Healing A 118- Year-Old Injury

By Toni Bissen
Wednesday - February 23, 2011 Share

By Toni Bissen, Executive Director
Pu‘a Foundation

A great hurt takes time to heal, and the process of healing requires understanding, compassion and often forgiveness. That is the case with the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, which forever changed these Islands.

The mission of the Pu’a Foundation is to provide a salve to heal the wounds caused by the overthrow by using research, education and outreach.


Formed in 1996, the foundation is a result of the United Church of Christ’s initiative involving its admission of complicity by forbears in the overthrow. Today, the Pu’a Foundation is active on many fronts.

The Hawaiian Historical Production Project is developing educational modules with print and video components that provide a clearer understanding of the societal context of the 1893 overthrow.

The foundation formed Reconciliation Working and Discussion Groups that allow experts and lay people to examine cultural practices and traditions related to reconciliation and healing.

Pu’a Foundation members (from left) Lei Kapono, board director; Toni Bissen, executive director; volunteer Laura Kaakua, and intern Darcie Anderson

In addition, the foundation has launched Huliau: Project Turning Point - To Transform Hearts and Minds, which works with inmates of the Women’s Community Correctional Center. It is developing a cultural place-based educational curriculum that inspires positive internal transformation, as well as works with a team involving trauma.

The foundation also holds the annual Na Leo O Ke Ola - Celebrating the Voices of Life, which features people who are positive examples of reconciliation and/or are exemplary community servants. Among past honorees are King William Charles Lunalilo and Queen Lili’uokalani. Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop will be recognized this year.


Pu’a refers to the process of feeding, nourishing and strengthening, from which emerges enlightened and empowered communities. These programs, and others in development, fulfill this mission.

For more information about the Pu’a Foundation, please visit puafoundation.org.


Hawaii charitable organizations may send requests for space in either Proof Positive or the free advertisement below to dchapman@midweek.com.

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