The Place, The People, The Legacy.
On O'ahu, Ka Punahou is the fresh water spring located at the base of Tantulus in Makiki Valley. We believe Kakea, the water god, created Ka Punahou by diverting water from the Wailele spring and Kanawai pond. Because of Kakea, Kauawa'ahila used the freshwater to build a pond for Kauaki'owao, his sister. He also used the fresh spring to cultivate taro. If it weren't for Kakea looking favorably on the brother and sister, they wouldn't have built a safe haven from their wicked stepmother.
Today, the School, Punahou is built on and around the fresh spring. It serves as a safe haven for many young people who are learning their way. And, if you stand at the lower level of Bishop Hall near Piper's Pali you can feel Wailele and Kanawai roaring beneath your feet.
Ka Punahou was founded in 1841. It started as a mission by the Christian missionaries Rev. Hiram Bingham and his wife Sybil Moseley Bingham. Through their tireless work and the support of Queen Ka'ahumanu, they pioneered a place which educated Hawaii's people for the next 178 years and beyond. By 1842, Punahou was the only school serving the Pacific Region. At that time, it was the only School which, taught English West of the Rocky Mountains and East of Asia. Its legacy lives in:
- The centering focus of place and the 'aina gifted to Punahou and,
- An educational vision of pioneering missionaries.
Punahou places a reverence for place inspiring a philosophy of educational reflection and renewal which thrives today. However, the early students were primarily missionary. By the 20th Century, Punahou opened its doors to Hawai'i's children.
My sister, brother and I started at Punahou in 1971 and graduated in 1978, 1980, and 1983. From there, we completed our undergraduate programs with my sister and brother continuing with postgraduate degrees.
Punahou was and is a place of extraordinary educational excellence and expectations. And to this day l can't figure out how I was accepted. I'm not good with standardized exams, nor can I imagine my score saying, "this is a keeper.", but in I went. At 14, finishing up a day trip to another private school I knew Punahou was special. I knew I was in the right place.
As for the spiritual na'au (seat of thought, of affection, of intention) of the place and the people who bring their energy, Punahou gathers educators who are like-hearted, like-minded and like-spirited. Through the years, Punahou has never wavered from human excellence, unparalleled stewardship of society and place, and developing extraordinary citizens.
It is at Ka Punahou where I started to understand the bigger picture. The guidance of family practice, cultural traditions, Punahou’s excellence and Hawaii's melting pot of culture and Western philosophies, I was born. I soon became the silent example of unbroken cultural traditions, familial fundamentals, creative intellect and Western philosophies.
What does it all mean? It means I am who I am because of the best of my lineage, heritage, education and the good 'ole USA.