I have the good fortune to be part of a new initiative at the University of Hawaii called the Kanaka Maoli Institute. I believe this model could serve as an ingenious platform to “make our Hawaii community better” by building bridges across professional sectors and finding unique ways to collaborate and partner.
For many years, across professions, we have worked in isolation. We have rich backgrounds and resources to offer our communities in the areas of health, law, education, employment, culture and arts, but very rarely do we come together to work in coordination. Instead we find ourselves fighting for limited resources and many times, duplicating efforts.
The Kanaka Maoli Institute, housed out of the University of Hawaii, Hawaiian School of Knowledge, Hawaiinuiakea, is serving as a home base to unite Native Hawaiian Scholars and their allies to enable collaboration and partnership for the betterment of the lives of Hawaii’s indigenous people. Through our work at the Kanaka Maoli Institute (KMI) we take into consideration the people at the center of our work. We look at research and scholarship that will improve and enrich lives of the entire person, touching on health, access to housing and land, indigenous rights, the celebration of the ‘olelo Hawaii, beauty of our mele, oli, hula, and theater and so much more.
If more of our service organizations designed to assist the people of Hawaii would come together in partnership, limited resources could be targeted, expertise could be pooled and our communities would thrive. This isn’t a new concept; in fact, the Hawaiian Monarchy did this with their trusts, dividing up efforts so their resources would address the needs of the Hawaiian people. We see this today with Queen’s Hospital, Kamehameha Schools, Lunalilo Home, and the Queen Liliuokalani Children’s Center.