UH Hilo Hawaiian language educator, her daughter and granddaughter — three generations to speak at national conference

Three generations of the Kawai‘ae‘a ‘ohana will be keynote speakers at the National Indian Education Association convention in Anchorage, Alaska.

Keiki and her family, formal photo taken at the beach, ocean in background.
Top row (l-r): Claymat Kawai‘ae‘a, Kaha’eaikaulukoa Māka‘imoku, Kamaka Māka‘imoku. Lower row: Keiki Kawai‘ae‘a, Kananinohea Māka‘imoku, Hāweo‘ulakaumaka Māka‘imoku.

Keiki Kawai‘ae‘a, director of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, is a change agent in the Hawaiian language revitalization movement. She and generations of her family — daughter Kananinohea Māka‘imoku and granddaughter Hāweo‘ulakaumaka Māka‘imoku — have played a critical role in developing the model for family-based P-20 Hawaiian language immersion, starting with Hawaiian as the first language of the home and children.

The family will be traveling next week to Anchorage, Alaska, to attend the annual National Indian Education Association convention Oct. 15-18, where the three generations of the Kawai‘ae‘a ‘ohana will be keynote speakers at the closing general assembly of the event.

“This is a big honor for Hawai‘i and all the work done on Hawaiian language revitalization,” says Keiki Kawai‘ae‘a. “I have also been told that this is the first time the NIEA has asked a three-generation panel to address the convention, which makes it even more exciting.”

The NIEA advances educational opportunities for American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians throughout the United States. This year’s conference theme is “Building Education Through the Generations,” and the Kawai‘ae‘a ‘ohana will be honored as a model family.

Kawai‘ae‘a is an associate professor of Hawaiian and Hawaiian studies and has been at the College of Hawaiian Language for 20 years. She is the recipient of the 2011 Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi Award for Excellence and Innovation. She is founding director of the Kahuawaiola Indigenous Teacher Education Program and is a past director of the Hale Kuamo‘o Hawaiian Language and Culture Center. Along with former UH Hilo colleague Keola Donaghy, she was instrumental in creating a digital archive of Hawaiian language materials.

Kawai‘ae‘a is a published author on Hawaiian education and language revitalization, and has written numerous children’s books and songs. She received her bachelor of arts in Hawaiian studies and master of education from UH Mānoa, and doctor of philosophy in indigenous education from Union Institute and University, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Her daughter, Kananinohea, is a graduate of UH Hilo Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language and a teacher at Ke Kula ‘O Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u immersion school in Kea‘au on Hawai‘i Island.

Kananinohea’s daughter, Hāweo‘ulakaumaka, age six, is a second-generation Hawaiian speaker like her mother, a graduate of ‘Aha Pūnana Leo immersion school and a second grader at Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu’u.

Adapted from press release.