KUʻU ĒWE, KUʻU PIKO, KUʻU IWI, KUʻU KOKO: MĀLAMA I NĀ IWI KŪPUNA Summary and Recommendations

I. Introduction | II. About the Kuʻu Ēwe, Kuʻu Piko, Kuʻu Iwi, Kuʻu Koko: Mālama I Nā Iwi Kūpuna Workshop Series | III. Workshop Topics and Recap | IV. Participant Information | V. Workshop Series Overall Feedback | VI. Developed Resources | VII. Recommendations

I. Introduction

In collaboration with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), Huliauapaʻa, a non-profit organization whose mission is to grow Hawai‘i’s communities through culturally based forms of innovative learning, leadership development, and collaborative networking in wahi kūpuna stewardship, recently concluded the virtual community empowerment workshop series: Kuʻu Ēwe, Kuʻu Piko, Kuʻu Iwi, Kuʻu Koko - centered around engaging and empowering those with kuleana to mālama i nā iwi kupuna.

This workshop series stemmed from the priority focus areas identified by the Kaliʻuokapaʻakai Collective, in which Huliauapaʻa currently serves as the backbone organization. The Kaliʻuokapaʻakai Collective a community of practice of advocates in wahi kūpuna stewardship that was created in 2017 to organize our shared ideas, resources, and strategies to build capacity and take collective action in safeguarding Hawaiʻi’s wahi kūpuna.

These workshop series could not have come to fruition without the partnership and support of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA). Mahalo nui to all the topic experts and community members who participated as it was an honor to build pilina with each other and reaffirm the importance to mālama i nā iwi kūpuna.

II. About the Kuʻu Ēwe, Kuʻu Piko, Kuʻu Iwi, Kuʻu Koko: Mālama I Nā Iwi Kūpuna Workshop Series and Needs Assessment


The primary goals of this workshop series were to build community capacity, equip, and empower participants in developing proficiencies by covering foundational aspects of the kuleana to mālama i nā iwi kūpuna to aid in effectively carrying out this kuleana. Our aim for these workshops was to cover as many aspects of this kuleana as possible within the timeline allotted with plans to continue into new topic areas and expand existing topic areas during future iterations of this workshop series. Our objectives for achieving these goals are as follows:


  • Offering workshops that address the communities needs
  • Compiling existing resources
  • Working to develop new resources and curriculum

Guiding the Initiative

In early stages of gathering resources and working to better understand the current issues and needs in communities to mālama i nā iwi kūpuna, a needs assessment was developed to guide the kahua of this initiative.

Needs Assessment

To assess the needs of the community, a short survey was sent out April 2020 to a curated contact list provided by Huliauapaʻa. Majority of those who responded were Native Hawaiian who are interested in or carry the kuleana to mālama i nā iwi kūpuna. From this assessment we learned specific focus topic areas for this workshop series.

Results of Pre-Survey completed on 3/20/2020 asking prospective participants level of familiarity with different issues pertaining to iwi kūpuna
Results of Pre-Survey completed on 3/20/2020 asking prospective participants level of familiarity with different issues pertaining to iwi kūpuna

III. Workshop Topics and Recap

Although this initiative was originally planned as a series of in-person workshops, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, it was conducted as a six-part online interactive community empowerment series operated through Zoom. This series aimed at helping community members facing these issues and hoped to provide insight to continue to empower their kuleana to mālama i nā iwi kūpuna, therefore participation in the workshops was by invitation only. As each session built upon the previous workshop, we asked community members to commit to attending all portions of this six-part series.

Schedule of Workshops for the Kuʻu Ēwe, Kuʻu Piko, Kuʻu Iwi, Kuʻu Koko 2020 series

Workshop 1: Ke Kuleana ʻOhana No Nā Ilina: Reaffirming the Importance of Caring for Iwi Kūpuna

Workshop 1 titled Ke Kuleana ʻOhana No Nā Ilina: Reaffirming the Importance of Caring for Iwi Kūpuna was held on May 30, 2020, 10am ~ 1pm. This first workshop was created to set a solid kahua with featured presenter, Kai Markell, who is a kanaka attorney and currently serves as Ka Pou Kākoʻo with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs branch Kiaʻi Kānāwai (Compliance and Enforcement). Kai shared his personal insights and stories on the cultural importance of ʻohana, kūpuna, and iwi including why it is important to ʻauamo the kuleana to mālama i nā iwi kūpuna and general burial practices.

Workshop 1 featured presenter Kai Markell

Workshop 2: Moʻokūʻauhau Kānaka Research

Workshop 2 (Part I and II) titled Moʻokūʻauhau Kānaka Research was held on July 25, 2020, 10am ~ 1pm. This second workshop was presented by Huliauapaʻa Board of Directors President and the UH Mānoa Director of Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, Dr. Kekuewa Kikiloi and Huliauapaʻa colleague, Kepoʻo Keliʻipaʻakaua. Together our guest speakers shared their insights on the “Moʻokūʻauhau Kānaka Research” in understanding our moʻokūʻauhau, the stories of our kūpuna, and where we descend from are foundational components in caring for iwi kupuna. Dr. Kekuewa began this workshop with showcasing the importance of genealogy. Kepoʻo continued with providing the basic skill sets in conducting genealogy research and how to navigate different repositories.

Workshop 2 featured presenters, Dr. Kekuewa Kikiloi and Kepoʻo Keliʻipaʻakaua

Workshop 3: Moʻokūʻauhau ʻĀina

Workshop 3 titled Moʻokūʻauhau ʻĀina was held on August 29, 2020, 10am ~ 1pm. This third workshop was led by Pūlama Lima, Land, Culture, History, Research Manager at the OHA, Executive Director of Ka Ipu Makani Cultural Heritage Center, and Anthropology Ph.D. candidate at UH Mānoa. As well as Donovan Preza, a kumu at Kapiʻolani Community College Hawaiian Studies and Ph.D. candidate in the Geography Department at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Together, our guest speakers shared their insights on "Moʻokūʻauhau ʻĀina." Pūlama Lima began the workshop by sharing stories of her own personal connection to land placing emphasis on moʻokūʻauhau and an introduction to ʻāina research. Donovan Preza shared his expertise in an introduction to land and mapping in Hawaiʻi.

Workshop 3 featured presenters, Pūlama Lima and Donovan Preza

Workshop 4: Navigating State Laws and Processes for Protecting Iwi Kūpuna

Workshop 4 titled Navigating State Laws and Processes for Protecting Iwi Kūpuna was held on October 3, 2020, 10am ~ 1pm. This fourth workshop was presented by Malia Akutagawa who is a Native Hawaiian Rights and Environmental Law Attorney and Associate Professor at Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies and the William S. Richardson School of Law – Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law. Malia shared her expertise on processes, laws, and specific points of engagement for protecting iwi kūpuna on ka ʻāina, projects involving the State of Hawaiʻi and their specific kuleana and identifying actions that we can take to mālama iwi kūpuna including applying for and receiving recognition as a descendant, registering burial sites, and other proactive measures.

Workshop 4 featured presenter, Malia Akutagawa, Esq.

Workshop 5: Navigating Federal Laws and Processes for Protecting Iwi Kūpuna

Workshop 5 titled Navigating Federal Laws and Processes for Protecting Iwi Kūpuna was held on October 31, 2020, 10am ~ 1pm. This fifth workshop was presented by Senior Program Director, Stanton Enomoto, and Policy Analyst, Lisa Oshiro Suganuma, who are both with the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), Office of Native Hawaiian Relations (ONHR). The guest speakers shared their expertise and experiences on "Navigating the Federal Process for Protecting Iwi Kūpuna." Stanton Enomoto began the workshop by sharing about the intersection between the National Environmental Policy Act (NEHPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and how the Section 106 process deals with Federal undertakings and projects that have the potential to impact cultural resources. Lisa Oshiro Suganuma shared her expertise on the National American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and the consultation processes around NAGPRA including tools, funding resources, and on-going actions the community should be aware of.

Workshop 5 featured presenters, Stanton Enomoto and Lisa Oshiro Suganuma

Workshop 6: E Kanu No Ke Ola: Seeding Authority for the Future

The sixth and final workshop was titled E Kanu No Ke Ola: Seeding Authority for the Future and held on December 5, 2020, 10am ~ 1pm. This workshop was presented by Halealoha Ayau who has led efforts to repatriate iwi kūpuna, moepū, and mea kapu for over 30-years and Noelle Kahanu who currently serves as an assistant specialist in Public Humanities and Native Hawaiian Programs within the American Studies Department at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM). Halealoha Ayau began the workshop with honoring his kumu, Edward Kanahele and Pualani Kanakaʻole-Kanahele, and how he took on this kuleana. He also shared various case studies (i.e. Dresden case study; Cambridge case study) with video clips on what he and others have accomplished in repatriation over the last 30-years. Noelle Kahanu shared her expertise on Mea Waiwai as embodied ancestors, including stories of her experiences in helping Halealoha with the various repatriation efforts.

Workshop 6 featured presenters, Halealoha Ayau, Esq., and Noelle Kahanu, J.D.

IV. Participant Information

Over 200 community members participated in this workshop series with 831 total participatory hours. As part of our registration process, a pre-survey asked two questions to better understand our participants’ needs for each specific workshop topic. The first question asked, “Are you or your ʻohana currently involved in or facing issues pertaining to protection of iwi kūpuna?” The second asked, “If you are currently involved in any issues pertaining to the protection of iwi kūpuna, please share the island(s) where these kūpuna are being impacted.” The responses provided allowed us to better understand our participants needs and help guide the workshop topic content and coordinate with guest speakers.

V. Workshop Series Overall Feedback

Overall Ratings

Participants rated different aspects of each workshop. From these results we can conclude that the majority of our participants felt that each workshop was particularly important and valuable to their community and was very educational and useful. According to our survey results, the participants indicated that this workshop series has greatly contributed to them being empowered to care for iwi kūpuna, which is in alignment with OHA’s Strategic Outcome 3.4 (Minutes of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees, Thursday 9/17/2020, 9:30am, pages 15-16). The workshop was successful in fulfilling other high-level aspects of OHA’s Strategic Outcome focused on Health Outcomes. Participants indicated that they were able to build new pilina (relationships) with other participants, and that workshops helped to strengthen their sense of Ke Akua Mana (spirituality).

Overall, participants agreed that they gained new knowledge applicable to their needs and their family’s needs and planned to apply what they learned in the workshop. The majority also agreed that while the duration of each of the workshops were sufficient for the material covered, they said they were extremely interested in participating in future workshops, courses, and programs.

Final Survey: Manaʻo from Participants

Focusing on Participants Needs

To assess if we addressed the needs of our participants, a short 10 question post-survey was also provided. We asked participants if we were able to answer any of the questions they asked from pre-survey. An overall majority responded “Yes'' or that they “Did not ask a question”. Below are just a few responses shared by our participants:

Highlights and Takeaways

Below are just a few highlights and takeaways from the Kuʻu Ēwe Kuʻu Piko Kuʻu Iwi Kuʻu Koko: Mālama I Nā Iwi Kūpuna Workshop Series shared by our participants:

Additional Survey Questions

To glean additional information from participants, a few more questions were asked in the post survey for Workshop 5, Navigating Federal Laws and Processes for Protecting Iwi Kūpuna.  Responses included:

When asked, “How many hours per month would you say you commit to?” Responses included:

When asked, “Does engaging in this kuleana cause any emotional, spiritual, or mental strain on you?” Community members shared what type of support they received:

VI. Developed Resources

As the six-part workshop series was developed, supplemental handouts, resources, and videos of presentations were created for participants. A total of 14 Resources were developed for each workshop. These resources can be viewed below:

VII. Recommendations

Workshop Improvements Takeaways and Insights

When asked, “If you have any comments about today’s workshop and how to improve it?” many people responded, “not at this time or N/A.” Due to being restricted online, many also asked for future in-person workshops. For each workshop specifically, other recommendations made by our participants included:

Workshop 1: Ke Kuleana ʻOhana No Nā Ilina: Reaffirming the Importance of Caring for Iwi Kūpuna

  • I loved this training. Mahalo.
  • Such a great gathering, mahalo nui!
  • Awesome job bringing folks together on a complicated topic in complicated times.
  • Very well organized and smooth going. I think for the emotions evoked from these topics the workshop needs to be longer to allow for the grief and trauma and kaumaha to be addressed. Mahalo nui, I loved this so much!
  • Today’s gathering was awesome! I say that because it is needed to where we can have this space to discuss, learn, confirm, add-on to beliefs from all kinds. It brings a sense of community and like-minded people together and all for our iwi kūpuna.

Workshop 2: Moʻokūʻauhau Kānaka Research

  • Maybe lengthening the workshop so there is enough time for questions and kūkākūkā.
  • Great workshop!
  • I loved the training.

Workshop 3: Moʻokūʻauhau ʻĀina

  • It was maikaʻi loa!
  • This topic could have a 2nd part to it.
  • I would like to get to know a little more about the others in the gathering.
  • It was extremely relevant to events going on in my life currently.

Workshop 4: Navigating State Laws and Processes for Protecting Iwi Kūpuna

  • We need to document a lot of this manaʻo and have a collective voice on the changes we want to make in burial protections.
  • I wish we had more time together.
  • I liked talking about different ways to be proactive.
  • Mahalo for the after-presentation discussion—it’s where you really learn about real-life challenges.
  • Just need to apply what I have learned.
  • So far, I have enjoyed each session.
  • No comment regarding improvements. Huliauapaʻa staff rocks! I appreciate that they are punctual, professional, personable and pono. I love attending events hosted by this hui!

Workshop 5: Navigating Federal Laws and Processed for Protecting Iwi Kūpuna

  • Mahalo nui!
  • Once again, today’s session was information-packed, and the presenters were able to deliver their messages very clearly.
  • It was an excellent format and pace, both speakers were very knowledgeable.

Workshop 6: E Kanu No Ke Ola, Seeding Authority for the Future

  • Mahalo nui, everything was perfect.
  • Longer would be good.
  • Commitment from participants was evident which enhanced the outcome for this workshop.

Suggestions for Future Training and/or Workshop Topics

When asked, “Do you have any suggestions for future training and/or workshop topics?” While many people responded, “not at this time or N/A”, some suggestions made by our participants included:

Workshop 1: Ke Kuleana ʻOhana No Nā Ilina: Reaffirming the Importance of Caring for Iwi Kūpuna

  • Training how to testify effectively and strategically for burial council meetings.
  • Kinolau.
  • Traditional funerary practices of today. Empowering our own iwi.
  • How to reach into our community and further the teachings for the younger generations and the folks just coming to this work.
  • Consultation how to effectively engage when advocating for iwi kūpuna a how to for the public.

Workshop 2: Moʻokūʻauhau Kānaka Research

  • Cultural monitoring training.
  • Dive deeper into this topic. Showing all steps.
  • I hope we are able to delve deeper into the process of kanu.
  • What is the kuleana of the community for coastal burials exposed by natural erosion? How to testify effectively at burial council meetings? Where should iwi kūpuna be re-interred if the original burial location is unknown?

Workshop 3: Moʻokūʻauhau ʻĀina

  • How to connect ʻohana to a specific ʻāina without the knowledge of knowing where your ʻohana’s ʻāina is.
  • Organizing large amounts of data.
  • 3-D genealogy.
  • Maybe tier the sessions---intro, intermediate, advance, etc.
  • How to navigate the political and legal issues.

Workshop 4: Navigating State Laws and Processes for Protecting Iwi Kūpuna

  • Training on how to trace title. How to effectively engage with military to protect ʻāina.
  • How to testify effectively at burial council meetings. How to consult effectively with SHPD.
  • How to help write legislation.
  • Doing a workshop specifically on how to register as a cultural/lineal descendant and how to register a burial site.
  • Educational opportunities regarding this topic for our local ʻōpio. Spiritual consequences of relocation, what is pono? How to hold legal representatives i.e., archaeologists, SHPD, accountable for their decisions.
  • Learn more about piko/ʻiewe practices.

Workshop 6: E Kanu No Ke Ola, Seeding Authority for the Future

  • How we connect to our ʻāina, strengthen the day-to-day relationships with our kūpuna.
  • What are the spiritual effects of desecration? How are they manifested? Protocol to mālama kūpuna iwi important. Hawaiians afraid of dealing with this issue because of possible harm to them or their family. Can we get some spiritual guidance?

Future Steps for OHA

This first run of the Kuʻu ʻĒwe, Kuʻu Piko, Kuʻu Iwi, Kuʻu Koko series was successful in equipping participants with a foundational level of knowledge in understanding the importance of the kuleana to mālama iwi kūpuna including learning basic research skills and ways to engage state and federal processes to protect ancestral burials. From the manaʻo and data gathered from participant responses to our surveys, it is apparent that more needs to be done to further empower communities across the pae ʻāina to mālama iwi kūpuna as is the objective of OHA’s Strategic Outcome 3.4. The primary issues that need to be addressed are enacting systemic change to improve laws and processes in the interest of protecting iwi kūpuna and continued educational opportunities to equip community members to engage with these laws and processes. We offer the following three recommendations for actions that OHA can take to achieve community empowerment in caring for iwi kūpuna.

Recommendation #1: Continued Support for this Workshop Series into the Next Tiers with the Current Cohort of Participants and Support Running this Workshop Series from the Beginning Tier with New Participants

Our participants found great value in this initial run of the workshop series through the information shared, the development of new pilina, and from having a safe space to discuss issues pertaining to the kuleana to mālama iwi kūpuna with others who are also familiar with and active within the kuleana. Our participants range widely in their level of experience from those who are fairly new to the kuleana to those who are more seasoned and have been carrying the kuleana for decades. Given this range of experience combined with the foundational nature of this first run of the workshop series, participants expressed their desire to continue the series and explore many of the same topic areas in greater depth and detail. Participants also expressed a strong interest in learning protocols associated with this kuleana and in learning how to create the mea noʻeau (like kapa and hīnaʻi lauhala) necessary for kanu (burial).

Conceptual model of the different tiers of training and ʻike as planned for the Kuʻu Ēwe, Kuʻu Piko, Kuʻu Iwi, Kuʻu Koko Workshop Series

Prior to the commencement of this series, Huliauapaʻa developed a long-term plan for how it would be run, including creating the series in tiered levels that include the foundational topics covered this past year, and more advanced topics including cultivating and creating mea noʻeau, bone identification, and kanu among other topics. Instruction in protocols were intended to occur at each tier but given the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the in-person instruction preferable to teaching protocols was not possible.

Given the value that participants have found in this series in helping to empower them to care for iwi kūpuna, we strongly recommend that OHA continue support for this series. We propose continuing and expanding the series through the following steps:

  1. Continue with the next tier of the workshop series with the existing cohort of participants.
  2. Following the completion of the next tier of the workshop series, continue onto each subsequent tier with the same cohort of participants.
  3. Identify new cohorts of participants.
  4. Commence the workshop series again from the beginning tier with new participants.

Recommendation #2: Create a Full-time Staff Position at OHA Dedicated to Assisting Families with Understanding and Navigating the State and Federal Processes for Protecting Iwi Kūpuna, and Connecting Them with Resources, Individuals and Organizations Helpful to this Kuleana

Participants have indicated a need for a more in-depth understanding of legal processes at the State and Federal levels for protecting iwi kūpuna. Our workshops have proved effective at giving our participants an introductory understanding of these processes, and future workshops will aid in expanding the depth of understanding, but that impact will be limited to the number of participants who are able to join in on the workshop. We strongly recommend that OHA create a full-time position dedicated to assisting families with understanding and navigating processes for protecting iwi kūpuna, and connecting them with resources, individuals, and organizations pili to the kuleana to mālama i nā iwi kūpuna. Such a position could expand our collective reach beyond our workshop participants to other families involved in this kuleana, especially for families who are just entering into it.

This position would ideally fulfill the following kuleana at minimum: 1 Aid families in having a foundational understanding of State and Federal processes and clarify any intricacies including (but not limited to) issues of jurisdiction, and the extent of the kuleana of different bodies (for example, many families are unclear of what powers IBC's actually have, and often place much higher expectations upon IBC's than they should); this kuleana would also include guiding families in how to testify effectively at IBC meetings and how to be effective in consultation; 2. Create and maintain a database of descendants including their names, family names, and contact information; 3. Proactively inform families (who have at least been previously recognized as descendants) of any events like upcoming IBC meetings, or any projects or discoveries of iwi kūpuna as identified in public notices that may affect them; and 4. Connect families with resources, individuals and organizations in accordance with their needs (for example, lawyers, kānaka hana noʻeau (for hīnaʻi lauhala, kapa, etc.), healers and hoʻoponopono practitioners, funding/funders, etc.).

Recommendation #3: Support the Creation of a Network of Mea Noʻeau and a Network of Healers that can in part, Support the Needs of Families with the Kuleana to Mālama I Nā Iwi Kūpuna

Participants in our workshop series expressed the need to learn how to cultivate mea kanu necessary to create mea noʻeau needed for kanu and to learn how to also craft these mea. Participants have also identified needs for healing, hoʻoponopono and spiritual guidance for kaumaha endured during this kuleana. We strongly recommend that OHA identify and support any existing networks of 1. Kānaka Hana Noʻeau and 2. Healers, and if no such networks exist, support efforts to create and support them, and connect families within the kuleana to mālama i nā iwi kūpuna with these networks. In addition to further empower families to care for iwi kūpuna, the creation and support of these networks would contribute to increasing pilina, waiwai, and ke Akua Mana for the Lāhui at large.

To aid in the creation and support of a network of Kānaka Mea Noʻeau, and a network of Healers, OHA can support efforts to update and expand on previous works like Ola Nā Iwi: Directory of Artists and Cultural Resources (OHA 1995), and A Thriving Lāhui (Kanaeokana 2020).

Mahalo for your continued support.

Ola Nā Iwi!