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HTA allocates $600K to programs that cultivate Native Hawaiian culture

February 18, 2010
The Maui News

HONOLULU (AP) - The Hawaii Tourism Authority announced Tuesday that it is devoting $600,000 to 27 programs seeking to perpetuate and honor Native Hawaiian culture.

The announcement of the awards comes several days after a survey commissioned by the authority found that most Native Hawaiians hold a negative perception of the tourism industry and its impact on their culture and language.

Authority officials have said the survey results may result from a lack of awareness among Native Hawaiians about programs that seek to bolster or honor Native Hawaiian culture.

''The Hawaiian culture is an integral part of our islands' identity that sets us apart as a special and unique visitor destination,'' Mike McCartney, the authority's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. The agency ''remains committed to supporting programs that respect, perpetuate and preserve the Hawaiian culture for both visitors and residents.''

The $600,000 will go to community groups and other organizations for a variety of programs. They include the Arizona Memorial Museum Association to highlight the historical significance of Pearl Harbor to Native Hawaiians, the Hawaii Book and Music Festival to honor classic Hawaiian culture and the Hula Preservation Society to preserve the rare ancient hula ohe, or nose flute hula.

Funding also will go toward a project to increase production of taro and other Polynesian-introduced crops, a hula competition on Maui and a monthlong celebration of Native Hawaiian art and artists in May.

The HTA-commissioned survey found that almost 60 percent of Native Hawaiians and more than half of Caucasian Hawaii residents disagreed with the statement that the tourism industry ''helps to preserve Native Hawaiian language and culture.''

The study also found that Hawaii residents generally believe the tourism industry does not help sustain the state's natural resources.

The authority last week announced that it would spend about $1 million on more than two dozen programs that seek to manage, improve and protect Hawaii's natural environment and areas frequented by visitors. The agency is required by law to provide such funding.



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