APRIL 20, 1895


Born on the Island of Hawaiʻi, Kawena was raised in the hanai style, by her Hawaiian grandparents.  Her grandmother, Po’ai, a traditional dancer in the court of Queen Emma, taught her chants and stories.  From the age of 15, Kawena collected and translated folk tales, proverbs and sayings.  She later worked as an ethnological assistant and translator, taught Hawaiian to scholars, and served as informant for anthropologists.  Publishing more than 50 scholarly works, Kawena co-authored the Hawaiian-English Dictionary (1957), and wrote Place Names of Hawaii (1974), and ʻŌlelo Noʻeau, containing 3,000 Hawaiian proverbs and poetical sayings.  She was a chanter and hula expert and wrote lyrics and music to more than 150 Hawaiian songs.  Kawena is credited with making the Hawaiian Renaissance of the 1970s possible.  Named a “Living Treasure of Hawai’i” by the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaiʻi in 1977, she was inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame in 1995.  Kawena died on May 21, 1986.

Sources:  Burl Burlingame, "Author aided revival of Hawaiian tongue," Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 11/1/1999.  Retrieved 6/27/2019, http://archives.starbulletin.com/1999/11/01/news/story8.html.  Chad Blair, "Kawena's Legacy," Hana Hou! Vol. 10, No. 4, September 2007.  Retrieved 6/27/2019, https://hanahou.com/10.4/kawenas-legacy.  “Mary Kawena Pukui,” Wikipedia.  Retrieved 6/27/2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Kawena_Pukui
Photo:  Author unknown, likely pre 1925.  Likely Public Domain in U.S.:  Pre 1/1/1925, and Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 70 years or less. 

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