Main entry road to Pālamanui named after late Hawai‘i Community College chancellor
The main entry road to Hawai‘i Community College – Pālamanui in North Kona, is now “Rockne Freitas Way,” named in honor of the late Hawaiʻi CC chancellor who played a major role in developing the campus.
The University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents approved the honorific naming at the Friday board meeting. Freitas’ sons, Makai and Makoa, both testified in support of the measure.
“Dad believed in education,” said Makai Freitas at the meeting. “He believed education was a path forward, so the (symbolism) of Rockne Freitas Way resonates a lot for us.”
The Pālamanui campus opened its doors in 2015 after years of planning and construction. The new campus is also home to the University Center, West Hawai‘i and created a permanent home for higher education in West Hawai‘i, which had been one of the most underserved regions of the state.
Freitas died in 2022 and served in many leadership roles at UH, including as Hawai‘i CC chancellor from 2004–10.
“While at Hawai‘i Community College, he had a vision on ways to help the youth of West Hawai‘i and inspired the community to make the campus at Pālamanui a reality,” said Interim Hawai‘i CC Chancellor Susan Kazama in her testimony to the board. “His legacy is his strong advocacy and advancement of Native Hawaiians and other underserved populations. His impact on our college will always be felt. Naming the entryway after Rockne Freitas is an appropriate honor to preserve his legacy.”
Following his All-Pro career as an NFL lineman, Freitas served in several administrative roles during a 23-year career at the University of Hawai‘i. He was a pioneer in Native Hawaiian advancement, including as a leader in establishing Hawaiʻi Papa O Ke Ao, a plan for UH to become the model Indigenous-serving higher education institution in the state and the nation.
Raynette “Kalei” Haleamau-Kam, the director of Hawai‘i CC – Pālamanui, has worked at the college for more than 30 years and has seen up close the transformation brought about through Freitas’ efforts.
“I would like to mahalo Rockne for his leadership and tenacity to not give up on our community,” said Haleamau-Kam. “Now it is up to us to continue his vision and preserve his legacy.”
The community college plans to host an event later in the semester to celebrate the honorific naming.