UH Hilo students perform at World Conservation Congress

The students are from the UH Hilo Kūʻula Integrated Science Program, where they study western and Native Hawaiian scientific knowledge to understand the environment of Hawaiʻi.

By Susan Enright.

Group photo of halau, about 26 people, each person wearing lei. Mural of school of fish in the background.
Students and instructors from four cohorts of the UH Hilo Kūʻula Integrated Science Program performed at the Conservation Congress. Here the group stands with Athline Clark (in blue top), superintendent of NOAA Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument; Fanny Douvere (in white dress) coordinator of UNESCO World Heritage Marine Programme, and Mechtild Rossler (in black jacket), director of UNESCO World Heritage Centre Culture Sector. UH Hilo Professor of Marine Science Misaki Takabayashi is at front left. Courtesy photo.

Representatives from four cohorts of the Kūʻula Integrated Science Program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo performed last night at the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress being held in Honolulu Sept. 1-10.

The group was invited to participate in the prestigious conference by Athline Clark, superintendent of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Papahānaumokuākea marine sanctuary, recently quadrupled in size by President Obama, is one of the most important among many partners of the UH Hilo Kūʻula program.

Students in the integrated science program study western and Native Hawaiian scientific knowledge to understand the environment of Hawaiʻi.

The performance took place at the Marine World Heritage Reception where the group was introduced by Superintendent Clark.

The performance

“Last night, Kūʻula students presented two chants and hula describing human relationships with the ocean and coral reefs,” says Misaki Takabayashi, professor of marine science with a special focus on coral reefs.

One of these chants, Uku ʻĀkoʻakoʻa was composed specifically for Kūʻula by Taupōuri Tangarō, director of hawaiian culture and protocols engagement for UH Hilo and Hawaiʻi Community College through the Uluākea Program. Uluākea is managed by the Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center and designed to help develop the university into more of a “Hawaiian place of learning.”

Mechtild Rössler, director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Centre Culture Sector, described their collaboration with Kūʻula as exemplar for biocultural approach to conservation of UNESCO World Heritage Areas.

“This (performance) is a significant achievement for the UH Hilo students majoring in natural sciences, Hawaiian Studies, and social sciences, who worked together to integrate western and Native Hawaiian sciences or knowledge systems to research the environment of the Hawaiian islands through the Kūʻula class experience,” says Takabayashi.

Halau performs for audience, very close quarters.
Students from the UH Hilo Kūʻula program perform at the Marine World Heritage Reception at the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress, Sept. 5, 2016, in Honolulu. Courtesy photo.

9/8 update: VIDEO.


About the writer of this story: Susan Enright is a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.