The Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association (NaHHA) is a private nonprofit organization founded in 1997 by Dr. George Kanahele, Sen. Kenneth Brown, and other Native Hawaiian professionals to address concerns about how Native Hawaiians and the Hawaiian culture were being perceived and represented in Hawaiʻi’s tourism economy. They knew the visitor industry in Hawai‘i needed to elevate its consciousness and operating priorities.
From the beginning, our goals were to execute the groundwork needed in order to solidify the foundation of Hawaiian culture as the most important investment in Hawaiʻi’s tourism model and to use that foundation to provide opportunities for the development and advancement of Native Hawaiians as future leaders.
What started as a small group of 12 Hawaiians “talking tourism” has grown 25 years later into an organization that is regarded as a leader in cultural tourism and a resource for Hawaiian culture in hospitality in Hawaiʻi and beyond.
From these ambitious beginnings, there are new projects and programs that have been cultivated to further execute NaHHA’s mission and address the challenges and opportunities tourism brings.
As a mainstay of our educational programming, NaHHA conducts cultural education and workforce trainings which are guided by the values of mālama, aloha, hoʻokipa and kuleana, which are consistent elements of all of our programming.
With this kahua, NaHHA has also been working on bridging the gaps been the community and the industry by creating programming that supports capacity building for community nonprofits that are engaged in regenerative activities.
The Kaiāulu Hoʻokipa program encourages nonprofit sustainability, capacity building and self-sufficiency, and has grown the number of “voluntourism” activities around the state. In utilizing the visitor as a mechanism to execute this work we gain a more respectful and responsible visitor, further supporting our communities’ desire to have tourism give back more than it takes.
NaHHA has grown our educational programming beyond the classroom to expand the lessons deeply rooted in our culture into a circular economy program called Pākolea which focuses on removing the barriers for Hawaiʻi-based businesses to gain access to the visitor industry. This program creates opportunities for local goods and services to be consumed by the industry and allows small businesses in Hawaiʻi to gain access to visitor-facing retail marketplaces, keeping local business capital gains continuously circulating in the Hawaiʻi economy.
As we continue to holomua and execute the work of our mission, NaHHA invites you to celebrate 25 years with us as we host our 25th Anniversary Gala, POI & PALAKA, on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, at Kualoa Ranch from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m.
With a nod to our past and a vision for our future, POI & PALAKA will feature a modern farm-to-table kalo experience by Chef Kealoha Domingo, dessert selections, signature cocktails made with locally grown ingredients, live music all evening long, a silent auction, a general store featuring locally made products by local and Native Hawaiian artists and practitioners, and much more!