By Sean Naleimaile – Academic Support, I Ola Haloa
Our Kauhale, which consists of the Academic Village of Hawaiʻi Community College and the Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Success Program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo presented a Kīpaepae Hoʻokamaʻāina for incoming Chancellor for the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, to welcome him into our Hawaiʻi Island Community. Over 200 elementary, intermediate and high school students from Ke Ana Laʻahana, Kaʻūmeke Charter Schools and Keaukaha Elementary, all of Keaukaha School, and over 300 HawCC and UH-Hilo students, staff and faculty gathered to welcome Dr. Straney. Included were Dr. John Morton- Vice President of Hawai’i Community Colleges, Dr. Rockne Freitas- VP of Students and Community Relation at UH-Manoa, and Interim HawCC Chancellor, Noreen Yamane. Participants practiced for weeks learning their hulas, oli, and ritual hei (string figures) performances to present on the malae, ceremonial space. The kīpaepae, ceremony, introduced Dr. Straney to the many natural and human elements that make up our community here from our eldest kupuna mountains to our youngest kanaka. The ‘awa ceremony allowed for Dr. Straney to partake in the ritual digestion of these elements to complete his introduction to Hawaiʻi the sacred. This auspicious occasion occurred under the watchful presence of Mauna a Wakea and under clear skies to usher in a new chapter in our continuing movement to the inclusive model we call kauhale. Many participants and spectators were moved to continue the discussion of the significance of this moment and the ceremonial and spiritual aspects connected to it.