Hundreds of University of Hawai‘i (UH) faculty and students conduct research projects focused on the natural resources of Hawai‘i’s upland, coastal, and marine ecosystems each year. However, the consistency with which community perspectives and cultural practices are integrated into research efforts and decision-making processes that impact Hawaiʻi’s resources and ecosystems is highly variable. In particular, these natural resources are integral to the livelihoods, cultural practices, and religious traditions of Native Hawaiians who in some cases have not had a voice in decision-making processes involving natural resource management.
With support from the University of Hawai‘i SEED Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, and Success Program (IDEAS), the He‘eia National Estuarine Research Reserve, the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program, and Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo (KUA) established a partnership with a goal of promoting more collaborative and mutually-beneficial partnerships between UH faculty and students conducting research and the local communities who care for and utilize natural resources. The Kūlana Noi‘i (Research Standards) are the result of these efforts and other past and current community-researcher engagement activities.
The Kūlana Noi‘i provide guidance for building and sustaining not just working partnerships but long-term relationships between communities and researchers. These kūlana (standards) are intended to be flexible enough to apply to a range of different communities and to reflect on the perspectives and responsibilities of both communities and researchers.