Pūkuʻi i ke Aloha: Mary Kawena Pukui Learning Commons Donor Celebration and Concert

On May 24, leadership donors, whose early gifts are helping to build the new Mary Kawena Pukui Learning Commons, were celebrated at a reception in their honor at Campbell Courtyard.

The Mary Kawena Pukui Learning Commons project is the complete renovation of the Cooke Library building scheduled for completion by 2026. Fundraising is well underway with generous donors contributing or pledging more than half the amount needed for the cost of construction for the facility. Named in honor of Hawaiian scholar, historian, composer and Punahou teacher, we look forward to inspiring other donors to help complete this first new construction in the Academy in the 21st century. 

The intimate reception featured locally-sourced pupu prepared by Chef Mark Noguchi ’93 and a special mele and hula by members of the seventh grade choir. Following the tasty food, attendees transitioned to Twigg-Smith Pavilion where they enjoyed the Punahou eighth grade Hawaiian Music Ensemble’s Spring Hō‘ike. This performance for parents and friends celebrated the legacy of Mary Kawena Pukui with a program highlighting her mele and hula.

Music teacher and kumu hula, Lauren Chang ’01 Williams shared with the crowd that a middle school Hawaiian music class was only introduced at Punahou two years ago. “Tonight, you will witness haumāna who came to us with immense potential, eager to be grounded in the traditions of our kūpuna,” Williams said. “They will stand before us all, hopefully, transformed, with a new found confidence and a connection to this home, Hawaiʻi, that may not have been there just a year ago.” 

She thanked the donors for their generous support of Punahou because their contributions facilitate connecting to the ʻike kūpuna of scholars like Mary Kawena Pukui. “Mahalo nui loa for believing in our mission and for supporting the arts at Punahou School,” she said. “Together, we are nurturing the next generation of musicians, leaders and cultural stewards.”

Board Chair Wendy Crabb noted that “it was a very special evening full of the beauty and the ‘ike Hawai‘i that Mary Kawena Pukui’s pioneering work has made possible. I am thrilled that we are commemorating her impact with the naming of the Mary Kawena Pukui Learning Commons.”

To learn more about Mary Kawena Pukui and the building project, see learningcommons.punahou.edu.

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