Big Island Immersion School Receives ‘Tourism Legacy Award’

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Three organizations—‘Aha Pūnana Leo—Hawaiian Airlines; and Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa—are being presented with the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s (HTA) highest honor—a Tourism Legacy Award—for their efforts to revitalize and normalize Hawaiian language usage in everyday life, the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) reported.

The annual Tourism Legacy Awards honors organizations and individuals that have established a legacy of aloha through their perpetuation of the Hawaiian culture.

This year’s awards will be presented at the final event of Hawai‘i’s Global Tourism Summit, the Tourism Legacy Awards Lunch, on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018.

‘Aha Pūnana Leo is being honored for its dedication to the teaching and advocacy of olelo Hawai‘i (Hawaiian language) in Hawaiian medium education schools. Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, along with Hawaiian Airlines are being recognized for the commitment of their respective business practices and employees to the implementation of olelo Hawai‘i within their operations.


The presenting sponsor of the Tourism Legacy Awards Luncheon is Bank of Hawai‘i, the world’s only financial institution with Hawaiian as a language option when using its automatic teller machines.

“Olelo Hawai‘i is unique to our islands, people and culture, as it encapsulates a Hawaiian world view, value system, concepts, and as the vessel through which cultural perspective and thought live on,” said Kalani Ka‘ana‘ana, HTA director of Hawaiian cultural affairs. “Committing to the normal, everyday usage of olelo Hawai‘i is about helping to save an integral part of our culture, which makes these islands and how we live so distinctive from anywhere else in the world. We congratulate ‘Aha Pūnana Leo; Hawaiian Airlines; and Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa for the sense of kuleana and leadership they have demonstrated in helping to ensure that olelo Hawai‘i and the Hawaiian culture are being represented authentically, respectfully and with care.”

This year is especially significant to celebrating the usage and implementation of olelo Hawai‘i, as Gov. David Ige declared 2018 to be Ke Au Hawai‘i, the Year of the Hawaiian. Three noteworthy anniversaries are being recognized this year in paying tribute to the culture, language, traditions and history of the Hawaiian people.


It was 25 years ago, in 1993, when the U.S. Congress and President Bill Clinton presented a formal apology to the Hawaiian people for America’s role in the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom on Jan. 17, 1893.

This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the 1978 Hawai‘i State Constitutional Convention that led to Hawaiian being reaffirmed to its rightful standing as an official language of the State of Hawai‘i, establishing Hawaiian education programs in public schools, and introducing Hawaiian language immersion programs, all of which has brought the Hawaiian language back from the brink of extinction.

In addition, it was 100 years ago when Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole founded the first Hawaiian Civic Club.


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