How do we continue to value the voices of our ʻōpio?


Read this article in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

By Ian Kealiʻi Custino

Photo: Ian Custino

Maunakea, Hūnānāniho, Kahuku, Black Lives Matter, the McKinley statue; these are just a few issues with deep cultural underpinnings that have challenged our lāhui recently.

Our ʻōpio have figured prominently in the engagement surrounding these concerns. How do we continue to value the voices of our ʻōpio and provide opportunities for them to lead in these uncertain times? How do we help them capitalize on current realities to thrive here at home? It’s not just about inviting them to the table, it’s about letting them build their own table, and creating spaces where they are willing to invite us to it.

Kamehameha Schools, The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, The Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement and others are working together to open doors, provide resources and create opportunities:

  • for ʻōpio to highlight their voices;
  • engage in the critical work of today;
  • and lead our lāhui into the future.

The Kaleo O Nā ʻŌpio column in Ka Wai Ola is just one example. We are committed to creating more opportunities through 2021, where ʻōpio are at the center of policy and advocacy efforts that impact the lāhui.

From education to COVID, our ʻōpio have opinions, ideas, and solutions that will help shape the future they will lead. ʻŌpio interested in being more involved in leadership, policy and advocacy, government and other civic engagement events and activities can contact us for more information on upcoming opportunities.

Ian Kealiʻi Custino is a project manager in Community Strategies at Kamehameha Schools. For more information about ʻōpio opportunities, contact him by email at or @opiopowered on Instagram & Facebook.