Get A Free Download Of This Native Hawaiian-Produced Walking Tour App to Learn About Our Islands’ History

The Native Stories app offer is good until Dec. 6. Once you have it on your phone, you'll always have the lowdown on Downtown. Read on and we'll explain how you might even win a barroom bet or two.
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When the hālau behind Native Stories started out doing fieldwork, the goal was to save and share Native Hawaiian cultural and historical memories and knowledge while teaching others to do the same. But after electrical engineering ace Noelani Hirahara built its website,, she volunteered to expand the group’s outreach by designing an app to present the entertaining and scrupulously informed stories by Native Hawaiians about Island sites and history.


Since the Native Stories app debuted last year, it’s turned into a global platform for indigenous storytelling of every shape and form. It’s crisp and professional: Just scroll through the more than 100 stories currently on display and click the one you want to hear. No matter if you’re hearing about Tahiti, New Zealand, the Philippines or the Cree language revival, you can count on the source being of the culture. The varieties of downloadable tours and tales range from walking tours of ‘Iolani Palace to heiau and O‘ahu sites (the walking stones of Mākaha, etc.).


SEE ALSO: Native Hawaiians Are Taking Ownership of Indigenous Sites and Stories With a New App


For a free listen, install the Native Stories app on your phone. Scroll down to the seventh item and select the Downtown – Ke Kūlanakauhale o Honolulu – Ka Huakai Mākaikai tour, available in English and Japanese (with ‘Ōlelo coming soon). Find Location 1 on the provided map and hit “Play.” After an introduction, you’ll be guided from sight to sight, learning as you go.


It’s free until Dec. 6, $1.99 after that. And if you’ve started looking for holiday gifts, check out the Native Stories silent online auction. The local ‘āina-based jewelry is biddable on Instagram @ournativestories from Nov. 28 to Dec. 3.


SEE ALSO: 6 Walking Tours That Explore O‘ahu’s Rich History and Culture


Now, about winning that bet (we didn’t forget!): The app may be the ultimate way to win a drink at Smith’s Union Bar. Listen to a Native Stories program, then start a debate about its trivia. When someone calls your bluff, you’ve got the proof on tape, so to speak. And, you never know, maybe a free round.


Read more stories by DON WALLACE