Ka Wai Ola Honored by NAJA for Overall Excellence

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Ka Wai Ola News, the print and online publication of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), was recently honored with three overall excellence accolades from the Native American Journalist Association (NAJA) Native Media Awards. The awards are for work completed in 2021.

Based in Norman, Okla., NAJA is dedicated to supporting Native Americans in journalism. The annual NAJA competition recognizes excellence in reporting by Indigenous and non-Indigenous journalists from across the U.S. and Canada. Categories this year featured competition with such major news outlets as Al Jazeera, High Country News and CBC Radio One.

Competing in the Professional III category for news publications with a circulation of over 10,000, Ka Wai Ola News placed second as Print/Online-Best Digital Publication and third for Print/Online–General Excellence. The publication also received a third-place award for Print/Online-Best Layout.

The OHA team that produced Ka Wai Ola News in 2021 includes Communications Director Alice Silbanuz, Editor Puanani Fernandez-Akamine, Communications Strategist Ed Kalama, Multimedia Specialists Kaleena Patcho, Josh Koh and Jason Lees, and web contractor William “Trip” Rems. In addition, dozens of others from the community, from freelancers to columnists, contributed valuable content to the publication.

Adam Keawe Manalo-Camp is a regular contributor to Ka Wai Ola News whose articles explore aspects of Hawaiian culture and history. “Writing in Ka Wai Ola is about continuing to nourish our lāhui from the intellectual and spiritual spring left by our kūpuna,” he said.

It is noteworthy that year after year, Ka Wai Ola News is consistently acknowledged for its excellence as an Indigenous print and digital publication and rated in the top three for best layout by the NAJA Native Media Awards. Over the last three years, Ka Wai Ola News has scooped up a total of 14 NAJA Media Awards.

Native American Journalist Association
2022 Native Media Awards

Best Digital Publication – Second Place

  • Alice Malepeai Silbanuz
  • Puanani Fernandez-Akamine
  • Kaleena Patcho
  • Ed Kalama
  • Joshua Koh
  • Jason Lees
  • William “Trip” Rems

General Excellence – Third Place

  • Alice Malepeai Silbanuz
  • Puanani Fernandez-Akamine
  • Kaleena Patcho
  • Ed Kalama
  • Joshua Koh
  • Jason Lees

Best Layout – Second Place

  • Kaleena Patcho
  • Joshua Koh

“We’ve always known that our Communications team is maikaʻi loa, and to see this consistent national and professional validation of the quality of their work, as well as its value to the community, is very rewarding,” said OHA Board Chair Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey. “We are very proud to produce a publication that serves as a platform and voice for our lāhui and that is consistently rated among the best of its peers.”

Ka Wai Ola News has a large following, counting 51,000 print subscribers, 20,000 digital subscribers worldwide and an average 16,000 online readers visiting the site each month.

The print edition of Ka Wai Ola News has been providing news for the lāhui since 1980, covering the people, issues and events important to the Native Hawaiian community. In January 2020, OHA launched kawaiola.news, an accompanying digital version that includes bonus videos, photo albums and an archival section that contains digitized versions of Ka Wai Ola News since its 1980 inception. The digital platform makes 42 years of contemporary Hawaiian history available to the world.

“Producing Ka Wai Ola each month is a team effort,” Fernandez-Akamine said. “In addition to our talented staff, we have freelance writers, regular columnists and other community contributors who not only provide wonderful content but also represent the diverse views of our lāhui. These NAJA awards for excellence honor our collective efforts.”


A full list of winning entries is available at najanewsroom.com/2022-national-native-media-award-winners/#PDIII.

Mahalo nui to these contributing writers who authored two or more Ka Wai Ola stories.

  • Cheryl Corbiell
  • Lisa Huynh Eller
  • Kyle Kajihiro, Ph.D.
  • Adam Keawe Manalo-Camp
  • Tammy Mori
  • Mikiala Pescaia
  • Healani Sonoda-Pale
  • Wayne Tanaka, J.D.
  • Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi
  • Trisha Kehaulani Watson-Sproat, J.D., Ph.D.

Mahalo nui to these contributing writers for their topical columns.

  • Kalani Akana, Ph.D. (Culture and History)
  • Bobby Camara (Native Plants)
  • Jodi Leslie Matsuo, DrPH (Health and Nutrition)

Mahalo nui to these contributing writers who authored columns on behalf of their organizations.

  • Edward Halealoha Ayau, Hui Iwi Kuamoʻo
  • Sheri Daniels, Ph.D., Papa Ola Lōkahi
  • Robin Danner & Rolina Faagai, Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homes Association
  • Cedric Duarte, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands
  • Elena Farden, Native Hawaiian Educational Council

Mahalo nui to these organizations and their various contributing writers who authored columns.

  • Ka Leo o Nā ʻŌpio
  • Kanu o ka ʻĀina Learning ʻOhana
  • Liliʻuokalani Trust
  • Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce

Mahalo nui to these writers for their special contributions.

  • Kaliko Baker, Ph.D. (December cover story)
  • Ardena Sanoe Saarinen (co-author of November’s cover story)
  • Sterling Wong (March and July cover stories)