- What are your qualifications to be a delegate to the ‘aha?
ʻO Hawaiʻi koʻu ʻāina a na kona poʻe au i hānai a hoʻomohala a hiki loa mai i kēia lā. Ua nui ka pōmaikaʻi i nā alakaʻi wiwoʻole o mua i kūpaʻa i ka waele i nā ala e ola hou mai ai ka mauli ola o koʻu Hawaiʻi me ka ikaika o kona ʻuhane, lawena, ʻōlelo a ʻike kuʻuna. Ma luna o kēia paepae paʻa au e ʻimi nei i ke kōkua ma nā hana e pono ai me ka ʻike a mākau i hoʻomohala ʻia mai e oʻu ʻohana a me nā kumu e aloha nui ʻia. A i kēia mawana, he kuleana ko koʻu hanauna ma ka hoʻomau a hoʻoholomua i ka hana a ia mau hanauna ma mua e ola maoli ai he kuanaʻike Hawaiʻi a na ia kuanaʻike nō e alakaʻi iā kākou i kēia mua aku. A no ia mau kumu au e ʻimi haʻahaʻa nei i ka lilo i moho e komo alu like ai i kēia ʻaha e hoʻokahua hou ʻia ai ko kākou ʻōnaehana aupuni o nā kānaka maoli o Hawaiʻi.
From my ʻohana that continues to ground and shape me until today as part of our large extended Hawaiian family, to those individuals who have empowered me with my ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi and groomed me to help lead the entity at the forefront of Hawaiian language revitalization movement and then go on to help start the first and only Hawaiian television station, I have been blessed with significant opportunity. It is clear to me however that with great opportunity, comes great kuleana to apply all I have learned and been given as a means to not only give “back” but more so to pay “forward” and continue paving the way for the next hanauna or generations to do even more.
Participating in the current process to rebuild our nation is not just something I feel I am expected to, but I have to, engage in if all that I have done to this point is to have real meaning, relevance and long-term value and application going forward.
[Executive Director, Makauila; Anchor, ʻĀhaʻi ʻŌlelo Ola; Host, ʻŌiwiTV; Former Executive Director, ʻAha Pūnana Leo, Inc.
Kamehameha Schools (1989); Bachelor’s Business Administration, UH (1997); Bachelor’s Hawaiian Studies, UH (2001); Master’s Business Administration, UH (2006); Juris Doctorate, UH (2006)]
My Life Experiences are Similar to Many Other Native Hawaiians
I am blessed to care for my tūtū who once cared for me.
I am persevering to survive and raise a family in our homeland
I am also the first in my ‘ohana to graduate from college.
I know how difficult getting an education can be, but also know the rewards it can bring.
I Work Closely with, and in, the Native Hawaiian Community: I am skilled at listening to various perspectives and finding common ground so we can accomplish our task in a way that reflects the full manaʻo of our people, and can win the support of our whole people.
Supporting my Family and Serving my Community: I want to strategically deploy our shared assets to efficiently address our greatest needs—housing, good jobs, and safe places for our children to grow and connect with the ‘āina.
- How would you characterize the values of your campaign to be elected as a delegate to the ‘aha for example, with aloha, lōkahi, kūpono, etc.?
Nā Makalehua is a hui of young Native Hawaiians, who have committed as a collective to participate in the Naʻi Aupuni governance ʻaha. We come to this group with our individual and differing manaʻo on the priorities for restoring our mana aupuni, the best governance model to get us there, and the political solutions to address the issues facing our people. We have all committed however to abide by the values and principles that will guide how we will engage in the work before us: ʻauamo kuleana, hoʻāno puʻuhonua, hoʻōla hoʻopaʻapaʻa, mālama pilina, me ka hoʻokō kapu aloha. With the charge and blessing of our mentors and kupuna, we stand together, as a new generation of humble and prepared warriors, to use this moment as an opportunity before us to hoʻoholomua our lāhui and fullfill our kuleana. (Visit makalehua.com for more information.)
- What three components of the constitution are you particularly interested in advocating and why?
I am particularly interested in assuring that the official language of our government going forward is our own ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, with ʻōlelo Pelekānia being included as well as it remains the dominant language of our ʻāina right now. I want to ensure that our ʻōlelo and all that is codified therein is given the status, support and resource needed to thrive again here in our homeland; and that that is clearly provided for in, and permeates, the document that will govern our nation going forward.
Similarly, I am interested in the form and structure of government and the powers therein that will ensure the protection and proliferation of our traditional and customary rights in a way that will allow our government to truly embody a Hawaiian way of being, in this 21st century and going forward. That being said, I am convinced that we as Hawaiians need to lead these efforts from the get go and ʻauamo this kuleana of pursuing our self-determination. Therefore, citizenry is another important component for me as our citizenry needs to include all kanaka maoli that want to be part of this reorganized native government, and then all others who support the motives and intent of the government and want to participate therein.
- What governance model will you advocate for?
We as Native Hawaiians deserve a governance model that will best position us to reclaim our mana aupuni now in the 21st century and will address the long-term good of our lāhui. That exact structure and all of its nuances, may or may not currently exist; it may be a hybrid of existing formats. While we have had various forms of government in the past that ran the gamut from a monarchy to a constitutional democracy and all those options are arguably, I do feel that going forward our structure should continue to be one that is democratic at its foundation, where the citizenry plays an active role in shaping governmental affairs.
We have a long history, as educated and engaged Hawaiians, of participating in the existing political structure in order to protect, reclaim and expand our rights and resources as a people. From aloha ʻāina patriots Robert Wilcox and David Kalauokalani participating in the Territorial legislature and Wilcox and then Prince Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole being the 1st two delegates to the U.S. Congress; to Native Hawaiians serving in Hawaiʻi State legislature and the U.S. Congress for years; not to mention the growing number of Native Hawaiians becoming attorneys licensed to practice in our current court system; and even to the growing number of Native Hawaiians teaching and training more leaders in our own State University. We have carved out rights and access to our language, ʻāina and water in our State constitution and the courts’ interpretations thereof. We worked within the federal system to establish programs for Native Hawaiian Homelands, Health, and Education that thousands of us have benefitted from. While these initiatives have left a lot to be desired, without them we would not have made the progress we have and in lieu of the constant challenge to the rights, programs and institutions that are currently serving our people, without remedial political action, their ongoing erosion is imminent.
Critical not only to protecting the rights and programs already in place, but to reclaiming others and expanding our resources going forward, we must reorganize our modern Hawaiian nation; one that can and will be recognized by international, national and local bodies, but most importantly by ourselves as Native Hawaiians.
- Are you willing to discuss other governance models?
As referenced above, I am supportive of the best format and structure of government that will allow us to reclaim our mana aupuni Hawaiʻi, whatever that model may be.
- How would the governance model that you choose impact the ali‘i trusts, the Hawaiian Homestead Act, federal contracts made with Native Hawaiian businesses; grants provided by the United States for programs and services to the Native Hawaiian people?
These institutions, initiatives and agencies all have different relationships within the current government structures and therefore the impact to them of the reorganized governance model that should come forth from the ʻaha will differ. Most of the trusts were established under the kingdom and have continued to exist through various forms of government since then. The HHCA, federal contracts and grants are all constructs of the United States federal government.
The details of how these programs and institutions will sustain over time as it relates to their status within a new government are specifics that will be addressed well after the ʻaha is completed.
It helps here, especially as it relates to these program and institutions that were created by federal statute, to distinguish two important steps in the process at hand. The first step we are addressing right now with the ʻaha is nation-building and that is an internal issue for our government. Once the ʻaha is completed and a governing document comes forth, the next step is one where those on the roll must vote approve that document. Then we have to actualize the formation of that government. Only after all of that will we be closer to the point that is more directly related to addressing this particular federal-programs question and that will be rooted in the recognition of this new government by others, including the United States federal government, and that is an external process involving other governments once ours is reorganized.
It helps to note that these “internal” processes currently before us differ from, and must be addressed before, the “external” dealings. They are however both interrelated and no doubt the external implications of the internal decisions are important. Therefore, as we look for that governance model that will best position us to reclaim our mana aupuni now in the 21st century and will address the long term good of our lāhui, it is important to keep in mind how we will set up this government in order to sustain and potentially expand these programs.
- In your governance model, would you be inclusive of people other than Native Hawaiians as citizens?
Yes. Non-Hawaiians have been a part of our nation under various forms of government, since the kingdom. Albeit at that time non-Hawaiians did not have all the same rights as the indigenous people of Hawaiʻi, they were nonetheless citizens. Fast forward to today, there is a collective of Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians supporting and promoting things Hawaiian and that collective has allowed us to be where we are today as a people. Our reorganized government should be as inclusive as possible to ensure this thriving collective will continue to work together for the betterment of our lāhui and Hawaiʻi overall.
- How do you see participation by others in helping the ‘aha on the various aspects of the draft constitution?
A wealth of information relative to rebuilding our nation has been cultivated for decades and good work has been done by Native Hawaiian scholars, activists, and legal minds that delegates will need to draw upon. Fortunately, discourse and research is still taking place in and around our Native Hawaiian community until this very day and that in and of itself will influence and impact the decisions made. Whether it is merely paying attention to, and being educated about, the process or even better, engaging in these discussions and contributing constructively, we all have the ability to kōkua.
It will be important that one of the first issues delegates address are the mechanisms and communications venues for keeping voters and others in the Hawaiian community apprised of and engaged in the progress of the ʻaha. The ʻaha and the process overall is just a great educational opportunity for all of us as Hawaiians to not just “read about and study” the historic process of nation building, but to actually witness and engage in it on various levels.
- Looking ahead, as a delegate to the ‘aha, how would you assure that the governance model ratified by the Native Hawaiian people is implemented and recognized at the state, federal, or international level, as appropriate.
While the current scope of delegates’ kuleana is to represent registered voters at the governance ʻaha in order to create a governing document, these delegates will be carrying the charge as the first body of official decision makers. In order therefore to ensure that all the work that will go into the ʻaha reaches its full potential and intended application, it will be imperative that delegates also bring forward a clear pathway through the next steps in the process. This includes the process and structure for ratification of the document by voters and the subsequent elections and appointments necessary to actually form the government.
- Why should Native Hawaiians vote for you?
Me ka mahalo nui to my kumu and ‘ohana who raised and mentored me, I have relevant ʻike (knowledge and education); I have mākau (skill); and I have kuleana (responsibility) by way not only of all those who invested in me, but my own investment to date in the future of our lāhui. I am grounded in a sense of aloha wiwoʻole and am ready and willing to sit with my peers – even those with differing priorities and strategies – to create the best framework for our modern Hawaiian government.