Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Leadership Studies


Organization & Leadership EdD

First Advisor

Ellen A. Herda

Second Advisor

Betty Taylor

Third Advisor

Patricia Mitchell


Hawaii is an exotic land with a rich history and a culture imbued with meaning, including the performing arts. Such facets of any land need to be understood and preserved for future generations. The most significant aspect of Hawaiian arts is the hula kahiko, a text in motion, which when performed displays the story of Hawaii's past. The hula was forbidden by Protestant missionaries in the 1820's and was reduced to near cultural extinction. As a result, many First Hawaiians do not clearly understand the richness of their own history. Without this understanding, it is difficult for them to have an idea of who they are today. Moreover, the past is also critical for appropriating a better future. Therefore, the hula kahiko may serve as a medium through which First Hawaiians can learn about their own identity.

Theory and Protocol

The research for this study on First Hawaiian Performing Arts was conducted using Her-da's (1999) guidelines for critical hermeneutic participatory research. Following these principles, the researcher and participants create a relationship in which language and culture come into play. Conversations lead to further reflection and understanding, and it is in this space that we can open new worlds filled with possibilities.

Research Categories

The following primary constructs Narrative Identity, Mimesis, and Forgiveness guided this research, and served as the basis for data collection, analysis and further reflection. Narrative Identity, the events in our lives fit into a narrative, and when we tell it, there is truth and power in our story. We have the power to fuse elements of the past with a bright and unknown future. Mimesis can be used to understand how a society's way of life can be remembered or forgotten over time. Imagination is the cornerstone for action; we find the freedom to project possibilities and envision a new world.


The participants of this study revealed that our culture is the one direct link we have to the past. The hula kahiko is a national treasure that must be preserved and passed on to future generations. The following findings were discovered through conversations with participants: (1) The Hula kahiko is for Everyone who comes with the right attitude, the right heart, and the desire to learn more about a native culture and its history; (2) Hula kahiko honors the past and speaks to the future; (3) Education is the key to success; (4) Forgiveness is essential to moving forward into the future.