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Ethnic Studies Professor Rich Rath, Gary Kubota, Liko Martin and Laulani Teale perform live music at the open house.

The nearly 50-year history of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Center for Oral History (COH) was celebrated at an open house event in December. Nearly 100 people attended the gathering, including COH’s first director Chad Taniguchi, and Warren Nishimoto and Michiko Kodama-Nishimoto, who served as director and associate director respectively for 37 years.

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The celebration was held in UH Mānoa’s George Hall, the home of the Center for Oral History. The event welcomed the center’s new director Mary Kunmi Yu Danico, and honored former acting director Professor Ty Kāwika Tengan and retired director Davianna Pōmaikaʻi McGregor. The reception was hosted by Neil Horikoshi and Gayle Yamada. Horikoshi is an alumnus from UH Mānoa’s Shidler College of Business and friend of Danico’s.

“The Ethnic Studies department and the Center for Oral History have enduring ties to our community who care deeply about telling our stories our way,” Danico said. “I am honored to continue the tradition of preserving memories through oral traditions and look forward to long lasting relationships with our COH ʻohana. I am humbled by the warm welcome from everyone who joined us.”

people standing inside a room talking
Guests in the Sunset Resource Center in George Hall.

A slideshow with photos and video clips from the Center for Oral History over the years was played. Live music was performed by individuals with deep ties to the Department of Ethnic Studies and Center for Oral History. Liko Martin and Laulani Teale performed with Gary Kubota (activist and author of the Kokua Hawaiʻi Oral History Project book) and Professor Richard Rath.

The Center for Oral History in the Department of Ethnic Studies was first established in 1976 by the Hawaiʻi State Legislature as a part of the Social Science Research Institute in the UH Mānoa College of Social Sciences. The center collects, documents, preserves and highlights the recollections of Native Hawaiians and the multi-ethnic people of Hawaiʻi.

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Neil Horikoshi, who hosted the refreshments, introduces Mary Kunmi Yu Danico as the new COH director.

“It was so special to be able to acknowledge the work of our predecessors at the Center for Oral History,” Associate Director Micah Mizukami said. “Having all of our oral history mentors gathered together was truly magical. Seeing Chad, Warren and Michi reminiscing over old photographs and furniture in the Center was so very touching, and it’s truly a blessing and an honor to be able to continue to build upon the foundation they established, while continuing the momentum from Davianna’s relaunch of the Center in 2018.”

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