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Native Hawaiian Well-Being at Hawaiʻi Community College, An Initiative for Academic Success

This thesis investigates the relationship between a Native Hawaiian sense of well-being and student educational attainment at Hawaiʻi Community College in Hilo, Hawaiʻi. It is written in an indigenous, Native Hawaiian framework, which includes a Pono Hawaiʻi research methodology. In order for the reader to understand the important context in which Native Hawaiian sense of well-being and academic success intersects, the history of the people and their land must be understood. Told through a very personal lens and indigenous narrative format, the story begins with a look at Native Hawaiian traditions of teaching and learning and the impact of historical events and introduction of Western educational ideology on the community. It details the influence of American missionaries and the introduction of Christian religion on Hawaiian society. The abrupt changes in societal structure marked first by the abolishment of an ancient Kapu system of laws, which had governed society for millennia, and the introduction of Western structures of governance in the form of a constitutional monarchy are investigated. The Hawaiian practices of Aʻo Aku, Aʻo Mai, Teaching and Learning, were severely impacted as American missionaries introduced the new writing system. I investigate the affect of major changes in the culture and community brought about by the introduction of the new written Hawaiian language and accompanied by a foreign Western educational framework. The impact of the laws banning the teaching and speaking of Hawaiian in the public schools and playgrounds as well as the laws outlawing the dancing of hula in public had a severe and lasting effect on the community which continues to affect Native Hawaiians’ sense of well-being. There is further discussion on the lasting effect of institutional barriers to success for Native Hawaiians who continue to languish behind their peers in educational attainment in public schools to this day. A discussion of Native Hawaiian identity is introduced which sets the foundation for the genealogy of Native Hawaiian well-being theory. A survey based on research on Native Hawaiian Well-Being was employed at the college and the student participants’ educational records are compared to determine if there are potential indicators relating to success. The results of the survey are discussed and analyzed. Excerpts from kūkākūkā sessions with students, interviews conducted in an indigenous, Hawaiian framework of exchange, are incorporated into each analysis to provide context to the questions and responses. Strategies which should be employed to support educational success for Native Hawaiians at the tertiary institution are discussed. Finally, a new model of well being, which clarifies the importance of the relationship of Native Hawaiians to the ʻāina or land, provides a stronger understanding of our worldview in hopes that this will empower educators and researchers to continue their work for the betterment of the lāhui, the Hawaiian Nation.
Type of thesis
Wong-Wilson, M. N. N. (2016). Native Hawaiian Well-Being at Hawaiʻi Community College, An Initiative for Academic Success (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10017
University of Waikato
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