VIDEO: Native Hawaiian Faculty Chant In Appreciation of Healer and Teacher Kekuni Blaisdell, MD

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.

See related stories at:



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Oli in Honor of Kekuni, by Dr. Keawe Kaholokula, (In English:)

An enlightenment…[1]

A torch burning like no other

In Kapālama, from Kilolani[2]

A desire for learning was sparked

A path to excellence was undertaken


A tree (also reference to medicine)…[3]

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[4]

A fine Lehua tree that attracts many birds

In the forest, in the uplands, in Nu‘uanu


A leader…

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…

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…

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[5]



Live, live, live long!


[1] 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.

[2] 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.”

[3] This part of the oli symbolizes his development as a physician and healer.

[4] This phrase refers to the many experts (Lehua) who Kekuni has mentored over the years, both in medicine and in the Hawaiian sovereignty movement.

[5] 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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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! E ola mau e!

No ka hanohano o Kekuni!










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