Candidate: Poka Laenui (Hayden F. Burgess)
‘Aha District: O‘ahu
Address: 86-641 Puuhulu Rd., Wai‘anae, Hi 96792
Phone: (808) 200-2682
- What are your qualifications to be a delegate to the ‘aha?
1968 Delegate, Hawaii State Constitutional Convention, 1982 – 1986, Trustee – OHA, 1994-1990 Lead Political Advocate for World Council of Indigenous Peoples at U.N. and ILO venues, assisted in the drafting of U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People, named Indigenous Expert to ILO Convention 169 on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Licensed Attorney since 1976 and have advocated the position of the State’s and U.S. lack of jurisdiction over Hawaiian nationals by the U.S. & Hawai‘i State, published and lectured extensively on Hawaiian independence, process of colonization and decolonization, Sovereignty and the Hawaiian Economy, and continue to be the chairperson of the Native Hawaiian Convention elected by native Hawaiian constituents in 1987 in the Native Hawaiian Vote. Participated in designing the Independence model of Hawaiian sovereignty (see www.NHConvention.org), consults with the native Hawaiian and the general Hawaii public on public issues every week on local radio talk show for over 20 years, Hawaii Public radio, Olelo T.V. and KWAI 1080 A.M.
- 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 greatest enemy of our people is not the U.S. government, not the State of Hawai‘i, nor the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. It is the failure to unify. This failure has haunted us for far too long. We need to shift our mindset, no longer seeking reasons for further division but for unity among us, even in the face of impossible obstacles.
We are essentially people of good faith — those who agree and who disagree with Hawai‘i’s independence from the U.S.A. The task before us is not to win arguments, but to unite ourselves into a unified voice, treasuring our different views, but moving forward with Aloha. In this way, with an open mind and a welcoming attitude, we make space for all of us, with all our opinions. No longer should we use that great Divider — “or”, when we should be using that great Uniter – “and”.
Let’s preserve the advantages of native Hawaiian programs within the U.S. and maintain our right as a people, entitled to liberation from the U.S. Time, patience and ever-changing opportunities are moderators between those two positions. We can support integration within the U.S. and move to independence from the U.S.
And let us also remember and honor the hard work of the first Native Hawaiian Convention which has still not adjourned sine die — a convention which has determined to offer both options for the Hawaiian people.
- What three components of the constitution are you particularly interested in advocating and why?
1. The constitution must be seen as a restatement of the first, original and only Hawai‘i Constitution which was given to us by King Kamehameha I. That constitution is summed in one word — Pono. All others were amendments to the first, expressions of Pono by the descendants under changing times and circumstances. We must maintain that continuity from the original.
2. The constitution must express a new pervasive deep culture in Hawai‘i. Currently, we operate our economic, political, social, judicial, education, health, environment, social welfare, etc. institutions from the unspoken culture of Domination, Individualism, and Exclusion (D.I.E.). This deep culture is killing us. The informal system of Hawai‘i is founded on ‘Olu’olu rather than Domination, on Lōkahi rather than Individualism, on Aloha rather than Exclusion, giving us an OLA rather than a DIE approach to life and relationships in Hawai‘i. Our national framework must challenge and begin to switch the deep cultures in Hawaii from DIE to OLA.
3. The constitution must be built on two tracks to carry our sovereign train into the future. One track must be based on the rights of Native Hawaiian people and the second must be based on human rights and fundamental freedoms for all of our citizens. One expression of these two tracks can be seen in the draft Native Hawaiian Convention’s model for Hawaiian independence found at www.NHConvention.org.
- What governance model will you advocate for?
Transitional Authority which will move the society from either the current condition or from a Federal Recognition status, over to an independent nation-state — Hawai‘i.
- 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?
Under the Federal Recognition aspect of the model, all of the rights, entitlements, and protections mentioned in the above question would continue to be protected. Other protections and continuation of programs, not specifically directed to the Native Hawaiian people would also continue, i.e. — Social Security Benefits, Disability benefits, continued employment of Native Hawaiians within Federal and State employment, membership of Native Hawaiians within the military systems, etc.
The second aspect of the model is the Hawai‘i Transitional Authority which will be charged with the responsibility of making an appropriate transfer of programs, authority, funds, such that the transition from a relationship with the United States to an independent model in which Hawaii undertakes all aspects of its national prerogative will be made smoothly, respectfully, and with minimal delay. In this transition, we will need to address transfer of military obligations and assets now within the U.S. military purview, including lands, installations, and equipment, with appropriate negotiations over whether or not we undertake U.S. armament or require that they take out of Hawaii, their weapons, especially those of mass destruction. With regards to U.S. military especially, the Hawai‘i Transitional Authority will have to pay particular attention to environmental considerations including the protection of our island waters, and the removal and subsequent clean-up of pollutants and other environmentally damaging residue from militarization. I have provided here a glimpse of the work to be accomplished by the Hawai‘i Transitional Authority (HTA). There will be many other areas of transition, including control over transmigration (including tourism and VISA control), airport and harbors jurisdiction, governance over the 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone, international alliances, participation in international venues, land titles adjustments and transfers or nationalization of assets not used productively, etc.
The third aspect of the model will be in operationalizing the Hawaiian Independent model, probably beginning with the existing State system and begin the transfer and integration of the new model into the existing State system, using a methodical process of change.
- In your governance model, would you be inclusive of people other than Native Hawaiians as citizens?
Yes, citizenship will not be based on one’s race, religion, economic status, gender identification, etc. Rather, citizenship would be based on criteria of ones selected national allegiance, years or proportion of life lived in Hawaii, ancestry connected to Hawaiian citizenship, and a naturalization process to be adopted for those who may not meet the other criteria. However, citizenship does not automatically determine one’s participation in all aspects of government. There will still be a discrimination between participation in the Native Hawaiian aspects of governance, i.e., in the Kumu Hawai‘i by only those with the Koko of Hawaii. Likewise, non-citizenship does not automatically lead to rejection from residence in and a place in the economic, social, judicial aspects of life in Hawai‘i, i.e., a non-Hawaiian citizen can continue to live, own property, work, and be part of the Hawaiian society, but not be entitled to the full rights of citizenship, such as the right to vote.
- How do you see participation by others in helping the ‘aha on the various aspects of the draft constitution?
I foresee a transparent convention, open to the watchful eyes of the general public. I see times being set aside for input from the public, the use of experts in various fields, the testimonies and other contributions of many people. However, it will have to be the delegates who will have to “drive” the convention and be held responsible for the outcome, therefore, it must be a convention conducted with appropriate rules, and protocols, yet be open enough so that it truly is a “people’s” convention. I expect that the delegates to the convention will continue the life of the convention beyond the anticipated 40 days to which it is said to be limited. I believe there will need to be a ratification process to the product of the convention, and much of that ratification process will be moved forward by delegates as well as by others who have invested themselves in the convention’s outcome.
- 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 Hawai‘i Transitional Authority will carry forward this responsibility. The structure and implementation of this transitional authority is just as, if not more important than any particular constitutional document.
- Why should Native Hawaiians vote for you?
I have had some experience in these matters, have taught at the international and local levels on many of these concepts, understand the system of the United States as well as of the International community, have had some training and experience in transferring much of these ideas in my publications, other writings, and in communication with the general public to be somewhat effective in conceptualizing and advocating these ideas. Most important is my ability to listen and try to incorporate all possible thoughts within a common plan. I have the time and am in reasonably good physical, mental and spiritual health to be able to carry forward this work.