Submitted by Ka Leo o nā ʻŌpio
In partnership with several Native Hawaiian organizations, including Kamehameha Schools, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Papa Ola Lōkahi, the Native Hawaiian Education Council and the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, Ka Leo O Nā ʻŌpio (KONO) helped to put on two events that aimed to promote the importance of Hawaiian civic engagement and turnout at the polls this year.
“Walk To The Box” events were held in Honolulu and Hilo in early August. As part of the event, participants held sign-waving rallies along King Street in Honolulu and Kamehameha Avenue. Following these demonstrations, individuals proceeded to voter drop boxes to submit their Primary Election Ballot.
For many who participated, voting allows us as Native Hawaiians to voice our concerns and elect leaders who share our values.
“It’s critical that everyone exercise their right to vote,” said Kamehameha Schools Chief Executive Jack Wong. “You have an opportunity to chart a brighter future for our keiki and our ʻāina by voting for those who share your values and views and who will act in alignment with those values and views.”
“As Kanaka ʻŌiwi, our culture, knowledge, and storied places exist in the future,” noted Elena Farden, Executive Director of the Native Hawaiian Education Council. “We forge ahead – not to plan – but to design our future into existence now by activating our power to choose and to vote.”
The involvement of ʻōpio was an integral part of these events. Dozens of school students on Oʻahu and Hawaiʻi Island participated in the two events. While many were not yet voting age, they felt that the voices of young Native Hawaiians needed to be heard by those who had the power to vote.
“It is important for young Native Hawaiians to engage in these elections because if we are going to forge our future, it must begin with our present,” said Kamahaʻo Halemanu, a sophomore at Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi. “We as the youth should be engaged in this election to propel us as a lāhui forward with the leaders of the future.”
For us at Ka Leo O Nā ʻŌpio, events like these are essential because it highlights the need to improve the civic welfare of our lāhui by encouraging all members, as well as the Native Hawaiian community at large, to run for office, register to vote, learn about the issues, understand the gravity of decisions made at the polls, and cast a vote during elections.
As we look forward to the November general election, stay tuned as we plan for more “Walk To The Box” events in communities across the pae ʻāina.
Ka Leo O Nā ʻŌpio (KONO) is a collaboration of Native Hawaiian individuals and organizations dedicated to Native Hawaiian youth civic engagement. To learn more about our work, follow us on social media @opiopowered.