OCCUPATION: Advocacy Director, Office of Hawaiian Affairs
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP: Waimea, Hawaiʻi Island
SCHOOL(S) ATTENDED: Hawaiʻi Preparatory Academy, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa BA in Hawaiian Studies and MA in Public Administration
CURRENT RESIDENCE: Kawaihae, Hawaiʻi
- In recent years, I have been unable to remain active in or join civic organizations in my personal capacity due to family and work kuleana that have often required my full attention late into the night and on weekends. Through my job at OHA, I have had the opportunity to work with and provide support to Native Hawaiian and community organizations on Hawaiʻi Island and across the state on a broad range of issues. These experiences over the last 13 years have taught me to listen carefully to what is important to the community, assess how OHA can help and then take action. I am prepared to continue this approach as the Hawaiʻi Island Trustee.
- OHA must work with and support entities and organizations with expertise and familiarity on what is needed for the successful long-term economic recovery of Hawaiʻi. One specific example is the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, but it will take all stakeholders working together to move forward. OHA has already provided support by being a part of surveys in the Native Hawaiian business community to gather data and information on needs and issues that can be used in providing solutions. Our dependence on tourism was built over a century and its sudden loss has been obviously devastating and there are no easy solutions. It will be a tough road ahead, but there is an opportunity for a more resilient economy with a support network in place for small businesses in a broad range of industries that contribute to Native Hawaiians achieving Economic Sovereignty in the future.
- I began my career with the responsibility of working with the Hawaiʻi Island community, descendant families and the burial council on the highly emotive and often contentious issue of protecting iwi kūpuna. Over time, that responsibility has grown to include cultural sites, traditional cultural properties and landscapes and many sacred spaces across the state. I have nearly two decades of experience working with communities and families on how county, state and federal laws can be applied to protect the areas and sites that are important to them. As powerful as the required processes can be, I recognize that there is room for improvement and am committed to working to make the necessary changes.
I had the opportunity to be an OHA representative in the Native Hawaiian community-led effort to establish and protect the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands) that encompasses nearly two-thirds of our archipelago (560,000 square miles) and is of tremendous traditional and spiritual significance to the Native Hawaiian people. A key component of this effort was ensuring that the Native Hawaiian voice was meaningfully represented and equal with state and federal agencies in the co-management structure for the area. I firmly believe Native Hawaiians should be in a decision-making position when it comes to our natural and cultural resources and sacred places and will use my experience to support communities in successfully achieving that goal.