“Mahi ʻIke Hawaiʻi: Cultivate Hawaiian Knowledge” is the motto of the new Institute of Hawaiian Language Research and Translation (IHLRT) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. The new institute is led by Puakea Nogelmeier, a professor of Hawaiian language, and is an invaluable resource for anyone in the state and beyond to find and utilize historical Hawaiian knowledge.
There exists a large repository of Hawaiian language material which documents Hawaiʻi from ancient times through most of the 20th century. One of the largest sources of information is the cache of newspapers published in Hawaiian for over a century, and a signature project of IHLRT is the research and translation of these historical materials.
Between 1834 and 1948 more than 100 Hawaiian language newspapers were published, equal to over one million letter-sized typescript pages. For over ten years the University of Hawaiʻi Sea Grant College Program has been collaborating with the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge and Awaiaulu, a local nonprofit organization, to locate and translate information and make it widely accessible. To date only a tiny fraction of the material has been translated, and a treasury of text which illuminates Hawaiʻi’s past remains untapped and inaccessible.
Training the next generation
The new institute will also provide professional training and prepare the next generation of translation leaders and scholars in all fields related to Hawaiʻi, its people, its culture and its history. Faculty and students from any of the University of Hawaiʻi campuses can participate in research projects.
“Historical Hawaiian material has long been beyond reach for scholars and speakers alike, a tragedy of knowledge lying dormant” said Nogelmeier. “The new institute can change that, generating access and resource people to reconnect historical knowledge for today and the future.”
—By Cindy Knapman