Passing of Dr. Noʻeau Warner, Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language

Aloha nō ka lama kū o ka Noʻeau. Ua hala. ʻAʻohe naʻe he wā e pio ai ke kukui. Ua ola iā kākou haumāna.

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Dr. Noʻeau Warner, renowned researcher and teacher, taught countless students the value of speaking Hawaiian through his innovative approaches to language teaching. His work represents a tremendous contribution to the preservation and revitalization of the Hawaiian language. Noʻeau was a founder of the ʻAha Pūnana Leo, a non-profit, family-based educational organization dedicated to the revitalization of the Hawaiian language. His Ke Aʻa Mākālei program, established with funds from a federal grant, was designed to introduce Hawaiian language to

the arena of sports thus increasing the number of viable domains of use available to a growing community of speakers. This effort required an expansion of vocabulary and ways of speaking to accommodate the expression of novel thoughts. A new vocabulary was developed based on existing concepts in order to support this expansion. He even served as the public address announcer for Nā Koa Ānuenue’s Interscholastic League of Honolulu’s football games. Later, he researched and developed a set of 31 children’s books that were designed to strengthen appropriate Hawaiian language use across a variety of topics. Again, these were produced with funds from a federal grant that afforded wide distribution of current literary materials, free of charge, to all families of Hawaiian language immersion school children. He also worked with immersion teachers to develop a pedagogy that could accompany his books. Moreover, Noʻeau had begun to revolutionize the Hawaiian language pedagogy at the university by creating a grammatical schematic that is culturally relevant and simplifies the acquisition of abstract grammatical concepts. Although these endeavors were all part of his job, whether on or off the clock, he was clearly driven to increase the number of participants in the Hawaiian language revitalization movement. He would talk to students, colleagues, legislators, or anyone else at anytime in an effort to support their involvement in Hawaiian language development.

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Noʻeau was first employed at UH-Mānoa in1978 as a Lecturer teaching Hawaiian 101 in the Indo-Pacific Language Department (IPLD). He continued to teach through Spring 1984, after which he left for a semester to take up an Instructor position in Hawaiian at UH-Hilo. In Spring 1985, he returned to IPLD as an Instructor of Hawaiian.  He continued in this position until his appointment to the position of Assistant Professor in 1994 with the Department of Hawaiian and Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures. In 2003, Noʻeau was promoted to Associate Professor where he has held several leadership positions, including director of Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian Language.

Noʻeau is survived by his brother Herbert, his sister Claudia, and his brother-in-law Roy. He is also remembered with great admiration and aloha by his colleagues and students:

“Although I did not have the good fortune of having No‘eau as a Kumu, I have been taught and mentored by many excellent Hawaiian language instructors and professors who were taught and mentored by him.  I recall them crediting No‘eau for their acquisition of the language, his scholarship, and his strong leadership in the Hawaiian language revitalization movement.  So, in a sense, I was taught by No‘eau and benefited from his good work.” — J. Keaweʻaimoku Kaholokula

“I had great conversations with No‘eau in the mid 1980s about an inspiring concept of establishing Hawaiian-language preschools (Pūnana Leo). Later, when my work included studies of the use of Hawaiian in schools, many persons at the sites volunteered that they felt much gratitude and aloha for what No‘eau had done to support education through the medium of Hawaiian. Today, so many of us revere him for his major contributions that have been and will be of substantial benefit to all of us i ka wā mamua, i kēia manawa, a me i ka wā mahope. I served on his doctoral committee in the Educational Psychology Department at UHM; in addition to being an exceptional haumana/student at that time, No‘eau has been and will also always be ku‘u kumu a me ku‘u hoaloha.” — Morris K. Lai

“I have known Noʻeau since 1986 when I first arrived at UH Mānoa to complete my PhD in educational psychology. Since then, I have stood in awe of Noʻeau’s selfless dedication to the revitalization of the Hawaiian people through the revitalization of the Hawaiian language and culture. His reputation as the leading authority on Hawaiian immersion education is known worldwide.For those of us close to him, we celebrate this total dedication to the Hawaiian people, we laugh at his stories, and we weep because we are no longer able to make new stories with him.” — Margie Maaka

“He kumu alakaʻi wiwoʻole a he meʻe aloha ʻo Noʻeau no ka lāhui Hawaiʻi. Nāna i lū aku i ka ʻanoʻano hoʻōla ʻōlelo makuahine e mōhala aʻe nei. ʻIke ʻia hoʻi nā hua o kāna mau hana noʻeau, he nui palena ʻole, mai kekahi kumu a kekahi kumu aku a puni ʻo Hawaiʻinuiākea i nā pūnana leo e lewalewa ana ma nā lālā nui o kāna mau kumu i kanu ai. ʻIke ʻia hoʻi e ka nui manu e mūkīkī ana i ka wai o Mānoa. I ulu nō ka lālā i ke kumu noʻeau.” — K. Kapāʻanaokalāokeola Oliveira

“Ke aloha wale no Kumu Noʻeau Warner. He was my biggest supporter as my kumu, boss, and colleague here at UH Mānoa. Kumu Noʻeau was the bridge between the University and the Hawaiian language immersion program, and his legacy is one that connects the community of Hawaiian speaking families with academia—a pilina that Noʻeau forged through decades of work outside of “work”. I know there are countless students, parents, and fellow educators who find themselves realizing that they are truly blessed to have known Noʻeau and his passion for teaching.” — Former Student Ali Perez

“Based on my personal and professional association with Noʻeau, I can attest to his incredible career accomplishments whilst at the University of Hawaiʻi. His passing is a significant loss, not only to the Hawaiian language movement, but also to the indigenous language movement worldwide. Noʻeau was an inspiring educator, held in the highest regard for his excellence in research, teaching, and service.  I believe he brought the very best that a faculty member is able to bring to a university. He was a productive scholar who maintained the highest standards for his own teaching and research programs and encouraged the same from his colleagues and students. We, in Aotearoa/New Zealand, celebrate his career contributions and mourn his passing.” –Linda Tuhiwai Smith

“During his illustrious career, Noʻeau was showered with many honors. In 2003, Noʻeau received the UH Mānoa Chancellor’s Citation for Meritorious Teaching and in 2010, he received the Hawaiʻi Association of Language Teachers’ Excellence in Teaching Award. Both awards recognized his significant contributions to teaching and student learning. In 2016, Noʻeau was nominated by his peers in the local, national, and international arenas and by his students for the Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research. Noʻeau’s research has helped to establish the University of Hawaiʻi as a leader in the field of indigenous language revitalization. The Hawaiian/indigenous community recognizes him for his outstanding research.” — Laiana Wong

“Kūlia i ka nuʻu ʻStrive for the summitʻ is one of our kūpuna’s ʻōlelo Noʻeau manifested in all of his actions and behaviors. It is evidenced by the endeavors he accomplished and the awards he received. I truly believe he desired excellence not only for himself but also for his students and colleagues. As a student of his, I was and continue to be enthralled by his wisdom. He was an awesome kumu, ʻaʻole ʻo ia e loaʻa. Being mentored by Noʻeau, I witnessed his deep concern and sincere care for his students, their success in Hawaiian language, their academic achievements and life itself.” –Kekeha

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