Grounded in Culture

Creating authentic spaces grounded in cultural identity, connected by shared histories, and invested in an abundant future.
07 2022 Kamehameha Schools Cred Mural
Kapālama Kai | Photos: courtesy of Kamehameha Schools

Kamehameha Schools is deeply rooted in the land legacy of its founder Ke Ali‘i Bernice Pauahi Pākī Bishop. An important part of Hawaiian identity, the ‘āina links us to the past, present and future.

Through responsible stewardship, Kamehameha Schools serves the lāhui with abundant educational opportunities supported by commercial real estate endeavors. Bringing life to sustainable communities by integrating ‘ike kūpuna (ancestral perspectives) also improves and protects the wellbeing of future generations.

“The communities we serve, the properties we manage, and the ‘āina we steward enhance these thriving communities by creating spaces that are true to who we are, where we come from and the legacy we leave behind for our keiki.”

“For over 135 years, our real estate portfolio has generated financial returns to support our educational mission, but it provides much more,” says Walter Thoemmes, Kamehameha Schools managing director of commercial real estate. “Our lands also provide education beyond the classroom and in environments that are grounded in culture, which enhances the resilience of community.”

Utilizing a placekeeping approach, the land’s history and cultural identity are prioritized. A reframing of the Western concept of “placemaking,” placekeeping builds community through an indigenous lens, rooted in aloha ‘āina, a deep and enduring respect for the land.

“Hawaiian placekeeping is part of our cultural foundation,” says Thoemmes.

07 2022 Kamehameha Schools Kuono Marketplace2

Murals painted at different Kamehameha Schools commercial developments, such as Kūʻono Marketplace at Kāhala, help tell the mo‘olelo of each location. | Photo: courtesy of Kamehameha Schools

Mo‘olelo of the land are embraced and traditional place names are used from conception through design. The look and feel, colors and architecture of a space are reflective of the land’s history. Sustainable practices ensure environmentally responsible stewardship.

“We all succeed, when we remain connected to heritage while addressing today’s needs and, most of all, providing hope for the future,” says Thoemmes. “Placekeeping is grounded in culture and is proving to drive both financial and non-financial returns that ultimately create resilient communities.”


This special project is commissioned by Kamehameha Schools through 2022 to highlight the placekeeping efforts being made in communities around Hawaiʻi.



Categories: Community & Economy, Community Resiliency, Partner Content