Papa Ola Lōkahi, in partnership with ‘Ahahui o nā Kauka, Association of Native Hawaiian Physicians, has embarked on an campaign to raise awareness of issues around Hawaiian involvement in genetic and genomic research for medical purposes. We have begun by introducing a series of presentations on Hawaiian Genomics in the fall of 2020, and we are providing a reading list below.  Eventually, we will be reaching out to Hawaiian communities for guidance.  Meanwhile, check back here regularly to catch up on the resources so that you and yours are able to make informed recommendations.



Ancient Genomics 2020 1023 finalOctober 23, 2020, Friday, 6:00 PM HST










Hawaiian Genomics 101 announcement flyer 2020 1010 final


October 10, 2020, Saturday, 4:00 PM HST


Recording (posted soon)









Reading List

                                                  more will be posted soon



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Some of the funniest memes I’ve seen on social media lately are those regarding parents being at home with their keiki while they continue the school year through distance learning. I have always known I could never do the job of a kumu and now I join so many others who have a new admiration and respect for the kumu in our lives.

Quite honestly, I have never been much help with my high school freshman’s assignments even “pre-pandemic.  My enhanced appreciation for the teachers in my life is multiplied for those kumu who are parents themselves, doing double duty from the home office. As our haumana are adapting, so are the kumu.

They have had to adjust, acquire new skills and face many challenges and expectations themselves.

Coach AlaMahalo to the countless educators I have as friends and family who influence and encourageme and my children. It can’t be easy to do your job with the added responsibilities of teaching online, tending to your own family situations, and defending your value to the nay-sayers.

Mahalo to my hiapo’s professor, whosuddenly  compelled to learn and use unfamiliar technology, had the humility to seek help.

Mahalo to my son’s coaches and kumu who conduct daily calls and texts to see if my son is keeping up with college courses and to offer help that extends beyond the schoolwork.

Mahalo to my high school freshman’s kumu for the daily check-ins, emails, updates and endless outreach to support my daughter and ensure she and her classmates finish their last quarter strong.

Doc HamiltonLastly, mahalo to my own "Lunch & Learn" kumu who offers us the opportunity to, via video-conference, learn ōlelo Hawai‘i and to honor beliefs and practices around our Hawaiian culture and health.

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week. Join me in honoring (or appreciating) our teachers, kumu, coaches and mentors past and present.They sacrifice, shape lives, sow  seeds of success, and they do it with aloha in action and word. Mahalo nui.

~ Tam-e Fa'agau     

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Ian Awai mini

Ian Keaupuni Awai is a student at the University of Washington School of Medicine MEDEX Northwest Physician Assistant Program and a recipient of the Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship Program. Raised in the state of Washington, he and his family will be returning soon to serve in a medically underserved community in Hawaii.

I have to admit, that when I heard about Coronavirus coming to our shores, I did not take it seriously, nor did I think much would happen. The news reported that we should prepare for our lives to be interrupted. I brushed it off.

I was wrapping up an orthopedic rotation when the first cases began. Living only an hour and a half from the nursing home that was hit first, these events began to gain my curiosity, but it did not quite have my attention yet.

My next rotation was my emergency room rotation at the Wai‘anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center. Things could not have gone better. I was gaining rapport with patients and the staff, and my preceptor was allowing me to participate in procedures.  I was learning fast. This was where I wanted to be.

On the morning of March 16th, I received an email from the Dean of the University of Washington’s School of Medicine stating that we had to pack our things.  All rotations are cancelled until further notice.

This came as a shocking blow. What did this mean? When can I go back to school? Am I graduating late now? There were a lot of questions with no answers.

No sooner did I find myself on a plane back to Washington State. At this point, there were more coronavirus cases, as well as deaths. This is when I realized this was a lot more serious than I had anticipated.

Shortly after my return, the governor placed the state on a statewide “shelter in place” and schools were cancelled. My kids were no longer going to school until further notice. We were to stay in our homes.

It is now late April, and our “shelter in place” orders continue until May. Maybe longer. This has been a trying time for our ‘ohana. Before lockdown, we were very social with friends and family. This could no longer be. We are having to socially distance ourselves from loved ones, which includes grandparents who live close by. This has been one of the most difficult aspects of this quarantine.

Come what may and love it WCCHC pohaku

We find ways to keep ourselves busy, and most importantly, sane. We are moving out of our home to an apartment, until school is pau and we can begin our next chapter in Hawai‘i. Until then, we keep ourselves active. We have been homeschooling our kids to a degree, which has not been easy, but we are managing. One day at a time. We are virtually visiting friends and family through Zoom and FaceTime, which does help. The gym has closed down, so I workout with water bottle cases and other household items, which has been a great method of self-care.  I have time to study for my boards, as well as some time playing a bit of Call of Duty with friends. This has all helped.

During this time, I am reminded of a quote I heard growing up: “come what may, and love it.” There are things we can change, and there are things we cannot. We can choose to sink into depression and be pissed at the world for what is going on. That is a fair reaction. However, what purpose does this serve? I spent a good amount of time angry. Angry that I will be graduating late, angry that I couldn’t spend more time at a rotation I loved, angry that I am unable to see my loved ones in person, angry that our lives have been disrupted. Will my anger and frustration cause the disease to leave? Will it allow our economy to survive or prevent me from potentially getting sick? Probably not.

If there is one take away, it’s this: do what you can with what you have. We have laughed, cried, yelled and screamed together. It has been a time for us to grow together in ways we haven’t before. I am grateful for this unexpected trial in life. There are a lot of uncertainties right now, and questions with no answers right now. All we can decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

~ Ian Keaupuni Awai, PA student

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A Kaonohi cropAlexander Friedenburg Ka‘ōhiai Ka‘ōnohi, born on this day in 1905, combined the mana of his kūpuna with modern science of his time. A naturopathic physician, pharmacist, botanist and healer, Dr. Ka‘ōnohi was beloved by family and patients alike.  He was also a mentor and a teacher, who personally sponsored other Hawaiians in their healing pursuits whether nursing, medicine or lā‘au lapa‘au. 

So, it seems only fitting that we honor Dr. Ka‘ōnohi on his lā hānau by shining some light on a modern day Hawaiian naturopath.

Landon Opunui ND

Dr. Landon Kalaua‘e ‘Ōpūnui has recently been appointed medical director at Nā Pu‘uwai, the Native Hawaiian Health Care System that serves the islands of Lāna‘i and Molokai, including Kalaupapa. He may be the only kanaka maoli naturopath today.

Dr. ‘Ōpūnui is a graduate of the Kamehameha Schools, Loyola Marymount, and Bastyr University in Seattle where he studied naturopathic medicine.  Like Dr. Ka‘ōnohi, whose grandfathers and great-grandfathers were herbal medicine practitioners, Dr. ‘Ōpūnui was inspired by his kupuna to be a healer.

Kaonohi Naturopathic Clinic clipping 49494105

When the Ka‘ōnohi Clinic opened on the corner of Castle and Kapāhulu streets in Honolulu in 1940, Dr. Ka‘ōnohi specialized in Hawaiian herb treatments, drugless medicine and bloodless surgery.  He was a pioneer in integrating western and traditional practices into his daily work. 

Dr. ‘Ōpūnui is also a pioneer: the first naturopathic doctor to serve as medical director for any Native Hawaiian Health Care System, and the first naturopath to become fully credentialed as a primary care physician in HMSA’s network of PCPs. His practice serves a bridge between western and traditional medicine.  He is licensed to assess, diagnose and treat disease like his medical counterparts, then is likely to offer more natural therapies to manage each patient’s illness while seeking out the root cause.

Among Dr. ‘Ōpūnui’s visions for Nā Pu‘uwai are to create and implement innovative programs that address the health needs of the community, and promote collaboration within the Native Hawaiian Health Care System and among health care providers, clinics and hospitals that serve Molokai and Lāna‘i.

Congratulations, Dr. ‘Ōpūnui, on your appointment!  As you honor your own kūpuna, we see you are also honoring the genealogy of Hawaiians in naturopathic medicine.


 # # #

More about Dr. Ka‘ōnohi here and in this video, and about the Ka‘ōnohi Awards

More about Dr. ‘Ōpūnui and his latest appointment.










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CHUN HONDA 2014 2015 Alyssa Chun

Dr. Alyssa Ann Ka‘ihilani Chun-Honda is from Kāne‘ohe.  She is a pediatrician-in-residency and a recipient of the Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship.  Dr. Chun-Honda reflects on her experiences during these challenging times.


During these times of COVID, life has surely changed. You can’t hang out with your family or friends. You can’t go hiking on some of the popular trails or enjoy time on the beach. Most of your time is spent in front of a screen on either Zoom or Facetime. Masks have become an everyday attire. Lines form outside of grocery stores with tape markers making sure customers stand six feet apart. For those of us in healthcare, these changes are also part of our everyday routine, but with a little twist depending on whether or not we are in the hospital.

My everyday routine was a little different, depending on the hospital I was working at. My temperature was scanned every day prior to entering the hospital or I was asked a series of questions such as Do you have a cough, shortness of breath, or fever? After passing the screening process, I was given a sticker to wear on my badge. I had to wear a surgical mask at all times regardless if I was in or out of a patient’s room.  

Once I was through the screening process, I would pass by the Emergency Department and some of our adult medicine colleagues and feel a sense of gratitude for them. They are dealing with a different severity of COVID as adults are much more affected. Luckily for Pediatrics, kids are not as impacted by COVID, although they still can get sick. Even though we were not seeing the same influx of admissions, PUIs or COVID positive patients, Pediatrics was still affected. Only 1 parent was allowed to be with the patient once admitted. If the patient was COVID positive, visitation was basically restricted. We had to question everything. I mean kids get sick all the time. They have runny noses or sniffles here and there. We would question things like: Do they have COVID or just your standard cold? Are these allergies? Most people in the community are asymptomatic, so does the patient we just admitted for a bad skin infection have COVID even though symptom free? Is the parent with them an asymptomatic carrier? Do we test when there’s a shortage? We were constantly questioning and learning about this novel virus.

Sometimes I felt a sense of guilt knowing how much our adult medicine colleagues or New York colleagues were facing. Or how much our interdisciplinary colleagues were affected. Registered nurses were putting themselves at higher risk as they have much more interaction with the patients. Same goes for respiratory therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and other first responders. Often more interactions than the doctor. So when people tell me thank you for what I do, I tell them thank you, but there are others that deserve more thanks.

Now don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean I didn’t think about the risks associated with going to the hospital every day. There’s no such thing as true social distancing in the hospital. Yes, we wear masks all the time, don’t shake hands, always wash our hands or use sanitizer and try to keep our distance as able. We limit the number of providers entering the room. Try virtual rounding as able. However, we still meet new patients and parents every day. We spend time with other healthcare workers which might not be the same individual day in and day out. Different residents come in as the rotation and shift changes. Different RNs, RTs, OTs, PTs come in depending on the shift. There are many interactions. The risk is high, so when I went home, my clothes went straight into the washer, and I showered immediately. No interaction at home until these things were done. I did not want to risk any transmission to my husband.

So I guess the thanks I get from others do get some sort of validation. Does the increased risk make me regret my profession? Not at all. If anything, I feel a stronger calling to serve. This is what I signed up for. Well, not a pandemic but to help others when it comes to health. With everything that has happened with COVID, my identity to serve has not changed. Only the process on how I do it.

So with these times of COVID, life sure has changed. It may not go back to what it was before or may take a while before it ever does. But all we can do is continue to move forward. One healthcare worker at a time. One parent at a time. One family member or friend at a time. One day at a time.

~ Alyssa Chun-Honda, MD

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