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Governor proclaims 2018 “Year of the Hawaiian”

Posted on Feb 26, 2018 in Featured
Legislators gathered for the proclamation signing at the Washington Place event.

Legislators gathered for the proclamation signing at the Washington Place event.

It was an event Queen Lili‘uokalani would have loved: the sound of music, the laughter of keiki and the milestones celebrated as Gov. Ige proclaimed 2018 “The Year of the Hawaiian” at Washington Place last month. The impetus came from a resolution passed during last year’s legislative session requesting the designation, with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs agreeing to bring the community together for various cultural and educational events.

Gov. John Waihe‘e, the state’s first Native Hawaiian governor, Sen. Brickwood Galuteria and Sen. Kai Kahele paid tribute to the many achievements of Native Hawaiians over the years and noted “how far we have come and how far we have to go.” Award-winning entertainers Kalani Pe‘a, Nina Keali‘iwahamana and Ho‘okena also performed.

For his part, Governor Ige recalled working with newly elected Gov. John Waihe‘e to establish in 1987 the first of two Hawaiian immersion programs at a public school — Waiau Elementary in Governor Ige’s district and Keaukaha Elementary on Hawai‘i island. He praised the work of UH Hilo professor Larry Kimura 30 years ago, who said the Hawaiian language was on the brink of extinction. “To save the culture, we had to save the language,” said the governor.

Governor Ige marveled at how the preschool and DOE immersion programs have flourished, although he said more language teachers are needed. “I remember at Waiau there were no textbooks in Hawaiian,“ he recalled. The teachers were doing the translations. We were laminating pages and pasting them into the books. Now the language is spoken by over 20,000 people.”


Read more in March Capitol Connection newsletter