Ka lei o ka Lanakila: A letter to the potential of our lāhui


Journal Article


Wright, E. & Reyes, N. A.S.


In this article, the authors offer a letter to reach out and offer support to Kānaka ʻŌiwi college students. It is included in a special issue of the COEʻs Educational Perspectives focused on education for a healthy and vibrant Kānaka ʻŌiwi. Higher education has been linked to a host of positive outcomes. While neoliberal discourses emphasize career preparation and monetary gains that may lead to individual upward social mobility (Cantwell & Kauppinen, 2014), other scholars have highlighted how higher education may contribute more to communal or societal benefits. Among Indigenous peoples and Native Hawaiians in particular, higher education has been identified as essential for increasing capacities for nation-building, or kuleana lāhui (Brayboy, Fann, Castagno, & Solyom, 2012; Wright & Balutski, 2016; Salis Reyes, 2017; Wright, 2018). For the potentiality of this kuleana lāhui to be realized, however, Kānaka ʻŌiwi must draw connections between the knowledge, skills, and networks that they gain through college to the needs of their ʻohana and broader community (Salis Reyes, 2016). They must maintain strong senses of who they are and develop a strong sense of who they can become as leaders (Wright, 2015). Recently, we (the authors of this piece) came together to discuss our own pathways into the academy and senses of kuleana given our identities as Kānaka women faculty. Through dialogue, we have come to understand our kuleana for creating, supporting, and protecting the potential of our lāhui in higher education. Learning from the example of Haumea, we see “the importance of constructing and consecrating spaces, through our relationships with lands and people, for potential to fully unfurl” (Salis Reyes & Wright, forthcoming). With the focus of this special issue on Native Hawaiian well-being in mind, we reach out to and lift up our Kānaka college students in what follows. Building from themes uncovered through our dialogue and also supported through research, we write to our Kānaka students to take care of themselves through their higher education journeys and to know that we are with them.


Wright, E. K., & Reyes, N. A. S. (2018). Ka lei o ka Lanakila: A letter to the potential of our lāhui. Educational Perspectives – Journal of the University of Hawai`i College of Education, 50(1), 10–12.