The million-dollar center will include a large resource room and community learning area, an adjoining meeting room, learning laboratory, workshop, storage space and restrooms. A federal grant is covering about 80 percent of the cost, with the rest coming from private donations.
“This center is going to change so dramatically the experiences our students have in understanding their roots, their heritage and also, the importance of kalo,” said UH Mānoa Chancellor Tom Apple at the ceremony.
“It will bring us from out under the tents into a nicer facility, so we get to have workshops, we get to have meetings, we get to have classes,” said Edward Makahiapo Cashman, executive director of the Ka Papa Loʻi O Kānewai Cultural Garden. “It gives us that opportunity here, that we don’t get in a lot of places, especially in the middle of the city.”
Reopened in 1980 by a small group of Hawaiian language students, Kānewai Loʻi became a permanent center with the establishment of the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge in 2007.
Kānewai is a teaching cultural garden that features, what is thought to be, the largest collection of Native Hawaiian taro in existence—a 3.5 acre oasis of gurgling streams, taro ponds, native plant gardens, handmade rock terraces and a traditional, open-sided, thatched A-frame structure.
Kānewai is a one-of-kind outdoor classroom where students of all ages, families and community groups immerse themselves in the Hawaiian culture. More than 30,000 people visited in 2012 alone.
“Our mission is to serve the community through hands-on learning,” explained Cashman. “You know, teach them about our culture, the Hawaiian culture, and that’s what Kānewai gives us that ability to do. It actually gives the students chances to come down here and practice, whether it be working in the loʻi, practicing our language.”
The Cultural Resource Center will go a long way in making sure that mission of education in na mea Hawaiʻi, all things Hawaiian, is fulfilled for generations to come. It is all thanks to everyone who has donated time and money and more donations are needed.
“That’s classic of doing loʻi,” said Cashman. “It’s not one person, one face that’s doing it. It takes a whole community and mahalo nui to all or our donors that helped us and visitors and volunteers.”