- What are your qualifications to be a delegate to the ‘aha?
My commitment to serve the Native Hawaiian community as reflected in my education, community work, and career, are important factors for voters to consider when choosing a delegate. I am currently a Policy Advocate and for the last 5.5 years I have worked exclusively on advocating for policies and funding that advance Native Hawaiian interests and rights. I have substantial experience working on many high profile issues related to water, land, natural and cultural resources, and native Hawaiian traditional and customary practices. I graduated from law school with a specialization in Native Hawaiian Law while also earning a Master’s in Business Administration. Finally, I have worked with many rural communities and have an intense appreciation and aloha for the needs of those communities that have continued to keep critical practices of our culture alive.
- 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.?
I aspire and commit for my campaign to be characterized as being “Native Hawaiian-focused” and built upon values, including the following: kuleana, hoʻopaʻapaʻa, kapu aloha, and aloha. A “Native Hawaiian-focused” delegate places the needs of Native Hawaiians at the center and builds the government around the needs of Native Hawaiians. Further, in collaboration with many others of my generation, I will aspire to conduct myself with an understanding of my kuleana to my ʻohana, the Lāhui, and my community including those that came before us, and the generations that will come after us. I am also committed to keeping an open mind while also aspiring to hoʻopaʻapaʻa with aloha, or to engage meaningfully and respectfully to identify immediate, short term, and long term solutions to address the issues that face our people. While I bring my own ideas, experiences, and understanding, I also know ʻaʻohe pau ka ʻike I ka hālau hoʻokahi (all knowledge is not learned in just one school). Accordingly, I am open to exchanging ʻike with others with different ideas, experiences, and understandings.
- What three components of the constitution are you particularly interested in advocating and why?
I’m particularly interested in the citizenship, form of government, powers of government components of a Constitution, and protecting Native Hawaiian traditional and customary practices. Citizenship should include as many Native Hawaiians as possible or as many who want to be a part of a Native Hawaiian government. With regards to form of government, Native Hawaiians have set up and participated in various forms of governments, including non-democratic, partial democratic, and democratically elected governments. I think we are most used to a democratically-elected government, but I am open to looking at other models that may be suited to our culture and community. I do think, however, that has check and balances need to built-into any government structure and Native Hawaiians deserve a government that has the necessary powers to take care of its citizens. Finally, I think that any constitution would need to ensure maximum protection of the rights of our people to exercise Native Hawaiian traditional and customary practices which uniquely define us; connects us to our ancestors, each other, the ʻaina, and our future; and for many, allows them to sustain themselves physically and mentally.
- What governance model will you advocate for?
Native Hawaiians deserve a governance model that best addresses the immediate and long term needs of the Native Hawaiian people.
- Are you willing to discuss other governance models?
Yes, absolutely. As I mention above, however, we need a government that can address our immediate and long-term needs.
- 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?
The governance model that I support would encourage partnerships with the Alii trusts since both would focus on serving Native Hawaiians and addressing our disparities. To ensure stability, the governance model would support the continuance of a form of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act and encourage continued federal contracts with Native Hawaiian businesses as well as other grants and services. I am well aware of the issues facing our homesteaders and those on the waiting list and I would advocate to ensure that their ability to stay on the land and to get on the land is protected.
- In your governance model, would you be inclusive of people other than Native Hawaiians as citizens?
My preferred model would place the decision-making authority on the important issues like citizenship in the hands of the Native Hawaiian people, at least in the short-term. I think we need to identify and address the issues that are facing Native Hawaiians, which are alarming compared to other Hawaii citizens. That said, I support an important role for our non-Native Hawaiian ʻohana and patriots. My kuʻu kane, makuahine, hoa hanau, and hoa aloha are not Native Hawaiian, and I expect that we will continue to be inclusive and ensure that the Hawaiʻi of the future is one that benefits them as well.
- How do you see participation by others in helping the ‘aha on the various aspects of the draft constitution?
We should use technology to increase participation among Native Hawaiians who are not delegates. What’s really important for people to understand is the reality that building our government will take longer than the actual ‘aha. Building a government and a nation will be ongoing and there will be other opportunities and times to participate. Also, I envision that we will need buy-in from Native Hawaiians for whatever comes out of the ʻaha.
- 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.
When the convention and ratification ends, the delegates’ work is over. The Native Hawaiian government that emerges from the ‘aha is responsible for implementing recognition efforts. The federal government, through the proposed rule, has already indicated what a Native Hawaiian government may need to do to achieve a government-to-government relationship with the federal government. While others may disagree, international recognition is likely more complicated because a Native Hawaiian government would seek recognition from multiple governments internationally. That said, I envision that the work we do at the ʻaha will ensure that the Native Hawaiian people will be able to seek recognition internationally.
- Why should Native Hawaiians vote for you?
By watching the generation of tireless leaders that came before me, I developed a sense of kuleana, a responsibility, to myself, my family, and the larger Hawaiian community. This kuleana motivated me throughout my studies and has guided me during my career in which I have been a staunch advocate for Native Hawaiians. I will continue to be driven by my kuleana and would be a loyal delegate for Native Hawaiians at this convention.