May the Hawaiian Language Live Forever
An Address Delivered by Dwayne Nākila Steele
‘Aha Pūnana Leo conducts its annual benefit dinner "Ne‘epapa I Ke Ō Mau" for the dual purpose of raising money to subsidize the tuition payments of its Hawaiian immersion students and of honoring those who have contributed significantly to the survival of our ‘ōlelo makuahine. Dwayne Nākila Steele, the recipient of the 2004 Ne‘epapa Award, has served the Hawaiian language movement for years in a capacity defined by Larry Kimura as "manawale‘a piha me ka waipahē" and by Lynne Waters as both generous "sponsor and diligent foot soldier." His response to the award, delivered at the ‘APL ‘aha‘aina ho‘ohanohano on October 17, is reproduced below with his kind permission. Nakila’s passionate, mostly-in-Hawaiian speech clearly demonstrates that this quiet man from Nu‘uanu by way of Kansas, this Grace-Pacific paver of roads, this guitar student of John Almeida, this senior citizen of Hawn 101–402 is someone who walks his talk, is someone deserving of the epithet given him by Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole. ‘O ia ka man of steel.
Mai ka hikina a ka lā ma Kumukahi,
A hiki i ke kau ‘ana i Ni‘ihau
Mai ka ‘ili o ka moana lipolipo,
A hiki i ka wēlau mauna.
Mai kahi palena ‘āina,
A kahi palena ‘āina.
Iā ‘oukou, e ka po‘e maoli,
Me ka po‘e i aloha i kēia pae ‘āina,
E ka po‘e a pau i aloha, a e pūlama nei,
I ka ‘ōlelo maoli o kēia ‘āina,
I nā makahiki i hala aku nei,
I ka manawa a‘u i hui me John Almeida,
kekahi o nā haku mele kaulana,
ua ‘ike nō au, ua ‘ano nui ka po‘e kūpuna,
I maopopo iā lākou ka ‘ōlelo makuahine.
Akā, kaka‘ikahi nā keiki o‘o ‘ole i hiki ke wala‘au.
No laila, ‘o ko‘u mana‘o ihola nō ia,
e hala ana auane‘i ka ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i.
Ua hele au a noho ma Sāmoa a me Guam,
a ‘ike nō au, he po‘e ‘Amelika lākou,
a ua hiki iā lākou a pau ke maopopo i ko lākou mau ‘ōlelo pono‘ī.
A mana‘o au, pehea lā ‘o Hawai‘i nei?
A ua ulu i loko o‘u ka makemake e a‘o i ka ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i.
No laila, hele akula au i ke kula nui.
A komo i loko o nā papa ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i.
‘Ikemaka nō au i kēia mau haumāna.
Kūpanaha! He po‘e Hawai‘i maoli ka nui o lākou.
Huro! Huro! Ho‘omaika‘i ‘ia lākou.
A ua ‘ike nō ho‘i au,
Aia he mau kula hou ma Hawai‘i nei
no ke a‘o ‘ana i nā keiki i ka wala‘au Hawai‘i.
Huro! Huro! Ho‘omaika‘i ‘ia lākou.
Ua ‘ike nō ho‘i au, aia kekahi kaiāulu
o ka po‘e e ho‘omau ana i ka wala‘au Hawai‘i,
‘Oia ho‘i ‘o ka po‘e Ni‘ihau.
Ho‘omaika‘i ‘ia lākou.
‘A‘ole paha ka nui o kākou, ka po‘e ma ‘ane‘i
e maopopo loa i ka ‘ōlelo.
Akā, ‘o ‘oukou, ka po‘e e loa‘a ‘ē ai iā ‘oukou ka ‘ōlelo,
aia iā ‘oukou ka hana e ho‘omau, a ho‘oulu,
a hā‘awi aku i ko ‘oukou pōmaika‘i i kāu mau keiki,
a me kāu mau mo‘opuna,
a me ko ‘oukou po‘e makamaka ‘ē a‘e.
E ola ana ka ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i mamuli o ‘oukou.
‘A‘ole paha e kohu kēia hana ho‘ohanohano ia‘u.
No ka mea, ‘a‘ole lawa nā mea a‘u i hana aku ai.
He nui loa ko‘u ‘ai‘ē i kēia ‘āina aloha ‘ia,
‘A‘ole hiki ia‘u ke ho‘oka‘a.
Akā, ke ‘ae nei au i kēia ‘ano hana,
Me ka ha‘aha‘a loa a me ka mahalo nui.
Hau‘oli nō au e ‘ike ‘ia ana kēia mea hanohano
e ka hapa nui o ko‘u ‘ohana pono‘ī
a me ko‘u ‘ohana Hawai‘i.
Mahalo nui i ko‘u mau mea kōkua,
E la‘a nō ‘o ko‘u kua‘ana ‘o ‘Ahuwela.
Mahalo palena ‘ole i ku‘u makana lani, ka‘u wahine,
no kāna paipai mau ‘ana ia‘u.
Aloha nō au iā ‘oukou a pau loa.
I ke Akua ka ho‘omau ‘ana i Kāna ho‘opōmaika‘i iā kākou a pau.
E ola mau loa ka ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i.
I am convinced that the Hawaiian language, as a living language,
is necessary for the well-being of Hawai‘i.
I have been completely persuaded that the culture of Hawai‘i cannot
survive without the language.
I realize that in Hawai‘i we have lost a lot,
but it is not too late to save our language.
Most of us will never be fluent in the Hawaiian language,
For we all live in an English speaking world.
But our help is very important for its survival.
There are folks who have the language,
and others who are working hard on it.
They are deserving of our support.
There are Hawaiians learning the language at home.
They deserve our support.
The Ni‘ihau people have been able to continue using their language at
home, at play, and even in the schools.
That persistence deserves our support.
The ‘Aha Pūnana Leo is teaching our children the language in the schools. They deserve our support.
Our major industries in Hawai‘i depend heavily upon the Hawaiian
culture. They need a healthy culture to thrive.
When Hawaiian language flourishes, the culture is strong,
benefiting those that speak it, and everyone in the community.
The language and culture do not exclude anyone.
It has never been a racial issue.
I have tried to look for things we can do today which will make
the future better for us all.
I sincerely believe that the survival and growth of the Hawaiian
language is one of those things.
Perpetuation of the language dignifies the continuity of a proud culture,
and supports the cultural foundation that makes Hawai‘i vibrantly
I sincerely appreciate this honor granted me
in the presence of my friends and family.
Hawai‘i has welcomed me and treated me well.
I can never fully repay the kindness.
Each of us can help the growth of the Hawaiian language.
It deserves our aloha, and support, wherever we can.
In Washington, in the governor’s office, in the legislature,
in the courts, the media, the bureaucracy,
the schools, the homes, the foundations,
in the businesses, and in the Hawaiian institutions.
We should value the language, and value those that have it.
We should help them when they seek education
for themselves and for their children.
We should help them when they seek employment.
May God bless all of you dedicated people,
You native speakers, you teachers and students,
and this land where we were born or have chosen to live.
Thanks to Lynn and Clay Waters, Hee, to Tony Guerrero,
To those whose work has made this occasion successful,
And to those who have contributed funds.
My thanks have no limit for my wife, Kuumakanalani,
my gift from heaven, for her encouragement and help.
With God’s help and with our kōkua,
may the Hawaiian language live forever.