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The KS Kapālama Ka‘iwakīloumoku Hawaiian Cultural Center hosted the first edition of the 2019-20 Lāhui Rising series. Participating at the engaging sharing of knowledge were, from left, Kaʻiwakīloumoku Coordinator Bowe Souza, Kaʻiwakīloumoku Manager Jamie Fong, KS Cultural Consultant Snowbird Bento, Associate Professor for the UH Center for Hawaiian Studies Dr. Kamanamaikalani Beamer, Dean of Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge Dr. Jon Osorio, KS Cultural Specialist Laiana Kanoa-Wong, and KS Executive Cultural Officer Randie Fong.

Lāhui Rising: alumni share perspectives on ‘Ōiwi Agency

Nov. 18, 2019

  • Kyle Galdeira

As part of a powerful, engaging forum, Dr. Jonathan Kay Kamakawiwo‘ole Osorio and Dr. Kamanamaikalani Beamer shared their views on ‘Ōiwi Agency – Pathways Toward Leadership –  to kick off the 2019-20 Lāhui Rising series on October 18 at Kamehameha Schools Kapālama’s Ka‘iwakīloumoku Hawaiian Cultural Center.

According to KS Ho‘okahua Cultural Consultant Manu Boyd, a 1980 KS Kapālama graduate, “‘Ōiwi” means native, and “agency” signifies the exertion of power to achieve an end, or an action intended to produce change.

Lāiana Kanoa-Wong, a KS Hoʻokahua cultural specialist, moderated the event and set the tone for the evening by quoting the 19th-century Hawaiian scholar and leader Joseph Nāwahīokalani‘ōpuʻu: “ʻO ke aloha ‘āina, ʻo ia ka ʻume mageneti i loko o ka puʻuwai o ka lāhui” – Aloha ‘āina is the magnetic pull in the heart of the nation that expresses patriotism, loyalty and love for the land. From that worldview, the ʻŌiwi Agency discussion involved an audience of more than 150 KS students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members, as well as 1,000-plus online viewers.

Osorio, a 1969 KSK graduate who serves as the dean of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, began by further defining “agency” in Hawaiian terms as “ea” or sovereignty.

“Fundamentally, the growth of ʻea’ in Hawaiʻi has been done by us – our friends, neighbors, aunts, uncles, grandparents and children,” said Osorio. “Over the past 25 years, we have seen a gradual fulfillment of some of the hopes and aspirations that were only dimly imagined in the 1960s and 70s. I don’t know where this movement is going, but I have never been more confident that our people are really, really well placed for the next 25 years.”

Added Osorio: “I have to say that I am really pleased with what is happeing in Hawaiʻi at this moment. It isn’t just that I have always been opposed to the 30-meter telescope, (but) in fact that has so little to do with this. It’s about the assertion of Hawaiian will and values into the conversation about how we use land. Even I never imagined that there could be a movement like Kapu Aloha that would essentially cripple the state’s ability to hana ʻino us as they have, so efficiently, for so long.”

Also an award-winning musician and haku mele (composer), Osorio’s remarks concluded with the performance of “Hawaiian Spirits Live Again,” a mele he composed for his grandmother, Eliza Kamakawiwoʻole, in the early 1980s that expresses deep ties to ‘āina and heritage.

Beamer, a 1996 KSK grad who serves as an associate professor at the Center for Hawaiian Studies in the Hui ‘Āina Momona Program at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa with a joint appointment in the Richardson School of Law and the Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, credits the strong influence of his grandmother – legendary KS kumu and alum Nona Beamer – for his values of “noke” and “wiwo ʻole,” tenacity and fearlessness. He recounted the story of Kamehameha I whose persistence and bravery after many years of unsuccessful attempts were realized in his eventual unification of the islands.

“Our people were constantly evolving, using tools and technology,” said Beamer, who performed his uncle Keola Beamer’s “The Beauty of Maunakea.” “We gotta chance ‘em for our future, for our ʻāina.”

The Lāhui Rising series is produced by the Kaʻiwakīloumoku Hawaiian Cultural Center and is designed to create a respectful, safe and enriching learning space for students, staff, alumni, families and community members to hear and honor different voices and perspectives on matters of Hawaiian interest for the purpose or education.

The next editions of the Lāhui Rising series are slated for: Monday, November 25 – “A Kapu Aloha Perspective on Aloha ‘Āina” with Kahoʻokahi Kanuha and Luana Busby-Neff; and Tuesday, December 3 – “He Kama na Kahiki” with Herman Pi‘ikea Clark and additional panelists.

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