“Wayfinding through the Storm” by Gavan Daws

Wayfinding through the Storm

I wasn’t in Hawaii when the Kamehameha Schools and Bishop Estate “Broken Trust” controversy erupted. I thought it was about the arrogance and irresponsible spending of the trustees. I didn’t realize how the trustees’ actions hurt everyone, and created an environment of frustration, mistrust, and fear.

That is, until I read “Wayfinding through the Storm: Speaking Truth to Power at Kamehameha Schools 1993-1999” (2009) edited by Gavan Daws and Na Leo O Kamehameha. It is a powerful compilation of over 150 voices of Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate faculty, staff, students, alumni, and others, based on interviews conducted by David Kawika Eyre. The book is intended to help us remember what happened; reinforce the bonds of the Hawaiian community; and remind us that wayfinding is about building relationships, not just achieving a goal.

After an overview of events leading up to the “Broken Trust” and the march on Kawaiaha‘o Plaza, the book is ordered chronologically into 23 sections. There are photos and cartoons, but no further narrative; each voice speaks for itself.

“We were told that this is the way it’s going to be, and that the bottom line is there will be no discussion,” states Hawaiian language teacher Ekela Kaniaupio-Crozier (page 132).

Performing arts teacher and department head Randie Fong says, “I would give up my job at Kamehameha so that there wouldn’t be any game playing. This is a very serious thing, and it’s hurting our school,” (page 156).

“If we failed to stand up at that time, then all we stood for in front of our kids failed with us,” Hawaiian language teacher Kawika Eyre states (page 200).

Their words reveal experiences straight out of a suspense novel, with secret meetings, closed boardrooms, intimidation, snitches, last-minute contracts, hit lists, lie detectors, and phone taps.

Their sincerity and passion are a sharp contrast to trustee Lokelani Lindsay, who asserts, “I still don’t feel I have done anything wrong” (page 283).

I was moved to see familiar names: my high school classmate Hailama Farden, now a Hawaiian language teacher; Gail Fujimoto, the librarian who sponsored our high school Literary Society; our Song Contest advisor Randie Fong; and even Kahu David Kaupu.

“Wayfinding through the Storm” is emotional, personal, and honest. More than any article or essay, the words of those personally affected by the “Broken Trust” are a testament to their focus on students and conviction to do the right thing.

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