News Briefs | June 2022


OHA Office Blessings

As part of OHA’s reopening of its offices to the public after two years of teleworking, office blessings were planned for all OHA offices across the pae ʻāina.

OHA Film Wins Telly Award

Telly Award 2022

OHA’s Mana i Mauli Ola short film has won a Telly Award. The 25-minute film features stories and perspectives from the Native Hawaiian community tied to the framework of OHA’s 2020-2035 Mana i Mauli Ola (Strength to Wellbeing) Strategic Plan. Professionals from OHA’s Communications team collaborated on the film with Gepadeaux, an Indigenous film company.

Founded in 1979 to honor commercials made for cable and local TV, the Telly Awards have evolved to reflect an expanding television and video universe, adding new categories honoring social media, immersive video, branded content, and corporate video. There were over 12,000 entries this year.

The Mana i Mauli Ola film earned a Silver Telly in the Social Video – Social Impact category. Winning video submissions in this category shed light on a variety of social justice topics.

View the film at

150th Kamehameha Day Celebration

Festivities are planned across the pae ʻāina for the 150th Annual King Kamehameha Day celebration.

The Lei Draping Ceremony will be on Friday, June 10, at 2:30 p.m. at the Kamehameha statue fronting Aliʻiōlani Hale. The 105th floral parade is scheduled for Saturday, June 11. It starts at 9:00 a.m. and will begin in front of ʻIolani Palace, then travel down Punchbowl Street to Ala Moana Blvd. and then Kalākaua Ave. The parade is expected to reach Kapiʻolani Park around 11:30 a.m. This year, the parade theme is “E Ola ka Inoa ʻo Kamehameha.”

Following the parade, there will be live music, food and more at Kapiʻolani Park from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Exhibits, displays and other activities across the pae ʻāina are also scheduled to celebrate the holiday. King Kamehameha Celebration Commission statewide partners include the Honolulu Museum of Art, ʻIolani Palace, Queen Emma Summer Palace, Huliheʻe Palace, Volcano Art Center, Hale Hōʻikeʻike – Bailey House, and Kauaʻi Museum. Check Ka Wai Ola’s June Calendar on page 13 for neighbor island events.

$14M to Help Save Native Birds

Hawaiʻi will receive $14 million to help save at least four species of native Hawaiian honeycreepers from extinction.

The funding is part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law recently passed by Congress, which includes $1.4 billion for ecosystem restoration and resilience. The $14 million allocation to Hawaiʻi was made by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Four species of honeycreepers – ʻakikiki, kiwikiu, ʻākohekohe and ʻakekeʻe – face extinction if the epidemic of avian malaria cannot be stopped. Spread by mosquitos, the disease has been decimating native bird populations throughout the pae ʻāina and has been encroaching into higher elevation forests where these highly endangered birds live.

There are an estimated 135 kiwikiu left in the wild on Maui, and perhaps 45 ʻakikiki remaining in the wild on Kauaʻi.

Wenska a Native American TV Writers Fellow

Photo: Meilani Wenska

In April, the Native American Media Alliance (NAMA) announced its selection of 12 media fellows for its seventh annual Native American TV Writers Lab, one of whom, Meilani Wenska, is Native Hawaiian.

NAMA is an advocate group for Indigenous people in the entertainment industry, and their TV Writers Lab – a partnership with industry giants like Netflix, Amazon Studios and others, was created to “improve Indigenous representation in media and increase accurate portrayals of Native people in television shows.”

By the end of the eight-week lab, each fellow is expected to develop and complete a television pilot program.

Wenska is a Kamehameha Schools graduate with a degree in fine arts (painting). She has worked as a graphic designer, but more recently discovered a passion for screenwriting, directing and acting. She has written two feature-length screenplays, two pilots, five shorts and a book of poetry. She has directed five short films, two of which have won awards. She has also done voiceover work and some acting.

Hoʻoilina Streaming in June

By popular demand, the UH Mānoa Department of Theatre and Dance’s Hana Keaka season finale production, Hoʻoilina, will be available for streaming on-demand for a limited time.

The production, presented in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, pidgin and ʻōlelo māhū is a farcical comedy that focuses on family relationships, identity and future, the diversity of Kānaka Maoli, and asks the central question: “What does it take to be considered Hawaiian?”

Hoʻoilina was written and directed by Hawaiian Theatre MFA graduate Ākea Kahikina. It is available as video-on-demand now through June 11. Streaming prices range from $5-$15 and can be purchased at

Kapaemahu Film Premiere

A short film about four mysterious boulders on Waikīkī Beach, The Healer Stones of Kapaemahu, will premiere on the Great Lawn at the Bishop Museum on Friday, June 17. The screening is a companion piece to the gallery exhibition which opens to the public on June 18.

Written, directed, narrated and co-produced by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Kapaemahu won critical acclaim on the international film festival circuit. Co-producers are Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson. The film is illustrated by Daniel Sousa and narrated in ʻōlelo Niʻihau with English subtitles.

It is a re-telling of a traditional moʻolelo about four individuals of dual male and female spirit, or māhū, who brought healing arts to Hawaiʻi from Tahiti. They settled in Waikīkī and were beloved for their gentle ways and miraculous cures. Before they departed, four huge stones were placed near their dwelling place. The healers transferred their names and healing powers into the stones and then vanished.

The evening includes the film screening, a post-screening Q&A with the filmmakers, and a preview of the exhibit. Food trucks and live music will be provided. For more information go to:

He Mele Lāhui Returns

After a two-year hiatus, ʻIolani Palace’s He Mele Lāhui program resumed in May. The program celebrates the mele of the Hawaiian monarchs, many of whom were brilliant composers and musicians, as performed by Nā Hōkū Hanohano award-winning musician Kuʻuipo Kumukahi.

Performances are presented in the Palace’s Imprisonment Room, where Queen Liliʻuokalani was detained after the overthrow of the kingdom in 1893. He Mele Lāhui will be offered on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month.

“He Mele Lāhui was launched in 2019 and paused in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over two years later we are thrilled to welcome Kuʻuipo and her music back into the palace,” said Paula Akana, executive director of the Friends of ʻIolani Palace.

June performances are scheduled for the 8th and the 22nd. Performances are included with admission to the palace. For more information visit or call 808-522-0822.

Kahoilua-Clebsch a Presidential Scholar

Photo: Kea Clebsch

Last month Kea Kahoilua-Clebsch was selected as one of two Hawaiʻi scholars of the 58th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars.

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects students annually based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as their demonstrated commitment to community service and leadership. This year, 161 high school seniors were recognized for their accomplishments.

Kahoilua-Clebsch is a 2022 graduate of Kealakehe High School on Hawaiʻi Island. She graduated with a cumulative GPA of 4.316, taking 14 advanced placement (AP) courses and four college courses during her high school career. She was involved in Kealakehe’s Model United Nations program, Pacific and Asian Affairs Council, American Rocketry clubs, and has won awards for science and art.

She has received a full four-year scholarship to attend Stanford University in California, where she plans to major in comparative race and ethnic studies with a minor in fine art.

“We are very proud of Kea,” said Kealakehe High School Principal Dr. James Denight. “Her accomplishments represent the collective hard work of her family, fellow students, diligent teachers and amazing school staff. Kea represents our Kealakehe community well and we hope all of our students aspire to be a community steward like she is.”

Monk Seal Population Increases

In May the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported some good news – after decades of declining numbers, this year the endangered Hawaiian monk seal population has surpassed 1,500 individuals for the first time in more than 20 years.

In 2013, the population of monk seals began to slowly increase across the entire pae ʻāina including Papahānaumokuākea. This is evidence of the species’ resilience and diligent conservation work.

The Hawaiian monk seal is one of the world’s most endangered seal species. From 2013 to 2021 the monk seal population grew at a rate of 2% per year, however, the level required for the species to be down-listed from “endangered” to “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act is more than double the current population.

The recent loss of crucial land habitat at Lalo (French Frigate Shoals) due to rising sea levels, and the poor survival rate of seal pups at some sites, are reminders of how fragile their recovery is. In May, NOAA deployed field teams to Papahānaumokuākea for four months to study the monk seals and Hawaiian green sea turtles, and actively engage in life-saving interventions.

$25,000 Received for Ulupō

Hikaʻalani, a Kailua, Oʻahu, nonprofit dedicated to the restoration of Native Hawaiian culture in the ahupuaʻa of Kailua has received a $25,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Telling the Full History Preservation Fund.

The grant awarded to Hikaʻalani is one of 80 grants that were awarded to organizations nationwide with projects that help preserve, interpret and activate historic places to tell the stories of underrepresented people groups in the United States.

The funding will support “Ulupō as Told by Kupa ʻĀina” a project designed to interpret and preserve the integrity and unique cultural history of Ulupō, a heiau and historic site in Kawainui, Kailua.

Hikaʻalani Executive Director Māpuana de Silva said, “Our long-range project goal is to create and install appropriate, accurate signage at Ulupō, with QR code access to a website of Indigenous stories of significant sites in Kailua. All who visit Ulupō and/or our new website will be enriched with knowledge and native perspectives.”

Free Conference on Protecting Iwi

Protecting Iwi: Our Most Cherished Possession

The public is invited to attend a free three-day conference at UH Mānoa’a Hālau o Haumea Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, June 6-8. Entitled “Kaulana Nā Pua: Famous Are The Children; Protecting Iwi: Our Most Cherished Possession,” presentations will address the systemic failures of government agencies to protect iwi, as well as related issues. Presenters include representatives from Standing Rock and the Department of the Interior, and Kānaka Maoli iwi protectors. Standing Rock representatives will present their resolution to amend the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act in light of the federal Indian Boarding School Initiative and subsequent investigation. To register go to: