Photo: Members. and guest speakers at the Hiʻiaka Association's
Members. and guest speakers at the Hiʻiaka Association's "Entrepreneurs in Business. The Uniqueness of Doing Business in Hawaiʻi" event. Front row (l-r): Christina Kaleiwahea, Keʻalohi Miyamoto, Kamalei Marrotte, Uʻilani Plunkett, Tahnee Sales and Mailani Makainai. Back row (l-r): Crystal Rose, Kapā Oliveira, Andrea Dias-Machado, Rona Wong, Manu Kaʻiama, Kamakaʻāina Seipp, ʻIwalani Kūaliʻi Kahoʻohanohano, Tam-e Faagau, Micky Huihui, Mapuana Antonio, Kirsten Mawyer and Hilarie Alomar. - Courtesy Photo

By Manu Kaʻiama and Katrina-Ann Kapa Oliveira, ʻUpena Network, LLC

Applications are currently being accepted for a year-long Hawaiian leadership development program for mid-career Kānaka ʻŌiwi. The program, set to begin its second year, is being offered by the ʻUpena Network.

Year 1 of the program included two inaugural cohorts – Hui Kūnihi and Hiʻiaka Association – and concludes this September. In Year 2, we will unify as one hui and welcome new members as we explore ʻŌiwi leadership through traditional moʻolelo and ʻāina-based huakaʻi on Oʻahu.

The ʻUpena Network was formed in 2020 to address numerous Kānaka ʻŌiwi opportunities to educate our community about Hawaiʻi and nā mea Hawaiʻi.

A Hawaiian-owned and operated business, our work includes executive Hawaiian leadership presentations and training, Hawaiian culture and history classes, conducting place-based research, studying ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, developing Hawaiʻi-based curriculum, publishing Hawaiian language books, and assisting other organizations to embrace, incorporate and respect Hawaiʻi’s uniqueness through education.

ʻŌiwi leadership is a key focus area of the ʻUpena Network. We look to the past for ancestral guidance and inspiration about how our Kānaka may flourish in today’s Hawaiʻi by studying topics such as personal branding, racism in Hawaiʻi, the power of words, executive presence, entrepreneurship, visioning, and financial literacy.

Here is manaʻo from of a few members of the inaugural cohorts:

“The first year was great. The facilitators created a sense of ʻohana. I was able to bond with the others and doing so allowed me to feel safer, be open and honest about issues I face. The facilitators were also fluid and steered in directions that the cohort was interested in learning about.”

“I really appreciated the camaraderie and support I experienced with my cohort. I am particularly grateful for the opportunity to meet so many amazing and talented wāhine, they were all so kind and supportive. It was wonderful to know you had so much love and support.”

“The retreat really cemented our relationships. I felt charged after the retreat. The one-on-one coaching help me break through mental barriers I did not know existed.”

“Hiʻiaka Association created a space to discuss how we as wāhine can not only excel in our personal endeavors but inform positive change for the lāhui. I’m excited to meet everyone in a new setting to learn from and give back to the different moku we call home!”

Applications for the new cohort are now available. Before applying, please understand that there is an expectation that all members will commit to participate in the following scheduled events: Nov. 13, 2023, orientation dinner; Jan. 13, 2024, day trip to two moku on Oʻahu; March 2-3, 2024, retreat and day trip to two moku on Oʻahu; May 4, 2023, day trip to remaining two moku on Oʻahu; July 20, 2024, ʻŌiwi Leadership Conference; and Sept. 6, 2024, culminating dinner.

Participants who complete 80% of the kuleana will receive a certificate of participation highlighting the Hawaiian leadership topics that were discussed and learned.

Applications are now available at The application deadline is October 20. Final selection decisions will be announced on November 1.