Hilo professor becomes
second recipient of
master’s in Hawaiian

Larry Kimura earned a degree
in Hawaiian arts and literature

By Rod Thompson

HILO >> Since the early 1970s, University of Hawaii at Hilo professor Larry Kimura has taught and fostered Hawaiian language and culture.

University of Hawaii

Some of his colleagues are his former students. He is known throughout the Pacific through his service since 1993 as secretary-general of the 13-nation Polynesian Languages Forum.

Yet in the pecking order of the academic world, Kimura, 56, had held only a bachelor's degree while most colleagues held advanced degrees.

That changed yesterday as UH-Hilo, during its fall graduation ceremonies, bestowed a master's degree in Hawaiian arts and literature on Kimura.

He is the second person to receive a master's degree from the UH-Hilo College of Hawaiian Language, following Hiapo Perreira last spring.

Also noteworthy among the graduates is Kanani Kawai'ae'a, who received a bachelor's degree in Hawaiian. She was the first person in the state to complete her kindergarten-through-12th-grade education entirely in Hawaiian.

Kimura received his degree for studies that included a thesis, entirely in Hawaiian, titled -- have patience here -- "The Poetry of the First Part of the Ancient Hawaiian Epic Hi'iakaikapoliopele, as Recorded by Joseph M. Poepoe: A Structural Analysis with Emphasis on Devices Linking Paired Utterances."

Yet the professor Kimura who wrote that mouthful is the same as composer Larry Kimura who wrote the words of the gentle song "E Ku'u Morning Dew." And he is the same Larry Kimura who hosted a Hawaiian-language radio program from 1972 to 1989 on KCCN.

"There are advantages, great advantages" in earning an advanced degree, Kimura said.

"In the Western world that has set it up, in order to get in the front door, you need to have these credentials," he said.

"Maybe you could say I've been entering through the back and side doors. You want to come through the front door," he said.

Kimura grew up on the Parker Ranch, where all daily business used to be conducted in Hawaiian. Although he spoke only English as a child, he understood his grandmother, Elizabeth Lindsey Purdy, who always spoke to him in Hawaiian.

University of Hawaii

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