less than 10 Native Hawaiians with PhDs in physics and engineering fields. There exists no known competitors building digital educational content specific to Native Hawaiian traditional hale building.

We have created a prototype called Hale Unfolded that teaches the components of traditional construction of Hale to trainees. 

The scalability of this project is unique and innovative because our approach creates a new ecosystem of traditional transference of Hawaiian knowledge. Our approach leverages the digital landscape of Western technology to enhance the transmission of Hawaiian cultural practice. 

In doing so, our “Hale Unfolded” cultural educational manipulative promotes skill development opportunities by lashing traditional and western practices through Hawaiian language and cultural revitalization.Although the scalability of the educational tool decreases the scale of hale building to hands on kits, the reach exponentially increases to all households in Hawaii and beyond.

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

Traditional transference of Hawaiian practices typically occurs through years of face-to-face interactions based on an apprenticeship-mentee model. In light of COVID-19, Indigenous communities are the most susceptible to suffer high rates of infection and possible death. In Hawaii, as a result of the extended quarantine measures, there has been a push by our community for access to hands-on place-based learning through a virtual Hale space. As such, we created “Hale Unfolded”, a tool and process based on this hybrid approach to lash tradition and technology. We have prototypes ready to be sent directly to the homes of our target population. Content delivery is highly publicized through social. Workshops are conducted on a protected virtual server. Over a virtual space, we will create an introductory course to teach in a culturally appropriate way Hale Building. We scaled down the life-size Hale to a hands-sized form so trainees can use as a tool to practice daily.

Provide evidence that this technology works.

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Ancestral Technology & Practices

What is your theory of change?

Please see our Theory of Change attached here

Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Women & Girls
  • LGBTQ+
  • Children & Adolescents

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 4. Quality Education
  • 5. Gender Equality

In which state(s) do you currently operate?

  • Hawaii

How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?

We are currently piloting our first program and will roll it out in two weeks for 35 students. Our goal is to be able to continue to secure contracts with organizations who are in need and are wanting hands-on Hale experiences for their students. By the end of our first year, we plan to have serviced 350 students, and project an exponential impact increase over the next five years, servicing 3500 students by end of five years.


What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?

Within the year, our vision is to pilot our digital learning spaces with our educational tool kits led by practitioners within various contexts such as summer school programming, partnerships with community organizations and families. One of our guiding principles is founded on our children being our future ancestors, and we see a bright future, as we work on "building the builder". 

In five years we hope to have established a collective of partnerships that make up a network of people, places and products that cultivate and elevate Hale building. We also foresee and plan for global replication of this product and process (modified accordingly) to be utilized by other indigenous peoples. 

What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?

Barriers that we currently face include having the right equipment that will help us to be most effective in our production and delivery. Our vision includes having as much impact as we can on the individuals that we service, while being conscious about the impact that we are having on our environment. We would like to be as sustainable as possible, using as much natural and local materials and services as we can.

Another barrier includes determining how we are able to incorporate various practitioners into a business model and also how we can become financial sustainable.

How do you plan to overcome these barriers?

Mentorship and collaboration with existing organizations who are like-minded and who are wanting to promote cultural ways of learning will help us to overcome these barriers.

About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

How many people work on your solution team?

Our team comprises of six Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander practitioners including: 

  1. Tiana Henderson, ʻAlakaʻi in the practice of Hale Building, Kumu for the education of Hale building with Purple Maia

  2.  Ida F Aspinall, Site Manager for Hale Building

  3. Kanakolu Noa, Community Building Consultant

  4. Kari Moana Kuruangi, MA, Indigenous Education Consultant, Lecturer of Maori Medium Education at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, Aotearoa, New Zealand

  5. Kealohi Reppun, Hawaiian Language and Edcuation Consultant

  6. Dr. Lelemia Irvine, EIT, Assistant Professor of Physics, University of Hawaiʻi at West Oʻahu

How many years have you worked on your solution?


Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Because our team comprises of six Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander practitioners.

What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?

no official partnerships at this time.

Your Business Model & Partnerships

Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use The Experian Prize to advance your solution?

Our team is comprised of experts, practitioners and traditional knowledge holders of Native Hawaiian, Māori & Pasifika Ancestry. Our expertise includes the following disciplines: Indigenous / Native Hawaiian architecture & engineering, Indigenous Language Revitalisation and Education, Indigenous Law, Business Development and Engineering. We would use the funds to expand our Hale Unfolded series and programming. This includes creating jobs for practitioners as content creators; training and employing facilitators to assist with program delivery; and increasing access to technological and digital literacy skills in traditional Hawaiian STEM practices by creating virtual, digital and physical spaces for formal and informal learning. Having members of the LGBT+ community within our team, we are committed to expanding our capacity to target our services to the most vulnerable learners in our community, including women, mahu (LGBT+) and the houseless community in Hawai'i.

Solution Team

to Top