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Jayna Omaye

Jayna Omaye covered ethnic and cultural affairs at the Star-Advertiser as a corps member of Report for America, a national serv­ice organization that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under­covered issues and communities.
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                                Hokule‘a crew members set sail Monday from Sand Island for Hilo. The Hikianalia is pictured in the background.
Hokuleʻa and Hikianalia embark on voyage to Tahiti

The Polynesian voyaging canoes Hokule‘a and Hikianalia departed from Sand Island at about 11:15 a.m. Monday on the first leg of their sail to Tahiti. The Kealaikahiki Voyage is focused on preparing the next generation of crew members for the momentous Moananuiakea Voyage, a five-year circumnavigation of the Pacific set to launch in 2023. Read more

                                Hui Ku Maoli Ola is a native plant nursery in Kaneohe.
Community sows seeds of awareness during Native Hawaiian Plant Month

April marks Native Hawaiian Plant Month and national Native Plant Month. Several advocates say it’s a great way to bring awareness about the environmental and cultural importance of our native species, as well as to highlight the work community groups are doing to increase our native plant species in the islands. Read more

                                The Polynesian Cultural Center plans to bring back the popular We Are Samoa and World Fireknife competition for in-person audiences in May.
Grants help ethnic and cultural festivals, projects in Hawaii

The Honolulu Intertribal Powwow, the We Are Samoa Festival and the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival are some of the ethnic and cultural celebrations expected to return in person this year, after two years of cancellations and major changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

                                Kulaniakea is a nonprofit that offers preschool and toddler programs focused on Indigenous ways of learning. Above, students and a teacher aboard the Hokule‘a in 2019.
Community celebrates Hawaiian Language Month

February is Hawaiian Language Month, or Mahina ‘Olelo Hawai‘i. Several community leaders — including Naehu, who is part of a more recent movement of people and organizations continuing to grow ‘olelo Hawai‘i — say that while it’s important to bring more awareness during February, Hawaiian should be celebrated and spoken beyond that. Read more

                                A group of Maui kumu hula is working with county officials on the proposed hula center. From left to right: Kamaka Kukona, Kahulu Maluo-Pearson, Hokulani Holt, Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino, Cody Pueo Pata, Francine “Mopsy” Aarona, Moanikeʻala Whittle-Wagner and Haunani Paredes.
First-of-its-kind hula cultural center proposed for Wailuku

For several decades, Cody Pueo Pata said, many fellow kumu hula have struggled to find homes for their halau. Some rotate their practices among parks, school cafeterias and family members’ garages, often rushing home from their day jobs to grab supplies for class. Read more

                                Hawaii State Capitol.
Bills seek to address language access inequities in Hawaii

When Agnes Malate emigrated with her family from the Philippines to Hawaii in the 1960s, she knew only three English words: yes, no and what is your name. At 7, she said, school was difficult, learning to speak English while adjusting to life in a new country. Read more

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