Native Hawaiian faculty from various parts of the University of Hawai`i joined their voices in a special oli, or chant, to salute Dr. Kekuni Blaisdell, as he was presented an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa. Our video report (watch it directly above, or CLICK HERE), is edited and narrated by UH Med Student Journalist Amanda Shell.
The celebration, during the 2014 Advanced Degrees Commencement Ceremony at the Stan Sheriff Center, honored Dr. Blaisdell for his contributions to the University of Hawai`i medical school, hundreds of Native Hawaiian physicians, and service to the United States.
In 1966, Dr. Blaisdell was the first Chair of the JABSOM Department of Medicine, and he is considered a treasure to every class which has ever graduated from our medical school.
He is also revered as a kauka, or healer, in our State’s Native Hawaiian community, and a tireless advocate for learning and increased opportunities for Hawai`i citizens. He served the U.S., evaluating the health of people in the Pacific exposed to atomic radiation in World War Two, and calling attention to the deteriorating health status of Native Hawaiians in their own land, and what steps the federal government should consider taking to contribute to reversing illnesses which flourished after Western contact with Hawai`i.
Below our related story links, find the full oli text, in English and in Native Hawaiian.
Videographer Tina Shelton contributed to this report.
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Oli in Honor of Kekuni, by Dr. Keawe Kaholokula, (In English:)
A torch burning like no other
In Kapālama, from Kilolani
A desire for learning was sparked
A path to excellence was undertaken
A tree (also reference to medicine)…
A tree (Dr.) that stands like no other
A bud, a shoot, growing forth
Until his roots were firmly planted in his birth sands
A leaf, a branch, a mature tree now stands strong
An expert (especially warrior)…
An expert with beauty like no other
The foundation has been covered with many Lehua
A fine Lehua tree that attracts many birds
In the forest, in the uplands, in Nu‘uanu
A leader that leads like no other
From Hawai’i to Kaua`i
He is like a center post that keeps the house standing
From our ancestors comes his strength to do so
A voice that beckons like no other
His voice echoes throughout our Nation
A call goes out
He calls to all to stand firm
A man who distinguishes himself like no other
Enormous is his presence, but humble is his demeanor
A great admiration is bestowed upon him by all
In the waokanaka he resides
Live, live, live long!
 Lama is a type of wood used to build the enclosures of ancient schools of knowledge. In fact, Kapālama means lama enclosure. Also, lama wood was used in medicine and placed in hula altars because its name suggested enlightenment.
 Kilolani here refers to Kilolani Mitchell who was the Kamehameha teacher that inspired Kekuni. Kilolani means “soothsayer who predicts the future by observing the sky.”
 This part of the oli symbolizes his development as a physician and healer.
 This phrase refers to the many experts (Lehua) who Kekuni has mentored over the years, both in medicine and in the Hawaiian sovereignty movement.
 This phrase speaks to his concerns of the common kānaka and his humility. The waokanaka is the uplands were humans dwell. It is also the name of the area where Kekuni resides.
In the Hawaiian Language:
He Lama hō‘ā ho‘okahi
I Kapālama, mai Kilolani
He kilohana ka ‘ike ‘ia ‘ana
O ka Lama kū o ka loea
He Lā‘au kū ho‘okahi
He mu‘o, he kupu, e ulu a‘e
Pa‘a ka mole i ke one hānau
He lau, he lālā, he kumu pa‘a
He Lehua u‘i ho‘okahi
Pa‘apū ‘ia aku i ke kāhua
He kumu muimuia i ka manu
I ka waokele, i uka, i Nu‘uanu
He Alaka‘i ka‘i ho‘okahi
Mai moku Keawe a Kahelelani
He pouhana nui o ka hale,
Mai nā kūpuna ke ko‘o pa‘a
He Leo hea ho‘okahi
Wawā ‘ia ka Lāhui i Hawai‘i
He lono i ke kāhea
Heahea aku la, e ‘onipa‘a
He Kanaka hano ho‘okahi
Nui ke alo, Ha‘aha‘a ke ‘ano
He aloha nui aku na pōki‘i
I Waokanaka ka noho ‘ana
E ola! E ola! E ola mau e!
No ka hanohano o Kekuni!