Category Archives: Hawaiian Role Models

Learning From The Past & Moving Forward

My impressions regarding the arrival of the seven vaka:

  • The canoes: They looked like ancient canoes, but were equipped with the most modern equipment.


7 vakas at Palekai

TJ Glauthier, me, Patrick Kahawaiola’a, Ramsay Taum and Rick Blangiardi. All are Ku‘oko‘a members, except for Patrick, who is President of the Keaukaha Community Association

  • The people: They have kept the old values, and we respect and admire that.

Welcome ceremony

  • The future: It is uncertain, but our values must be clear: What’s important is taking care of the land, the people and future generations.

PatTalking story with Uncle Patrick Kahawaiola’a

Royal orderThe Royal Order of Kamehameha

Kalepa Kalepa Baybayan, left, is Navigator-in-Residence at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center

With Nainoa

Me with Nainoa Thompson (right

  • The lesson: We were there to participate and to, ourselves, become grounded.


Ka‘iu Kimura (at left) is executive director of ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center

DieterDieter Paulmann (left) poses with some members of the 1976 Hokule‘a crew


They’re Here! Vaka Welcome Ceremonies Are Sunday

There’s something historic, and very interesting, going on in Hilo this weekend. Do you know about the vaka? The canoes?


They are seven Polynesian-style canoes, representing different Pacific Islands, and all built in the last two years for this particular mission. Their crews have spent the past two months voyaging from Aotearoa (New Zealand) to Hawai‘i, and Hilo is their first landfall. They arrived yesterday at Hilo Bay.

They are calling their journey Te Mana O Te Moana. “The Spirit Of The Sea.”

“…Several thousand years ago, the Polynesian ancestors traveled the Pacific on great voyaging canoes, called vaka moana, using only the stars, the ocean, and the surrounding wildlife to navigate, and lived closely connected to the sea. In crossing the Pacific from Aotearoa to Hawai’i, we aim to sail in the ancestors’ wake and learn from their wisdom. We want to teach young people about this old bond with the sea.”

Richard went by yesterday, and saw five of them already moored and latched together. “I watched the last two canoes, with their sails down, tie up,” he said. “They had someone blow the conch shell as they approached. People seemed very much aware of the historical nature of this event.

(Renowned hula master Pua Kanahele)

“The canoe folks stayed on board and some did special ceremonies, ending with each person hugging the rest individually. I left after they all arrived,” he said. “But more and more people were coming by to participate in history being made.”

(Sitting: Patrick Kahawaiola’a, President of the Keaukaha Community Association)

The public is invited to be a part of the official welcoming ceremony on Sunday at Hilo One (“Hilo O-nay.” “One” is the Hawaiian word for sand). Ceremonies at the bayfront beach start at 8 a.m. on the water. Then the vaka will sail to shore, anchor, and come ashore for on-shore activities at 10 a.m., which are scheduled to run through about 2 p.m.

(Palekai is the beach park near where the canoes moored yesterday.)

Kalepa Baybayan, Navigator-in-Residence at Hilo’s ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, said that the welcome ceremony is both so the community has a chance to see the seven canoes on the water, and also as an official exhange between our community and the ones arriving. “To formally welcome them to Hawai‘i, and Hilo,” he said.

“It’s a rare event,” he said, “and will probably never happen again in our lifetime. Seven canoes from the south Pacific sailing to Hawai‘i. This is a first.”

From the website:

“We’re sailing across the Pacific to renew our ties to the sea and its life-sustaining strength.  The ocean is the origin of life, and it continues to give us air to breathe, fish to eat, and nourishes our soul as well. As threatened as the ocean is now, however, it soon can no longer provide us with these essential life services.  Sailing together, we seek the wisdom of our ancestors and the knowledge of scientists to keep the Pacific healthy and give our grandchildren a future.”

Sailing across the Pacific on seven vaka is to raise awareness about the state of the ocean developed gradually. Dieter Paulmann, the founder of Okeanos – Foundation for the Sea, has felt a strong connection to the sea for his whole life.

Richard met and had lunch with Dieter the other day, and said they have some things in common. “Mostly around how to deal with finite resources in a way that is beneficial for future generations,” he said.

“Dieter’s using the vaka voyage as a way to educate the people of the world about the urgency of changing our approach,” he said. “We are living in a world of limited resources. We need to utilize our resources in a wise way, in a way that benefits future generations. We all know this deep in our na‘au.”

“I told him that here in Hawai‘i we are trying to maximize the use of geothermal for the benefit of future generations,” he said. “We both agree that people are starting to look at things in a different way. No one feels comfortable about the prospects that one’s children and grandchildren will live a lesser life than we did.

“We need to do what we can to ensure their lives are fulfilling,” he said. “And we can do that, but we need to take action now. I thought to myself, That is why I am involved with Ku’oko‘a. It is a way for our children, grandchildren and future generations to have a better life.”

Before he knew anything about this voyage, Richard wrote these words on the Ku‘oko‘a website: “We are embarking on a great journey, much like the ancient people who sailed to Hawai‘i hundreds of years ago. Like them, we are searching for a better tomorrow for our children, grandchildren and generations to come. We will find the place where the Aloha Spirit can thrive because we go with open hearts and minds.” Kind of fitting and cool, huh?

The Voyage’s Goal:

The vaka will sail to raise attention for the bad state of the Pacific, the crew will transport a message to the world, saying that we have to act now to be able to preserve a healthy ocean for us and our children. Otherwise, if the ocean dies, we die. The crew will carry this message to our conference “Kava Bowl” Ocean Summit 2011 in Hawai’i about the consequences climate change on ocean will have if we go ahead with our business as usual. The crew will participate in the conference, contributing with their experience and their thoughts, learning from other people at the conference at the same time.

The Motto:

The motto for the whole project, which reflects the spiritual thinking in Polynesian culture about the sea, which has the same life-force running through its water as runs through our bodies, and how to treat this precious resource to not disturb Tangaroa, the God of the Sea. The following saying is a poetic way to say “be respectful and gentle:” “Move your paddle silently through the water.”

Here’s a video about how they set up the voyage. Richard commented, “It’s very technically proficient. Looks like the objective is to encourage sailing this way – without using oil.”

Baybayan says this event represents a transfer of knowledge from Hawai‘i, which was really the leader of the modern-day voyaging revival. “It’s a transfer to all these different offspring, these families that have sprung up,” he says. “The seven different canoes represent seven different island groups.”

Read more about some of these islands’ preparations, and their journeys, in these articles from around Polynesia:

Samoa News

Samoa Voyaging Society blog

Fiji Islands Voyaging Society

Cook Island News and also this

Tahiti Times 

Waatea 603AM – Auckland’s Urban Māori Radio & News Station

Does anyone sketch? Check out this great sketch of one of the canoes, and see a challenge to sketch it here in Hawai‘i!

See you down at the Bayfront on Sunday morning? I’ll be there!


Merrie Monarch 2011

Hilo just finished hosting hula dancers and admirers from around the world at its annual Merrie Monarch hula festival.

It’s so great to see how Hilo comes alive for that Merrie Monarch week, which is held each year around Easter. The streets overflow with people, many of them Hawaiian, in their designer aloha wear, flower leis and lauhala hats. Everything that is good about the place — the people, the leis, the music, the dancing — is magnified and multiplied. It’s everywhere. It’s wonderful.

From Wikipedia:

The Merrie Monarch Festival is a week-long cultural festival that takes place annually in Hilo, Hawaii. It honors King David Kalākaua, who was called the “Merrie Monarch” for his patronage of the arts. He is credited with restoring many Hawaiian cultural traditions during his reign, including the hula. Many hālau hula (schools), including some from the U.S. mainland and Japan, attend the festival each year to participate in the festival exhibitions and competitions, which are considered the most prestigious of all hula contests. Read the rest

The hula always starts on Wednesday, with a free Ho‘ike (demonstration) night. Watch this year’s Ho‘ike highlights from Big Island Video News here, and some of Halau O Kekuhi’s dances from that night here. They are renowned, and what a treat to see them.

Some other videos from this year’s Merrie Monarch:

This is Halau Hula O Kahikilaulani, of Hilo (It’s their kahiko performance)

Chinky Mahoe’s Kawaili‘ula, from Kailua, O‘ahu (kahiko)

And there’s always a wonderful Merrie Monarch Parade through Hilo town. See some of that here: 2011 Merrie Monarch Festival Grand Parade

It’s never too soon to start thinking about attending Merrie Monarch the next year, if you’re interested. Mark your calendars: tickets are available to purchase by mail only, and your ticket requests must be postmarked on December 26 or later. (If they are mailed later, you might not get seats; it’s best if you email your request on 12/26 exactly.)

Ticketing info is not yet updated for the 2012 festival, but watch this space later in the year if you’re interested in knowing exactly how to order.


Dawn Chang as Candidate for Kamehameha Schools Trustee

Dawn Chang is one of three candidates for a position as Trustee for Kamehameha Schools.

I have written about Dawn here before, recently when she was a consultant working on the Comprehensive Management Plan for Mauna Kea.

That was a controversial and very difficult situation, with extraordinarily strong feelings on both sides, and she really impressed me under fire. She did not falter. She just focused on pono and let the chips fall where they may. She even endured someone cursing her children’s future kids.

But, nevertheless, by the end of the long process, some of the most skeptical folks – the ones who were strongly against the Thirty Meter Telescope – called her “Sistah.” This is why we became friends for life.

The Court required candidates to demonstrate expertise in one or more of the following areas:
•    Business administration
•    Finance and investment
•    Strategic planning and policy setting
•    General areas of interest including education, law or governance

As well as possess the following:
•    A recognized reputation of integrity and good character
•    The capacity to fulfill the responsibilities of a fiduciary under trust law
•    Respect for and from the community

•    Consistent and active leadership in the community with specific emphasis on issues impacting the well-being of the people of Hawaii

•    A formal education

•    Outstanding personal traits including Hawaiian values

I have no reservations at all in supporting Dawn for the position as Kamehameha Schools Trustee and I’m sending in my written support. If any of you that know Dawn’s work, character and integrity would like to do the same, written comments and/or expressions of support must be received by 4 p.m. on September 14, 2010.

Mail to: Kamehameha Schools Trustee Screening Committee
c/o Inkinen & Associates
1003 Bishop Street
Pauahi Tower, Suite 477
Honolulu, HI 96813


You Can’t Be King If You Can’t Feed The People

Pua Kanahele, the kumu hula and highly respected educator, impresses me. Recently I heard her speak at a “Geothermal in Hawai‘i” symposium, put on by the First Nation’s Futures Program of Kamehameha Schools.

She puts a lot of emphasis on the Kumulipo, the Hawaiian creation chant, which is about new beginnings, and she talks about how important the environment is.

For example, she emphasizes the ‘ohi‘a tree and how it instigates the hydrologic cycle. The effect is: If we take care of our forests, we will not end up like Easter Island. I can definitely get behind her teachings. She inspired me to start planting ‘ohi‘a on my farm at Pepe‘ekeo.

I have a couple general observations about some others who want to be king, or philosophical leaders.

  • One cannot be king if one cannot feed the people. I can think of a few would-be “kings” I would vote against because they have no clue about taking care of the people.
  • “Leaders” who espouse a certain philosophy must not, as a result of that philosophy, cause people to go out and tread water while they stay safely on land, walking around and pointing in the air.

One very loud Hawaiian voice says: “If I cannot be Hawaiian in Hawai‘i, where can I be Hawaiian?”  It’s a good question and one that should concern all of us.

But if, for that person, the solution is to be against any form of geothermal energy, then the effect on the Hawaiian people is that their lights are turned off and they have less money to take care of their families. In other words, they end up out in the ocean and treading water.

I do not hear this loud voice providing a viable alternative. All I hear is “Me, me, me.”

Contrast that with Pua Kanahele’s point of view, which seems to be to take care of everyone by taking care of the environment. (It’s more complex than that; I’m simplifying.)

I have not heard a word from her about being against geothermal. She says there are many gods, and does not elevate Pele to being the main god. What she emphasizes are actions that take care of all of us.

She deserves the respect she gets.

The reason I am holding the Sierra Club’s feet to the fire is that I want them to realize that although, individually, they are not against Hawaiians, their non-action results in an anti-Hawaiian result.

They cannot play it both ways. And I am hoping they get it when we have the geothermal debate. They do not realize that as caring as they can be for “Hawaiians,” the results of some of their actions are actually anti-Hawaiian.

I feel, too, that some high-level Hawaiian educators have not thought the issues through deeply enough. The more they force people to tread water, the more irrelevant they become.

This is my simple point of view.


Kalepa Baybayan – Navigator-In-Residence at ‘Imiloa

Kalepa Kalepa Baybayan is known as a “Master Navigator,” but when I talked to him the other day, it was clear the title makes him uncomfortable. He returned to it twice.

“I would disclaim being a master of anything,” he said. “I’m pretty much a student of the art. Though I have greater responsibilities, I still learn every time I go out.”

He was talking about going out on the Hokule‘a, which he’s sailed on since 1975, when he was 19. If there is anything more interesting than the story of the Hokule‘a, I don’t know what it is.

From Wikipedia:

Hōkūleʻa is a performance-accurate full-scale replica of a waʻa kaulua, a Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe. Launched on 8 March 1975 by the Polynesian Voyaging Society, she is best known for her 1976 Hawaiʻi to Tahiti voyage performed with Polynesian navigation techniques, without modern navigational instruments. The primary goal of the voyage was to further support the anthropological theory of the Asiatic origin of native Oceanic people, of Polynesians and Hawaiians in particular, as the result of purposeful trips through the Pacific, as opposed to passive drifting on currents, or sailing from the Americas. (Scientific results of 2008, from DNA analysis, illuminate this theory of Polynesian settlement.) A secondary goal of the project was to have the canoe and voyage “serve as vehicles for the cultural revitalization of Hawaiians and other Polynesians.”

Since the 1976 voyage to Tahiti and back, Hōkūle‘a has completed nine more voyages to destinations in Micronesia, Polynesia, Japan, Canada, and the United States, all using ancient wayfinding techniques of celestial navigation.

The next Hokule‘a voyage, now in the planning stages, is going to be a doozy: They’re planning to take the voyaging canoe around the world. The Hokule‘a is going to circumnavigate the globe, and it will probably be a two- to three-year voyage, he said.

“As ambitious as that sounds, explorers have been sailing around the world for a couple hundred years now,” he said, “so it’s not something so far out there it’s not achievable.”

“In my very early years, looking at that traditionally shaped sail cutting across the night sky,” he said, “that’s a pretty compelling vision for a young man to see. I look up there and realize that silhouette I’m seeing is probably the same one my ancestors saw.

“The excitement, amazement, the loneliness and happiness of finding land – it’s timeless. That’s universal. So you get really close to experiencing the world and the environment in the same sense your ancestors did.”

Richard wanted to know if Kalepa navigates the canoe by the ocean, looking up at the stars, or whether he sees himself as traveling in space – in the stars?

Kalepa thought about that before answering. He said he just sees the canoe pointing in a certain direction, and things moving by it. “I don’t really experience it as the canoe being moved by nature,” he said. “Rather I see nature moving by us.”

When not at sea, Kalepa is Navigator-in-Residence at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo. Isn’t that a great title? “They had an Astronomer-In-Residence and they wanted a Navigator-In-Residence too,” he explained.

‘Imiloa, of course, is where we “celebrate Hawaiian culture and Maunakea astronomy, sharing with the world an inspiring example of science and culture united [my italics] to advance knowledge, understanding and opportunity.”

Kalepa and the interim executive director, Ka‘iu Kimura, are both graduates of the Hawaiian language college, and Kalepa said there’s an indigenous model of leadership emerging at ‘Imiloa.

“One of the great things about ‘Imiloa is that it’s exposing us to the national and international communities,” he said.

About a year and a half ago, he and ‘Imiloa Planetarium Director Shawn Laatsch were invited to speak at Athens and Hamburg planetariums. “There is a curiosity about indigenous astronomy,” he said, “and the story of voyaging is a really compelling story. And the context is to have Shawn speak to the [astronomical] exploration being done on Mauna Kea.”

He said while he’s really happy with where Hawai‘i’s voyaging knowledge is at, there’s still a lot of work to do. “We experimented with what we were doing,” he said. ‘We learned and we gathered the info. Now it’s a matter of, How do we teach it in an effective way? Who are the teachers?

“It’s one thing to have a conversation with canoe people who travel together all the time, but trying to talk to a new generation, that’s a different kind of process.”

This seems to be another place ‘Imiloa comes in.

“We need to make a connection to the STEM program,” he said, “to science; that encourages young learners to follow the tradition of navigation; not to be navigators, but to follow the tradition of exploring.”

“My largest responsibility,” he said, about his role at ‘Imiloa, “is that the internal compass of the organization be aligned to the horizon we want to move toward.”


Kaiu Kimura: Of the Next Generation of Hawaiian Leaders

Pacific Business News recently wrote about Ka‘iu Kimura: People Who Make Hawaii Work: Kaiu Kimura.

“Ka‘iu is representative of the next generation of Hawaiian leaders,” says Richard.

“I saw her defend her convictions at public hearings having to do with the Comprehensive Management Plan for Mauna Kea,” he says. “She is very strong, and it’s why I support her as strongly as I do. I could not be more proud of her.”

The Waimea-born and -reared Kamehameha Schools graduate is, at age 31, interim Executive Director of Hilo’s ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center.

I had a chance to speak with Ka‘iu the other day.

Q. When did you start at ‘Imiloa, and in what position?

A. It was the Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center then, in 2001. I was hired as a research assistant to help develop Hawaiian content.

Through the exhibit development phase, there were a lot of discussions, meetings, and focus groups with various community stakeholders and experts. It was a real educational process for me. For the first time, members of the Hawaiian, astronomy and business communities had to sit down and plan this center that was going to be for the general public, with a mission to really excite local youth about science and technology and the opportunities that exist here on the island. And also to talk about Mauna Kea and its uniqueness with all these different communities – particularly Hawaiian and Astronomy communities.

Q. What were the challenges?

Everybody had different ideas and different interpretations about what the center needed to be, and how to communicate to the community. It was valuable and difficult all at the same time. It got to be really challenging at the end.

In 2006, when we opened the doors, that was a major step. We’d made it through the planning stage and we had a product; something that came out of all that, because of the collaborative approach we took.

Q. What are you working on now?

I just came back last week from a conference in San Diego. It was about bringing Native American people together with scientists and the science center community.

We shared the process of how we built the center. You don’t have to divorce yourself from your culture or from your cultural values if you’re interested in pursuing science and technology. In fact, because you have those values and that cultural perspective, you can enrich the direction science is going. It made me realize more so that ‘Imiloa has a responsibility to take this kind of perspective to the science community.

I know there will always be a variety of opinions about any future development on that mountain. Many opinions won’t change; they’ll stay the same. But the goal is about relationship building. Coming to the table and saying what you need to say. To help educate both ways. Sharing with the community is about. The average person has been left out of that conversation in the past. The role of ‘Imiloa is to open up the conversation to more people.

It’s all a part of the education process. If people don’t understand about that mountain, and why it’s so revered and unique, then how can we say we’re all about educating the youth and getting them excited about science?

‘Imiloa is here because Mauna Kea is such a special place. I think it’s all about the kuleana thing. Go after your dreams and ambitions, but also understand the community you come from and the history, and know you have the kuleana to give back to it.

Q. What are your next goals?

Our big goal is to increase our attendance. We’ve had a wonderful growth in attendance. We average 53-55,000 people a year. Eighty-five percent are kama‘aina. That’s been great. Our challenge is, and will always be, to create fresh programs and activities and exhibits and planetarium shows to keep our kama‘aina people engaged and wanting to come back for more. That’s a major priority.

We also want to grow that 53-55,000. We want to double that. Our core mission will always be to inspire and excite the youth of Hawai‘i, our next leaders. And we’d also like to increase our offshore numbers, and impact the rest of the world. We think Hawai‘i can really serve as a strong model internationally.

Q. What would you like people to know about ‘Imiloa?

What is unique about ‘Imiloa is that it’s a result of massive collaborative effort of people in the community. I’m very, very aware we have a lot of work to do, and that there are a lot of ways to strengthen what we have. But I think it’s a very good first step to sharing the Hawaiian culture, and in bringing our culture together with science and in particular with astronomy.

‘Imiloa shares a great story of exploration. That’s what ‘Imiloa means: To explore, seek new knowledge, make new discoveries, new landfall. It’s a great place to come and learn about exploration, and how people in Hawai‘i have explored in the past, and how it continues today and for the future.

It’s unique to us here in Hawai‘i, but also, on a human level, every culture has histories and culture and innovation. It’s about tying those together with where we’re heading in the future.


Surfing at Santa Cruz

Richard Ha writes:

There was an interesting article recently in the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

Hawaiian royals honor Santa Cruz surfing history

Posted: 11/25/2009 01:30:17 AM PST

SANTA CRUZ — Take that, Huntington Beach.

The royal family of Hawaii boosted Santa Cruz's claim as the real Surf City, giving the city a bronze plaque honoring the three island princes who introduced surfing to the mainland when they first paddled out at the San Lorenzo River mouth in 1885. The City Council officially accepted the plaque Tuesday.

…According to Dunn's historical report, "Riders Like the Sea Spray: The Three Surfing Princes in Santa Cruz," Hawaiian princes Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana'ole, David Kawananakoa and Edward Keliiahonui visited family friends in Santa Cruz during their summer break from St. Matthew's Hall, a military school for boys that they attended in San Mateo, in 1885.

The three princes ordered 15-foot, 100 pound surfboards carved from local redwood and paddled out at the river mouth, where a large wave historically broke before the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor was built in the 1960s…. (Read more here)

In the mid-1960s, when I was in Army boot camp at Fort Ord, we went down to the boardwalk at Santa Cruz.  We did some body surfing on the south side of the beach, at the Boardwalk. I wonder if that was where the princes surfed?

This was the first time that I actually got in the water on the mainland. It was fun but shockingly cold compared to what I was accustomed. It was the coldest water I ever experienced. No wonder people were wearing wet suits.

Michael Bolte tells me, “The Boardwalk is bordered on the south side by the San Lorenzo river. There is a sandbar that forms off the river mouth that often has a nice break in the winter. I think this is where the princes surfed.”


Ka‘iu Kimura Appointed Interim Executive Director at ‘Imiloa

My dear friend, Ka‘iu Kimura, was just appointed interim Executive Director of HIlo’s ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center. She is representative of the next generation of Hawaiian leaders. I cannot be more proud of her.

A couple of weeks ago, Ka‘iu Kimura, Kalepa Babayan, Wallace Ishibashi, Clyde Hayashi, Pete Lindsey and myself met for lunch at Kuhio Grill. Ka‘iu talked generally about how things are changing. She said that ‘Imiloa was getting more and more international attention for its unique role of combining astronomy and the Hawaiian culture.

She told us her view of what is going on now and how much international attention they are getting. She said, Imagine what will happen if the Thirty Meter Telescope is built on Mauna Kea. She said, “I dream of a conference center being built to accommodate international conferees.”  I was amazed at how many things were going on. But at the same time, I could see what she was talking about. When the Thirty Meter Telescope is built here on the Big Island, we are going to get increasingly more international visitors and it would be nice to be able to welcome the guests in the proper way.

I could see exactly what Ka’iu was saying. And I agree, and support her 1000 percent.

Kimura to head ‘Imiloa

University of Hawai`i at Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng today announced the appointment of Ka`iu Kimura as interim executive director of the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai`i.   Kimura replaces Peter Giles, who served as ‘Imiloa’s executive director since 2005. 
Kimura joined ‘Imiloa as the Hawaiian content research specialist during its planning phase in 2001 and later served as the Center’s experience coordinator.   She most recently held the position of associate director with the additional responsibility for all visitor experiences as well as planetarium, educational, exhibit, cultural and cultural landscape programming.
“Ka`iu brings a wealth of experience to this position, combined with energy and drive,” Tseng said.  “She also embraces `Imiloa’s mission to integrate science and culture, which will enable her to build on the Center’s accomplishments and take it to the next level.”
Kimura was raised in Waimea and graduated from Kamehameha Schools Kapalama Campus.   She returned to the Big Island to attend UH Hilo where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Hawaiian studies.  Kimura says she is humbled and excited about the opportunity to head ‘Imiloa.
“I’ve watched and participated as the Center has evolved from its development, through its opening and beyond to its operational phase,” Kimura explained.   “And I’m constantly amazed at how ‘Imiloa pursues its greater mission to inspire and provide greater opportunities for our youth and the community-at-large in the area of scientific innovation through a living and dynamic world view of our Hawaiian culture.”
Kimura said she wants to see ‘Imiloa develop more creative educational programming to engage Hawai`i’s youth and inspire them to become the next generation of innovation leaders.   She also plans to continue developing ‘Imiloa as a place for meaningful dialogue to promote scientific advancement and innovation.       


Hawaiian Language Story Ends Happily Ever After

Whew! There’s a good finish to the story we told you about the other day — the one in which Leslie Wilcox, President and CEO of PBS Hawai‘i, took a stand and told the producers of a national program that PBS Hawai‘i wouldn’t air their documentary, filmed on the Big Island, unless they redid the narration to correct the pronunciation of Hawaiian words.

It’s a program that Richard appears in, yet he agreed with her position 100 percent.

The problem with the Hawaiian language as originally narrated wasn’t a “malihini’s earnest stumbling,” Leslie wrote, but a “cavalier approximation.” And yet the show’s producers dismissed her concern.

Richard told me, “I posted on Leslie’s blog that I didn’t mean to put pressure but that I know that even President Obama, who grew up here, would cringe.

“It makes me chuckle to think what that must have been like,” he says, “when the light finally went on. ‘Phone for you. I don’t know what he wants; he says he’s the President of the United States.'”

As support for PBS Hawai‘i’s position swelled, the program’s producer capitulated a bit and offered to let PBS Hawai‘i re-narrate the program that would air here — but not to the rest of the country.

Leslie didn’t let it go.

And now, a happy ending. The program’s producers have agreed to redo the documentary’s narration.

Keola Donaghy of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo volunteered to record an audio sample of the correct pronunciations, and then coached the mainland narrator by phone until he had it down. He also listened as the narrator committed the words to tape.

Leslie Wilcox writes:

“Good job by the voice man, a respected on-air talent who was open to learning and who learned quickly. Keola says the man ended up pronouncing the words better than some Hawaii natives.”

Read her full blog post about this here.

Leslie Wilcox and PBS Hawai‘i, we salute you!