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Chancellor announces Pele Harman as inaugural director of Native Hawaiian Engagement

Pele Harman pictured.
Pelehonuamea Harman (Photo: Daniella Zalcman)

Chancellor Irwin sent this announcement via email to the UH Hilo community on May 31, 2024. It is published here on Chancellor’s Blog following Pele Harman’s appointment confirmation this week by the UH Board of Regents and UH President David Lassner.

Aloha kākou,

It is with great pleasure that I announce the appointment of Pelehonuamea Harman as UH Hilo’s inaugural Director of Native Hawaiian Engagement, pending notice on the June 6, 2024, Board of Regents Agenda and approval by President Lassner. Ms. Harman is scheduled to start in this role, which is of strategic importance to our university, on July 1, 2024, and we are confident in her ability to lead in this crucial area.

Ms. Harman brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the position, given her two-plus decades of experience in the Hawaiian Immersion Education context, teaching learners of all ages in UH Hilo’s own K-12 laboratory school of Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu through to our Kahuawaiola Teacher Education program of Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani (KHʻUoK). She is also a proud alumna of UH Hilo, having graduated from KHʻUoK with her BA in Hawaiian Studies, Teaching Certificate from Kahuawaiola, and Master’s in Hawaiian Language and Literature.

As a haumana ʻuniki of Kimo Alama Keaulana, Pelehuonuamea – alongside her kāne Kekoa Harman – is a Kumu Hula of Hālau I Ka Leo Ola O Nā Mamo, one of Hawaiʻi mokupuni’s hālau hula focused on raising new generations grounded in the practices of hula from a strong foundation of Hawaiian language fluency.

We are deeply honored and grateful to have Ms. Harman return to our UH Hilo ʻohana. Her acceptance of this role and her willingness to share her rich lineage of Hawaiian language and cultural knowledge as a moʻopuna kuakahi (great-granddaughter) of Mary Kawena Pukui, one of the University of Hawaiʻi’s most esteemed scholars of Hawaiian knowledge, is a testament to her commitment to our shared journey of reclaiming this ʻike in our endeavors moving forward as a university.

Pelehonuamea joins the growing Hawaiʻi Papa o Ke Ao team being established throughout our University of Hawaiʻi campuses that will be working in concert to develop, implement, and assess strategic actions to make the University of Hawaiʻi a leader in indigenous education.

Me ke aloha,

Bonnie D. Irwin, Chancellor

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