Aloha kākou, 
It has been amazing to witness all the ways that individuals, families, teams, and communities continue to weather the current crisis that we are experiencing. In our office we look to the ‘a‘ali‘i as a model because of its qualities of being rooted, resilient, and responsive to the needs of its community. We strive to be like the ‘a‘ali‘i and also to foster the ‘a‘ali‘i in each of you.

This month, I’d like to highlight and celebrate all that my amazing team has accomplished this semester. They usually write stories for you, but this month I write about them.

Each of them are ‘a‘ali‘i in their own way; continuing to deepen their roots in Hawai‘i, being flexible and resilient in the face of many challenges (not only but especially this semester), and continuing to be responsive to the various needs of our campus and communities as we collectively strive to become a Native Hawaiian place of learning.
 Aloha, Punihei
Sonya Zabala, Operations Coordinator
Sonya Zabala, NHPoL Operations Coordinator

Sonya is our full-time staff member in charge of coordinating all the operations of our team. Although we are a fairly small team, the breadth and depth of our kuleana to strategically implement recommendations from 30+ years of Native Hawaiian reports is vast. Sonya’s kuleana is to make sure we are all on track.
Rooted: As a resident of Mānoa, Sonya is constantly learning about the place she lives in and exploring ways to give back to that ‘āina. This work includes taking walks with her keiki to become more knowledgeable of wahi pana in the area, studying ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i with her ‘ohana, and reading as much as she can. I’ve nicknamed her “my reader” on the team because she can just devour literature. She reads and reads in order to grow her roots in knowledge from and about Hawai‘i.
Resilient: Among many other demonstrations of resiliency this semester like transitioning to work from home into her apartment with her husband, college-going daughter, and elementary-aged son (believe me, it is not easy!), she also proved to be find ways to stay connected while being apart. She showed this resilience with our own team by creating days of connection and even organizing a film-watching event to learn more about Indigenous resilience around the world. She continues to do the incredibly complicated work of keeping her family connected while they are spread out all over the world and played a significant role in supporting her family through their own experiences with COVID-19.
Responsive: Sonya is the kind of person who always has an eye out for people’s well-being. She is the person on our team who brings people food when they need comfort, flowers when they need joy, and books when they need direction. During her time with us, she has also been heavily involved in our Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Center work and has committed herself in incredible ways because of her firm belief that TRHT is needed by our communities.
Paige Okamura, Graduate Research Assistant
Paige Okamura, IHLRT GRA

Paige was hired as a graduate research assistant in the Institute for Hawaiian Language Research and Translation (IHLRT). Her kuleana is to translate articles from within the Hawaiian language newspapers so that the knowledge from within that repository can shape current research in various fields. When Dr. Puakea Nogelmeier, the founder and director of IHLRT, retired I assumed the role of interim director and IHLRT became part of the kuleana of our office. Every month Paige shares something from her translation work in the e-newsletters to help each of you understand the treasure trove that is there.
Rooted: Paige’s academic work is focused in ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i as a master’s student in Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language. She continues to grow her roots in Hawai‘i not only through studying and researching in and about ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i but also practicing it in various form, including teaching ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i to students, staff, faculty, and community members.
Resilient: This wahine has accomplished quite a bit this year while surviving a pandemic. She survived the critique process and got her thesis proposal approved. Yay! While doing that, she also co-created and co-delivered the ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i curriculum in person in multiple teaching spaces throughout the semester and then transitioned that curriculum to an online format mid-semester.
Responsive: Paige is perhaps most well-know for the ways she constantly responds to community needs. Need an ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i teacher to “teach free Hawaiian language classes to the masses” (as Paige describes it)? No problem. She’ll be right there. That’s now averaging 10,000 views per week online. Need a Hawaiian music guest DJ session on Here & Now on NPR (average 5 million listeners)? Paige got that one. Need a guest presenter on Lei Ānuenue to share in ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i about being a DJ? She’s there, too.
We couldn’t be more proud of the ways she consistently responds to community. What I am personally so excited about is her master’s research that she describes as, “looking at how our kuleana to ‘āina is defined by our kūlana as kupa , kama‘āina , or malihini , and how looking to mo‘olelo helps us define those things as well as reclaim the ‘ike that has been lost.” While I provide you hyperlinks to some ways that these words are defined, Paige’s research will help us understand these roles so much better and I believe will also help us identify our kuleana within them. With that said, if everyone could please help me, let’s put a temporary kapu on her from doing so many other awesome things so she can finish this amazing thesis.
Papa ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i livestreams:
Link to the Here & Now segment:
Link to the Lei Ānuenue “no nā wilipā ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi” segment:
Keahialaka Ioane, Graduate Research Assistant
Keahialaka Ioane, NHPoL GRA

Keahialaka’s kuleana as a GRA in our office is to do archival, historical, and traditional research on Mānoa Valley and to disseminate that research to all of you. A foundational element of becoming a Native Hawaiian place of learning is knowing the ‘āina we are in so we can best take care of her for the many generations yet to come. Keahialaka’s monthly contributions in our newsletter is one of the many ways she is helping our campus to learn more about Mānoa.
Rooted: This semester Laka moved home to Hawai‘i Island to be more connected to her ‘ohana and to raiser her keiki in their kulāiwi . As we know, moving home to be with family is a blessing but is also not easy. We celebrate her commitment to being rooted in her ‘āina.
Resilient: In addition to moving home and doing research for work, she also solidified her research proposal and prepared her IRB documents (big job!). Perhaps her most amazing accomplishment and demonstration of resilience this semester was doing all of this while also raising two toddlers. I did this and barely made it. She did it through a pandemic and a stay-at-home order. You’re amazing, Laka!
Responsive: As she continues to deepen her roots on Hawai‘i Island, her research responds to the needs and mo‘olelo of the communities there. In particular, her research focuses on highlighting the untold histories of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement as they occurred on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. Through a lens of wahi pana , she will interview leaders of five significant land movements on Hawai‘i Island and inquire into what makes their place a noted and legendary wahi pana significant to the larger Hawaiian Sovereignty movement. This research will definitely add to our understanding of wahi pana and aloha ‘āina as we move forward.
Kawehionālani Goto, Graduate Research Assistant
Kawehionālani Goto, NHPoL GRA

Kawehi’s main kuleana in the office is to conceptualize, analyze, and present quantitative and qualitative data related to the  Native Hawaiian reports , the founding documents of our office. You can mahalo her for the data presented in our newsletters

Rooted:  Kawehi is a committed   ‘ōlapa  under the direction of her kumu hula, Michael Pili Pang. She continues to deepen her roots in Hawai‘i as she engages in her current   ‘ūniki   process in which, among other kuleana, she is making two lei hulu and a pahu.

Resilient:  This semester she finished her last cognate course (Imagination-Based Education with Dr. Keith Cross), which she described as, “a course that truly helped to push my thinking to imagine hula as a process for my own learning.” She also managed to get her prospectus approved by her department (Educational Psychology) AND scheduled her comprehensive exams that start at the end of May. You go Kawehi!!
If that wasn’t enough, her co-authored paper also got accepted at the American Education Research Association’s (AERA) 2020 annual conference and she planned to travel to California in April to present on it. The paper is entitled, “A Longitudinal Study of the Goals and Achievements of Native Hawaiian Graduates of a Culture-Based High School Program.” This comes out of her master’s research. Of course, her travel got cancelled. But we celebrate the awesome accomplishment of getting her paper accepted.
Responsive:  Reflecting and making sense of her own journey to maintain well-being as a graduate student while also being an ‘ōlapa, her dissertation research has and continues to focus on using hula, an embodied knowledge system, as a lens for understanding well-being. Her groundbreaking research will no doubt add to our understanding of how we can contribute to and foster well-being within our students.
Pua Souza, Graduate Research Assistant
Pua Souza, NHPoL GRA

Pua’s main kuleana on the team is to co-develop, deliver, and assess initiatives from our office that engage our campus and community in becoming a Native Hawaiian place of learning. She also manages all of the communication that comes out of our office, including our weekly events email as well as our monthly e-newsletter.
Rooted: Pua is an ‘āina-based wahine. It is therefore not surprising that this summer she will continue to deepen her roots in her knowledge of ‘āina and in particular her kulāiwi of Kohala through the highly competitive Wahi Kūpuna Internship Program .
Resilient: Can you imagine being a first-year PhD student during a pandemic? Pua was. And she survived! This semester she took a qualitative research course in which she originally planned to go back to Kohala to do archival research and interviews. Because those documents live in Kohala and she couldn’t access them because of travel restrictions, she re-planned her entire project and continued on. That’s flexibility and resilience!
Responsive: Pua first became a GRA with me while she was finishing her MSW. Towards the end of the program, I asked her if she was planning on continuing into a PhD program. As she shared things she cared about like her love of mālama ‘āina work and her passion for helping future generations of Kohala natives know and mālama their place, she chose to pursue a PhD in Curriculum Studies to focus on creating ‘āina-based curriculum for her hometown. 
While these awesome wahine help to keep our office going and contribute to our monthly newsletter, we want to hear from you, too! We want to celebrate and highlight all the ways you are contributing to UHM's journey to become a Native Hawaiian place of learning. Please feel free to email us at [email protected] if you have a story you'd like to share. Mahalo!