Ka Ho'okele is based onBy Pat Omandam
Those who speak Hawaiian can now surf the Internet in Hawaii's native tongue.
Ten weeks after it was released in cyberspace, the first Hawaiian Language Internet browser has performed as expected, although it has only been used about 50 times since mid-October.
Use was expected to be a "little slow" at first, said Keola Donaghy, director of media and telecommunications at Hale Kuamo'o, the Hawaiian language center at the University of Hawaii-Hilo.
Donaghy said the program was designed specifically for students, teachers, parents and support personnel involved in Hawaiian immersion programs. He expects more use next semester, once students and teachers are trained and become comfortable with the system.
"Some of them have been using the Web, but with the English browsers," Donaghy said yesterday.
"The teachers, they're so overwhelmed with just keeping up with curriculum that I'm sure they're going to kick back and wait until we're ready to give them some training on it," he said.
The browser, called Ka Ho'okele, is available for the Hawaiian-speaking community at large, and anyone with a Macintosh computer and an Internet connection. A Windows version may be produced later.
Hale Kuamo'o released Ka Ho'okele for the World Wide Web on Oct. 18.
The program is based on the popular Netscape Communicator Internet program developed by Netscape Communications Corp. in Calif.
Ka Ho'okele is the first translation of any native American or Polynesian language, and only the second such project completed independently of Netscape. It uses Netscape's universal localization program and, along with the Web browser, contains electronic mail, a news reader and a module for creating Web pages.
Rick Elliott, ULP program manager for Netscape, said recently the Hawaiian language browser demonstrates the viability and value of the program. All user interface items -- such as menus, dialog boxes and window names -- are in Hawaiian.
"We believe this marks the beginning of a new wave of customized Internet browsers that will help many people access the Web in their native language," Elliott said.
Keiki Kawai'ae'a, director of curriculum and teacher development at Hale Kuamo'o, said she was told that 97 percent of all Websites on the Internet are in English.
"We are so pleased to afford public access to those who choose to 'surf the net' through Hawaiian and in Hawaiian," Kawai'ae'a said.
Hale Kuamo'o also runs a Hawaiian-language bulletin board system known as Leoki that is used by about 1,000 people statewide. Leoki is linked to all Hawaiian immersion schools, Punana Leo preschools, Hawaiian-language university offices and other organizations.
Hale Kuamo'o also designs and maintains Kualono, a diverse source of information on Hawaiian language on the Internet.
'Aha Punana Leo funds these technological programs under an agreement that calls for Hale Kuamo'o to provide curriculum and support to the Hawaiian immersion schools.
Ka Ho'okele's homepage can be found at: http://www.olelo.hawaii.edu/OP/resources/kahookele/.