Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu

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Kumu Hula Hinaleimoana Kwai Kong Wong-Kalu at the 2016 Kamehameha Day Lei Draping

Hinaleimoana Kwai Kong Wong-Kalu,[1] also known as Kumu Hina, is a Native Hawaiian māhū – a traditional third gender person who occupies "a place in the middle" between male and female[2][3][4][5] – as well as a modern transgender woman.[6] She is known for her work as a kumu hula ("hula teacher"), as a filmmaker, and as a community leader in the field of Kanaka Maoli language and cultural preservation. She teaches Kanaka Maoli philosophy and traditions and promotes cross-cultural alliances throughout the Pacific Islands.[7] Described as a "powerful performer with a clear, strong voice",[8] she has been hailed as "a cultural icon".[9]

Wong-Kalu was born in the Nuuanu district of Oʻahu.[10] She attended Kamehameha School (1990) and the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa (1996–2004) where she began her activism.[11] She was a founder of the Kulia Na Mamo transgender health project, cultural director of a Hawaiian public charter school, and candidate for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, one of the first transgender candidates for statewide political office in the United States. She also served as the Chair of the O'ahu Island Burial Council, which oversees the management of Native Hawaiian burial sites and ancestral remains. She is a recipient of the National Education Association Ellison Onizuka Human and Civil Rights Award,[12] Native Hawaiian Community Educator of the year,[13] and a White House Champion of Change.[14]

Wong-Kalu was the subject of the feature documentary film Kumu Hina, directed by Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson.[15][16] Kumu Hina premiered as the closing night film in the Hawaii International Film Festival in 2014 and won several awards including best documentary at the Frameline Film Festival and the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary. It was nationally broadcast on PBS in 2015 where it won the Independent Lens Audience Award.[17] Wong-Kalu wrote an educational children's version of the film, A Place in the Middle,[5] which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival for Kids and is featured on PBS learning media.[18] Switching to the other side of the lens, Wong Kalu co-directed and produced the short film, Lady Eva[19] and feature documentary Leitis in Waiting about the struggle of the Indigenous transgender community in the South Pacific Kingdom of Tonga. Her films on this subject screened and won awards at AFI Docs and the LA, Margaret Mead, FIFO and Commonwealth film festivals and are being broadcast on PBS/Pacific Heartbeat, ARTE, Maori TV, TV France and NITV.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Blair, Chad (February 2015). "Kumu in the Middle". Hana Hou: The Magazine of Hawaiian Airlines. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  2. ^ "Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu - TedxMaui". 2014-05-27.
  3. ^ "Intersections: Transgender, Queens, Mahu, Whatever': An Oral History from Hawai'i".
  4. ^ "Kumu Hina". Kumuhina.tumblr.com. 2014-02-06. Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  5. ^ a b A Place in the Middle
  6. ^ "The Beautiful Way Hawaiian Culture Embraces A Particular Kind Of Transgender Identity". The Huffington Post. 2015-04-28. Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  7. ^ "About | kumahina".
  8. ^ "Kuma Hina :: EDGE Boston".
  9. ^ "Kumu Hina | Preserving Hawaiian Tradition | Independent Lens | PBS". Independent Lens. Retrieved 2019-04-27.
  10. ^ "Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu - TEDXMaui". 2014-05-27.
  11. ^ "ABOUT | Vote Hina Wong-Kalu for OHA".
  12. ^ "NEA Award" (PDF).
  13. ^ "Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu named Native Hawaiian Community Educator of the Year".
  14. ^ "Champions of Change". The White House. Retrieved 2019-04-27.
  15. ^ "Hawaii Documentary 'Kumu Hina' Profiles Native Hawaiian Mahu Teacher".
  16. ^ "Home". Kumu Hina. 2015-05-04. Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  17. ^ "Independent Lens". PBS. 2015-05-04. Retrieved 2017-02-21.
  18. ^ "A Place in the Middle". A Place in the Middle. 2015-05-04. Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  19. ^ Lady Eva

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