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OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs

OHA’s Ka Wai Ola News honored with national Indigenous media awards

HONOLULU (August 5, 2021) – The Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ monthly publication Ka Wai Ola News has received four 2021 National Native Media Awards from the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA), the association announced yesterday.

The annual competition recognizes excellence in reporting by Indigenous and non-Indigenous journalists from across the U.S. and Canada. NAJA received more than 730 entries this year with Ka Wai Ola News competing in the “Indigenous Entrants Professional Division” for publications with circulations above 10,000.

Ka Wai Ola News’ print edition has been serving up news for the lāhui since 1980, covering the people, issues and events important to the Native Hawaiian community. In January 2020, OHA launched kawaiola.news, an accompanying digital version of the publication that includes bonus videos, photo albums and an archival section that contains digitized versions of Ka Wai Ola News since its 1980 inception. The digital platform makes 41 years of contemporary Hawaiian history available to the world.

The publication has a large following, counting 51,000 print subscribers and 20,000 digital subscribers from across the country and an average 16,000 online readers visiting the site each month.

Ka Wai Ola News was acknowledged as one of the best Indigenous digital publications and honored with a General Excellence award. Graphic designer Kaleena Patchco took home a second-place award for Best Layout and KWO editor Pua Fernandez’s “Caring for Our Kūpuna” article took second in the Best Elder Coverage category.

“I am so pleased and grateful that our Ka Wai Ola News team members have chosen to share their talents here at OHA and continue in the strong traditions of Native Hawaiian storytelling. It’s easy to see why Ka Wai Ola News is consistently honored – we won seven of these awards last year – because this is an outstanding publication which we know is serving as a platform for the sharing of key information from not only our own staff but from a host of community voices important to our lāhui as well,” said OHA CEO/Ka Pouhana Dr. Sylvia Hussey.

Here’s a complete list of this yearʻs Ka Wai Ola News awards:

*Print / Online – Best Digital Publication

Second Place

Staff: Alice Malepeai Silbanuz, Puanani Fernandez-Akamine, Kaleena Patcho, Ed Kalama, Jason Lees, Jhewel Felipe, Josh Koh, Kuʻualohapauole Lau and William “Trip” Rems

*Print / Online – General Excellence

Third Place

Staff: Alice Malepeai Silbanuz, Puanani Fernandez-Akamine, Kaleena Patcho, Ed Kalama, Jason Lees, Jhewel Felipe, Joshua Koh and Kuʻualohapauʻole Lau


*Print / Online – Best Layout

Second Place

Staff: Kaleena Patcho


*Print / Online – Best Elder Coverage

Second Place

Staff: Puanani Fernandez-Akamine, Kaleena Patcho and Jason Lees:

“Caring For Our Kūpuna: An Act of Aloha” 

View the full list of winners here on the NAJA website. Winners will be formally honored at a virtual awards ceremony in October.

The Native American Journalists Association serves more than 900 members, including media professionals working in tribal, freelance, independent and mainstream news outlets, as well as academia and students covering Indigenous communities and representing tribal nations from across North America.

NAJA awards thumb

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