Candidate: Michelle Kauhane
‘Aha District: O‘ahu
Address: 91-1036 Kahanalei Street, Kapolei, HI 96707
Phone: (808) 630-0501
Hui: Ke Ao Malama
- What are your qualifications to be a delegate to the ‘aha?
I have over 20 years of management experience in both the private and non-profit sectors. For the last 15 years of my career, I have worked with and in the Hawaiian Community increasing homeownership opportunities, supporting affordable housing and community development and expanding financial education. For 7 years I served as the Chair of the Native Hawaiian Policy Center and I currently serve as the CNHA President working specifically on the issues of self-governance and the protection of rights for beneficiaries as defined in the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. I remain actively engaged in public policy supporting Native Hawaiian issues ranging from language preservation and native rights to expanding opportunities for Native Hawaiian small businesses. I continue to serve on a number of Native Hawaiian non-profit boards to positively address the inequities faced by our communities. I believe I have both the personal experience and educational background to positively contribute as a delegate to the upcoming ‘aha.
- 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 no different than the core values I follow everyday of my life. I am a woman of integrity who is driven and committed. I strive to be fair, collaborative and compassionate towards others. If elected, I will bring these same values to carry out my kuleana as a delegate.
- What three components of the constitution are you particularly interested in advocating and why?
The three components of the constitution I am particularly interested in include citizenship, civil rights and the protection of rights for the beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA).
Citizenship is important to our government structure and should be inclusive of any Native Hawaiian who chooses to participate.
Civil rights protections of all Native Hawaiian citizens is a critical component to ensure basic rights for our people in addition to any traditional and customary rights that should also be afforded.
Protecting the benefits of HHCA beneficiaries is essential and creates a solid foundation to establish a Native Hawaiian government that recognizes all Native Hawaiians. The HHCA is the oldest and strongest federal law acknowledging a unique trust relationship with the US, beyond race.
- What governance model will you advocate for?
I support a federally recognized Native Hawaiian Government that allows Native Hawaiians to maintain their U.S. citizenship while also becoming citizens of the Hawaiian Nation. I believe a model of dual-citizenship is the most realistic structure for Native Hawaiians in the 21st century. Dual citizenship for Native Hawaiians has the least impact on non-Hawaiians and is voluntary for those who want to be recognized. As a delegate, I will continue to embrace the reality of our history and acknowledge our past with the hope of creating a better future for our children. I will support a Native Hawaiian Government structure that provides Hawaiians a seat at the table to negotiate as a sovereign with other sovereigns. I will support a governance model that provides the opportunity for us to increase the role of our values, culture and traditions. The governance model that I will support is one by Hawaiians for Hawaiians.
- Are you willing to discuss other governance models?
I am absolutely willing to discuss other governance models and am clear that federal recognition is about a relationship between a Native Hawaiian governing entity and the US, not a form of government. I am open to a robust discussion of all viewpoints on governance and welcome proponents of independence to share their ideas about how total independence will positively contribute to the well being of our people. I am committed to actively engaging at the ‘aha to create a constitution. It is critically important to me to focus on the drafting of a constitution to continue the momentum of re-establishing a Native Hawaiian government.
- 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?
Recognition of a Native Hawaiian government by the US would protect our ali’i trusts, the Hawaiian Homestead Act and federal contracts. A federally recognized Native Hawaiian Government would also have an opportunity to negotiate for increased programs and services to the Native Hawaiian people.
- In your governance model, would you be inclusive of people other than Native Hawaiians as citizens?
I support a government structure by Hawaiians for Hawaiians.
- How do you see participation by others in helping the ‘aha on the various aspects of the draft constitution?
If elected as a delegate for the upcoming ‘aha, we may want to engage the expertise of others in the drafting of various aspects of the constitution. I will support the development of a process for delegates to gather input and expertise as we gather for what I believe will be one of the most important convening’s of Native Hawaiians in my lifetime.
- 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.
Ratification of any governance model will only be implemented through extensive community education and outreach. Securing recognition by the state, federal or international levels will be the responsibility of those elected to the Native Hawaiian government.
However, to ensure that federal recognition remains a possibility for our Native Hawaiian Government, I will continue to advocate and support the federal rule proposed by the United States Department of the Interior to establish a government-to- government relationship with Native Hawaiians. I support keeping that door open so our government can walk through it to secure federal recognition, if it is the will of our people.
- Why should Native Hawaiians vote for you?
Native Hawaiians should vote for me because I have the experience and track record to positively contribute to the upcoming ‘aha. I am driven, committed to the well being of our people, fair and collaborative. I pride myself on being a woman of integrity and would be honored to serve as one of the Oahu delegates.