Hawaiian Culture

HTA’s goal is to honor and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture and community.

Hawaiian Culture

Native Hawaiian culture is at the heart of our islands' uniqueness. There has been a renaissance of the Hawaiian language and culture since the late 70's. Hawaiian practitioners are increasingly visible in the visitor industry. HTA supports programs that perpetuate and recognize the uniqueness and integrity of the Hawaiian culture and community and their significance in differentiating the Hawaiian Islands through unique and genuine visitor experiences.

Native Hawaiian Signature Events Program

Support for Native Hawaiian Signature events is a key element in supporting and perpetuating Hawaiian culture as well as providing unique and memorable experiences for Hawaii's visitors.

  • Prince Kuhio Celebration held annually in March, to honor Hawaiian Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole for his many achievements and contributions to Hawaii and Hawaiians
  • Merrie Monarch Festival held annually in April, is a festival that aims to perpetuate, preserve and promote the art of hula and the Hawaiian culture through education
  • Mele Mei & Na Hoku Hanohano Awards held annually from April to July, is a celebration of Hawaiian music and dance that showcases the uniqueness of our island music scene. 
  • King Kamehameha Celebration held each June, in commemoration of Hawaii's first monarch, King Kamehameha I
  • Prince Lot Hula Festival held in July, is a non-competitive hula event that includes halau hula (hula schools) from Hawaii
  • Aloha Festivals held from August through October is a long-standing event that celebrates the Hawaiian culture through various activities and events on all major islands.

The Maemae Toolkit

Hawaii is a special place, with a blend of cultures, activities, and experiences unique in the world. These islands have drawn the attention of travel marketers and journalists throughout the years, dating back to authors Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson. Along the way, some of those who have featured Hawaii have not always been intimately familiar with the Islands. As a result, our destination has often been misrepresented or inaccurately portrayed.

In response to these issues, we have developed the Maemae Toolkit. It will provide you with the essential information you need to accurately and sensitively promote the Hawaiian Islands. For further information or assistance, please contact us.

See the Maemae Toolkit

Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association

The HTA provides support to the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, a lead organization in implementing HTA's Hawaiian Culture initiatives. These programs and efforts are focused on continuing to bridge the gap between the Hawaiian community and the visitor industry. NaHHA's mission is to promote Hawaiian culture, values, and traditions in the workplace through consultation and education, and to provide opportunities for the Native Hawaiian Community to shape the future of tourism.

Visit the NaHHA website

Kukulu Ola: Living Hawaiian Culture Program

Founded on the value of ma ka hana ka ike (in working one learns), the Kukulu Ola program is partnering with awardees who enhance, strengthen and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture.

HTA selects via requests for proposals (RFP), a group of organizations that will receive funding through its Kukulu Ola program. The program awards funds up to $100,000 to community-based non-profits statewide.

The programs were chosen by the HTA and its Hawaiian Cultural Advisory Committee on criteria designed to address the goal and guiding principles identified in the 2020-2025 HTA Strategic Plan. The goal: Support Native Hawaiian Culture & Community.  Hooulu (grow) the uniqueness and integrity of the Native Hawaiian culture and community through genuine experiences for both visitors and residents.  The guiding principles include: Strengthen the relationship between the visitor industry and the Hawaiian community. • Strive to nurture the Hawaiian culture by creating visitor experiences, activities, and marketing programs that are respectful and accurate. • Support Hawaiian programs and cultural practitioners, craftsmen, musicians, linguists, and other artists to help preserve and perpetuate Hawaiian culture.

For 2020, HTA awarded $1,535,000 in funding through its Kukulu Ola Program to 43 nonprofit programs statewide that are perpetuating Hawaiian culture. Due to the budget impacts caused by COVID-19, the overall value of each project’s award was reduced by 50% in May 2020. This reduced the total funding amount to $680,100 and to 33 total active contracts for the Kukulu Ola program.

See below for a complete list of 2020 Kukulu Ola: Living Hawaiian Culture Program Awardees below.

For more information about this initiative, contact Kalani Kaanaana at (808) 973-2281 or via email [email protected] 

2020 Hawaii Awardees

Edith K. Kanakaole Foundation
Haa - Research and management of the health and wellness of Hula dancers

Hawaii Forest Institute
Hoola Ka Makanaa o Kaupulehu

Hilo-Hamakua Community Development Corporation
Hawaiian Cultural Center of Hamakua

Hui Malama I ke Ala Ulili (huiMAU)
HoAMa Youth Mentorship Programs

Pohaha I Ka Lani
Ka Lau o Ke Kahuli

University of Hawaii
Kukulu Ola: Na Lehua o Mokaulele

Volcano Art Center
Hula Arts At Kilauea

2020 Kauai Awardees

Hui Malama O Kaneiolouma
Uhau Humu Pohaku Reconstruction

Hui o Laka dba Kokee Natural History Museum
Eo e Emalani 2020

Na Kahu o Hoai, Inc.
Educational and Restoration Internships at Kamaloula Cultural Preserve

2020 Maui Nui Awardees

Hana Arts
Hana Legends

Hawaiian Kamalii, Inc. dba Hawaiian Canoe Club
The Pailolo Challenge 2020

Holani Hana, Inc.
Kukulu Hale Hawaii

Hui O Waa Kaulua
28th Annual Celebration of the Arts

Ma Ka Hana Ka Ike
Na Mamo O Haloa - The Children of Haloa

Maui Nui Botanical Gardens Inc.
Increasing Capacity for Visitor and Community Activities with Hawaiian Ethnobotany

Unda Kava 808, Inc.
2020 Maui Middle School Makahiki Championships!

Lanai Culture & Heritage Center
Mala Noeau

Hula Halau O Molokai
Molokai Ka Hula Piko

2020 Oahu Awardees

Bishop Museum
Living Hawaiian Culture: An Expanded Platform for Cultural Practitioners at Bishop Museum

City & County of Honolulu, Department of Parks and Recreation
93rd Annual Lei Day Celebration

Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement
Noeau Series

Friends of Ka Leo Hawaii Media
Ka Leo: The Voice of Hawaii (KKNE 940AM)

Hawaiian Islands Land Trust
Maunawila Heiau Preservation & Education Program

Pilimai 2019

Kukuluhou Internship Program

Hui Aloha Aina Momona
Kapu ka Haloa

Kalihi-Palama Culture & Arts Society
45th Annual Queen Liliuokalani Keiki Hula Competition

Pili Mai 2020

Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services
Ka Lahui o Ka Po (Birthing a Nation)

Mailikukahi Aina Momona Academy
Koolau Aina Momona

I Lea Ka Hula 2020: Celebrating Culture, Preserving Traditions

PAI Foundation
PAI Presents

Ulu Ae Learning Center
Kapuuola Hula Festival

Ulu Ae Learning Center
Ulu Ae Kaiaulu Project

YOUNG OF HEART WORKSHOP dba Puuhonua Society
Kipuka: A Makers' Space

2020 Statewide Awardees

Aha Kane Foundation for the Advancement of Native Hawaiian Males
Hoa Hou

Awaiaulu, Inc.
Mahuahua Translation Training Project: Phase IV

Hawaii Institute for Music Enrichment and Learning Experiences, Inc.
Steel Guitar Festivals (Kauai, Maui, Hawaii Island)

Hawaii Museums Association
Makau Moomeheu: Cultural Competence in Hawaii's Museums

Hula Preservation Society
Bringing Hula Kii To Life

Polynesian Voyaging Society
Preparing for Moananuiakea: Exploring the Pacific

Maemae - Cultural Hawaiian Toolkit

To help market Hawaii authentically, browse through a resource of Hawaiian language tools, style and information guides, cultural activities and festivals, and other pertinent information.

See the Maemae Toolkit

Digital Asset Library

Register to access the Knowledge Bank, a public resource of images related to Hawaii and tourism-related activities.

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Community Programs

Initiatives that help Hawaii provide an experience that is unique and enriching, while valuing and perpetuating Hawaii’s natural and cultural resources and honoring its people and heritage.

See Kukulu Ola Program

See Aloha Aina Program 

See the Community Enrichment Program 


Read the latest announcements that provide up-to-date information about current HTA's programs, events and activities.

Register Now: Hawaii Agri-Tourism Webinar Summer Series 2020

Free Online Training: Certificate for Customer Service in Hawaii

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