Three Hawaiian Language Bills Pass Latest Hurdle on Maui


March 31, 2017

An exciting trio of bills passed the House Higher Education Committee this week, each of them designed to sustain the Hawaiian language in the state educational system. The Hawaiian language is a vital piece of our heritage, although it has been on shaky footing for many decades. This choice to take steps to strengthen its important place in our education system may be the thing to help foster a resurgence in its use.

You may be reading for information on buying a Maui home, but if you plan to live and perhaps raise a family here on the island, the outcome could have an important influence on your keiki (children) for years into the future. There is only one Hawaii, and if our keiki don’t learn it here, who will?

Luckily, this issue is currently getting the attention it deserves thanks to folks like ʻEkekela Aiona, the Executive Director of the ʻAha Pūnana Leo, which provides Hawaiian medium early learning to 13 preschools throughout Hawaii, along with two infant-toddler programs. Aiona testified on the measures at the committee hearing, emphasizing the importance of keeping the Hawaiian language alive in families through the generations.

Committee Chair Angus McKelvey of the 10th District, which includes North Kihei, Ma’alaea and West Maui, explained that these bills will help provide concrete opportunities for students to learn the Hawaiian language all the way up to the university level, revitalizing its use in our culture. Meanwhile, Aiona pointed out the responsibility of our state government in helping to re-normalize Hawaiian as one of our official languages.

Here is a brief summary of each bill. If you’re interested in learning more about them, you can click the links below.

SB 848 SD2 HD1: This bill would expand the Hawaiian Language College’s functions, and would create a Hawaiian language medium general education coursework pilot project. One of its goals is to support the implementation of a plan for Hawaiian language instruction throughout the University of Hawaii System. The university would need to report to the Legislature each year about their progress.

SB 1294 SD1 HD1: With the required funding, this bill would establish an Undergraduate Health Sciences Academy within the University of Hawaiʻi to increase recruitment and retention of Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and first generation college students.

SB560 SD1 HD1: With the necessary funds, this bill will task the University of Hawaiʻi with the translation of the Hawaiʻi State Constitution into the Hawaiian language.

The next step for these bills is to pass through the House Finance Committee, and according to McKelvey, they will need continued support from the public in the form of testimony. Anyone who feels that revitalizing the Hawaiian language is our kuleana (responsibility) may want to consider submitting their input in order to help ensure the passing of one or more of these bills. In the meantime, if you’re looking to put roots down and buy Maui real estate, you’ll find our contact information at the bottom of the page. We would be happy to assist you! Mahalo!

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