My Hawaii Story Contest 2018

Winning entries from middle school students Cameron Cornforth and Regan Riley.

The 2018 My Hawai‘i creative writing contest was open to all middle school students (6-8th grade) in the state. Students were invited to submit a story or poem that addresses the theme, “Ulu ka lālā i ke kumu: From a strong foundation grows an abundant future” to align with the 2018 Hawai‘i Conservation Conference theme.

“Ulu ka lālā i ke kumu,” is an Hawaiian ‘ōlelo no‘eau (wise saying) that means, “the branch grows from the tree trunk.” The word kumu can mean foundation, trunk, base, source, and teacher. Lessons learned from our past prepare us for further growth and the evolution of conservation in Hawai‘i.

No ko Mākou mau Kūpuna

by Regan Riley


More than a century ago

The water was a flow

I’a would swim around my feet

And flowers smelled so sweet


While Queen Emma was in lead

And saw her folks in need

Thousands of nā keiki died

But only one survived


What’d she do with this tragedy?

Scamper away and flee?

ʻAʻole, she made a hospital

And helped her people little by little


Generations and generations along

They started to live their life all wrong

Ōpala as far as the eye could see

and dying coral because of debris


What happened to our gorgeous land?

There’s dying turtles in the sand

Hui pū and make this thrive again

Right now is the time to begin


Let’s give back what the land gave to us

And clean up the trash without a fuss

Let’s take haʻaheo in the land

Then we can enjoy life on the sand


Together we could protect our land

The birds, the fish and the grasslands

Show our nā kūpuna what we can do

And it starts with me and you





Hamau ka leo, a quiet shoreline.

By Cameron Cornforth



Hamau ka leo, a quiet shoreline.

A constant tide, bringing in i’a and honu.

Then taking them back to the ocean.

A koholā, breaching into the sun.

A ‘elepaio, singing merrily.

A he’e with a fresh catch.

Two keiki skimming across the border of the water and the sand.

A kulāwi for all, land, air, and sea.

A hō’ihi for all, land, air, and sea.


A patch of garbage floating out somewhere.

A six-pack ring going to nowhere.


A honu swimming out somewhere.

A snack she sees in the middle of nowhere.


Two keiki skimming across the beach.

A sad surprise they’re soon to reach.


A choking honu, gasping out for air.

Two keiki know what decision is most fair.


A  mangled six-pack ring, lying in the opala.

Two young keiki, sitting by the water.

A relieved honu, crawling back to sea.

A  kulāwi shoreline hō’ihi.