Read this article in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

Photo: Kalani Akana

Hear ye, friends of this Hawaiian language column. This is the month that the Citizen Prince, namely, Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole, was born and will be remembered and celebrated by civic clubs and Hawaiian homesteaders.

While reflecting on his leadership in Washington, D.C., a question rose up within me, “How did he push forward the Hawaiian Homestead Act without any voting power?” Perhaps the answer can be found in a very powerful and important value of the Hawaiian people, namely, kuleana (right, authority, responsibility).

He was born a noble and while he did not rule, he knew his kuleana – to care for the people, the precious descendants of the land. In the 1900s many Hawaiians were in a state of distress.

That is also the way of leadership within a family.

The head of the family clearly explains the kuleana of each member of the family. That was the manner taken by Kumu Hula Hōkūlani Holt Padilla. According to her, during the childhood of Luʻukia, Kaniʻau and Lono, she explained their kuleana within the ʻohana. Lono was to care for an aunt, Kaniʻau was to stay with her, and Luʻukia was to care for her younger siblings.

Because of this clear understanding of kuleana, they strove through education to be able to fulfill their kuleana. Therefore, they graduated with university degrees: Lono with a degree in communications; Kaniʻau with a Ph.D.; and, Luʻukia with a M.D. Hōkū said, “I think my children were pretty clear that ʻohana is important, being Hawaiian is important, and education is important.”

In the dissertation of Waiʻaleʻale Sarsona, there is an interesting interview with Kauanoe Kamanā concerning kuleana. According to Kamanā, wiwo is the prime principle in understanding leadership.

If a person has wiwo (mindfulness), then that person understands the aspirations and duties of the family. And if so, all members of the family or work group would cooperate together towards a common vision and mission. If a person has no purpose or responsibility, he is pulled here and there, never able to attain his position in life.

If you are interested in leadership amongst native women, Waiʻaleʻale Sarsona’s dissertation can be accessed online. Within it she looks at leadership in the lives of Kauanoe Kamanā, Meahilahila Kelling, and Mahina Paishon Duarte.

Alakaʻina: Female Leadership in Native Hawaiian Education, Examining the Lives of Three Female Leaders in Native Hawaiian Education by Waiʻaleʻale Sarsona