Red tropical flower with ocean and sunset in background.

Pono Science

March 7, 2024, 2:00pm Eastern Time (US and Canada) – March 7, 2024, 3:30pm Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Webinar Ended

The love and respect that is achieved between humans and the environment when all is flourishing is pono.

—Kumu John Kaimikaua

This quote reminds us that simply “good conduct” that structures our conversations around ethics is not enough, but demands a state of responsibility to ensure that our motivation in seeking pono is for the prosperity of all communities (human and more-than-human). Dr. Noelani Puniwai uses her understanding of pono to create dialogue around what pono science can look like. As an educator, she believes that pono science has the power to encourage students to pursue science fields while remaining grounded in their culture and values.

Pono Science is about contributing to science without sacrificing what is held sacred

—Kaleialoha Lum-Ho

Dr. Noelani Puniwai introduces three main concepts in this presentation:

  • Pono Science
    • ʻĀina, Akua, Kanaka
  • Indigenous ways of knowing
    • How epistemology is culturally specific and helps us understand ways of knowing
    • Understanding the Kiʻi (imagery) within creation stories
  • Decolonizing Research Movements
    • Kiaʻi Kanaloa – pono relationships with kinolau of our akua
    • Limu monitoring – community monitoring and management



Dr. Noelani Puniwai is an associate professor at Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies at UH Mānoa. Her academic achievements include a Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environmental Management from UH Mānoa, a Master of Science in Environmental Science from Washington State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Marine Science from UH Hilo. 

Dr. Puniwai is passionate about cultivating the next generation of pono scientists who will mālama `āina and kai for an abundant future. She braids together her culture, her scientific background, and her experiences as an educator to facilitate communication between local communities, management agencies, and scientists with the goal of promoting `āina momona. Dr. Puniwai’s research includes coastal ecosystems, cultural seascapes, ancestral Hawaiian knowledge of `āina and kai, and knowledge co-production.


Why the webinar will help registrants to develop a deeper appreciation of the Islands?

This presentation is based on seminars that have been requested repeatedly by faculty and students in many disciplines across UH Mānoa. She specifically presents a Pono Science lecture for the incoming TCBES graduate students each fall. The one-credit course she created based on these concepts fill each semester with students from a diversity of majors across the university (including UH Hilo). The concepts of pono science welcomes students into research in Hawaiʻi, acknowledging the importance of positionality, intention, and challenging them to be open and willing to engage in community and other ways of knowing. Based on ʻŌiwi ways of knowing, pono science is applicable when working in any community. 

Pono science as applicable in any community. Importance of positionality in research, intention, creating space for other ways of knowing. Epistemology – Decolonizing Research Movements (ex: Kiaʻi Kanaloa, Limu monitoring).

Part of our Preparing for the Honolulu 2024 Annual Meeting webinar series