Nanea, 29, Native Hawaiian

ʻO Nanea Lo koʻu inoa. No Papakōlea mai au noho au ma Kaimukī. This portrait is from kauwela (summer) 2018 where I am 29 years old, newly graduated with my bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies: urban and regional planning. Single, vibrant, kūpaʻa in my beliefs, and ready to take the world on.

During this time, I was away from the Kingdom traveling with another mana wāhine, Ānuenue Kanahele, to Norway. We were selected from the Matsunaga Conflict and Resolution Center for the Peace Scholar Program where I attended Oslo University International Summer School. There were 91 countries represented from all over the world. Before applying for the program, I had not met the other participant who was selected, but to my surprise she was another Kānaka Maoli. As we studied abroad, we realized that on the international platform there was a severe disconnect that so many people had from the reality of what Hawaiʻi represents. Many did not know about the distress that the Hawaiian Kingdom and its people.

In studying peace at UH Mānoa and abroad I realized that peace isn't just about being reposed or only for yogis. Peace is about learning how to navigate through difficult situations, opposition, and learning skill sets of communication in order to get to a place of understanding.

I reflected constantly while I was away for those seven weeks, about peace and how my kūpuna practiced it. I thought about my ancestors, who persevered through trying times of genocide, racism, systematic oppression, eradication of culture and language, and countless other hardships.

I thought about my people now, who continue to persevere through this colonial setting we live in today, and have to navigate the dual roles of being illegally occupied in our own nation by America, yet hold strong to our culture and traditions and continue to show the world what amazing people we are as the original people of this ʻāina, Kānaka Maoli.

Peace showed me during this time and continued to show me resilience. There have been many situations that forced me to open up and utilize different communication styles that I learned at Nansen Peace and Dialogue Center in Lillehammer, Norway.

I wanted to solidify this time in my life with getting a portrait done so that I can share it with my ʻohana. I learned about different issues happening in the world and was able to connect with other indigenous and native peoples to learn about their stories. During this time I became more humbled and realized how more intertwined we as Kānaka Maoli are to different people around the world, it was a time where I forged connections on an international platform and got to represent Lāhui o Hawaiʻi. Norway has become a part of my life story now and I’m glad I was able to be a part of this portrait project and be able to share my moʻolelo. This time away from the kingdom transformed my positionality in the world and made me want to be able to serve the Lāhui of Hawaiʻi even more. He Hawaiʻi au a mau a mau!
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