Pu‘uhonua Society creates opportunities for Native Hawaiian and Hawai‘i-based artists and cultural practitioners to express themselves and engage with and impact audiences. We support artists and makers who serve as translators/mediators/amplifiers of social justice issues in the community.

Pu‘uhonua Society traces its history back to 1972, when Emma Aluli Meyer originally founded the organization as the Young of Heart Workshop & Gallery. Emma was the youngest daughter of Noa Webster Aluli, a Hawaiian attorney and community advocate. She started the Young of Heart Workshop & Gallery in Kailua, O‘ahu, to inspire and empower young people through art and creativity. 

For more than 15 years, the community center presented art exhibitions and offered classes in woodworking, ceramics, drawing, cooking, and painting, as well as performances. During that time, the center hosted the first Windward performance by the Honolulu Symphony; gallery shows by artists Jean Charlot, Claude Horan, and Juliette May Frazier; and the premier of Terrance Knapp’s Father Damien monologue.

In 1996, Emma’s third daughter, Maile Meyer, became Executive Director, and in 2004, Young of Heart Workshop changed its name to Pu‘uhonua Society* to better reflect its renewed mission as a safe haven for artists and cultural practitioners. For 25 years Maile envisioned and worked to create thriving creative spaces including CONTACT, an annual curated-juried exhibition of innovative, comprehensive and disruptive contemporary art that ran for six years; The Gathering Project, reactivating ʻIolani Palace as a gathering place for community exchange and connection; and Aupuni Space, a contemporary art gallery, artist studios and community space in Kakaʻako that continues today, alongside countless other community driven programs and projects.

Today, Puʻuhonua Society is led by a third generation of Meyer wahine, with Emma Broderick, eldest daughter of Maile, serving as Executive Director. Puʻuhonua Societyʻs programs also include Keanahala, a community weaving program that perpetuates the Native Hawaiian practice of ulana lauhala; Hoʻomau Nā Maka o ka ʻĀina, working to preserve and make publicly accessible Nā Maka o ka ʻĀinaʻs entire 8,000 moving image archive; KĪPUKA, a makersʻ space and series of classes and workshops that are focused around the perpetuation of material cultural practices, and NiUNOW!, a cultural agroforestry movement affirming the importance of niu and uluniu, coconut and coconut groves to the health of Hawaiʻi and its people.

* The first pu‘uhonua organization was established in 1914 by a group of Hawaiians that included Noa Webster Aluli. ʻAhahui Pu‘uhonua o Nā Hawai‘i was a social and legal services center focused on helping Hawaiians during this difficult time in our nation’s history following the illegal occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom.