The University of Hawaii at Hilo presented two doctorates in Hawaiian and Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization at last month’s fall commencement.
The honors went to Katarina Edmonds, a Maori educator from New Zealand, and Kauanoe Kamana, the first of Native Hawaiian ancestry to receive the PhD awarded by UH Hilo’s Ka Haka Ula O Keelikolani College of Hawaiian Language.
“The PhD is our highest academic honor and investing these two students with doctoral degrees is highly significant,” said UH-Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney. “And as the first doctorate presented by the College of Hawaiian Language to a Native Hawaiian student, this event marks a major milestone in the history of UH-Hilo and the island of Hawaii.”
Kamana has more than 30 years of personal and professional experience in Hawaiian language revitalization. She is a founding member of the non-profit Aha Pūnana Leo, the leading language revitalization organization in the United States.
She serves as the director of Ke Kula O Nawahiokalaniopuu, the internationally renowned P-12 Hawaiian immersion laboratory school in Keaau.
Kamana’s dissertation is entitled “Mookiina Hooponopono: Ke O O Ka Ike Kuuna Hawaii Ma Ke Kula O Nawahiokalaniopuu,” with a focus on traditional Hawaiian conflict resolution practices at the immersion school.
UH-Hilo’s College of Hawaiian Language awarded its first PhD in December 2008 to Edmonds, who specializes in language proficiency assessment. She was unable to attend commencement ceremonies at conferment, and so was honored lat month along with Kamana.
Edmonds first began teaching in a Maori immersion school in 1989, and established a program for the professional development of Maori medium education at the Language Institute and the School of Maori and Pacific Development at the University of Waikato.
She also has served as a policy analyst and curriculum facilitator at the New Zealand Ministry of Education National Office. She currently holds a post-doctoral fellowship at Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi.
Edmonds’s dissertation determined the reliability and validity of proficiency tests in writing.