Kumu Pono Associates LLC is a husband-wife team, made up by Kepā and Onaona Maly. They have worked together on historical and ethnographic studies for more than thirty-eight years. In 2006 they began working on Lāna‘i helping the community create a museum and archive, and in the development of place based cultural curriculum and resource stewardship (see Lanai Culture & Heritage Center).
Onaona is a beneficiary of the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust, and is descended from families with ancestral ties to Hawai'i (Puna, Kaʻū and Kona), Maui (Ko'olau-Hamakua region), Lāna‘i (Keomoku Vicinity), Molokai (Kona), O'ahu (Waialua), and Kaua'i (Ko'olau and Puna). She assists Kepā with historical research, transcribes recordings of oral history interviews, and manages project development.
Kepā was raised on the islands of O'ahu and Lanaʻi. While growing up on Lānaʻi, Kepā was taught the Hawaiian language and cultural practices and values by kūpuna (elders), and he developed a great aloha and interest in learning about many aspects of Hawaiian culture, including land and ocean management practices, mele and hula (chants and dances), material culture, traditions, and ethnobotany. For more than forty years, Kepā has continued to learn about Hawaiian traditions and practices from kūpuna and kumu a'o (teachers) from Hawaiʻi to Niʻihau learning from native Hawaiians who have lived their culture as handed down by their elders before them.
In 2013, Kepā accepted the position of Senior Vice President-Culture & Historic Preservation under the new ownership company with Pūlama Lāna'i. For five years he oversaw management of nearly 90,000 acres of Lāna'i in developing award winning cultural literacy and resource management programs.
PBS Hawai‘i – Long Story Short – Kepā Maly: A Sense of Connection with Leslie Wilcox.
Leslie Wilcox continues her conversation with Kepa Maly, executive director of Lāna‘i Culture & Heritage Center. Throughout his years as an ethnographer, Kepā gathered stories from kūpuna. Here, he passes on local legends and stories behind place names that capture the essence of Lāna‘i.