Advocating For Hawaiians

By Vicky Holt Takamine
Wednesday - June 18, 2008
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Vicky Holt Takamine

Vicky Holt Takamine
Executive Director, PA’I Foundation

PA’I Foundation was created in April 2001. PA’I is the acronym for Pua Ali’i ‘Ilima, the halau hula I started in 1977. The foundation was established to serve the needs of the Native Hawaiian community, and provides educational outreach programs on Hawaiian culture and advocates for the protection of our native rights and natural and cultural resources. The organization is primarily a volunteer organization and all of the board members to date have come from the halau.

Because of the increase in projects and programs since we started, PA’I is moving into a new phase and taking on a full-time paid operational manager. Ryan Kaha’i'olelo Sueoka has served as an assistant manager of the Hawaii Theatre for the past five years, and just started officially with PA’I Foundation last week, taking over much of the administrative duties.

Some of the projects PA’I has been involved with over the past few years include:

Harvard Ho’oulu Project:Since 2004, we have sent 40 Native Hawaiian high school sophomores and juniors to Harvard Medical School for a three-week summer session to study substance and drug abuse. In 2008, we will be developing curriculum and a study case for the 2009 session.

Maoli Arts Month: MAMo is a community-based effort to celebrate the depth, breadth and diversity of the Native Hawaiian arts community, create economic opportunities for Native Hawaiian artists and cultural practitioners by increasing their presence in museums and galleries, and to educate locals and visitors about Native Hawaiian art. Since 2006, we have partnered with the Bishop Museum and other institutions to host a native arts market, keiki arts festival, a wearable art show and gallery exhibits. Over the past three years, we have honored 16 Native Hawaiian master artists who have dedicated their lives to creating art. Their work was exhibited at the Bishop Museum’s Long Gallery. This year’s MAMo honorees are lauhala weaver Elizabeth Lee from Kona, arts organizer and painter Al Lagunero from Kula, Maui, painter Kawika Parker from Kaneohe and sculptor Hanale Hopfe from Waianae. Their artwork will be on display at the Bishop Museum through August.

Hapa-Haole Hula Festival:Since 2003, PA’I has hosted this annual event to showcase Hapa-Haole music and dance, create opportunities for young artists and hula practitioners to interact and learn from master artists. and create fun events for tourists and residents to meet and interact. The event also includes a vocal competition and the winner receives an opportunity to record with Hula Records.

Kumu Hula Survey: PA’I and ‘Ilio’ulaokalani Coalition, with generous funding from the Ford Foundation and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, is conducting a needs assessment survey of Native Hawaiian artists and cultural practitioners. In addition, we are working with Hale Ku’ai to conduct a trademark study for our Native Hawaiian artists and cultural practitioners.

Keaiwa Heiau: PA’I has established a five-year curator agreement with DLNR to oversee the protection and restoration of Keaiwa Heiau, a recognized traditional cultural property in the upper mountainous region of Aiea. Future plans include the development of a restoration plan for the historic property and the surrounding area of the state park.

Hawaiian Vote: PA’I Foundation co-founded this organization that urges all Native Hawaiians to register and vote through an extensive voter education project, utilizing the strength and resources of unified community-based organizations.

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