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Here is a glimpse of the opening ceremony of the Kaʻiwakīloumoku Hawaiian Cultural Center, which “hooks” together communities and networks throughout Hawaiʻi, the greater Pacific and beyond.

Kūkahekahe: Kaʻiwakīloumoku’s Anniversary – Lā Piha Makahiki He 9!

Sept. 21, 2021

  • AUTHORS
  • Hoʻokahua Cultural Vibrancy Group

In this Kūkahekahe article, we celebrate ka lā piha makahiki he ʻeiwa, the ninth anniversary of the September 26 opening  of the Kaʻiwakīloumoku Hawaiian Cultural Center!

In December of 1985, then Kamehameha Schools trustee Myron “Pinky” Thompson – a beloved Hawaiian leader in health and social work, and president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society – stood at the revered Te Tii Marae in Aotearoa to celebrate the historic arrival of Hōkūleʻa to Waitangi. Inspired by the rich culture and pride evident in the Māori youth at this important heritage site, Thompson had a vision for a Hawaiian cultural center, where people of all ages could learn, practice and advance our rich Hawaiian heritage to share with the world.

After decades of planning, perseverence and dedication, Thompson’s vision became a reality. The Kaʻiwakīloumoku Hawaiian Cultural Center welcomed hundreds of supporters and well-wishers at its opening ceremonies on September 26, 2012.

The name Kaʻiwakīloumoku comes from an epithet given to Kamehameha ʻEkahi as a young chief by the aliʻi wahine (chiefess) Ululani. Upon arrival in Hilo, Hawaiʻi, Ululani addressed Kamehameha  as ka ʻiwa kīlou moku, “the ʻiwa bird that hooks the islands together.” This name foretold Kamehameha’s future unification of the islands and celebrated his charisma, daring and expertise.

Since its opening, Kaʻiwakīloumoku has sought to embody the statement, “E kū ke ola i ka moku,” ensuring a vibrant Hawaiian society. From Nohona Hawaiʻi offerings K-12 and He Welo Noʻeau evening courses for Kamehameha families and the community, to recent digital programming like the Pacific Conversations video podcast talk show, Kaʻiwakīloumoku seeks to strengthen the culture, identity and vibrancy of the Hawaiian people.

Like the ʻiwa, Kaʻiwakīloumoku also hooks together communities and networks that extend throughout Hawaiʻi, the greater Pacific and beyond. It is with great pride and excitement that Kaʻiwakīloumoku embraces its emerging role as a Pacific Indigenous Institute; through the ʻAha Moananuiākea Pacific Consortium, cultural educational partnerships have been formed across the Pacific in Taiwan, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Micronesia, Alaska, French Polynesia and Rapa Nui with a prospective partnership in Melanesia on the horizon.

Reflecting on the ancestral strength that emerged from his naʻau as a terrified teenage soldier about to leap from his landing craft onto the vulnerable battle-ridden shores of Normandy during World War II, Thompson was inspired to compose a pule many years later, which is now the feature of  an art piece located at the center he dreamed about at Waitangi:

“Let us call forth the Supreme Powers of our individual spiritual beliefs to join us. For those who have them, call forth their ʻAumākua – our Guardian Angels – to be with us today. And now reach inside of ourselves and touch the spirits of our family members and special friends who have assisted us to be people who care, want to share, and dare to dream impossible dreams. Let us gather our spiritual strengths so that we can Aloha them, thank them, for their continued encouragement, guidance, and protection as we proceed through life. Now, for our Supreme Powers’ blessing upon this gathering: in the words of my mother in her language of comfort, na ke Akua e hoʻopōmaikaʻi iā ʻoukou.”

For more about the history of the cultural center, visit the Kaʻiwakīloumoku website.


A portrait of Pinky Thompson and an art piece with a pule (prayer) he composed at the Kaʻiwakīloumoku Hawaiian Cultural Center.


CEO Jack Wong, French Polynesia Minister of Culture Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu, and Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson plant ʻawa hiwa in the Waineʻemālie Garden, 2019.



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