The Native Hawaiian Place of Learning Advancement Office at UH Mānoa focuses on implementing recommendations from Native Hawaiian reports authored over the last 30 years that guide UH Mānoa in becoming a Native Hawaiian place of learning; a place that is responsive to kanaka (Native Hawaiian) communities and reflective of Native Hawai‘i for ALL people to learn, connect, grow, and heal from:

  • Native Hawaiian Student Success
  • Native Hawaiian Staff and Faculty Development
  • Native Hawaiian Environment 
  • Native Hawaiian Community Engagement

We cannot do this work alone. It is our mission to foster the potential within each of you to positively contribute to our collective kuleana to make UH Mānoa a Native Hawaiian place of learning. These monthly newsletters are meant to keep you connected, highlight your work and continue to inspire you.

  • Native Hawaiian students are holistically supported from recruitment through post-graduation.
  • Best practices are gleaned from efforts to support Native Hawaiian students and are applied to student success strategies for all students across the campus.

Congratulations to UHM Ph.D. candidate Appointed as the First Native Hawaiian associate curator for the National Museum of the American Indian

Picture of Halena Kapuni-Reynolds and the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian

PC: UH News

Hoʻomaikaʻi e Halena Kapuni-Reynolds on your appointment as the first associate curator for Native Hawaiian history and culture at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). Halena is a PhD candidate in the Department of American Studies at UHM. Click here to read the full article done by UH News.

  • Native Hawaiian staff & faculty are holistically supported from recruitment through promotion and leadership development in every unit across the campus.
  • All staff & faculty at UH Mānoa are more knowledgeable and culturally rooted in Mānoa and Hawai‘i.

Congratulations Dr. Oceana Puananilei Francis!

Pictured: Dr. Oceana Puananilei Francis top left along with colleagues of the Faculty Fellows program

PC: UH News

Hoʻomaikaʻi to Dr. Oceana Puananilei Francis, professor of civil and environmental engineering, with a joint appointment in the Sea Grant College Program on being selected as one of the newly named Faculty Fellows of UHM's new experiential certificate training program. Click here for more information on the full write-up on UH News.

UH Mānoa campus is a physical, cultural, spiritual, and interactive environment that exemplifies the values of ‘ohana and community, mālama ‘āina, and kuleana; thereby, perpetuating Native Hawaiian values, culture, language, traditions, and customs.

Highlighting a Special UH Summer Course:

ERTH 104 Moʻolelo Honua:

An Earth science class for the Hawaiian language community

ERTH 104 Class Flyer

For the first time, Earth Science 104- Moʻolelo Honua was offered online and in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi this summer. The course was provided between July 3rd and July 28th and was delivered through UHM Outreach College for all UH students and Non-UH community members who completed high school. Moʻolelo Honua examined the connections between the geology of the Hawaiian Islands, the Pacific, and the people and cultures of these places from past to present. We celebrate the importance of offering this inaugural class to engage with Hawaiʻi as place, language, and community. Courses like this continue to support and uplift our collective work and dedication to becoming a Native Hawaiian place of learning.

UH Mānoa and Native Hawaiian communities are consistently connected and engaged in order that there can be reciprocal teaching and learning for positive impact throughout Hawai‘i.

Community Highlight:

Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea

Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea Logo

In Hawaiʻi, July 31st is a national holiday known as Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea or Sovereignty Restoration Day. The holiday was established on July 31, 1843, during the reign of Kauikeaouli, King Kamehameha III, to remember the return of Hawaiʻi's sovereign government by the United Kingdom after an illegal seizure.

Today, the holiday is once again a thriving celebration infused with cultural practice and reverence for all those who have led the stand for restoration and all those who continue the legacy of this work. For more information about the holiday, the organization, and the schedule of events for the upcoming celebration, please visit their webpage and click here.

Organizations like Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea continue to inspire and influence by bringing our community together to celebrate our culture and the potential that lay ahead when we imagine the restoration of our homeland and ourselves. We could not do the work we do to cultivate and nurture Hawaiʻi without organizations like Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, who continue to speak truth to power.


Kanaka Highlight Series

Picture of Chevelle Melissa Auliʻipunahelemakahiapō Davis the Highlighted Student

Chevelle Melissa Auli‘ipunahelemakahiapō Davis


ʻEwa Beach, Hono‘uli‘uli, O‘ahu

High School:

ʻAiea High School

UHM Degrees:

Bachelor of Arts in Public Health 2016

Master of Public Health (Health Policy & Management) 2018

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health Community-based Participatory and Translational Research expected December 2024

Current Occupation(s):

Policy Specialist

What inspires the path for your academic major?

I ended up in public health by accident. After working hard for nine years to complete my associate degree at Leeward Community College and the prerequisites for Mānoa’s nursing school program, I was told by an academic advisor of Mānoa’s nursing school to “not bother applying, you won’t get in with a 3.4 GPA. Try public health instead.” It’s funny how words stay with you. Nearly ten years later, I remember those words verbatim. That was the quickest advising session I ever had. A five-minute conversation shattered my spirit, and I had no idea what to do next. What was public health? 

As a first-generation Native Hawaiian college student who worked multiple jobs to pay for school because the federal government said my four parents collectively made “too much” money and so I didn’t qualify for financial aid, it felt like no matter how hard I worked or resilient I was, I wasn’t “good” enough. And as we have always done, we persevere and continue moving forward. Luckily, when I arrived in public health, I quickly learned that my desire to help people could be achieved on a larger scale, and I found a new passion in health policy. This shift from direct clinical care to changing systems reshaped what I thought it meant to help people, and I realized public health was a better fit for me.   

Now, as a non-traditional student who is nearing two decades of being a University of Hawai‘i student, what has inspired me to continue this academic journey are all the other people in my community who look like me and share a story similar to mine. Truly, it’s no longer about the major or degree; it’s about being visible in spaces that weren’t built for us and being here anyway. I want to be a resource and part of the support system for any student who wants to pursue higher education at Mānoa. I see you, and we are enough.

What are your future goals in your work?

Defining my work is difficult because it cuts across many seemingly unconnected sectors, and it’s hard to imagine an existing job that could hold all of it in a meaningful and intentional way. As the time nears that I will leave my life as a university student behind, the pressure of what’s next starts to build and feels overwhelming. Thankfully, someone recently told a group of friends and me that if we’re struggling to figure out what to do when we’re done with school, it’s probably because the job meant for us doesn’t exist yet. And that saved me because all my goals involve systems change, which for me, means reimagining rather than retrofitting and reforming them. I aim to create truly people-centered and equitable systems that allow our communities to thrive in Hawai‘i. I don’t know where I can do that and earn a living, and perhaps I have to reimagine and create a job that can hold all of that.

How do you see your time at UH shaping the way you aloha ʻāina? 

I could not have gotten through my time at UH without the people. Every time I needed help, every time I cried, every time I wanted to give up, and every time I celebrated, it was the people that showed up for me that taught me that I wasn’t in this alone, even though the journey is lonely. Their aloha showed me that the only way we get through this is alongside each other—one step at a time. And so when I think of aloha ‘āina, I think of ripples. How do I, as an ancestor in training, mālama the people in this university, who will either remain here and mālama the next generation of students or who will go out into the world and mālama our communities so that they can feel supported in the work that calls them? As a future ancestor, how do I aloha this place and its people so we can unite and aloha ‘āina? These are questions I carry with me when I show up in all the spaces I have access to and wear all my different hats because we don’t make it through this life alone.

What does UHM as a Hawaiian place of learning mean to you?

UH as a Hawaiian place of learning means that UH acknowledges and honors the history of this place and its people, and intentionally creates an environment that seeks to ameliorate the effects of colonization rather than perpetuate it. It is honoring other epistemologies and ways of knowing outside western models and creating pathways through higher education that include that knowledge. Additionally, with the recent SCOTUS decision on affirmative action and the ongoing threat of pursuing the same action in scholarship applications, UH has an opportunity to actively find ways to resist these attacks on communities of color that aim to prevent access to these spaces and provide even more resources to Hawai‘i’s most underserved communities to pursue higher education. To me, a Hawaiian place of learning means that everyone is welcome to learn, participate in, and help create a university community that is safe and free from violence.