Specific Pioneering Contributions
Richard Kekumuikawaiokeola Paglinawan, MSW, ACSW, was a social work leader known for his commitment to preserving the Hawaiian culture and values. In 2006, Paglinawan was honored as a Living Treasure by the Honpa Hongwanji. The Hongwanji recognized his devotion to the perpetuation of ancient Hawaiian culture in a modern social environment has expanded conservation and preservation efforts throughout the state and beyond. Through the mastery of "lua", an ancient Hawaiian martial art, he has managed to regenerate an emphasis on cultural values, self-esteem and spiritual balance".
Paglinawan conducted lectures and seminars on Hawaiian traditions and modern Hawaiian issues to various organizations in Hawaii, California and Alaska. He also provided historical information, archaeological data and cultural significance to state and county communities as well as the University of Hawaii. Known for his workshops on ho'oponopono, a Native Hawaiian conflict resolution model, he inspired generations of social workers and Native Hawaiians.
After receiving his MSW in 1962, Paglinawan was a group worker at the Salvation Army Facilities for Children in Honolulu and in 1967 became the VISTA Supervisor at the Queen Lili'uokalani Children's Center (QLCC). While at QLCC, Mary Kawena Pukui trained Richard and his wife, Lynette, in conducting ho’oponopono and she became their mentor in practicing the model. Throughout his career Paglinawan served as a cultural consultant, historian and leader to numerous State, county and non-profit organizations.
In 1968, Paglinawan was the deputy director for the State of Hawaii Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. In 1975 to 1981, he was the Deputy Director for the State of Hawaii Department of Social Services and Housing.
Ten years later, Paglinawan was the chair of the Hawaii Historic Places Review Board of State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. This Board placed more than 600 historic sites on the National Register of Historic Places to be protected and recognized for their significance to the history, architecture, archaeology or culture of Hawaii. During his tenure on the Review Board, the island of Kahoolawe, a small uninhabited island that the US Navy used for bombing practice, was placed on the National Register. The Navy was required to cease its bombing of the island, remove ordnances and transfer the island back to the state. This was a significant victory for the Native Hawaiian community.
Hurricane Iwa devastated the islands of Niihau, Kauai and Oahu in 1982. It was the first significant hurricane in Hawaii since 1959. Paglinawan organized a team of workers to coordinate with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to successfully help the families damaged by the hurricane put their lives back together.
In 1984, Paglinawan was instrumental in establishing the first Hawaiian language program for preschoolers.
Paglinawan was the Administrator for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) in 1989, an office dedicated to improving the wellbeing of Native Hawaiians through advocacy, research, community engagement, land management and funding of community programs. He was successful in obtaining $130 million in back payments and interests and $8 million annually for the office so it can continue to serve the Native Hawaiian community.
In 1992, another devastating hurricane hit the islands. Hurricane Iniki crippled the island of Kauai. Paglinawan was in charge of coordinating OHA's assistance to the families who were affected by the hurricane.
Paglinawan founded a bi-annual meeting of Pacific Nations, including Hawaii, Raiatea, Rapa Nui, Cook Islands, and Aoteraroa, for cultural exchange and co-established the Hawaiian Learning Center at the University of Hawaii School of Social Work.
Richard Kekumuikawaiokeola Paglinawan, Sr. was born in Hilo, Hawaii on September 18, 1940 and passed away at his home on August 21, 2018 at the age of 77.
He received a BA in Sociology in 1960 from the University of Hawaii and a MSW from the University of Hawaii School of Social Work in 1962. He was the only Native Hawaiian in the School of Social Work at that time. He worked at the Salvation Army Boy's Home and then at the Queen Lili'uokalani Children's Center.
In 1965, Paglinawan obtained the ACSW from NASW. He was the Chair of the Nominations and Elections committee for NASW, Hawaii Chapter. In 1969 to 1971 he was a member of the Executive Committee for the Hawaii Chapter and in 1974 to 1976 he served as the treasurer for the Hawaii Chapter.
Significant Recognition and Awards
- 1972 Meritorious Award for Outstanding Educational Services from the State of Hawaii Department of Education
- 2002 Ko'olau Loa Outstanding Service Award
- 2004 National Award for Outstanding Leadership in Education for Asian and Pacific Islanders
- 2006 Honpa Hongwanji Living Treasure
- Paglinawan, R., & Kalauokalani, M., (2005), Lua: Art of the Hawaiian Warrior, Bishop Museum Press.
- Paglinawan, R., & Paglinawan, L. (2012). “Living Hawaiian Rituals: Lua, Ho’oponopono and Social Work”, Hulili, Vol. 8, Honolulu, Kamehameha Publishing, 11-28.
- Paglinawan, L., Paglinawan, R., Kauahi, D., & Kanuha, V. (2020). Nana I Ke Kumu, Helu Ekolu (Vol 3), Lili’uokalani Trust.