Erin
Kahunawai Wright

Assistant Professor,
Educational Administration, COE

Kahunawai is Kanaka ʻŌiwi Hawaiʻi (Native Hawaiian) from Kalihi, Oʻahu raised on the land that has fostered her mother’s family for the last five generations. Currently, she serves as an assistant professor of Educational Administration in the College of Education at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Previously, she served as the Director of Native Hawaiian Student Services at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, an award-winning program designed to support all Native Hawaiians interested in pursuing higher education in ways that are culturally-grounded and lāhui-minded. Her scholarship focuses on Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander identities in higher education and the ways these identities inform educational environments and kuleana lāhui (native nation-building).

Collaboration is a priority so much of her work in higher education reflects this value. She’s utilized and disseminated her research in a variety of ways including successful grant proposals, co-curricular programs, book chapters, technical reports, journal articles, and local, national, and international professional presentations. Among her most recent publications are two edited books, A Nation Rising: Hawaiian Movements for Life, Land, and Sovereignty, co-edited with Noelani Goodyear-Ka‘ōpua and Ikaika Hussey (2014, Duke University Press) and Kanaka ‘Ōiwi Methodologies: Mo‘olelo and Metaphor, co-edited with Kapā Oliveira (2016, University of Hawaiʻi Press) and a chapter in R.S. Minthorn and H.J. Shotton’s (Eds.) Reclaiming Indigenous Higher Education Research titled, “‘It was a process of declonization and that’s about as clear as I can put it’: Kuleana-centered higher education and the meanings of Hawaiianness” (2017, Rutgers University Press).

She also utilizes her knowledge and skills to conduct external educational program evaluations as an independent as well as co-consultant. Examples of institutions she’s partnered with include Miramar College (San Diego, CA), Windward Community College, University of Hawaiʻi Maui College, Kapiʻolani Community College, and Queen’s Medical Center.

As a way to contribute to her community while continuing to learn from it, she also engages in service. Most recently, she served two terms on the Hālau Kū Māna Public Charter School governing board and currently servess on their non-profit board, Papa Kū Māna.


College of Education