Ola i ka wai! Water is life.


Water is what sustains us.  It is what keeps us flowing. It is the demonstration of our values characterized in the Hōʻoia ʻĀina Land Acknowledgement Statement of the college. Learn how our work is further grounded in ʻike kūpuna – wisdom of our elders, and our implementation through a strategic plan, mission, vision, pillars and values that sustain our wai and its flow.

Strategic Plan

He Loa Ke Aho is rooted in the wise and poetical saying of kūpuna and a Hawaiian worldview.  It describes the aho, long cord, or line.  Aho also means to breathe. Aho loa is to hold the breath for a long time, as seen in the readiness of divers and chanters. Investing in our employees and systems that indigenize and allow the inclusion of Native Hawaiian culture into our daily practices is casting the longer line. Not a quick fix, but a slow, steady, long-term endeavor that is our collective kuleana.  Shallow, surface attempts provide results, albeit superficial and non-sustaining; while casting “he loa ke aho” the proverbial deep-sea fishing line, reaps long-lasting, impactful knowledge and results.

He lawaiʻa no ke kai pāpaʻu, he pōkole ke aho; he lawaiʻa no ke kai hohonu, he loa ke aho. 
A fisherman of shallow seas uses only a short line; a fisherman of the deep seas uses a long line.


The project, He Loa Ke Aho: Systemic Practices Reenvisioned for Native Hawaiian Student Success, was awarded $2,666,592.60 by the U.S. Department of Education. The 5 year project period is October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2026.

The project goal is to increase enrollment, persistence and graduation rates at Leeward Community College.  The goal is met by indigenizing the college and creating a sense of belonging for Native Hawaiian students through the development of culturally-sustaining Open Educational Resources (OER), investment in cultural faculty professional development, and targeted gap student support services and resources.  The project proposes seven activities that provide access to indigenous support. 

  1. Developing an online culturally-sustaining OER textbook for HWST 107
  2. Creating four cross discipline professional learning communities that develop culturally sustaining OER lesson plan templates
  3. Developing and implementing five Native Hawaiian (NH) professional development (PD) programs
  4. Creating a Cultural Advisory Board to guide NH PD
  5. Creating an online indigenous resource site to house NH and culturally-sustaining teaching learning resources
  6. Developing three online student resource manuals
  7. Offering tailored financial literacy, onboarding, and student services support to NH students in the Hawaiian Studies Associates of Art (AA-HWST), Natural Sciences Associates of Science (ASNS), and Teaching Associates of Science (AST) degree programs
Leeward grads at commencement posing for camera


We indigenize through professional development, access to resources, and rich Hawaiian culture-based education opportunities. We prepare faculty and staff to confidently participate in, contribute to, and make connections relevant and meaningful for Native Hawaiian and all students at Leeward CC.


He Loa Ke Aho builds and establishes an inclusive and inspiring cultural environment that celebrates the legacy of the indigenous people of Hawai’i so that faculty and staff can welcome, instruct, and support all students in our Native Hawaiian Place of Learning.

Chester Leoso

About Us


  • Keala Chock, Vice-Chancellor of Academic Affairs, PI
  • Dr. Erin N. Kanoelani Thompson, Professor, Innovation Center for Teaching and Learning Coordinator, Co-PI
  • Momi Kamahele, Professor, Kīpuka Coordinator
  • Erin Matsuda, Grants Coordinator
  • Brandi-Lynn Makalani Hyden, Project Coordinator
  • Moana Makaimoku, Instructor, Cultural Curriculum Specialist


  • Oahu Films
  • Osaki Creative Group
  • Pacific Research & Evaluation


  • Cohort 1 Hinihini: Hinihini kua mauna
  • Cohort 2 Pololei: Pūpū kua mauna
  • Cohort 3 Kāhuli: Kāhuli
  • Cohort 4 Naka: Naka kua mauna


Honor the Legacy of Hawaiʻi
Before we were born, the life of the land, water, and sky belonged to native people of the most isolated islands on Earth.  This isolation incubated the most distinguished creatures, flora and fauna.  Life on volcanic islands determined an intentional lifestyle.  The demands of the natural environment required particular resiliency and ways of living. Land and people birthed stories of creation, love, and battle.  Land and people created practices to go about day to day living and sustainability, grounded in values of their mother, of their father, of their grandparents, of their kūpuna, of their ʻaumākua. The story of the land and the people of Hawaiʻi is the foundation of our work, our privilege, our responsibility, our kuleana.  In each learning opportunity, we lean into the legacy gifted to us, to ground and grow in our indigenous professional development. With the intention to ground and grow our beloved haumāna in a Native Hawaiian Place of Learning.

Provide Inclusivity
In the implementation of indigenization, we secure learning opportunities that are inclusive and void of subjagation or invalidation of any voice.  We ensure our content is accessible to all.  We purposefully create a safe space to wonder and implore for reasons of understanding and conversation. We invite all to sit amongst us for the purpose of learning.  We dive into multiple perspectives and refer to the wisdom of kūpuna who remind us, ʻAʻohe pau ka ʻike i ka hālau hoʻokahi – Not all wisdom is taught in one school. One can learn from many sources. ʻŌ.N. #203

Celebrate Diversity
Around our tables we commune and celebrate the diversity of people from here, and from a far.  With us, we bring our most cherished foods, traditions, practices and values.  We bring the origins of our genealogy, those who have come before us. The crossing of their lives opened the way for us to exist.  The celebration of diversity is not just our biological moʻokūʻauhau or genealogy.  We bring with us our moʻo ʻāina genealogy, the lands of our kulāiwi, the homelands of our ʻohana, the springs, the forest, the sea, the mountains, the hills that shaped us.  In the capacity of scholars within our college, we bring our moʻo ʻimi naʻauao, our educational genealogy.  From this series of succession, we bring years of training, expertise and experience, of the content we are employed to apply in our roles as faculty and staff.  We bring an openess to welcome new thought.  Through these moʻo, lineage, we celebrate our diversity, and make for a meaningful, relevant and collective indigenized place of learning.

Apply Hōʻike
In day to day life, we exhibit wisdom, as seen in our ability to ideally make sound and rational decisions. Decisions that serve us best.  Kūpuna wisdom tell us, Ma ka hana ka ʻike – In doing one learns ʻŌ.N. 2088.  In the indigenous professional development programs, each learning opportunity comes with a subsequent teaching opportunity and reversal, where the student becomes the teacher.  A demonstration of what was learned, is hōʻike.  The application of said knowledge is kuleana, the responsibility of the learner to apply the learning.  In our programs, we make new connections, reaffirm or release beliefs, and within your content, discover innovative ways to contribute to a Native Hawaiian Place of Learning.  Your journey is distinctly yours, recognizable in application through hōʻike.  

He Loa Ke Aho, is grounded in values written in the mele lāhui, Ka naʻi aupuni, by Samuel Kamakaia.  Mele lāhui are songs written to remind Hawaiʻi to remain unified and steadfast.  The mele Ka naʻi aupuni, was composed by a loyal subject of Queen Liliʻuokalani, who strongly protested the annexation of Hawaiʻi to the United States. Kamakaia was a member of the Royal Hawaiian Band.  

The last line in Kamakaiaʻs mele is nearly identical to the words spoken by ke aliʻi Kauikeaouli on Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, Sovereignty Restoration Day on July 31, 1843.  Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono–The sovereignty of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.  In this verse however, the last line begins with E mau, the sovereignty of the land continues to be preserved through pono.  Ka naʻi aupuni echoes the essence of mele lāhui to stand together in one mind, one heart, and one love.  Through this way of being, Hawaiʻi throughout time remains kūpaʻa, steadfast in who we are.  This nohona Hawaiʻi, existence, is a gift to the lehulehu, the multitudes yet to be born, a recognizable; intact; celebrated legacy. 

Ka Naʻi Aupuni: Project Kuleana

I hoʻokahi, kahi ka manaʻo
I hoʻokahi, kahi puʻuwai
I hoʻokahi, kahi ke aloha
E mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono
E mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono

Together as one, be of one mind
Together as one, be of one heart
Together as one, be of one love
The land will live on through righteousness
The land will live on through righteousness