OCCUPATION: Executive Director & Chief Instructor of The Hawaiian Cultural Center of Hāmākua
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP: Honokaʻa, Hawaiʻi
SCHOOL(S) ATTENDED: GED, Kanu O Ka ʻĀina NCPCS, Hilo Community College
CURRENT RESIDENCE: I live in Ahualoa, Hawaiʻi
- I was born, raised, and still reside in Hāmākua, Honokaʻa, on Hawaiʻi Island. I grew up in the forests of Ahualoa and down in Waipiʻo Valley, where I learned from numerous Hawaiian practitioners.
- 2003-Present: Student of Hālau Hula ʻo WaikāUNU under Kumu Hula Kuwalu Anakalea, coming from the UNUKupukupu program under Kumu Hula Taupori Tangaro.
- 2003-Present: Member-Practitioner with Nā Papa Kānaka o Puʻukoholā Heiau.
- 2003-2016: Volunteered with Hawaiʻi Isle Aloha Festival Royal Court.
- 2004: Graduated from Kanu O Ka ʻĀina NCPCS.
- 2005-2013: Program Director of the Native Youth Cultural Exchange Program, a young men’s leadership program between Kānaka Maoli and Native American tribes.
- 2006-2012: Hawaiian Cultural Activities Specialist & Advisor for the Hāmākua Youth Center.
- 2006-2013: DOE Hawaiian Studies Resource Teacher at Honokaʻa Elementary, Intermediate & High Schools, Waiākea Elementary, and Laupāhoehoe PCS.
- 2012-Present: Kiaʻi Mauna – community environmental advocate.
- In 2016, I launched The Hawaiian Cultural Center of Hāmākua, providing local, national and international educational opportunities.
- OHA should address the economic impact of the pandemic on our community by advocating and investing toward increasing economic opportunity and decreasing costs of living.
Hawaiʻi should redirect the $80M/year used to promote tourism towards job training for former tourism workers so that all can thrive in a more circular, ʻĀina Aloha economy.
We should keep moving away from industrial ag by increasing our investment in infrastructure that will help small farmers.
We must immediately expand and diversify the opportunities and availability for safe and affordable housing conducive to a healthy lifestyle for kānaka ʻōiwi.
OHA must expand its role to help beneficiaries access housing, including assisting ʻohana with returning or regaining their Kuleana lands. OHA must work together with DHHL and our Hawaiian Trusts to fulfill their overlapping obligations, leveraging resources to achieve maximum positive impact for beneficiaries.
Whether Hawaiians get healthcare through their employer, SSDI, Medicare, Medicaid – no one should fall through the cracks and face homelessness because of health-related debt.
I am one of the 14 collaborative authors of the ʻĀina Aloha Economic Futures Declaration. (Read more at: www.ainaalohafutures.com/.)
- Being raised in places like Waipiʻo Valley, we were always cognizant of our conduct being surrounded by sacred sites. “Sacred” to kānaka maoli applies not only to historical, man-made sites, but to the very geology and natural ecology of these islands — whether it be heiau, fish ponds, burials, or mountain tops, forests, springs, or reefs. As a practitioner, appropriate engagement with the “sacred” is essential. Engagement should preserve, restore and revitalize sacred sites and sacred natural environments. In this age of cultural revival, kānaka maoli must have no fear, shame, or guilt to engage with our wahi pana. We must reclaim our kuleana to mālama these sacred spaces.
As with Maunakea, I observed our people exhaust every presumable “legal” process in a flawed system. As a 14th destructive project attempted to bulldoze its way forward, I asserted my customary right to physically stand and block desecration. This act of nonviolent direct action sparked the largest activation in Hawaiʻi for the protection of sacred lands, and has now exposed much of the injustice that paved the way for prior desecrations.
My mission to support the education of the importance and significance of wahi pana like Maunakea is critical to establish respect and recognition of the “sacred.” Knowing moʻolelo and appropriate protocols are essential in understanding each unique wahi pana to instruct the policy making for their care.