Keoni Kuoha

Keoni Kuoha

Keoni Kuoha offers an oli during the pwo graduation ceremony, in Satawal, of Hawai‘i’s master navigators.

Keoni Kuoha

Keoni Kuoha

Candidate: Keoni Kuoha
‘Aha District: O‘ahu
Instagram: @Keonikuoha

  1. What are your qualifications to be a delegate to the ‘aha?

I seek to serve our people and ʻāina with integrity, creativity, and aloha. To that end, I have spent my life seeking out sources of knowledge—both traditional and contemporary—that would enable me to help cultivate self-determination in, among, and for our Hawaiʻi. So far in my life, I have had the honor to serve in the fields of education, resource management, and cultural practice. Empowered by my kumu and variety of experiences, I now seek to expand my service to the development of our political culture and the legal instruments that can support our continual growth as a self-determining people.

  1. 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.?

The values of my campaign are the values of my kūpuna, and I hold these as ideals for both the process and the outcomes of the present Hawaiian governance ʻaha. My approach to three of these values is described below:

  • Aloha. I value aloha as an emotional intelligence that helps me understand the perspective and experiences of others, even if my intellect does not. In this way, it keeps me open to the greatest breadth of possibilities for our future. This value of aloha also allows me to trust and build trust with anyone else willing to engage in the nation-building process.
  • Pono. I value pono as a continual process of discernment and balance-seeking. It is the fundamental quality of every good decision and the means by which we as kanaka efficiently and enduringly cultivate our individual and collective mana.
  • ʻOnipaʻa. I value ʻonipaʻa as a means of engagement. It combines the qualities of flexibility and steadfastness in a manner that grounds me in the basic truths and needs of our Hawaiian people while allowing for the fact that my knowledge, skills, and experiences have their limits.
  1. What three components of the constitution are you particularly interested in advocating and why?

In order to develop a constitution that suits both our present sociopolitical circumstances and our greatest future aspirations, we require a broad range of perspectives working together creatively and with open and active critique. I am running to become an ʻaha delegate because I am interested in supporting the most rigorous process of constitutional development that can be collectively imagined and agreed upon by convention delegates.

Beyond the process of constitutional development, there are many aspects of a future Hawaiian constitution in which I am interested. Here are three:

  • Enduring right to self-determination. The constitution or a preamble thereof must state and make abundantly clear our intention to continually seek our fullest expression of self-determination and most beneficial state of pono with place and people, which may include being a free and fully self-determining nation-state.
  • Community engagement and transparency. The quality of our public life and communal efforts are directly related to the extent to which citizens are engaged in processes of decision-making. A Hawaiian constitution must maximize public engagement through the electoral system and legislative processes. Channels of clear communication and accountability must be built into the governing system.
  • ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi. Our Hawaiian language is an integral part of our future. Any Hawaiian constitution should mandate the use of ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi throughout the Hawaiian government and subsidiary functions (eg. public education) while supporting the learning of ʻōlelo by all who are interested. A Hawaiian constitution should also be dually drafted and promulgated in both Hawaiian and English.
  1. What governance model will you advocate for?

Currently, there is a lot of focus on independence and federal recognition as central to our future as Hawaiians. However, neither of those models of relationship with the United States necessarily enable our land, culture, and people to flourish. For that reason, I have and will continue to advocate for self-determination that emanates from our deepest cultural traditions and highest ideals, is firmly rooted in place and people, and seeks to manifest a sustainable, innovative, and prosperous future for Hawaiʻi. The governance model that will achieve this cannot be simply framed within the poles of independence and federal recognition.

  1. Are you willing to discuss other governance models?

Yes. I seek to discuss, critique, and develop all potential governance models and political relationships that cultivate self-determination within, among, and for Hawaiians.

  1. 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?

We should continually engage with the United States’ federal and state governments for resources, rights, and privileges within the context of United States law and to the extent that it does not limit or infringe upon our self-determination. When a Hawaiian government is formed, clearly represents the majority of Hawaiians, and is consistently accountable to its citizens, that government should exert its legal prerogative over the aliʻi trusts and lands of the Hawaiian Kingdom and Crown through a long-term strategy of engagement on all fronts (eg. Hawaiian communities, the international arena, court systems, public opinion, etc.) and thoughtful integration of those assets into the Hawaiian nation-state.

  1. In your governance model, would you be inclusive of people other than Native Hawaiians as citizens?

Although I believe it is in the greatest long-term interest of our lāhui to be inclusive of all peoples interested in the well-being of the ʻāina and Hawaiian culture, moving forward at this time with only Hawaiian citizens allows the ʻōiwi to set the legal, political, social, and economic foundations for our best future.

  1. How do you see participation by others in helping the ‘aha on the various aspects of the draft constitution?

No matter the range of experience forty delegates may bring to the ʻaha, they cannot represent the breadth of knowledge and skills needed to draft a constitution that meaningfully considers the wholeness of our identity as Hawaiians and the complexities of the world in which we seek self-governance. For these reasons, I will continually advocate for maximum inclusion, discussion, and transparency through actions such as making space within the ʻaha for non-delegate voices of critique, inviting subject area specialists to present and give feedback, live-streaming of ʻaha proceedings, and providing online and in-person discussion forums, the outcomes of which are embedded in the process of ʻaha decision-making.

  1. 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.

As a delegate, my responsibility is to help formulate a next step toward self-governance that reflects the collective will and best interests of the Hawaiian people. The outcomes of our decision-making should not be determined by whether the state or federal governments will accept our chosen expression of self-determination. However, once we identify and agree upon the appropriate next step toward self-governance, it is incumbent upon the delegates to facilitate the development of an implementation strategy.

  1. Why should Native Hawaiians vote for you?

I seek to participate as a delegate, in a spirit of collaboration and creativity, in order to help elevate the outcomes of this ʻaha to reflect the greatest expression of self-determination the delegates and the Hawaiian people can collectively imagine. My candidacy offers voters a choice. I am here to provide representation to those who believe in me and/or the views that I express.