OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Culture

Strategic Priority: Mo’omeheu

To strengthen identity, Native Hawaiians will preserve, practice and perpetuate their culture.

Why is this important?

Our focus on Hawaiian cultural vibrancy remains among our top priorities. For that reason, we have devoted efforts to seeking system-wide policies to implement a culturally rich foundation to all we do, adding significant value to our efforts to increase the number of Native Hawaiians who appreciate their history and culture.

The initiative also calls for increasing the number of Native Hawaiians who participate in cultural activities as a way of bringing new resources to preserving, perpetuating, transmitting, and generating new cultural knowledge and practices rooted in our cultural foundation. Specific examples of our efforts include our focus on successfully advocating for laws that establish February as’Ōlelo Hawai’i Month and fix long-standing issues that inhibit the island burial councils from fulfilling their cultural preservation functions. In 2008, we also successfully helped get enacted into law state legislation that protects taro farmers. OHA’s immediate future depends on our ability to preserve, perpetuate and protect Hawaiian culture.

What is our aim?

  • Value History and Culture
    • 85% of Hawai’i residents appreciate and value Native Hawaiian history and culture
  • Participate in Cultural Activities
    • 51% of Native Hawaiians living in the State of Hawai’i participating in cultural activities, including language, and who interact with the ‘āina for cultural, spiritual, religious and subsistence

Community Stories

Strategic priority in action: Mo‘omeheu

Heona Ayau-Odom was on her way to becoming a homebody.

Then the 11-year-old bookworm’s mother stumbled upon a family-based cultural program run by Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services, a leafy enclave that emphasizes the benefits of good nutrition and culture.

Since that discovery two years ago, the fifth-grader has gone from spending hours at home poring over the pages of lengthy Harry Potter books to hiking for native plants as well as growing olena in a garden at Kokua Kalihi Valley.

The program is among the various ways that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has been working with non-profit organizations across the state to bring a laser-like focus to helping carry out such priorities as preserving, perpetuating and protecting Hawaiian culture.

Other examples include OHA’s support of the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s efforts to promote such Hawaiian cultural values as caring for the aina and sustaining natural resources. Another example is OHA’s acquisition in 2012 of agricultural land from the Estate of George Galbriath in Central Oahu as part of a broader effort to protect and preserve Hawaiian culture by creating a comfortable buffer around Kukaniloko, a sacred birthplace of the highest-ranking ali‘i.

That’s in addition to OHA’s continual support of the Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo, where the weeklong celebration of Hawaiian culture has been showcased every year for more than a half century.

OHA uses these and other opportunities help Hawaiians feel a connection to their cultural heritage. Put another way, OHA sees culture as a way for Hawaiians to identify with each other, providing an automatic sense of unity and belonging as well as allowing them to better understand previous generations and the history of where they come from.


How We’re Doing

Tracking our progress in real time

The data presented below is a snapshot of how weʻre doing in the strategic priority area of Mo‘omeheu and is part of a larger effort to provide transparency and improve accountability. To view the full dashboard, please visit dashboard.hawaii.gov/oha.

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