Kumu Hina


Kumu means teacher, and Kumu Hina has a lot to teach the world about how to educate with aloha – love, honor and respect for all. We've developed tools to use with both the full documentary KUMU HINA, and a shorter kids'  film called A PLACE IN THE MIDDLE, with students from kindergarten through graduate school.


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By depicting a culture that embraces rather then rejects those who embody both male and female spirit, Kumu Hina offers a compelling model of the advantages diversity brings to the entire community and the importance of understanding and preserving indigenous culture. Exploring topics ranging from bullying to colonialism, from the importance of parental acceptance and support to the difficulties of holding on to Pacific Islander values in a highly Westernized society, the film has universal appeal to everyone who seeks a more just and peaceful world.

KUMU HINA is well suited for use in classes on a variety of topics including Gender, Women's Studies, Ethnic and Cultural Studies, Sexuality, Health, and Film Studies. The film can be used to discuss:

  • The power that comes from understanding one's own culture and respecting the cultures of others

  • The Hawaiian concepts of māhū, gender fluidity and inclusion

  • The benefits of diversity to individuals, schools, and the broader community

  • The true meaning of aloha and its core concept of love, honor and respect

  • How contact with Westerners altered Native Hawaiian culture, contemporary attempts at revival and preservation, and the benefits of preserving indigenous knowledge and perspectives.

  • Ways to empower gender creative youth and prompt schools and other institutions to be inclusive of students across the gender spectrum

  • How to help families, communities, policymakers and other leaders understand that all people deserve acceptance, inclusion and equal treatment


A PLACE IN THE MIDDLE focuses on the story of Kumu Hina's charismatic young student Ho'onani, who dreams of leading the boys-only hula group at her school. This 25 minute film appeals to young people by telling the story from Ho'onani's own point of view and using colorful animation. It's a great way to get students thinking and talking about the values of diversity and inclusion, the power of knowing your heritage, and how to create a school climate of aloha – from their own point of view! The complete film, discussion guides and more are available at the official website, APlaceintheMiddle.org.

Watch an "Insights on PBS Hawaii" conversation that followed the Nov. 12, 2015 PBS broadcast of A PLACE IN THE MIDDLE:



Stream or download the complete 25 minute film from Vimeo.



Download discussion guide for  students in grades 4-12.  Appropriate for classrooms, afterschool and club activities.


Resources for Hawai'i teachers and schools, tailored to meet state DOE Hawaiian education standards


Obtain the complete film, guide and short clip from the most popular and trusted educational source in the U.S.

Notable Quotes:

  • "Kumu Hinaʻs story centers on the power of culture to shape identity, personal agency, and community cohesion.  It is grounded in a Pacific Islander value system that offers a fluid way of understanding and valuing identity, giving us all fresh ways to see each other with empathy." -- Cara Mertes, Director of Ford Foundation JustFilms
  • "One of the most beautiful and positive films about the trans experience that Iʻve ever seen." -- Jennifer Boylan, Author and Writer-in-Residence, Barnard College
  • "This film is part of the continuing revival and growth of awareness of Kanaka Maoli traditions that are so relevant today." -- Professor Puakea Nogelmeier, Hawaiʻinuiakea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa