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The season finale of Ka‘iwakīloumoku’s virtual talk show “Pacific Conversations” focuses on the historic Hoʻokele Honua Pacific Unity Virtual Summit – a gathering of Pacific leaders, culture-bearers, and heads of indigenous-serving institutions who believe in the power of culture, education and environmental stewardship. Here, Members of the Kaviyangan Paiwan Tribe of Pingtung, Taiwan, share a sacred ceremony and offer a piece of pottery to members of ʻAha Moananuiākea during the summit.

Pacific Conversations: KS hosts inaugural Pacific indigenous international summit

Jun. 16, 2021

  • Hoʻokahua Cultural Vibrancy Group

The season finale of “Pacific Conversations” is now available on the Kaʻiwakīloumoku website. The virtual talk show hosted by KS Cultural Consultant Snowbird Bento KSK’93 and Cultural Specialist Lāiana Kanoa-Wong celebrates indigenous peoples and places throughout Moananuiākea – the Great Pacific. This episode shares highlights of the inaugural Hoʻokele Honua Pacific Unity Virtual Summit – a gathering of Pacific leaders, culture-bearers, and heads of indigenous-serving institutions who believe in the power of culture, education and environmental stewardship.

On May 3, 2021 Kamehameha Schools CEO Jack Wong opened the Hoʻokele Honua Pacific Unity Virtual Summit by referencing Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop and recounting the KS mission. In his words of welcome to 200 individuals spread across Moananuiākea including Aotearoa, Alaska, French Polynesia, Taiwan, Micronesia, and Rapa Nui, Wong said, “Through education, there is much the Pacific can offer to lift humanity and heal the world.”

Together with consortium executive partners Melanie Ide – CEO and president of the Bishop Museum, Dr. David Lassner – president of the University of Hawaiʻi System, and Nainoa Thompson – president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Wong and the Hoʻokahua Cultural Vibrancy Group led this historic gathering, demonstrating the importance of global indigenous education and leadership in partnership with leaders from around the Pacific.

The virtual summit was held through Zoom and coordinated across eight time zones in eight indigenous languages and four world languages. An ʻaha ʻawa was held to mark the importance of the gathering, with the four executive leaders of ʻAha Moananuiākea ceremonially drinking ʻawa in unity from their respective locations.

Leaders from our ten partners spoke on behalf of their communities, touching upon ideas such as the Pacific as a blue continent, culture as a competitive edge in business and leadership, the UN sustainability goals, and more.

“We now have the largest sanctuary in the world for marine mammals but that protection is not just because they are endangered, but because they are our ancestors, our ʻaumākua” said French Polynesia’s Minister of Culture and the Environment Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu, who visited KS Kapālama in fall 2019.

Summit participants watched highlights from the inaugural Pacific Youth Cultural Exchange between KS Kapālama High School students and students from Thunder Mountain High School and the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau; the first of many future exchanges.

The elevated nature of the discussions during the summit was complemented by a level of ease and excitement that comes with meeting members of your extended family. The foundation for such a gathering has been decades in the making, growing out of friendly relationships across the Pacific initiated by Kamehameha Schools, which have now been cultivated into important educational partnerships. Although each of these partners has had longstanding relationships with our organization, this was the first time many of them were meeting each other – an opportunity that will hopefully foster many more exchanges and positive outcomes for our respective communities.

“We at the National Taiwan University are willing to collaborate on courses and museum-related projects, and we will be sure to welcome the Hōkūleʻa when you visit Taiwan on your next journey ” said anthropology professor and Austronesian heritage specialist Dr. Maeva Yuan-Chao Tung.

Among the most moving events of the summit was a traditional ceremony held by High Chiefess Alingin Zingrur and the Kaviyangan Paiwan Tribe of Taiwan, who represent the 6,000-year old Austronesian language heritage, ancestral homeland, and voyaging tradition from which Hawaiians and all Polynesians descend.

After invoking their ancestors to help bring us together, a piece of pottery was broken off from the rim of a large ceramic pot and gifted to ʻAha Moananuiākea as a token of kinship to be brought back and returned to the tribe on a formal in-person visit to Pingtung in the near future.

Such gifts are not new for members of the Polynesian Voyaging Society. In 2016 when Hōkūleʻa sailed to Woods Hole, Massachusetts, near Martha’s Vineyard, during the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, a piece of wampum (ceremonial shell beads of great value) was returned to the Mashpee Tribe upon arrival. A pōhaku, stone, from the sacred religious site, Marae Taputapuātea in Raʻiatea, French Polynesia was presented to the Hōkūleʻa to be taken around the world and returned to its original place in the temple foundation at the end of the worldwide voyage. The responsibility to care for this powerful symbol from the Kaviyangan Paiwan is now part of our kuleana as a Kamehameha ʻohana.

At the conclusion of the summit, details about the upcoming Moananuiākea Voyage to circumnavigate the Pacific from 2022-2026 were shared by Nainoa Thompson. This voyage seeks to inspire a new generation of 10 million future navigators for a thriving Island Earth.

Virtually connected across the ocean, participants of the Hoʻokele Honua Pacific Unity Virtual Summit expressed their aloha to one another, and voiced their excitement and anticipation for continued interface and exchange to promote Pacific unity, strengthen indigenous cultures and languages, and help solve climate change by restoring and protecting the Pacific Ocean – our Moananuiākea.


More than 200 attendees from across Moananuiākea – including Aotearoa, Alaska, French Polynesia, Taiwan, Micronesia and Rapa Nui – gathered virtually for the historic Hoʻokele Honua Pacific Unity Virtual Summit.

ʻAha Moananuiākea consortium executive partners share ʻawa in a ceremony during the summit: Top l-r: KS Kaʻiwakīloumoku Manager Jamie Fong KSK’78, KS Executive Culture Officer Dr. Randie Fong KSK’78 and KS CEO Jack Wong. Bottom l-r: Polynesian Voyaging Society CEO Nainoa Thompson, Bishop Museum CEO and President Melanie Ide, and University of Hawaiʻi System President Dr. David Lassner.

KS Cultural Specialist Lāiana Kanoa-Wong and Cultural Consultant Snowbird Bento KSK’93 host “Pacific Conversations,” a virtual talk show which celebrates indigenous peoples and places throughout Monananuiākea – the Great Pacific.

kaʻiwakīloumoku, aha moananuiākea pacific consortium, pacific conversations, hoʻokahua cultural vibrancy group, hoʻokele honua pacific unity virtual summit

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