Maui’s Holt-Padilla Honored as Native Hawaiian Community Educator of the Year

September 22, 2015, 4:57 PM HST · Updated September 22, 4:57 PM
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Hōkūlani Holt-Padilla. Photo credit: Kamehameha Schools.

Hōkūlani Holt-Padilla. Photo credit: Kamehameha Schools.

Maui kumu hula, educator and cultural practitioner Hōkūlani Holt-Padilla was honored today with the Kamehameha Schools 2015 Native Hawaiian Community Educator of the Year award at the 14th annual Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement Convention.

She was presented the award by Kamehameha Schools CEO Jack Wong and Executive Vice President of Education Dr. Holoua Stender.

Educator and kumu hula Hōkūlani Holt-Padilla was presented with the award by Kamehameha Schools CEO Jack Wong and Executive Vice President of Education Dr. Holoua Stender. Photo credit: Kamehameha Schools.

Educator and kumu hula Hōkūlani Holt-Padilla was presented with the award by Kamehameha Schools CEO Jack Wong and Executive Vice President of Education Dr. Holoua Stender. Photo credit: Kamehameha Schools.

The Native Hawaiian Community Educator of the Year award recognizes visionary education leaders in the Hawai‘i community who create learning environments that successfully engage Native Hawaiian learners.

“Kamehameha Schools is proud to recognize the works of this amazing woman and her legacy in inspiring generations of students to know and embrace Hawaiian culture,” said Wong in a press release statement.

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“This award is one of the many ways we thank educational leaders for their contribution. Without each of them, we could not be successful in our vision and mission at KS,” said Wong.

Holt-Padilla serves as the Maui Arts & Cultural Center cultural programs director, a position she’s held since 2001. Through this work she has coordinated and directed numerous Hawaiian language and cultural events.

She is also a founding member of Kauahea Inc., Lālākea Foundation, Nā Kinimakalehua, Nā Lehua Kū Makua and Nā Kūkulu—organizations dedicated to the advancement of Hawaiian cultural practices.

“I agree with all those that say the education is the way for our people to prosper,” said Holt-Padilla.

“Every cultural practice, everything that you learn within your own homes, everything you can teach your children or your grandchildren is important. Never give up your right to be involved in the education of your family.  Education is every day,” she said.

As the founder of Pā‘ū O Hi‘iaka hālau hula, she has continued her ‘ohana’s hula legacy, passed to her from her mother and grandmother and on to the kumu hula who went through ‘ūniki under her, including her son Lono Padilla, Kahulu Maluo and Nāpua Greig.

Kamehameha Schools Hawaiian Resource Coordinator Kalani Pe‘a nominated Holt-Padilla for the award. Pe‘a has known her his whole life and was directly impacted by her work, collaborating with her through KS’ Ho‘olauna Maui program. This past summer, Holt-Padilla helped teach students the mele “Ka Wai a Kāne” and its connection to the hydrological cycle and significance to Maui’s watershed.

“All that she wants is to know that her Lāhui is prosperous, content and thriving in all of our communities,” said Pe‘a.

“Aunty Hōkū is a proud kūpuna, makua and educator. Her legacy is educating haumāna about our Hawaiian culture through her own hālau, the programs she has established at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, her collaboration efforts with many organizations statewide and through her own keiki,” he said.

Previous award recipients have contributed to the practice and perpetuation of Hawaiian culture and/or language and are known for involving families and communities in the learning process. Last year’s award recipient was Wai‘anae Intermediate School teacher Maika‘i Spencer.

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