More than 2,000 people celebrated Native Hawaiian achievement at the Ke Au Hawaiʻi Festival on Aug. 4 at Aloha Stadium.
The festival is part of the “Year of the Hawaiian,” an effort to recognize the Native Hawaiian community’s accomplishments over the decades and to promote Hawaiʻi’s indigenous people’s continued pursuit of social justice. In addition, this year marks the anniversaries for many significant historical events in Hawaiʻi, including:
- 240 years since the arrival of Captain Cook;
- 125 years since the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom;
- 100 years since the establishment of the first Hawaiian Civic Club;
- 40 years since the 1978 Constitutional Convention, which led to, among other major Hawaiian achievements, the establishment of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the designation of the Hawaiian language as a co-official language of the state; and
- 25 years since the adoption of the Apology Resolution, through which the U.S. apologized for its role in the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
Held one week before the election, the festival was an opportunity to promote civic engagement. After leading the audience in the I Ku Mau Mau chant, Aunty Vicky Holt-Takamine shared moʻolelo and encouraged everyone to make a difference in the community. “If all of our Hawaiians get out to vote, then we can make a difference in every single race, in every community,” she said. “So I am encouraging everyone to get out and vote.”
When it was his turn to take the stage, Uncle Walter Ritte called out “Aloha Āina!” and the crowd echoed his chant. He went on to state, “Aloha Äina defeated the United States military on the island of Kahoʻolawe!” After thanking the Hawaiians that got thousands of people together for the Ke Au Hawaiʻi Festival, Uncle Walter called for Hawaiians to unite. He shared, “It’s critical, it’s really really critical, that we learn how to come together. There are 250,000 of us in Hawaiʻi. If we can learn to come together, its gonna be unreal.”
The festival came 30 years after more than 40,000 Native Hawaiians gathered at Aloha Stadium for Hoʻolokahi, the culminating event of the first Year of the Hawaiian, which was designated by Gov. George Ariyoshi.
This year has been designated “Year of the Hawaiian” by the OHA Board of Trustees via a resolution passed in January and by Gov. David Ige through a proclamation signed in February.
Ke Au Hawaiʻi was sponsored by OHA, Kamehameha Schools, Kaiwi Entertainment, Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement and Hawaiʻi’s Finest.