Hauʻoli Lā Hānau e Mary Kawena Pukui!
Mary Abigail Tui Kawena-ʻula-o-ka-lani-o-Hiʻiaka-i-ka-Poli-o-Pele-ka-wahine-ʻai-honua Wiggin was born on April 20, 1895, the daughter of Henry Nathaniel Wiggin, formerly of Salem, Massachusetts and Paʻahana Kanakaʻole, a pure Hawaiian whose ancestral roots are found in the line of priests and chiefs of the district of Kaʻū on the island of Hawai`i.
Her lifetime served as a bridge between cultures, world views, and continues to bridge successive generations to a knowledge base left generously and purposefully by our kūpuna. A living embodiment of a repository of endless Hawaiian cultural knowledge and history, Mary Kawena Pukui’s life efforts personify her strongly held belief that “Knowledge is life”. In the closing paragraph of her tribute to Kawena, submitted as her nomination for the Nobel Prize in literature, Adelaide Suits of Ann Arbor, Michigan writes, "Mary Pukui's lasting achievement is that, Janus like, she face two worlds and crystallized in her writing the vital elements of both. Indeed, the American philosopher, John Dewey, may have well described the concept which Mary Pukui illustrates in her work. Dewey said that language, when is involves data of the senses, is a creative force which binds us "of" and "by" the world, to give us our shape and form. The Hawaiian way of "knowing" that Mary Pukui reveals to the reader is similarly one of power of effective language, intuitive, qualitative, sound of the organic world of sensory phenomena. In this context, words have an objective reality which are the feeling states in which the meaning of the words originated; these states are revived, rejuvenated and enlarged through active participation in the language experience. Thus the role of language is as a means to an increased awareness and sensitivity to life, a way for human consciousness to grow and flourish.