The Invisible Magic of Miwa. A Hui Hou & Mahalo!

ʻIke ʻia no ka loea i ke kuahu.
An expert is recognized by the altar he builds.
-ʻŌlelo Noʻeau 1208

Aloha hoa aloha and ʻohana,

In this time of transition marked by the equinox, Piko o Wākea – Ke Alaʻula a Kāne, we reflect on the ending of one season and the beginning of another. It seems only fitting that we also share with you some news about transitions within our own KUA ʻohana.

After a lot of thought, pule and conversation, and over a decade in leadership at KUA, our beloved Miwa Tamanaha has decided to step down from her position as Co-Director at the end of this month.

As KUA staff we’ve thought about how we might say A Hui Hou and Mahalo to someone whose contributions in service of our kuaʻāina and in building this backbone organization are as foundational as they are immeasurable. How do you bring to the surface, acknowledge and pay tribute to all the behind-the-scenes work that is so integrated into the thread of how we do things at KUA that it oftentimes goes unseen?

There is an invisible magic in all the ways Miwa has touched our hearts and shaped our collective hana. No tribute could acknowledge them all. What we can share is a small impression of the legacy Miwa leaves behind, what she has built at KUA and what we have witnessed in working alongside her.

As a community organizer, network weaver and one of the founders of our non-profit, Miwa has strengthened and fortified the backbone that is KUA. She has built our organizational capacity, raised millions in resources for our communities, and guided us and others within the networks strategically toward our shared vision of ʻāina momona. In her soft humble way, Miwa has brought things to order, kept us on track, created safe spaces for us to share, grow in our practice, and take care of ourselves and each other. We will honor her in those safe spaces, persevere in our practices and mature in the ways we mālama ourselves and others.

In her leadership at KUA, Miwa has embodied that konohiki mindset we often speak of that invites ability and willingness in the way she has observed, cultivated and cared for our growing staff and extended ʻohana. The level of excellence and quality she strives for in her own work, the depth of research, and the breadth of compassion she has in meeting people where they are at, have provided a compass for us to follow. She has lifted up values of accountability, equity, transparency and deep listening that have become foundations for the KUA way. As a colleague, friend, mentor, thought partner, collaborator, and one-person pep squad, Miwa has been the interconnected tissue that ties us together as a team and gets us to the heart of what matters, our ʻiʻo.

After a year of transition unlike any other, we know that nothing is certain. Yet still, a few hopeful truths remain. As time marches toward the next solstice, Ke Ala Polohiwa a Kāne, we know the cold winter nights will turn into longer warmer days. We know the substance of the work we do is greater than any one person. It builds upon the work of those who came before us and draws upon a greater collective intelligence. We also know that as Miwa transitions out of her role as our fearless leader, she will continue to be a firece ally and steadfast supporter of us and our work, as we will be in all that lies ahead for her.

In truth, there are volumes left unsaid and unseen about Miwa’s impact on our work with community. Below we share a few of many messages from other beloveds in our network family who have witnessed Miwa’s journey at KUA and benefited from the many gifts she has shared with all of us. Mahalo for all you have given, Miwa. We love you.

Aloha nō,
Ka ʻOhana KUA
(Kim, Ginger, Alex, Brenda, Lauren, Niegel, Wally, Kinohi, Malia, Debbie, Kevin)

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

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