Haunani-Kay Trask

On July 3, 2021 we witnessed the passing of a great kumu and fearless leader. Haunani-Kay Trask dedicated her life to the future of Hawaii, for the return of Hawaiian lands, and for the path toward sovereignty. She was a strong and powerful manawahine, a champion of Hawaiian rights, a scholar, a poet and so much more. Mahalo, Haunani-Kay Trask.

Into our light I will go forever

Into our seaweed

clouds and saltwarm


Into our windswept

ʻehu kai, burnt

sands gleaming.

Into our sanctuaries

of hushed bamboo

awash in amber.

Into the passion

of our parted Koʻolau

luminous vulva.

Into Kāneʻs pendulous

breadfruit, resinous

with semen.

Into our wetlands

of Heʻeia

bubbling black mud.

Into our spangled

blue-leaf taro,

flooded with wai.

Into Waiāhole,

chattering with rains

and silvered fish.

Into our shallows

of Kualoa

translucent Akua.

Into the hum of

reef-ringed Kaʻaʻawa

pungent with limu.

Into our corals of

far Kahana, sea-cave

of Hina.

Into our chambered

springs of Punaluʻu

ginger misting.

Into the songs of

lost Lāʻie, cool

light haunting.

Into murmuring


plumed sands chanting.

Into the waʻa of

Kanaloa, voyaging

moana nui.

Into our sovereign suns

drunk on the mana

of Hawaiʻi.

From Haunani-Kay Trask’s book of poetry, Night is a Sharkskin Drum

Haunani-Kay Trask October 3, 1949 – July 3, 2021, A lifelong scholar and activist, Haunani-Kay Trask was a fearless leader of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement, fighting for Hawaii’s self-determination. A founding member of Ka Lahui Hawai’i, Trask spoke and wrote boldly about Native Hawaiian rights, institutional racism, and gender discrimination. She was the founding director of the Kamakak’okalani Center for Hawaiian Studies on the Manoa campus, a published poet, and co-wrote/co-produced the award-winning documentary “Act of War: The Overthrow of the Hawaiian Nation.” She is widely considered one of the most influential women in Hawaiian history.

Image Credit: Brett Uprichard

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