Maui News

Kaponoʻai Molitau named Director of Maui Department of ʻŌiwi Resources

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Kaponoʻai Molitau. Courtesy photo.

Kaponoʻai Molitau was named Director of the County Department of ʻŌiwi Resources, Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen announced.

“Kaponoʻai has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to preserving and perpetuating the knowledge and traditions of our Hawaiian culture,” said Bissen. “His deep connection to Hawaiian traditional practices will be invaluable in leading and developing this groundbreaking new department.”

Molitau is founder and CEO of Native Intelligence, opened in 2009 as a Hawaiian cultural resource center and retail business in Wailuku.


As Kumu Hula of Hālau Nā Hanona Kūlike ʻO Piʻilani, he has been teaching youth, kūpuna and other kumu in the art of Hawaiian dance, oli and Hawaiian chant for the past 21 years.

Molitau is currently rebuilding Heiau Kealakaʻihonua on Maui and building a kahuna kakalaleo, or chanter of prayer, for future generations to learn Hawaiian protocols, oli and traditional and customary practices to benefit all of Maui Nui. He continues to collaborate with ʻŌiwi leaders on Maui and throughout Polynesia.

He is pursuing a PhD in Indigenous Studies on Heiau and Cultural Protocols at Awaianuiarangi University in Aotearoa.


For the past 32 years, he has trained in Hawaiian protocols and has mastered his trainings at Puʻukoholā Heiau, going through traditional graduation ceremonies of elevation as a Kumu Hula and further to become Kahuna Nui or High Priest of ceremonial protocols. The recognition as Kahuna Nui of Puʻukoholā Heiau is an honor that only seven have been granted.

The Department of ʻŌiwi Resources was created when Maui County residents voted to pass a ballot measure in November 2022. The department will be established on July 1, 2024, to implement programs to ensure proper management of ʻŌiwi cultural resources, including the Hawaiian language, place names, historical and archival materials, cultural sites, iwi and burials, and natural resources used in cultural practices.

Molitau’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the Maui County Council.

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Kaponoʻai Molitau. File photo (2016)

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