OCCUPATION: Grassroots community organizer, public servant to the Lāhui
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP: I was born in Hoʻolehua, Molokaʻi. My ʻohana has deep roots on Molokaʻì my grandfather Zachary Pali-Pahupu was one of the six original pioneer homesteaders who helped to establish the Hawaiian Homesteading Program at Kalamaʻula in 1921.
SCHOOL(S) ATTENDED: University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
CURRENT RESIDENCE: I live with my husband, Myron Akutagawa, in Pūkoʻo, Manaʻe, East Molokaʻi. Myron is a descendant of taro farmers from Wailau Valley.
- Ka ʻOhana O Kalaupapa (Board Member)
- Hoʻolehua Hawaiian Civic Club of Molokaʻi
- Molokaʻi Land Trust (Founding President)
- Molokaʻi Island Burial Council (Chairperson)
- Mālama Manaʻe (Co-founder)
- Ka Leo O Manaʻe (Co-founder)
- Kākoʻo Kawela (Co-founder)
- Mālama Molokaʻi (Co-founder)
- Hawaiian Homes Commission
- Hui Alaloa Inc.
- State Land Use Commission
- Like many who live on Molokaʻi, I know too well the rising cost of shipping and the trickle down effect it has on families. I am against the practice of passing the bulk of the burden to our local families.
One piece of the solution is local: by supporting sustainable practices that allow neighbor islands to achieve food sovereignty. OHA has already done this during the COVID-19 pandemic by funding $830,000 in food security grants to farmers and nonprofits. I will work to ensure that efforts like these are expanded. I also support OHA’s loan programs which can help to start and expand operations of local, Native Hawaiian-owned small businesses.
At the federal level, OHA must advocate against continued cuts to the U.S. Postal Service. The Postal Service is a critical lifeline for neighbor island communities. There are kūpuna who even rely on the Postal Service for critical medication and home essentials.
- The State of Hawaiʻi and the University of Hawaiʻi have neglected their kuleana to mālama Maunakea. I have strongly supported OHA’s advocacy and eventual legal intervention to stop this mismanagement and desecration. As the current Chair of OHA’s Board of Trustees, I passed a resolution to provide financial support to the protectors on Maunakea. More than that, I have stood with our kiaʻi on the Mauna, sang with them, cried with them, and felt the mana of our kūpuna. I also held an OHA Board visit to meet with kiaʻi and elevate their voices.
But this is not a new cause for me. I was an original member of the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana movement to stop the military’s bombing of Kanaloa Kahoʻolawe. I protected the koʻa and heiau at Kaiaka Rock and Kawakiunui on West Molokaʻi from development by Molokaʻi Ranch. I helped protect the sites at Nāʻiwa, Molokaʻi by organizing to stop the expansion of the Highlands Golf Course at Kalaʻe. As president of the Molokaʻi Land Trust, I helped to repatriate 1,800 acres on the northwest coast of Molokaʻi, providing protection for fishing koʻa, adze quarries, house sites and access trails. I supported the acquisition of the Wao Kele O Puna Rainforest for permanent protection from geothermal development. I also supported the acquisition of the Kūkaniloko Birthing Stones for permanent protection. And I supported the transfer of the 20 acre Palauea Cultural Preserve.
I know this fight because I have fought this fight. And I am committed to keep fighting the fight.