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Sam Noʻeau Warner

Aloha nō ka lama kū o ka Noʻeau. Ua hala. ʻAʻohe naʻe he wā e pio ai ke kukui. Ua ola iā kākou haumāna.

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Associate Professor Sam Noʻeau Warner, renowned researcher and teacher, passed away on July 19, 2016. Warner taught countless students the value of speaking Hawaiian through his innovative approaches to language teaching. His work represents a tremendous contribution to the preservation and revitalization of the Hawaiian language.

Noʻeau Warner’s legacy is lived everyday in the voices of Hawaiian language speakers in our schools, in our communities, and on our university campuses,“ said Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge Dean Maenette Benham. “He has been kumu to many teachers of ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi and an inspirational light to our language revitalization and renormalization movement. As an important member of the Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language faculty, he will be missed. Our aloha for Noʻeau is all embracing, his spirit will always have a place in our hearts, and his work will be continued.”

A legacy of language

Warner was a founder of the ʻAha Pūnana Leo, a non-profit, family-based educational organization dedicated to the revitalization of the Hawaiian language. His Ke ʻAha Mākālei program, established with funds from a federal grant, was designed to introduce Hawaiian language to the arena of sports thus increasing the number of viable domains of use available to a growing community of speakers. This effort required an expansion of vocabulary and ways of speaking to accommodate the expression of novel thoughts. A new vocabulary was developed based on existing concepts in order to support this expansion. He even served as the public address announcer for Nā Koa Ānuenue’s Interscholastic League of Honolulu’s football games.

He researched and developed a set of 31 children’s books that were designed to strengthen appropriate Hawaiian language use across a variety of topics. These were produced with funds from a federal grant that afforded wide distribution of current literary materials, free of charge, to all families of Hawaiian language immersion school children. He also worked with immersion teachers to develop a pedagogy that could accompany his books. Moreover, Warner had begun to revolutionize the Hawaiian language pedagogy at the university by creating a grammatical schematic that is culturally relevant and simplifies the acquisition of abstract grammatical concepts. Although these endeavors were all part of his job, whether on or off the clock, he was clearly driven to increase the number of participants in the Hawaiian language revitalization movement. He would talk to students, colleagues, legislators, or anyone else at anytime in an effort to support their involvement in Hawaiian language development.

Dedicated service to the University of Hawaiʻi

Warner was first employed at UH Mānoa in 1978 as a lecturer teaching Hawaiian 101 in the Indo-Pacific Language Department (IPLD). He continued to teach through spring 1984, after which he left for a semester to take up an instructor position in Hawaiian at UH Hilo. In spring 1985, he returned to the Indo-Pacific Language Department as an instructor of Hawaiian. He continued in this position until his appointment to the position of assistant professor in 1994 with the Department of Hawaiian and Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures. In 2003, Warner was promoted to associate professor where he has held several leadership positions, including director of Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language.

Read more about Warner’s contributions to education, research and community at the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge website.

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