Hā Kūpuna, the National Resource Center for Native Hawaiian Elders, is one of three National Resource Centers for Native Elders funded by the U.S. Administration on Aging, Department of Health and Human Services. Other Centers are the National Resource Center on Native American Aging at the University of North Dakota and the National Resource Center for Alaska Natives at the University of Alaska, Anchorage.
As a population, Native Hawaiians—the indigenous people of Hawaiʻi—experience numerous social and health concerns that together lead to generally poorer health and economic outcomes compared to the US population. Native Hawaiian elders, or kūpuna, have some of the nation’s shortest life expectancies, and are more likely to be impoverished, have greater problems with self-care, and underutilize health care services compared to their non-native elder counterparts in Hawai`i. The provision of services that are culturally appropriate and responsive is one strategy to address these disparities.
Hā Kūpuna was established in September 2006 at the University of Hawaiʻi Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work. With the nation’s largest enrollment of Native Hawaiian students, the University of Hawaiʻi has as its mission the development and transmission of knowledge for the betterment of all Native Hawaiians. The National Resource Center for Native Hawaiian Elders seeks to continue this commitment with a focus on improving the well-being of kūpuna by forging stronger collaborative relationships between the University and Native Hawaiian and gerontology communities.