Mary Kawena Pukui, 1983.

KAWENA

Guardian of the Hawaiian Language

By Helen Altonn, Star-Bulletin Writer

SAMUEL H. Elbert vividly recalls the first time he met Mary Kawena Pukui. “She had a flower in her hair and she just captivated me.”

That was in 1937, on the top floor of the Bishop Museum. Pukui, affectionately called Kawena, had just joined the staff as a translator. She was working with E. S. C. Handy, an ethnologist, on a book entitled “Polynesian Family System at Kaʻu,” the Big Island home of her Hawaiian mother’s family. Continue reading

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