Kele-Marie Leonahenahe Sunia

North Shore Eco Tours / Kele-Marie Leonahenahe Sunia

Kele was born and raised on the lovely island of O’ahu (Oahu).  Her Hawaiian ancestry descends from the islands of Hawai’i and O’ahu (Oahu) through her mother, Kimberly Puawailani, and father, Edward “Cooke” Kūlaniakea, respectively.  Keleʻs grandmother, Elsie Liko, was born in a part of Waialua known commonly today as Hale’iwa.

Kele attended Hālau Kū Mana, a Hawaiian Charter School focused on education through traditional Hawaiian ‘ike (knowledge).  Kele’s innate love for the natural world was complemented by the school’s many hands-on, outdoor activities.  Her involvement in traditional food production systems, such as, lo’i kalo (wetland taro agriculture) and loko i’a (fishponds), have allowed her to make profound connections between Hawaiian cultural practices/values and ‘āina (environment).

Kele is a “water baby.”  Her special connection to the ocean has led her to participate in various aspects of wa’a or traditional Hawaiian canoe practices.  She is a talented outrigger canoe paddler and even sailed inter-island as a crew member aboard the Kānehūnāmoku, a double-hulled canoe.  A gifted “waterwoman”, Kele attended the Shoals Marine Laboratory program under Cornell University on Appledore Island, Maine.

Kele has also taken up a treasured family cultural tradition, Hawaiian quilting.  Kele’s great grandmother, Deborah Kepola Umiamaka Kakalia, was a renowned master Hawaiian quilter who passed the artform to her granddaughter, Nalani.  Under the careful guidance of Nalani (Keleʻs aunty) Kele continues the family tradition.  She is currently working on two quilts for her children – ensuring that Kupuna Kakalia’s legacy lives on.

Kele’s greatest passion, however, is no doubt her ‘ohana or family.  She is the loving wife of Vili Sunia and the proud mother of Etuini Kūpono & Hōkūkuanalia.  Kele’s tremendous aloha for her family and Hawaiian heritage make her a wonderful addition to the team.

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North Shore Eco Tours will help you gain tremendous insight into the cultural traditions of Hawaiʻi from alaka'i (guides) who are actually Hawaiian educators and/or cultural practitioners.

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