- What are your qualifications to be a delegate to the ‘aha?
I grew up in a family where the issues that were important to our community were discussed at the dinner table. I also grew up in a time where the actions that were taken to protect our communities were usually in the form of a picket line. That certainly shaped the outlook for me as a Hawaiian. By the time I was fortunate enough to attend Kamehameha Schools and then the University of Hawai’i, I had a solid perspective that helped to shape my worldview.
The stories that we tell at ‘Ōiwi TV are one of the ways that we engage our community to showcase many of the things that that are important to all of us who call Hawai’i home. As we enter into the ‘Aha, it will be important to communicate to our whole community the actions that are being contemplated within this process. As a delegate, I intend to continue the work of engaging our community through the venues that we have access to and to continue that work that my parents are still doing, namely to protect our communities.
- 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.?
Working on this slate, Na Makalehua, is one of the most important pieces in this whole process of the ‘Aha to me. Our group has a varying set of perspectives, but we are all clear that we need to engage the process with a Hawaiian set of values to be able to ‘auamo the kuleana that we are taking on.
While Kapu Aloha is an ancient concept, it has found new grounding as a perspective in some of Hawai’i’s most contentious contemporary topics. Kapu Aloha is also an important facet in this ‘aha as we will all need to show each other aloha as we navigate this path moving forward.
- What three components of the constitution are you particularly interested in advocating and why?
The Hawaiian language and culture are the bedrock of what makes Hawai’i, Hawai’i. While there have been strides to increase the use of ‘ōlelo Hawai’i in our communities, we have a long way to go to see normalization of our mother tongue. That starts with the way we treat our language, embracing it as we move into this ‘aha. It will literally be the rope or ‘aha that binds us together in this process.
Access to education is an issue for which I am a strong advocate. We see many examples of successful programs in a few communities that engage our kamali’i in different ways where culture-based learning takes hold and allows them to thrive. Despite this successful, however, scaling these programs to have greater impact is not possible because of limited resources. We need to take this up at the governmental level to make sure that our commitment is reflected in the availability of resources to allow our children to bloom into adults who are ready to carry Hawai’i forward.
Land is the other critical issue that must be addressed. Land in 2015 in Hawai’i has never been more costly. Our people are driven out by the rising cost of this resource every day. We must look at other models of Native land tenure that exist around the Pacific and the rest of the world to try to find a different perspective on how to move forward.
- What governance model will you advocate for?
I will be advocating for model of governance where the members are democratically elected.
- 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?
Many of the ali’i trusts have been around since before the overthrow. They have seen the political landscape shift dramatically during that time. As we move forward, the ali’i trusts will continue to persist as they have. Federal grants and other programs are under constant attack at this time. We have seen these dollars dwindle in recent years to the detriment of many Hawaiian-serving organizations and programs. A Hawaiian Nation would be able to help protect and make sure that these programs and services continue into the future.
- In your governance model, would you be inclusive of people other than Native Hawaiians as citizens?
Yes. This discussion is really about what rights non-Hawaiians have in this model. This should be discussed at the ‘aha.
- How do you see participation by others in helping the ‘aha on the various aspects of the draft constitution?
There have been groups and individuals that have taken up this kuleana here at home as well as in places like Washington D.C. and the United Nations in New York. There is a vast set of resources available to us as we move forward in this particular initiative. Given that, we need to find organizational tools to allow for this information to be available and accessible as we move into the ‘aha. The structure of this may include groups of advisors that can bring forth the mana’o from these experiences. This will also be a critical tool to educate our community as we move forward.
- 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 work of the ‘Aha is to build a framework of what is to come next. While there is specific work to do regarding the production of the organic documents of our aupuni, we are also inherently tasked with providing guidance for steps to furthering the process to getting a constitution ratified. The relationships that develop out of that process should be carried out at all the levels described above.
- Why should Native Hawaiians vote for you?
Our generation was born at a time when the resurgence of kuana’ike Hawai’i was in full bloom. We are the products of the tireless work of those who came before us to protect and keep hold of what makes us unique as a people. As I begin to understand what that enormous responsibility might have felt like, I recognize that the contributions I have to make to our community encompass a broad set of the skills that I have learned in both the formal classroom as well as the informal process that Hawaiians have used for thousands of years. I am here because of my kūpuna and the choices that they made. I ask for your vote so that I too can make a contribution to this process and help to move our lāhui forward.