What is ʻŌiwi Online?
ʻŌiwi Online is a cultural learning initiative founded by Pōhaikealoha during Ka Maka ‘Inana 2019.
As both a woman in tech and a cultural preservation advocate, Pōhai sought to leverage her skills toward building a platform that could help increase access to Hawaiian learning programs and resources especially for those adults and kupuna just beginning their journey of reconnecting.
"This particular goal is close to my heart as someone who did not grow up with kupuna to learn from. My history of disconnect is not an uncommon story but because I've had wonderful friends to pull me into spaces I did not yet know about, I understood the importance of being that hand to pull others in as well."
Removing Barriers to Cultural Learning
Part of achieving our goal of increasing access to cultural learning programs is to help potential learners overcome barriers to entry.
Some of the difficulties many native Hawaiians face in accessing cultural learning include:
financial barriers such as inability to pay for classes and institutionalized learning
time, location & travel conflicts that hinder participation
lack of program exposure
personal inhibitions such as intimidation when entering circles of those more "maʻa" to the subject matter
ʻŌiwi Online aims to ease these burdens by aggregating as many learning resources as possible so learners have other options when they are not able to participate in a particular program. In addition, through calendar partnerships, we hope the community will never be out of the loop of workshops, events, or new initiatives happening around the pae ʻāina.
In the future, ʻŌiwi Online also hopes to manage a fund for helping to pay program fees or transportation costs for disadvantaged learners to participate in various cultural opportunities, as well as provide funding for kumu themselves to offer free workshops.
The Connection Component
Beyond the more technical barriers to cultural learning and participation, one of the biggest reasons for cultural disconnect can be the lack of a human bridge to it. Various learners admitted to finally bringing themselves into cultural spaces because of not having family who were knowledgeable or immersed in Hawaiian culture.
This is why ʻŌiwi Online was built to be more than a directory of resources. Beyond connecting people to classes, workshops, events and immersion opportunities, most importantly we hope to connect people to each other and to the knowledge and experiences we can learn from one another.
Purple Prize Participation
Though a dream long before, ʻŌiwi Online was made possible during a larger initiative to ideate indigenous community solutions by bringing people together from across the pae ʻaina for the Ka Maka ʻInana and (K)New Futures programs of Purple Maiʻa.
Concluding in April 2020, Ka Maka ʻInana and (K)New Futures awarded several teams a spot in the Purple Prize Indigenous Innovation Incubator. Among these were MAG Hugs, Exchange Avenue, Vegetation Continuum, FOODPrint and ʻŌiwi Online.
After three months of development at the conclusion of Purple Prize, ʻŌiwi Online won 2nd Place in the People's Choice Awards and is now going on to be incorporated under the Kaʻapeha Media umbrella.