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  • Mapuana Antonio

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Associate Professor Mapuana Antonio of the Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health is the first faculty to be formally appointed the Queen Liliʻuokalani Distinguished Professorship in Native Hawaiian Culture.

Antonio’s appointment recognizes the deep cultural engagement of her work in public health, her links to social justice and social work research, student and community engaged work, as well as her continuous support of social work students at the graduate level.

The endowed professorship from the Queen Liliʻuokalani Trust honors the life and legacy of the last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. It will create programs anchored in Native Hawaiian cultural knowledge, practices and values that will strengthen the training of social work and other allied health professionals working with Native Hawaiian children, families and communities.

“We have been deeply honored and humbled by this gift to our school from the Queen Liliʻuokalani Trust and grateful to former Dean Noreen Mokuau’s leadership and stewardship. Dr. Antonio and her tremendous leadership, research and strengths will be wonderful in this role to create programs for child, family and community well-being that are anchored in Native Hawaiian cultural knowledge, practices and values” said Tetine Sentell, interim dean of the Thompson School.

Dedication to advancing health and well-being

Born and raised in Wahiawā, Antonio is a Native Hawaiian scholar dedicated to advancing the health and well-being of Native Hawaiians and Indigenous peoples. She also heads the Native Hawaiian and Indigenous health program in the Office of Public Health Studies in the Thompson School.

Related story: Queen Liliʻuokalani Trust establishes Native Hawaiian culture professorship

Her research takes a community-prioritized and holistic approach to health and resilience by addressing socio-cultural determinants of health. She is the principal investigator of the Ola HAWAIʻI and Center for Pacific Innovations, Knowledge, and Opportunities (PIKO) pilot studies, Ke Ola O Ka ʻĀina, which explores the role of ʻĀina (land) and ʻĀina connectedness in Native Hawaiian health and resilience. In addition, she was most recently a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Research Leader for Team Maui Nui.

Antonio was a co-lead in the Liliʻuokalani Trust endowment, which connected efforts between the Thompson School and Liliʻuokalani Trust beginning in 2019 under the mentorship of now retired dean and Professor Emerita Noreen Mokuau.

“The endowed professorship will broaden the reach of the trust by educating generations of future social workers in Native Hawaiian cultural knowledge, practices and values,” said Claire L. Asam, trustee of the Queen Liliʻuokalani Trust. “This knowledge will help graduates, wherever they work, effectively serve our beneficiaries, as well as Native Hawaiian children and families throughout Hawaiʻi nei.”

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The University of Hawai‘i Foundation, a nonprofit organization, raises private funds to support the University of Hawai‘i System. The mission of the University of Hawai‘i Foundation is to unite donors’ passions with the University of Hawai‘i’s aspirations by raising philanthropic support and managing private investments to benefit UH, the people of Hawai‘i and our future generations.