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Hundreds celebrated "year of the Hawaiian" at the State Capitol - Honolulu, Hawaii news, sports & weather - KITV Channel 4

Hundreds celebrated "year of the Hawaiian" at the State Capitol Friday

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HONOLULU -

Olelo Hawaii filled the inside and outside of the Hawaii State Capitol in celebration.

Lawmakers standing for students of Punana Leo and other Hawaiian immersion schools.

All of them honored some of the pioneers responsible for reviving the language.

"If accomplishments of the past 30 years are indicators of what lies ahead, the future for Hawaiians in our homeland is bright," Sen. Brickwood Galuteria said.

Moments earlier, Gov. David Ige signed a proclamation at Washington Place, dedicating 2018 as the year of the Hawaiian.

"In a way, everybody in Hawaii starts to turn into some degree of Hawaiian-ness and here's a chance to celebrate it," Gov. John Waihe'e said. 

The original proclamation created by then Gov. Waihe'e back in 1988, after Waihe'e saw data showing a significant decline of the Hawaiian population.

More than 40,000 people packed the Aloha Stadium. The idea then, was to celebrate the survival of the Lahui.

"According to Larry (Kimura), there was like 80 people in Hawaii in 1987 that actually were natives speakers of the language, today it's something like more than 20,000," Waihe'e said. 

Gov. Ige credited with helping the language grow.

Ige had just been elected to the House of Representatives back in 1986.

He opened Oahu's first Hawaiian language public school in his district.

Namake Rawlins says there's still a ways to go.    

"When you think about 1.4 million people living here in the state of Hawaii, and we're just kind of making headway. We'd like to have 1.4 million speaking Hawaiian but we're not there yet so we have lots to do," Rawlins said. 

The proclamation comes in the wake of Hawaiian issues recently making headlines.

The 100 year commemoration of the passing of Queen Liliuokalani, the recognition of the overthrow and the use of Hawaiian language in court.

Gov. Waihe'e says it's truly a time for all to appreciate an old belief of those before.

"People who live here don't really own the islands, the islands own them and when you stay here long enough you begin to appreciate the meaning of that," Waihe'e said.