East Hawaii News

UH to Host Online Auction to Raise Money for Student Financial Aid

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The University of Hawaii at Mānoa Hawaiʻinuākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge is launching its first online auction to raise funds for its depleted student emergency aid fund.

Bidding for the silent auction, Ka ea o nā iʻa he wai, opened Wednesday, Nov. 24, and runs through Dec. 1.

Kapa earrings hand-dyed using palaʻā fern, ʻōlena and waukē plants.

This fall, more than 260 undergraduate and graduate haumāna (students) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Hawaiʻinuākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge are working toward degrees. A majority of those students rely on some form of financial aid or scholarships.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need for many of the college’s students to seek more funding to keep up with tuition, housing and more. For more than a decade, Hawaiʻinuākea has maintained a student emergency aid fund; however, the pandemic has contributed to its depletion.


“We are at the mid-term of the fourth semester since Hawaiʻi was seized by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have all seen our public and private schools grapple with rules, logistics, unfamiliar technologies, worried parents and teachers and a shortage of resources to try and meet our responsibilities to educate our people,” said Hawaiʻinuākea Dean Jon Kamakawiwoʻole Osorio. “While it has not been easy for anyone, I am especially concerned with how our haumāna have fared.”

Lauhala hats woven by Hawaiʻinuiākea faculty.

“Statistically, college students living away from home with few safety nets as they pursue their education, are piling up personal debt and wondering how much longer they can continue to enroll,” Osorio added.

The online auction includes one-of-a-kind items and experiences, such as a one-hour music performance by Osorio and ʻohana, a hands-on workshop to make a mea kaua (traditional Hawaiian weapon), a mahiʻai kalo (taro farmer) starter kit filled with 10 kalo varieties and handcrafted jewelry and lauhala (pandanus) hats.


The department hopes to raise $20,000 for its haumāna emergency fund. Through the years, deans organized annual fundraisers and maintained a fund to help students who faced unanticipated situations that could impact their education, housing, medical care and other aspects of their welfare.

“We need your support,” said Hawaiʻinuākea director of strategic partnerships Malia Nobrega. “This is an exciting and fun way to help our students, and at the same time have a chance to win creative, fun and unique items and experiences from community practitioners and friends!”

The auction’s name traces back to an infamous 1871 speech given in Mānoa to commemorate Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea (Sovereignty Restoration Day). In it, speaker David Kahalemaile stresses ea (source of life) as a vital factor to the survival of kānaka ʻōiwi (Native Hawaiians).


Donations to the student aid fund can be made on the UH Foundation website.

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