Student Outreach Update

Student Outreach Update

Avis Kuuipoleialoha Poai, Director of Student Outreach

Aloha! On behalf of Ka Huli Ao, I am pleased to introduce post-J.D. fellow Letani Peltier ʻ17 who will be assisting with our Student Outreach program this upcoming year. We are grateful to have him onboard!

Student Outreach is one of many programs that Ka Huli Ao facilitates to help promote education. As the director for student outreach, much of what I do is guided by this ʻŌlelo Noʻeau: “E mālama ʻia nā pono o ka ʻāina e nā ʻōpio.” This means, “[t]he traditions of the land are perpetuated by its youth.” In short, our hope as Kānaka ʻŌiwi rests in our youth—through them perhaps justice may be restored.

This past Fall Semester, we had a full schedule of events. We had the pleasure of working with high school students at Kamehameha Schools Kapālama, eighth and eleventh grade students at Ke Kula Kaiapuni ʻo Ānuenue, Native Hawaiian Student Services (see below), students enrolled in the Poʻi Nā Nalu program, and students in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Honors Program to name just a few. Feel free to click on the hyperlinks above if you wish to read more about our exciting student outreach events!

Although Student Outreach covers many different program responsibilities, such as the Ka Huli Ao LSAT program, in this issue, I would like to focus on just a few of the outreach events that best exemplify our main program goal: investing in our youth and our students.

Nā Koʻokoʻo – Hawaiian Leadership Program

Nā Koʻokoʻo Students and Prof. Kāwika Tengan Meet with Justice McKenna

On June 5, 2017, Ka Huli Ao facilitated a student outreach program at the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court for a cohort of undergraduate students who belong to Nā Koʻokoʻo, a Hawaiian Leadership Program. Nā Koʻokoʻo is a part of the University of Hawaiʻi’s College of Social Sciences’ Native Hawaiian Initiative and is led by Professor Kāwika Tengan. Four emerging Indigenous leaders that are a part of a new Fulbright Canada Specialist Program and a part of Nā Koʻokoʻo, were also in attendance at this event.

Nā Koʻokoʻo students were enrolled in a summer course that focused on traditional and contemporary forms of Hawaiian oratory, and the theories and techniques of using language and speech to influence others to make positive changes for Native Hawaiian communities and ancestral places. Ka Huli Ao envisioned this excursion as an opportunity for students to experience the courtroom—to stand in the same place where former Hawaiian judges, attorneys, jurors, witnesses, and spectators gathered.

Nā Koʻokoʻo students meet with Justice McKenna

Students had the unique opportunity to hear inspirational remarks from Hawaiʻi Supreme Court Justice Sabrina McKenna, who encouraged students to seek justice for all. Students also had an opportunity to take a tour of Aliʻiolani Hale and the Hawaiʻi Judiciary History Center with Keahe Davis, Education Specialist with the Judiciary History Center.

Kekaulike Summer Bridge Program – Native Hawaiian Student Services

On Tuesday, July 18, 2017, 20 students visited the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa through Kekaulike, a program sponsored by the Native Hawaiian Student Services office. Kekaulike provides a free six-week intensive residential bridge program for Native Hawaiian community college students interested in transferring to Mānoa.

Students were given a tour of the law school led by law students Kaiwi Opulauoho ʻ18, and Luʻukia Nakanelua ʻ19. This visit provided upper-level undergraduate students with an opportunity to learn more about Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law, and the Ulu Lehua Scholars Program—both programs at the law school that are dedicated to the advancement of social justice issues for Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and other indigenous peoples.

Kaiwi Opulauoho (rising 3L) leading a student discussion about law school.

An enlightening and informative question-and-answer period took place after the presentation which hopefully planted the seed to encourage students to consider law school as a plausible next step for them in their educational path.

A special mahalo nui to Heoli Osorio and Kuʻulei Arakaki for their partnership and assistance with this event.

Native Hawaiian Student Services New Student Orientation

On Friday August 18, 2017, Native Hawaiian Student Services hosted its third annual Native Hawaiian New Student Orientation. I had the pleasure of attending with current law student Alyssa Kau ‘18, and recent graduate Letani Peltier ʻ17. We proudly represented Ka Huli Ao and helped to welcome new and incoming students. It was truly inspirational to see so many Kānaka ʻŌiwi as they prepared to begin their journey at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Indeed, this year, we will welcome 659 new Native Hawaiian students at Mānoa. This event provided a unique opportunity for us to greet these students and encourage them to consider law as potential future career path.

Letani Peltier (ʻ17) and Alyssa Kau (3L) representing Ka Huli Ao at the Native Hawaiian New Student Orientation.

NHSS also hosted a panel geared towards undergraduate students who are interested in the prospect of attending graduate school. Alyssa participated on the panel with Heoli Osorio, Ph.D. candidate in English, and Haunani Kane, Ph.D. candidate in Geology. Panelists discussed their personal experience with work-life balance in graduate school and provided tips on how to best prepare for graduate school. Aside from the practical considerations of applying for graduate school, all panelists spoke about their experiences of how to combine activism and enact social change for the betterment of Native Hawaiians in the field of academia.

Tabling event at NHSS New Student Orientation.

Alyssa spoke specifically about how Native Hawaiians can use the court system to assert self-determination and control over land and natural resources. In highlighting specific cases, such as Professor Kapuaʻala Sproat’s work in Nā Wai ʻEhā and Waiāhole, Alyssa spoke about how Ka Huli Ao trains students to strategically engage with both the legal and political arenas in the state of Hawaiʻi to reclaim fresh water and other natural resources that have been misappropriated to sugar and other colonizing enterprises for over a century. Alyssa also spoke about the reciprocal relationship between community organizers and attorneys where the ultimate goal is to achieve justice for our communities by using the legal system as an expression of self-determination.


Ka Huli Ao has exciting events on the horizon, including a mock trial in late December with Native Hawaiian high school students enrolled in the KS Scholars program. We even have plans to branch out to the neighbor islands and to Guam! If you are inspired by this work and have ideas, or would like to collaborate with us to create activities for your students, please feel free to contact me:

“E mālama ʻia nā pono o ka ʻāina e nā ʻōpio.”