Continuing the Journey, Ka Huakaʻi 2021 Now Available Online


By Catherine Lee Brockway, senior research associate, Kamehameha Schools

One of the many lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic is just how crucial it is for the public to have access to trustworthy data about local communities, and how difficult it can be to actually make that happen.

It can be especially hard to find reliable data on Native Hawaiians, specifically, rather than data that groups Native Hawaiians with other Pacific ethnicities.

Recognizing the need for reliable data from a Native Hawaiian perspective, Kamehameha Schools has published a Native Hawaiian Educational Assessment periodically since 1983, providing data specific to Hawaiʻi and Native Hawaiians; it was renamed Ka Huakaʻi in 2005.

With over 600 pages devoted to data, research, and community insight into Native Hawaiian wellbeing, Ka Huakaʻi 2021 is a free community resource published by Kamehameha Publishing and available as a downloadable PDF at This book treats education as one part of a larger system of wellbeing, and includes data on a variety of educational, social, physical, material/economic, and spiritual/emotional trends and outcomes.

Data from a range of sources such as the Hawaiʻi Department of Health, the Hawaiʻi Department of Education, and the US Census are visualized in over 200 easy-to-read charts. These charts are contextualized within the latest research on wellbeing and community perspectives, with more than 700 references cited.

Ka Huakaʻi 2021 co-author Brandon Ledward says the authors “celebrate the fact that we can draw upon research from Native Hawaiians across a wide list of academic fields. When combined with community perspectives and examples, these data comprise a deep and vast knowledge base that supports and extends our ʻike kūpuna.”

A new feature of the 2021 publication is the addition of regional and county data for a number of topics. The data and analysis provides baseline information from before the COVID-19 pandemic, and Wendy Kekahio, co-author, adds that “Ka Huakaʻi represents an evolving, albeit incomplete, story of Native Hawaiian wellbeing at a time when the world has the opportunity to be rebuilt.”

Findings in Ka Huakaʻi 2021 include bright spots of positive momentum as well as areas of persistent challenges for Native Hawaiian wellbeing.

In the realm of education, for example, of all the bachelor’s degrees conferred by the UH system in 2009, 14 percent were conferred to Native Hawaiians; by 2018, the proportion had risen to 27 percent. At the same time, however, a disproportionate number of Native Hawaiian students in public schools are still struggling to graduate on time.

Ka Huakaʻi 2021 calls for the increased adoption and development of Hawaiian Culture-Based Education as a foundational strategy to remove systemic barriers to Native Hawaiian wellbeing, and the authors hope that readers will use this free digital book as a resource to learn about their communities and to advocate for positive change.