Mapuna Lab Logo

About the Māpuna Lab

Hoʻi ka ʻoʻopu ʻai lehua i ka māpunapuna

Our Mission

The MĀPUNA LAB is a place of respite for those experiencing colonial trauma. Our work is naʻau centered and focused on health and healing. Guided by ʻōhiʻa lehua as our teacher, an endemic Hawaiian tree, we work in reciprocity and partnership in healing the chronic and existential pain of historical and intergenerational trauma with our Pacific Islander brothers and sisters.

Viewing the land as our communities and health as water cycle resilience, this series looks to the cloud catching, truth-telling, ʻōhiʻa lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha) for ways to hoʻi ka wai, to remove seen and unseen emotional blockages to restore waters (waiwai) stolen by trauma.

Aimed at creating safe spaces for co-learning, the Māpuna Lab convenes all those who believe that when Indigenous leadership is uplifted, wellness is accessible to all.

Our Vision

Hoʻi ka ʻoʻopu ʻai lehua i ka māpunapuna

The lehua-eating ‘o‘opu has gone back to the spring.
Said of one who has gone back to the source.
(Pukui 1034)

Mural Aunties

Community Centered

We create context around data disaggregation to center people, places and stories from across Oceania, especially the United States Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI).

Man with Net Mural


We work in servitude to the next seven generations. We resist sterile hierarchies and call out to those who know truth, to those who recognize and nurture ea in ways that are pono.

Mapuna Lab Logo in Black and White

Core Values

Culturally Grounded

We are ʻāina-based scholars and mauli ola practitioners for health equity. We make space for kānaka scholarship to grow and thrive and for our maoli to lead us in supporting the perpetuation of ʻike kūpuna Hawaiʻi and throughout Pākīpika for the survivance of our earth.


We offer open, safe and creative spaces for community engagement and social justice advocacy. We use our gifts to address cultural disparities, paradigms that no longer serve us, and move at the pace of consensus.

Canoe images from mural painting

Service Leadership

He aliʻi ka ʻāina; he kauwā ke kanaka
The land is chief; we are its servant. (Pukui 531) We strive for kuleana-driven leadership where the distribution of waiwai is accessible to all.

Our Team


Katherine Burke

Principal Invesigator

Burke is a lecturer in Indigenous Health Sciences at the University of

Hawaiʻi – West Oʻahu. She currently teaches courses in the Bachelorʻs of Applied Science in Hawaiian and Indigenous Healing program. Her research areas include social determinants of health, health equity, cultural safety, social justice and ancestral connection which she pursues in the Department of Social Work at the Thompson School of Social Work and Public Health at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa where she leads the Māpuna Lab in serving the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division of the Behavioral Health Administration of the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health. An evaluator by trade she holds a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience and Behavior from Mount Holyoke College and a master’s degree in public health, social and behavioral health sciences from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa where she is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Community-Based and Translational Research. Burke is of Hellenic (Peloponnese), Irish (County Mayo), French (Île-de-France), Bavarian and Romanche ancestry and was given a love for the role of plants in public health by her grandfather and her great grandmother.  As a settler transplant she is passionate about our plant ancestors and how we can overcome plant blindness by connecting with our genealogy and caring for the land and water system that feed us through practices she learned on the ʻili ʻāina of ʻOuaua and Māluawai in the ahupuaʻa of Kalihilihiolaumiha from aloha ʻāina leadership at Ho’oulu ‘Āina.

Kea Poʻoloa

Kealiʻimakamanaonalani Poʻoloa

Program Manager

ʻO wau ʻo Kealiʻimakamanaʻonalani Shannon Parker Poʻoloa
No Hilo Hanakahi, Waiākea, Hilo, Hawaiʻi mai au.
ʻO ka Mauna a Wākea kuʻu wahi mauna, a ʻo Maunalua kuʻu wahi kai.

Kealiʻimakamanaʻonalani Shannon Parker Poʻoloa is the Program Manager and Cultural Advisor for the Māpuna Lab. She is also a wahine kanaka ʻōiwi artist, advocate, social worker, healer, wife to her beloved husband ʻAkamu and mother to four keiki; her bonus child Tamateo Elijah Leomana (10), her angel baby Kamalaʻanonalaninohomālie
ikapō Anora Love (born sleeping 9/14/2016), her rainbow son Kāhilimanomanookeānuenue George Waipa (5), and her beloved little girl Kaleilehuanonākūpuna Frances Nalani (11 months).  Currently living in Hilo Hanakahi, they’re building their forever home and farm in Waiākea Uka.

Kealiʻi or Kea to those who know her well, is passionate about lifting up indigenous knowledge as wholeness reform and has worked for the last 10 years in the fields of cultural health programs, youth programing, ʻai pono, lāʻau lapaʻau, indigenous birth work and advocacy, and hānai waiū (breastfeeding) as revolutionary healing for the lāhui.  She has also worked at the Domestic Violence Action Center (DVAC).  She looks to the truth telling, life giving water cycle, her reciprocal piliina to land, and to who she is and where she comes from as her guide to hoʻi i ka wai.  Through her current work with the Māpuna Lab, and the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work, she helps to remove generational, historical and current trauma of kanaka ʻōiwi and pacific islanders through institutional and systemic changes by creating curriculum for cultural trainings for state agencies, federal stakeholders, clinicians, providers, students and the community.   

Carol Ann Carl

Carol Ann Carl

Research Coordinator

Carol Ann Carl is a daughter of the island of Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia. In 2020, she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from the University of Hawaii-Manoa. Raised in both Hawaii and Micronesia, storytelling and writing are personal forms of pedagogical healing. Professionally and creatively, Carol Ann leans into the intersectionality of her identity – indigeneity, science, health, and civic advocacy – to develop narratives of empowerment for the Micronesian community in Hawaii and the wider Pacific Islander community abroad. Currently, Carol Ann is a Research Coordinator with the Māpuna Lab at the University of Hawaii at Manoa where her work centers cultural reclamation as disaster response. Her poetry has been featured in the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, Celebrate Micronesia Festival, and the Why It Matters civic engagement docuseries for the Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities. Carol Ann is also a current Spring 2023 Poetry and Senses Fellow with UC Berkeley’s Art Research Center.

Kauila Kauilanuimakehaikalani Kealiʻikanakaʻoleohaililani headshot

Kauilanuimakehaikalani Kealiʻikanakaʻoleohaililani

Education Specialist / Project Coordinator

Kauilanuimakehaikalani Kealiʻikanakaʻoleohaililani was born and raised in Hawaiʻi. He is an Indigenous Hawaiian artist, designer, practitioner of Hawaiʻi life ways and māhū, steeped in the cultural practice of Hula ʻAihaʻa (Indigenous Hawaiʻi Dance) ritual, chant and dance through Hālau o Kekuhi (Dance School) for over 25 years. He is a member of Hui Mālama I Na ʻIwi Kupuna o Hawaiʻi under the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, repatriating Native Hawaiian remains and funerary objects back to Hawaiʻi. Kauila is a steward of ritual and ceremony of global cultural exchange (Kīpaepae) and a ʻUniki Graduate of Unukupukupu. A Kiaʻi ʻĀina Aloha and has stood in the protection of Mauna a Wākea (2019-2021). Kauila graduated with an Associates degree in Hula from Hawai’i Community College, a Bachelors in Fine Arts from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, and a Fashion Design degree from Parsons The New School for Design from New York City. Kauila is employed as an Education Specialist / Project Coordinator at Māpuna Labs, under the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa under the Department of health. He’s also a steward and continuing learner of Lonoa Honua under the direction of Kekuhi Kealiʻikanakaʻoleohaililani – dedicated to connecting people, places, and energies in the universe to one another through Hawaiʻi Life ways.

Sami Birmingham-Babauta

Sami Birmingham-Babauta

Graduate Research Assistant

Sami Birmingham-Babauta is a daughter of the Marianas, born and raised on the island of Saipan. She is a first-year Public Health PhD student at the University of Hawai’i Manoa. Her research interests are in decolonizing health services and supporting communities across Micronesia. She spent the last five years working in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) in public health roles ranging from patient navigation to legislative policy. One of the critical points in her career was working as the communications lead for the Commonwealth Healthcare Center (CHCC) during Super Typhoon Yutu, which ravaged the islands of Saipan and Tinian. Working in the Micronesian Region and the Pacific at large, she was inspired to pursue her Masters in Public Health (MPH) in Global Health from the University of Washington (2020). She received her B.S. in Kinesiology from California State University, Northridge (2016). She is also a part of the inaugural Asia-Pacific Obama Leader cohort (2019) and the first Gates Millennium Scholar in the NMI (2011).

Vianna Lee

Vianna Lee

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Vianna is a fourth year Public Health student attending the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. Born and raised in Honolulu on the island of Oahu, she is currently a research assistant working with the Māpuna Lab. Her public health research interests are in the opioid epidemic and opioid use/misuse.

Jack Driggers

Jack Driggers

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Jack is a second year Economics student at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. Born in Sacramento and later raised in Davis, California, he came to UHM to broaden his horizons away from his hometown.

Kayla Oshiro

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Kayla is a fourth year Public Health student at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Born in Honolulu and raised in Ahuimanu, she is nourished by the Ko‘olau mountains. Kayla’s public health interests include education, health communication, and cultural competency. In her free time, she enjoys creating art and studying her genealogy reaching Laos, Japan, and Okinawa.

Marion Ano

Marion Ano

Web Developer

Aloha mai kākou! ʻO wau ʻo Marion Ano. Noho mai ma Nuʻuanu. ʻO Uakoko kuʻu ua. ʻO Koʻolau kuʻu mauna! Aloha! My name is Marion Ano. I live in Nuʻuanu and Uakoko is the name of her rain. The Koʻolau mountain range is her mountain.

Marion is the web developer for Māpuna lab. Her interests include harnessing the power of technology for health and healing.

Royce Tanouye

Royce Tanouye

Administrative Specialist

Royce Tanouye is a jack of many trades having led his church into many new areas as needed with the changing times and growing needs. Blessed with the ability to learn quickly and to establish working foundations for many and varied new departments over the past thirty five years such as a retail bookstore and cafe, a graphic arts department riding on the desktop publishing trend of the 1990’s,  served as the Headmaster of a K4 through 12th grade private school that was a leader in computer technology, offered championship ILH sports teams all in a safe and wholesome Christian environment. Royce was formerly trained throughout college and graduate studies as an Instrumental Music Teacher which included many and various activities as a freelance trombonist. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Coe College in Cedar Rapids Iowa and a Master of Arts degree in Music Education from the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa. Most recently he served as an assistant to the Executive Administrator of Word of Life Christian Center managing projects such as oversight of properties owned by the church at One Waterfront Towers, and is the IT Director overseeing all things electrical by the many departments. His role with the Māpuna Lab is to help streamline the fiscal aspects of working within the University of Hawaiʻi Academic Community.

Our Partners


(c. 1540-1634)

Kākuhihewa is the 15th aliʻi ‘aimoku (ruling chief) of O‘ahu famously named in the mele “Kaulana Nā Pua.” Kākuhihewa was a kind and friendly chief who was born in Kūkaniloko and raised in the ‘Ewa moku. His primary endeavor was farming, and it is said that his abundant harvests on O‘ahu could be smelled from Kaua‘i.

Today, there is a state office building named after him in Kapolei.