The Hawaiian Renaissance: A Cultural Revival

Explore the Hawaiian Renaissance’s impact on culture, language, arts, and activism, while connecting with Hawaii’s rich heritage and unique traditions.

The Hawaiian Renaissance: A Cultural Revival
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The Hawaiian Renaissance is a period of cultural revival and reawakening that has significantly shaped modern Hawaiian culture and identity. This article aims to educate travelers about this important period and its ongoing impact on the Hawaiian Islands. By understanding the Hawaiian Renaissance, visitors can better appreciate the rich history and heritage of this beautiful destination.

The Origins of the Hawaiian Renaissance

The Hawaiian Renaissance emerged in the 1960s and 1970s as a response to centuries of colonization, cultural suppression, and loss of land rights. Key figures such as George Helm, Haunani-Kay Trask, and Kekuni Blaisdell played crucial roles in sparking this cultural revival, as did events like the occupation of Kahoʻolawe Island and the 1978 Hawaiʻi State Constitutional Convention.

Language Revitalization

Efforts to revive the Hawaiian language have been central to the Hawaiian Renaissance. Hawaiian language immersion schools, such as Pūnana Leo preschools and Kula Kaiapuni public schools, have played a crucial role in preserving the language for future generations. Additionally, the use of Hawaiian in media and public spaces has increased its visibility and accessibility.

Traditional Arts and Crafts

The resurgence of traditional Hawaiian arts and crafts during the Hawaiian Renaissance has helped to preserve and celebrate the islands’ unique heritage. Kapa making (barkcloth), wood carving, and featherwork are just a few of the art forms that have experienced a revival. Today, these practices continue to be passed down through generations, ensuring their survival and continued growth.

Music and Dance

Traditional Hawaiian music and dance have also experienced a resurgence during the Hawaiian Renaissance. The revival of hula, both kahiko (ancient) and ʻauana (modern) styles, as well as the popularity of Hawaiian slack-key guitar, has played a significant role in maintaining a connection to Hawaiian heritage and fostering a sense of cultural pride.

Land and Ocean Stewardship

The Hawaiian Renaissance has brought renewed emphasis on land and ocean stewardship. Revitalization of traditional agriculture and fishpond practices, such as loʻi kalo (taro farming) and loko iʻa (fishponds), have reconnected communities with their ancestral knowledge and resources. The establishment of marine conservation areas has also helped to protect the islands’ fragile ecosystems.

Political Activism

Political activism has been a driving force in the Hawaiian Renaissance, with a focus on Hawaiian sovereignty, land rights, and self-determination. Key events, such as the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana movement and ongoing efforts to achieve federal recognition for Native Hawaiians, have brought attention to the importance of political and cultural autonomy for the Hawaiian people.

Experiencing the Hawaiian Renaissance Today

Travelers can experience the ongoing impact of the Hawaiian Renaissance firsthand by visiting cultural centers like the Bishop Museum or the Polynesian Cultural Center, attending festivals and events such as the Merrie Monarch Festival, or participating in workshops and classes that teach traditional skills and practices, like lei making or hula lessons.


The Hawaiian Renaissance is a testament to the resilience and strength of Hawaiian culture. As travelers explore the Hawaiian Islands, learning more about this significant period will deepen their understanding and connection to this remarkable place. By appreciating and respecting the ongoing cultural revival, visitors can contribute to the preservation and celebration of Hawaii’s unique heritage.


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