Ka Huli Ao and OHA partner to empower Native Hawaiian communities

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Kapua Sproat, (808) 294-0182
Assistant Professor, Law
Posted: May 24, 2011

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) finalized an agreement with Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s William S. Richardson School of Law to produce legal primers on issues of significance to Native Hawaiians. 
OHA has committed $62,000 for Ka Huli Ao to research, publish, and distribute two primers:  one on iwi kūpuna (Native Hawaiian burials) and a second on traditional and customary Native Hawaiian rights.  Once the materials are completed, Ka Huli Ao will collaborate with grassroots groups on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui, Moloka‘i, and Hawai‘i Island to facilitate community outreach meetings and distribute copies of the primers.

“We are immensely grateful for OHA’s continued support of our community outreach and empowerment efforts,” explained Ka Huli Ao Assistant Professor Kapua Sproat.  “This builds on the success of Ola I Ka Wai:  A Legal Primer for Water Use and Management in Hawai`i, where OHA and Ka Huli Ao partnered to provide educational resources and increase capacity regarding water rights and issues, especially in rural, Neighbor Island communities.  This funding will allow us to continue those efforts, now with respect to iwi kūpuna and traditional and customary rights."
Iwi kūpuna, or ancestral bones, are a foundation for Native Hawaiian culture and people.  Iwi tie Native Hawaiians to their homeland, or kulāiwi, and to their identity as people, or `ōiwi.  In much the same way, Indigenous culture does not exist in a vacuum, it lives on and thrives in the traditional practices that connect Native Hawaiians to natural and cultural resources and to each other.  Despite strong protections for both iwi kūpuna and traditional and customary Native Hawaiian rights and practices, these entitlements are often overlooked as government agencies and private interests turn a blind eye to legal mandates and community members and Native Hawaiians in particular lack the financial or other resources to enforce their rights. 
Established with federal funding in 2005 at the William S. Richardson School of Law, Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law is an academic center that promotes education, scholarship, community outreach and collaboration on issues of law, culture and justice for Native Hawaiians and other Pacific and Indigenous peoples.