‘Ike Hawai‘i – A Training Program for Working with Native Hawaiians

  • Kai Duponte
  • Tammy Martin
  • Noreen Mokuau
  • Lynette Paglinawan
Keywords: Native Hawaiians, cultural competence, indigenous people, historical trauma, experiential training, resilience, human service professionals


Native Hawaiians in Hawai‘i experience multiple health and social problems and are highly represented in the child welfare system, in particular. There is increasing attention to the argument that some problems derive from historic trauma. The importance of the relationship of history to contemporary problems was a fundamental premise in the development of a training model for social work students. This paper describes ‘Ike Hawai‘i, a training model intended to improve the cultural competency of social work students working with Native Hawaiian clients in the public child welfare system. There are six main elements of this training: 1) Self-Disclosure, 2) Hawaiian Worldview, 3) Grief and Loss, 4) Hawaiian Historical Events, with a focus on the Mahele and the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy, 5) Current Day Strengths and Challenges, and 6) Cultural Ways of Healing and Practical Suggestions for Working with Native Hawaiians. Evaluative scores and comments from students indicate that the training program has been found to be useful and helpful in their work with Native Hawaiian clients. Such a model, with its emphasis on experiential learning, self-awareness, cultural knowledge, and service implications, may have applicability for other populations and, in particular, other native peoples.


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