Candidate: Kaniela Ing
‘Aha District: Maui
Address: P.O. Box 1881, Kīihei, HI 96753
Phone: (808) 276-2990
- What are your qualifications to be a delegate to the ‘aha?
Aloha mai kākou, My name is (Mark) Kaniela Ing, a public servant and ‘aloha āina advocate. I was born-and-raised and come from seven generations on the island of Maui. My tutu Lapauila and anakala Kealohapauole signed the Ku‘e Petitions in September 1897. I graduated from Kamehameha Schools Maui Campus, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and attended graduate school at American University at Washington D.C. studying indigenous law and policy.
Coming from a very modest home, losing my father at an early age, and picking pineapples every summer as a teenager to help my mom with the bills, I know what it is like to struggle in our western capitalist world. I worked my way through college, with help from Ali’i trust loans and grants to become the a first generation college graduate in my family. I then ran for office in 2012 to become the youngest ever legislator from Maui at 22 years old. As Chair of Ocean, Marine Resources and Hawaiian affairs, I am well-versed in issues that affect our Lahui. However, I am tired of being a lone vote on too many issues like demilitarization, environmental policies, and requiring full ‘iwi and archeological surveys before developments. It is time we take our future into our own hands and form a government independent of the State and Federal governments.
- 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.?
‘Imi’ike, Na‘au pono, and Aloha. I was always taught to learn everything I can and always seek to gain knowledge, because leaders need to be open to hearing and digesting both sides of an issue in order to form a fair stance. In fact, decision makers should seek to understand any particular more thoroughly than even the most fervent advocates of either side. However, knowing is not enough. Even with all the knowledge in the world, the big decisions rely on a strong sense in the na‘au of right and wrong. I will campaign by working hard to educate myself on the issues, forming relationships with respect and aloha, with no negativity or personal attacks, and reaching deep into my na‘au for answers.
- What three components of the constitution are you particularly interested in advocating and why?
I will be inclined to advocate for human rights and equality, environmental stewardship, and cultural and indigenous rights as the primary tenants in all areas of our constitution—from the preamble that encompasses our purpose and vision to each and every article and amendment that will bind our entire nation. Our constitution, if delegates so choose to draft one in 40 days, should clearly and eloquently lend utter respect for our past and forge a vibrant future.
- What governance model will you advocate for?
I would advocate for a governance model that is uniquely Kanaka, encompassing our traditional models and the best concepts from the around the world today. People have been disenfranchised all over the world by the current “representative democracy” model that Hawaii utilizes today due to the influx of money and legalized bribery in politics. I say this as a currently elected official in that very system. Yes, I am in it, but I’ll be the first to tell you that it is broken. If a representative kowtows to the donor class instead of the people, that representative is better off; the incentives are backwards. Our governance model should lend more power to the people rather than representatives through direct voting on important issues and community-based budgeting.
- Are you willing to discuss other governance models?
- 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?
Any model I support would not limit ali‘i trusts, Hawaiian Homestead Act beneficiaries, federal contracts/grants, programs and services to Kanaka Maoli. In fact, by redefining the federal government’s imposed classifications of who is “Native Hawaiian,” my model would expand these rights.
- In your governance model, would you be inclusive of people other than Native Hawaiians as citizens?
That will be up to the government in place after my model has been implemented. My model has the capacity to be as inclusive as we decide it to be.
- How do you see participation by others in helping the ‘aha on the various aspects of the draft constitution?
I strongly advocate the active participation of all Kanaka Maoli in every stage of this process – including the determination whether to proceed with establishing a Native Hawaiian Governing Entity and its governing documents (i.e. constitution). I support the inclusion of constitutional law experts to help verse delegates of constitutional models at the start of the ‘aha. I also support public minutes of ‘aha meetings and opportunity for all Kanaka to submit ideas and raise questions throughout the ‘aha’s course. Every Kanaka must be able to participate in order for this process to truly result in self-determination.
- 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.
The international community recognizes governments that are democratic to its core and upholds and respects fundamental human rights. Those are the pillars of my model. Our government should only be able to function with the participation of every Kanaka Maoli through direct democratic decision making and community-based budgeting. Through diplomacy, aloha, and leading by example, our lahui will naturally demand respect from other nations across the world, without relinquishing agency to them to make decisions for us.
- Why should Native Hawaiians vote for you?
My tūtū once used to recite an old proverb, that, “we do not inherit this land from our forebears, but rather we borrow it from our children.” This helped me better understand the sacrifices my kupuna made for me and the sacrifices that I make today. My great-great-great-great-great grandmother Kekipi convinced a post officer to smuggle her newborn child out of Kalaupapa, to live with his grandfather on Maui, in order to continue her bloodline. She gave up being with her child for me. So I am ready to work my whole life so that my children and grandchildren will be able to live in the best conditions possible with the utmost agency and control of their own lives as Kanaka. It is our duty.