Kōkua Kaiāulu: Keeping the Native Hawaiian Community in Waimānalo Fed


  • Ilima Ho-Lastimosa
  • LeShay Keli‘iholokai
  • Kaua Kassebeer
  • Hae Kassebeer
  • Joseph Awa Kamai
  • Ikaika Rogerson
  • Kenneth Ho Jr.
  • Manahā Ho
  • Kamalei Ho
  • Kirk Deitschman
  • Denise Ka‘a‘a
  • Theodore Radovich
  • Jane Chung-Do University of Hawai'i


food, COVID, Native Hawaiians, Hawai'i, food security, community organizing


Recent data suggest that similar to other minority communities in the US, Native Hawaiians are more likely to contract and suffer from COVID-19, exacerbating health and social disparities. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant disruptions in employment and economic insecurity, both of which are intertwined with food insecurity. This paper describes the efforts of Ke Kula Nui O Waimānalo, a grassroots Native Hawaiian organization, to meet both the immediate and long-term needs related to food insecurity in the Waimānalo community. Numerous organizations from multiple sectors collaborated to provide over 24,000 prepared healthy meals and 3,550 fresh produce boxes as well as seeds and plant starters to over 6,500 Waimānalo families and community members who are vulnerable to food insecurity. In addition to meeting the immediate needs of the community, community resilience is being built by creating permanent areas of food sources in the community to teach community members a variety of ways of growing their own food. Using a land-based and community-driven approach, Native Hawaiian worldview of health and healing need to be the foundation of promoting health and resilience in Native Hawaiian communities.


Antonio, M. C. K., Keaulana, S., Chung-Do, J. J., & Ho-Lastimosa, I. (2020). (Re)constructing conceptualizations of health and resilience among Native Hawaiians. Genealogy, 4(1), 8. https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy4010008

Beebe, J. K., Amshoff, Y., Ho-Lastimosa, I., Moayedi, G., Bradley, A. L., Kim, I. N., Casson,

N., Protzman, R., Espiritu, D., Spencer, M. S. & Chung-Do, J. J. (2020). Reconnecting rural Native Hawaiian families to food through aquaponics. Genealogy, 4(1), 9. https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy4010009

Bezold, C. L. (1989). Reaching low-income audiences with low-income volunteers. Journal of Extension, 27(2). https://www.joe.org/joe/1989summer/a3.php

Blaisdell, R. K. (2001). The impact of disease on Hawaii's history. Hawaii Medical Journal, 60 (11), 295-296. https://evols.library.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10524/53746/2001-11p295-296.pdf

Chung-Do, J. J., Ho-Lastimosa, H. I., Keaulana, S., Jr. Ho, K., Hwang, P., Radovich, T., Albinio, L., Rogerson, I., Keli‘iholokai, L., Deitschman, K., & Spencer, M. S. (2019). Waimānalo Pono Research Hui: A community-academic partnership to promote Native Hawaiian wellness through culturally-grounded and community-driven research and programming. American Journal of Community Psychology,0:1-11. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajcp.12355

Colby, A. & Kennedy, E. (2017). Extension of what and to whom? A qualitative study of self-provisioning service delivery in a university extension program, Food Systems and Health, 18, 177-198. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1057-629020170000018008

Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. (2017). Native Hawaiians in

Hawaii’s Tourism Sector. http://files.hawaii.gov/dbedt/economic/reports/Native_Hawaiians_in_Tourism_Final_4-13-17.pdf.

Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, N., Hussey, I., & Wright, E. K. (2014). A nation rising: Hawaiian movements for life, land, and sovereignty. Duke University Press

Healthcare Association of Hawaii. (2018). Community health needs assessment - For the people and islands of Hawai`i. Islander Institute. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5476c58ce4b0f2ef39513777/t/5c359cd14d7a9c3e50bac02f/1547017489758/2018-HAWAII-CHNA.pdf

Hishinuma, E., Smith, M. D., McCarthy, K., Lee, M., Goebert, D. A., Sugimoto-Matsuda, J., Andrade, N. N., Philip, J. B., Chung-Do, J. J., Hamamoto, R. S., & Andrade, J. K. L. (2018). Longitudinal prediction of suicide attempts for a diverse adolescent sample of Native Hawaiians, Pacific Peoples, and Asian Americans. Archives of Suicide, 22(1), 67-90. 10.1080/13811118.2016.1275992

Ho-Lastimosa, H. I., Chung-Do, J. J., Hwang, P., Radovich, T., Rogerson, I., Ho, K., Kaholokula, J. K., & Spencer, M. S. (2019). Integrating Native Hawaiian tradition with the modern technology of aquaponics. Global Health Promotion, 26(Supp 3), 87-92. doi: 10.1177/1757975919831241.

Ho-Lastimosa, I., Hwang, P. W., & Lastimosa, B. (2014). Community strengthening through canoe culture: Ho`omana`o Mau as method and metaphor. Hawaii Journal of Medicine and Public Health. 73(12), 397-399. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25628973/

Johnson, D. B., Oyama, N., LeMarchand, L., & Wilkens, L. (2004). Native Hawaiians mortality, morbidity, and lifestyle: comparing data from 1982, 1990, and 2000. Pacific Health Dialogue, 11(2), 120-130.

Kaholokula, J. K., Nacapoy, A., & Dang, K. (2009). Social justice as a public health imperative for Kanaka Maoli. Alternative 5, 117–37. https://doi.org/10.1177/117718010900500207

Kaholokula, J. K., Samoa, R. A., Miyamoto, R., Palafox, N., & Daniels, S. A. (2020). COVID-19 Special Column: COVID-19 Hits Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Communities the Hardest. Hawaiʻi Journal of Health & Social Welfare, 79(5), 144-146.

Kameaʻeleihiwa, L. (1992). Native land and foreign desires: Pehea lā e pono ai? How shall we live in harmony? Bishop Museum Press.

Kameʻeleihiwa L. (2016). Kaulana Oʻahu me he ʻāina momona. In Kimura, A. H & Suryanata, K. (Eds.). Food and Power in Hawaiʻi: Visions of Food Democracy. University of Hawai‘i Press. https://doi.org/10.21313/hawaii/9780824858537.003.0004

Keaulana, S., Chung-Do, J. J., Ho-Lastimosa, I., Hwang, P. H., Ho, K, Radovich, T., Spencer, M. S., Albinio, L., Rogerson, I., Keliʻiholokai, L., & Deitschman, K. (2019). Waimānalo Pono Research Hui: Establishing protocols and rules of engagement to promote community-driven and culturally-grounded research with a Native Hawaiian community. British Journal of Social Work, 49, 1023-1040. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcz012.

Kromer Baker, K., Derrickson, J. P., Derrickson, S. A. K., Reyes-Salvail, F., Onaka, A. T., Horiuchi, B., Yu, M. Q., & Dannemiller, J. (2001). Hunger and food insecurity in Hawai`i: Baseline estimates 1999-2000, Hawai`i Health Survey (HHS). Hawai`i State Department of Health, Office of Health Status Monitoring. https://health.hawaii.gov/hhs/files/2013/04/specfood.pdf

Lee, S., Oshiro, M., Hsu, L., Buchthal, O. V., & Sentell, T. (2012). Neighborhoods and health in Hawai‘i: Considering food accessibility and affordability. Hawaii Journal of Medicine and Public Health, 71(8), 232–237.

Look, M. A., Trask-Batti, M. K., Agres, R., Mau, M. L., & Kaholokula, J. K. (2013). Assessment and priorities for health & well-being in Native Hawaiians & other Pacific Peoples. Center for Native and Pacific Health Disparities Research. http://blog.hawaii.edu/uhmednow/files/2013/09/AP-Hlth-REPORT-2013.pdf

Marshall, W. E. (2006). Remembering Hawaiian, transforming shame. Anthropology and Humanism. 31(2), 185–200. https://doi.org/10.1525/ahu.2006.31.2.185

Mau, M. K., Sinclair, K., Saito, E. P., Baumhofer, K. N., & Kaholokula, J. K. (2009). Cardiometabolic health disparities in Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. Epidemiologic Review, 31, 113–29. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajerev/mxp004

Mau, M. K., Wong, K. N., Efird, J., West, M., Saito, E. P., & Maddock, J. (2008). Environmental factors of obesity in communities with Native Hawaiians. Hawaii Medical Journal, 67(9), 233–236.

McGregor, D. P., Morelli, P. T., Matsuoka, J. K., Rodenhurst, R., Kong, N., & Spencer, M.S. (2003). An ecological model of Native Hawaiian well-being. Pacific Health Dialog, 10(2), 106-28.

Meyer, M. A. (2001). Our own liberation: Reflections on Hawaiian epistemology. The Contemporary Pacific, 13(1), 124–148.

Office of Planning Department of Businness Economic Development & Tourism (2012). Increased food security and food self-sufficiency strategy.


Pukui, M. K., Elbert, S. H., & Mookini, E. T. (1974). Place names of Hawaii. University of Hawaiʻi Press.

Tokunaga, K., Tamaru, C., Ako, H., & Leung, P. (2015). Economics of commercial aquaponics in Hawaiʻi. Journal of the World Aquaponics Society. https://doi.org/10.1111/jwas.12173

U.S. Census Bureau (2015). State and County Quickfacts: Waimānalo, CDP Hawaiʻi.