Keiki, Keola portraits

Keiki Kawai‘ae‘a and Keola Donaghy collaborated to bring the Ulukau project to life

A decade ago, University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Assistant Professor Keiki Kawaiʻaeʻa and Assistant Professor Keola Donaghy, at Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language, created a digital archive of Hawaiian language materials. Kawaiʻaeʻa came up with the concept and Donaghy had the expertise in computer and telecommunications technologies necessary to execute the project. Joining the two principals at the inception was Robert Stauffer.

The result of this collaboration is Ulukau, or the Hawaiian Electronic Library, and its companion site, the Hawaiian Digital Library. The comprehensive website is a repository of Hawaiian language source material, not recycled translations, crucial for Hawaiian studies.

With 1.4 million hits a month on the dictionary section of the site coming in from all over the world, the creators say Ulukau is likely the largest and most used digital repository of indigenous language knowledge in the world.

Kawaiʻaeʻa said that the idea to create two seamless libraries, Ulukau and the Hawaiʻi Digital Library, as a one-stop digital center filled a huge public access need for teachers, students, families and the broader community.

“Because of this access, and the number of people who have and are achieving fluency in Hawaiian, we are no longer dependent on translations, sometimes dubious, of these source materials, or non-Hawaiian accounts of events of that era,” Donaghy says.

Adapted from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo’s Keaohou story. Read the full story at Keaohou.

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