Candidate: Kaipo Dye
‘Aha District: Hawai’i
Address: P.O. Box 254, Kurtistown, HI 96760
Phone: (808) 990-0136
- What are your qualifications to be a delegate to the ‘aha?
I was raised in a family of community service and have an inherent gift of caring for others, especially under-served native Hawaiians. I attribute my personal, financial and educational successes to my wife and mother who simply, through their presence, taught me the value of commitment and sacrifice and from my father, honesty and moral integrity. These values and the trials that many indigenous people share on a global level have instilled a determination that has driven me far beyond my own expectations. I have successfully put myself through college later in life, attended a prestigious institution, Columbia University, and am presently completing my doctoral degree at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Though my research discipline is in natural resource management, I have consistently maintained a vision that has been represented in a native Hawaiian context. The institution has often been contentious in maintaining a Western academic relevance to personal indigenous values, but I became attuned to bridging it into a common ground. As a result, I have been selected as a director of high impact boards; UH system-wide Sustainability, UH Student Fee-board, Bay Clinics FQHC and represented native Hawaiian scholars in a circum-navigation voyage around the world (food and water security) with global leaders Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu and IBM VP Kathy Rogers. Further, I was contracted with the American museum of Natural History to focus on biocultural diversity and community capacity building in indigenous communities. Grass-roots movements compel my actions and my top-down advocacy strengths have taken me to great lengths and in many contexts, but it is the kanaka in Hawaiʻi that I hope will benefit from these experiences.
- 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.?
As a Kamehameha Schools freshman 30 plus years ago, I was the spokesperson that represented KSBE, and after numerous hours my hoa haumāna and I exerted, our cultural resource research was presented to the Pacific Command on behalf of the PKO; the results are obvious. Mālama ʻĀina is a concept that we fought for then and continues today. The objective of my role in representing our class community was to collectively convey our message in one amplified voice. Back then, I would never have imagined that kanaka maoli would be in a negotiating position, much less being recognized as indigenous to this land. Unfortunately, our lāhui is fragmented because of contrasting philosophies of advancement. However, we have greater common ground than difference. I believe a mutual ideal is possible to achieve by listening to the arguments, negotiating disagreements and highlighting the majority consensus and the values that will kūpaʻa us as one lāhui. Hopefully, choices based on collective ideology and one amplified voice that serves our majority without jeopardizing forthcoming generations will be an achievable objective, as I believe we should have a choice to live as progressive or conservative Hawaiians.
- What three components of the constitution are you particularly interested in advocating and why?
Self-determination, natural and cultural resource management, and community health have been flawed as a result of colonialism, but I believe the approach to assuring the integrity of these values are developed and preserved through: (1) Executive reform – identifying priorities and gaps that have evolved from more than a century of assimilation; (2) Judiciary reform – promulgate a self-preserved agency and consciousness that does not debilitate people concurrently with priorities identified in item 1; and (3) Legislative reform – not simply creating legislation that will steer economic, social and environmental well-being, but additionally, the development of metrics that measure success and weaknesses of items 1 and 2, which act as a conduit for transparency and accountability.
- What governance model will you advocate for?
I believe that most, including myself, desire a Nation within a Nation model – perhaps that of Aotearoa would be my first choice; however, I don’t advocate a “biting off my nose to spite my face” agenda. We as delegates must first become completely aware of all implications and alternatives – the pros and cons, without bias. Delegates must become experts in the field, which can be taxing, but until then, no decision or advocacy should be rendered at any level.
- Are you willing to discuss other governance models?
Yes, with full disclosure.
- 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?
More than a century of Western assimilation has passed us. Responsible reform, as was laid out in question #3, must consider all of the implications and/or consequences (including the aforementioned), as well as, many, many other tenuous topics that are diverse and wide ranging throughout Hawaiʻi. What this ʻAha is asking for is no easy task. What I am afraid of is “status quo or more of the same”. We are revisiting a constitution that is not only outdated in its form, but involves the evolution of the Hawaiian people at dissimilar rates. The future of Hawaiian self-determination must be robust and designed to preserve the values left to us by our Kupuna, but additionally, this work must assure that Hawaiians and Hawaiʻi grows sustainably – a merging of the past and the future. There is certainly a pathway. We are not the first indigenous nation to struggle with this transformation and we can certainly learn from others’ triumphs and failures.
- In your governance model, would you be inclusive of people other than Native Hawaiians as citizens?
It would depend on the accessibility of the desired resource. Citizenship is a topic that is not novel. Learning how others treat citizenship, educating ourselves, the delegates and the community at large, and collectively balancing the pros and cons of such action. Under these conditions, I believe a policy referendum is able to be entertained. Until then, my personal view of citizenship is speculative and irrelevant.
- How do you see participation by others in helping the ‘aha on the various aspects of the draft constitution?
Expert opinion and technical advice will be imperative to educate each delegate. As long as outside (non-Hawaiian) expert resources are balanced, clear, concise, will not undermine the ethical responsibility of each delegate and is directly representative of the topic moral, I see no problem. If ALL (or majority of) advisory staff is a United States Government agency, I say NO. Bottom line is that the process must be influenced by kanaka maoli priorities and not swayed by outside special interests.
- 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.
If I were elected as a delegate and grew to serve in that capacity, I would consider running for an elected position to continue the work as was intended.
- Why should Native Hawaiians vote for you?
Though I am not an active politician (which can be a plus), my roots are deeply imbedded in a history of ‘ohana that was committed to Hawaiian community. My mother Jeanne Esposito, daughter of Matthew Esposito and Lucille Aʻi-Miyamoto, was one of the founding pioneers of the establishment of the first election of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in 1980. Although my grandfather Matthew was not a Native Hawaiian, he adopted our culture as his own and was instrumental, through his political tenure in the early 1970’s, in readdressing Hawaiian language policies in the Hawaiʻi educational system. My grandmother Lucille, as a grass-roots Fasi campaign organizer and Secretary to Fire Chiefs Leo Kwaikowski and Boniface Aiu, in her capacities, was equally engaged in advocating for Hawaiian young men and Kupuna programs. My father’s moʻokūʻauhau reaches as far back to ancient rulers and advisors, so when we speak of leadership, it is in my DNA and validated through generations of mālama lāhui. Today, I continue that walk and advocate in my own capacity, not just food quality/security, but environmental stability, which can be conflicting in a Western context but from a Hawaiian perspective, are pillars to community health and the ideals that I uphold. Whether in my doctorate level research, or as a community health center director, or simply by the way I live and exemplify myself, I am a man of the land, a husband and father to my children and the students that I mentor.
Answer: I am a kanaka with a diversity of life-experience as a farmer, in finance, as a blue collar worker, business owner, 30+ years of marriage and through accomplishments achieved in higher education later in life. I know that the latter is an essential qualification and enhances koʻu ala ma ʻimi naʻauao (your path to seeking knowledge), for me, not the inverse. I was fortunate to have blossomed educationally in my 40’s, because my manaʻo is in the present and relevant to modern macro and micro-economics and I am able to embrace it with a balance of, and within, the cultural ideals of the Hawaiian. I dropped out of college when my wife and I were expecting our first child. Today my ʻohana is mature and secure; my mother is attaining her Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology; my wife is in the process of receiving her MA in human services (with a focus on at risk Hawaiian youth); our youngest son is studying for his PhD in Epigenetics (focus on native Hawaiian health) and my oldest is an aspiring farmer and Agricultural BS major. We are a family of life-long learners in diverse disciplines that will eventually merge one day under one mission – a better Hawaiʻi, an empowered Hawaiian.