Writing Ideas

Want to submit to Ka ʻUmeke Kāʻeo awards or to Pūpū but not sure what to write about? Try these writing ideas.

Remember: to be considered for publication, all works must be related to ke ano Hawaiʻi — all things Native Hawaiian (culture, language, identity, history, nature, arts, customs…)

Looking for art ideas? Try our art ideas page

What can you write about? Youʻre limited only by your imagination. Look for topics in from your Hawaiian Studies and Hawaiian language classes. Talk to family and friends.  Try starting with a photo prompt. Or be inspired by one of these ideas.

He Hawaiʻi au:

  • To be Native Hawaiian is to …
  • The best thing about being Hawaiian is …
  • What youʻre most proud of my Hawaiian culture
  • What is the best thing about being Hawaiian?
  • What is your kuleana?
  • Family names – whatʻs your name? How did you get it? Do you live up to it, in the Hawaiian way?
  • Which Hawaiian value(s) do you think are most important? How do you live that value?
  • What does it mean to be a Hawaiian today?

Share personal histories about your kūpuna and your ʻohana:

  • The best thing my kupuna taught me is …
  • I wish my kupuna had taught me …
  • A lesson my kupuna taught me
  • What our kupuna knew
  • Being the hiapo of my family means …
  • A time I experienced anti-Hawaiian sentiments
  • Who has been the most influential person in your life?
  • What is your ethnic background?
  • Where is your mom’s family from? Where is your dad’s family from?
  • Have you ever been there? What was that experience like?
  • What traditions have been passed down in your family?
  • Who were your favorite relatives?
  • Do you remember any of the stories they used to tell you?
  • What are your classic family jokes? Songs?
  • Want to write more about your family but need some direction and ideas? Try Story Corps Great Questions for Anyone.

Try your hand at story-telling and poetry:

  • Write a poem in homage of Rell Sunn, or George Helm, or Eddie Aikau, or little Prince Albert, or Bernice Pauahi Bishop, or Kahu Abraham Akaka.
  • Write an I am From poem
  • Write a poem about any of these: Aloha, Leʻaleʻa (joy), Nahenahe (quiet, serene)
  • Food is life- Food is love: Write a poem or story about food – a luʻau, your grandmaʻs haupia, picking ʻopihi
    Write a poem or story that explains or demonstrates the ʻōlelo noʻeau: I ka ‘ōlelo nō ke ola, i ka ‘ōlelo nō ka make (Language contains the power of life and death) or He ali’i ka ‘āina, he kauwa ke kanaka (Land is the chief, people its servant)
    Write a ghost story.
  • Retell a legend. Add a new characters, change the action, put it into modern times. Or make one up.
  • Imagine that you are accompanying Queen Kapiʻolani to London for Queen Victoriaʻs Jubilee. At one point, your train across the US continent gets stopped due to heavy snow. What would that have been like? What would it be like to attend the many banquets and balls and special events in Kapiʻolaniʻs honor? Her meetings with President Grover Cleveland have been like? Riding in beautiful carriages with other foreign dignitaries to Westminster Abbey? Being greeted by thousands of people upon your return to Honolulu Harbor?
  • Imagine that you are one of Kamehameha warriors, following him into battle.
  • Imagine that you are present during annexation — at the signing of the anti-annexation petition, when US forces enter Honolulu, when Liliʻuokalani is place under house arrest.
  • Write a poem or story about hula – lessons you learned, your kumu, your hālau philosophy, competition or festival you attended

Write an article or essay:

  • Write a review about a Hawaiian book or film, or recommend one.
  • Report on a community event you attended, such as a political rally, the Merrie Monarch festival, a day at Heʻeia fishpond, working a loʻi kalo. Include photos, if you like.
  • Nā Akua – focus on one of our gods, such as Ka’ahupahau, or on the concept of ʻaumkua (who is yours?). Do you believe in Ke Akua, too? How do you reconcile your beliefs?
  • Hula tradition, protocol, hālau
  • Hawaiian healing, medicine, laʻau lapaʻau
  • a Hawaiian institution, like Bishop Museum, the Kamehameha Schools, Pūnana Leo
  • Traditional Hawaiian arts: tattoo, feather work, carving, weaving, kapa
  • a Biography about a prominent Hawaiian (aliʻi, historical figure, artist, musician, cultural practitioner, kumu, activist) a Hawaiian sport or game, warfare, lua
  • a Hawaiian owned business, like Manuhealiʻi
  • Lei culture, design
  • Hawaiian food preparation and traditions, kalo, ʻawa, ʻulu
  • the Hawaiian ocean: Hokuleʻa, fishing, navigation, ʻopihi picking, surfing
  • Focus on an area from our district: west to Waipahu, Kapolei, and the Waiʻanae Cost; Central to Mililani; north to Waialua and Haleiwa; east to Pearl City, ʻAiea, and Salt Lake
  • Describe a loʻi kalo. What is it like to work a loʻi? What does it look like? What kinds of work are required to mālama a loʻ?
  • Kamehameha I said, “I mua e na pokiʻi, a inu ka wai ʻawaʻawa.” What did he mean by that? Can you describe a time when you, too, needed to drink from the bitter waters?
  • Interpret, explain, or simply be inspired by Hawaiian music, such as:

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