News Briefs | April 2023


Press Conference Addresses Hakuone Misinformation

Photo: Chair Carmen "Hulu" Lindsey speaks at a press conference
At a March 21 press conference held at OHA’s administrative offices in Honolulu, OHA Chair Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey, representing the unified Board of Trustees, addressed gaps in public understanding and persistent misinformation relating to OHA’s requests and plans for Hakuone, its 30-acres of land in Kakaʻako Makai. Lindsey reiterated that Hakuone represents just 14% of the 221 total acres that comprise Kakaʻako Makai, and that the parcels identified for future residential development are inland, closest to Ala Moana Boulevard, and represent only 6% of the area. She also emphasized that OHA’s development plans for Hakuone will increase green space and ocean access points. Behind Lindsey are (l-r) Trustee John Waiheʻe IV, Trustee Kalei Akaka, Trustee Keoni Souza, Trustee Keliʻi Akina, Ph.D., CEO Dr. Sylvia Hussey, and COO Casey Brown. – Photo: Jason Lees

OWP Says Nothing is Being Done About Red Hill

Oʻahu Water Protectors (OWP) marked the one-year anniversary of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s announcement that the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility at Kapūkakī would be defueled and permanently closed. However, little progress has been made today and Oʻahu’s freshwater supply is still at extreme risk of contamination by the more than 100 million gallons of fuel stored just 100 feet above the island’s sole-source aquifer.

Congress has now required the Secretary of Defense to certify that the Red Hill Facility is nonessential before it can be defueled via the National Defense Authorization Act 2023 (NDAA) – a certification that has yet to happen.

“The events of the last 12 months caused by the military’s negligence validates the need for urgent action to defuel Red Hill,” OWP’s Dani Espiritu said. “A Joint Task Force-Red Hill (JTF-RH) to defuel Red Hill was established with no community representation or oversight, fuel was detected in a Board of Water Supply monitoring well in Moanalua (outside the Navy water distribution system), 1,300 gallons of PFAS-based (cancer-causing “forever” chemicals) firefighting foam concentrate was spilled at Red Hill, and a toothless EPA consent decree threatens to enable continued Navy foot-dragging while we, and our island, remain under the daily threat of an existential catastrophe.”

The Navy recently disclosed to regulators that approximately 1,500 gallons of concentrated firefighting suppressant containing toxic chemicals previously spilled at the Navy’s Red Hill underground fuel facility on Dec. 7, 2019, bringing the number of known spills at the facility to three and elevating concerns that PFAS may still be lurking in the environment as a result.

Mailer Appointed Interim Bishop Museum CEO

Photo: Dee Jay Mailer
Dee Jay Mailer

Bishop Museum has announced the appointment of Dee Jay Mailer to a one-year term as its interim president and CEO.

“I am excited to be joining the Bishop Museum ʻohana and to work with its very capable staff to strengthen the foundation for excellence that has existed there for many decades,” Mailer said. “I am very much looking forward to meeting with the employees, donors, lawmakers, and community members who have demonstrated so much aloha and support for the cultural treasure provided to us by Charles Reed Bishop in honor of his wife, Ke Aliʻi Pauahi.”

Mailer graduated from Kamehameha Schools and holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s in business administration from UH Mānoa.

Mailer has considerable executive leadership experience. She served as CEO of Kamehameha Schools from 2004-2014, on the board of Bishop Museum from 2012-2016, and currently sits on the boards of the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation and Sutter Health Kahi Mohala.

Mailer has also served as CEO of the Geneva, Switzerland-based, Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria, where she helped raise $4 billion from 35 countries, major foundations, and private donors. And she was the chief operating officer at health insurer Health Net in California and president of Kaiser Permanente in Honolulu.

Mailer will focus on strengthening the museum’s HR processes and will assist with the search for a permanent CEO.

Waikīkī Mural Features Hawaiian Keiki

Photo: Artist Kamea Hadar's Waikīkī mural
Artist Kamea Hadar’s Waikīkī mural, “I Ka Wa Ma Mua, Ka Wa Ma Hope,” features the likenesses of keiki from well-known Hawaiian families. – Courtesy Photo

Artist Kamea Hadar has created a colorful mural featured along the Outrigger Reef Waikīkī Beach Resort’s interior beach walk. His large-scale murals and installations can be found in cities around the world.

The mural, called “I Ka Wa Ma Mua, Ka Wa Ma Hope” (Through the Past is the Future) depicts a voyaging canoe crewed by keiki who are descended from noted ʻŌiwi.

Hana Kakinami, the great-granddaughter of poet and historian John Dominis Holt is pictured fishing off the back of the waʻa (canoe). Pictured at the center is Laʻiku Brown, grandson of Polynesian Voyaging Society Pwo navigator Bruce Blankenfeld. Pictured working the canoe lines is Steel Scott, a descendant of both the Downing ʻohana (a well-known surfing family) and the Scott ʻohana (of the Scott Hawaiʻi slipper manufacturing family). At the bow of the canoe playing an ʻukulele is Kawena Kamakawiwoʻole, grandniece of beloved musician the late Israel Kamakawiwoʻole. Hadarʻs daughter, Nova, is pictured holding the hoe uli (steering sweep) that acts as a rudder for the canoe.

“As parents and elders [we] donʻt yet know where our keiki will arrive or even the nature of the canoe they will be sailing,” Hadar said. “But we do know that, like in the waʻa, the next generation are all in this voyage together. We hope that with the lives that have been lived, both in generations past, as well as our current lives as parents, our keiki will have the tools to carry on our legacies and be positive stewards of our future earth.”

Indigenous Peoples From 34 Nations Call for a Total Ban on Deep Sea Mining

Indigenous activists from the Pacific region have made clear that they do not consent to deep-sea mining in a petition presented in March at the 28th Session of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in Kingston, Jamaica. The petition included more than 1,000 signers from 34 countries representing 56 Indigenous groups.

The activists are part of the Blue Climate Initiative and are calling for a total ban on this destructive industry.

Addressing the ISA, Solomon Kahoʻohalahala of Lānaʻi offered a traditional oli and explained that in Hawaiian genealogy all life comes from the sea. “The ocean is our country and we come from the deepest depths of the seas,” he said.

With the petition, Indigenous activists emphasized that the relationship of Indigenous peoples with the natural world is defined by respect, gratitude, and responsibility. They asserted that Western culture’s relationship with natural ecosystems has proven deeply harmful to the environment. This is the first time that the activists have been given a platform at the ISA meeting to express their views despite the significant impact the decision could have on shaping their future.

“We need drastic changes in the way we manage our oceans. The threat of deep-sea mining is huge. So our measures to protect the ocean and the life within it must also be huge,” Kahoʻohalahala said. “My people have lived in and around the ocean for generations. It’s who we are. We are the ocean and we must act now.”

Also representing Hawaiʻi and adding their names to the petition were Nainoa Thompson and Darienne Dey, both of the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

EP of Songs from Upcoming Film Released

Photo: Bronson Varde, Taiana Tully, and John Cruz
On the set of Hawaiian Heart are (l-r) Bronson Varde, Taiana Tully, and John Cruz. – Photo: Vincent Ricafort

Grammy award-winning musician John Cruz and filmmaker Josh Goldman are releasing an EP (extended play) of five songs from their upcoming feature musical, Hawaiian Heart.

The EP, available worldwide for streaming and downloading from Grandridge Records, features performances by Cruz and the film’s stars, Taiana Tully and Bronson Varde.

The film is being produced by Oʻahu-based Sight & Sound Productions. Bryan Spicer (Magnum P.I. and Hawaii Five-0) will serve as executive producer.

Hawaiian Heart is a musical “rom-com” about Lani, a young woman returning home to Kauaʻi for the first time in years, who reunites with her high school sweetheart. In addition to serving as the film’s music supervisor, Cruz has a supporting role in the film.

“This movie is a passion project for everyone involved,” Goldman said. “It’s a love letter to Hawaiʻi, with songs about places on Kauaʻi and ideals like the importance of ʻohana, and the kuleana we all have to the ʻāina, and each other. We are incredibly honored to be working with Kumu Hula Leināʻala Jardin and Dr. Keao NeSmith as cultural advisors on this project. Our entire Hawaiian Heart ʻohana is dedicated to giving back to the community, and to ensure we’re giving back in meaningful ways, we have formed a brain trust of local community leaders to advise our production.”

The film includes 15 original musical compositions by Cruz and Goldman.

CCH Sues Fisheries

Earthjustice recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Conservation Council for Hawaiʻi (CCH) and Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner Mike Nakachi to protect a host of threatened and endangered Pacific Ocean species from ongoing harm.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to go to court, but these long, hooked lines [for catching] tuna are killing and maiming numerous [other] creatures in our marine ecosystem,” said Nakachi. “They’re emptying our ocean of animals we used to see in great numbers – sharks, turtles, whales – and robbing us of our cultural heritage.”

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaiʻi, the suit points out that the Fisheries Service is allowing Hawaiʻi deep-set longline and American Samoa longline fishing operations to operate in the Western and Central Pacific without completing the legally required evaluations of the fleets’ effects on threatened and endangered species including five distinct varieties of sea turtles, sperm whales, scalloped hammerhead sharks and the Main Hawaiian Island insular false killer whale.

“The Hawaiʻi deep-set longline and American Samoa longline fisheries attempt to catch tuna and other far-ranging open ocean fish species by laying dozens of miles of baited hooks in the water. This indiscriminate fishing method catches, injures, and kills myriad species [that] it is not meant to catch, including every species of sea turtle that roams the Pacific Ocean and numerous marine mammals and shark species,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit asks the court to order the Fisheries Service to complete the required evaluations to protect endangered and threatened species within 90 days.

Kamakau Students Attend UN Conference in New York

Photo: The delegation from Kamakau to the Montessori Model United Nations conference in New York City
The delegation from Kamakau to the Montessori Model United Nations conference in New York City last month included (l-r): Kahiwamanō Seabury, Kaʻoʻo Barboza, Noa Mason-Derit, Kānaʻi Yee, Keao Domingo, Kūhiō DeMello, Kumu Kaipoʻi Kelling, Kealoha Velez, Leilaʻikū Larinaga-Cleaver, Mālie Bellinger, Kahanu Wong, Malia Maele-Gowan, Kalaʻe Jao, Kūlaʻilaʻi Punua, Kawailehua Nagao-Vallejo and Hālena Richards. Missing from picture: Pualokomaikaʻi Kepoʻo. – Courtesy Photo

Sixteen haumāna from Ke Kula ʻo Samuel M. Kamakau Laboratory Public Charter School (Kamakau) in Kāneʻohe, Oʻahu, participated last month in the Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN) conference in New York City. This is the first time that Kamakau has participated and they were the only Hawaiian Medium School at the conference.

For eight months, students prepared by studying after school and participating in meetups with global peers. The multi-day global education experience in New York City (March 15-18) allowed the haumāna to learn about the world’s largest international peacekeeping and humanitarian organization.

Kamakau haumāna joined students representing Canada, Spain, Jamaica, and the Philippines in the elementary and middle school divisions. Each delegate was responsible to learn about their country’s viewpoints on global issues such as space exploration, equality for rural women, and fostering a culture of peace and understanding.

In addition to the fundraising efforts of each ʻohana, Kamehameha Schools and Kapono Foundation provided funding support for the Kamakau delegation.

Montessori Model UN is a division of Youth for a Better World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. The mission of the MMUN is to inspire and empower youth.

16 Hawaiʻi Schools Bring Home 47 STN Awards

Students from 16 Hawaiʻi schools, primarily public schools, on the islands of Kauaʻi, Maui and Oʻahu traveled to California last month to participate in the annual Student Television Network (STN) competition and brought home a record-breaking 47 awards, 11 of which were for first place.

The competition is for students enrolled in digital media programs across the nation. There were approximately 3,000 attendees.

STN was started in 1999 by teachers who wanted to support and encourage scholastic broadcasting, as well as to provide a forum for teachers to share ideas and learn from professionals in the television industry. Over the past two decades, STN has expanded to include film, multimedia and other forms of communications. Their mission is to shape the next generation of storytellers by empowering their voices through broadcast journalism, film and multimedia education. The first STN convention was held in 2004 in Los Angeles, Calif.

Student journalists competed in categories such as best human interest feature story, best short film, best anchor team, and best music video and best weather report.

Hawaiians Participate in International Art Festival in the UAE

Photo: Solomon Enos, Meleanna Aluli Meyer, Her Royal Highness Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi and Kahi Ching
(L-R) Solomon Enos, Meleanna Aluli Meyer, Her Royal Highness Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi and Kahi Ching pictured in front of the artists’ traveling mural “Kuʻu ʻĀina Aloha” on location in Sharjah.

In February, three Native Hawaiian artists represented Hawaiʻi as international contributors at the Sharjah Arts Biennial 15 in the United Arab Emirates.

The invitation was initially extended to Meleanna Aluli Meyer, an artist and documentary filmmaker. Organizers were interested in her 2020 documentary film about Maunakea (Sacred Mountain, Sacred Conduct).

“When the Biennial director and curator [Her Royal Highness Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi] came to Hawaiʻi to meet with me, I invited her to meet with the wonderful and talented artists that I paint murals with: Al Lagunero, Carl Pao, Harinani Orme, Solomon Enos and Kahi Ching,” Meyer said.

To the artists’ surprise, Al Qasimi invited the entire group to participate in the Biennial and exhibit their traveling mural, “Ku’u ʻĀina Aloha,” a double-sided installation about healing, and cultural and historical trauma which is shared with our community locally. Ching, Enos and Meyer made the journey to the United Arab Emirates.

Meyer called the experience “extraordinary” and “a radical, life-changing adventure.”

The exhibit opened Feb. 7 and runs through June 11 in Sharjah and across the United Arab Emirates in the municipalities of Al Hamriyah, Al Dhaid, Kalba and Khorfakkan.

Hawaiian filmmaker Justyn Ah Chong’s 2019 short film Down on the Sidewalk in Waikīkī was also featured at the Biennial and was screened on March 25 at the Al Mureijah Square in the city of Sharjah.

Nichols Selected as a CNAY Champion for Change

Meet the 2023 Champions for Change
The Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) at the Aspen Institute recently announced its 2023 Champions for Change. Each year, five outstanding Native youth leaders are selected and provided with experience-based learning and tailored advocacy training. This year, Honuʻāina Nichols, an ʻŌiwi from Honolulu, Oʻahu, was named one of the five.

Nichols is a 2018 graduate of Kamehameha Schools Kapālama and a 2022 graduate of UC Santa Barbara with a degree in Political Science and International Relations.

Champions for Change is a Native youth leadership program that highlights positive impact stories from “Indian Country.” It was inspired by a 2011 White House initiative. The program has been advancing the leadership skills and advocacy efforts of young Native leaders for over 10 years. Each year, CNAY selects five “champions” – young people who have the desire to better their communities.

This year, over 50 Native youth applied to the program. Those selected reflect the rich cultures, diversity, and resiliency of Native Peoples of the United States. Collectively, they are advocating for the protection of our sacred sites, tribal sovereignty, increased civic engagement, Native youth programming support and Indigenous food sovereignty.

In addition to Nichols, the other 2023 Champions for Change are: Samuel Hiratsuka, Navajo, Winnemem Wintu, Yup’ik and Unangan from Anchorage, Alaska; Gabriella Nakai, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and Navajo from Phoenix, Arizona; Jovi Williams, White Mountain Apache Tribe from Cibecue, Arizona; and Joshua Jackson-Morrison, Red Lake Band of Ojibwe from Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Most Hawaiʻi Residents Willing to Pay More for Local Food

Despite Hawaiʻi’s high cost of living, more than half of Hawaiʻi residents would pay more to support local produce and meat providers with 31% saying they are willing to spend 10% to 15% more to “Mālama the Farmer.”

These findings are from a UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) study conducted between April and May 2022, involving a random sample of 400 residents.

CTAHR researchers found an interesting gap between intent and practice in the survey results. People in higher income brackets (earning more than $100,000 per year), people on the neighbor islands, and Native Hawaiians indicated the greatest willingness to pay a premium to buy local.

But in practice, lower-income households (those earning less than $50,000/year), residents born and raised in the islands, and Native Hawaiians actually purchase locally produced food at a significantly higher rate than the 30% purchased by the average resident.

Interestingly, the proportion of locally produced food purchased declines as family income increases.

The study and report are unique in examining the willingness to purchase and pay more through the lenses of local residents. The work is part of the Seeds of Wellbeing (SOW) project in CTAHR.

Moritsugu Meets With OHA Trustees

Photo: Sen. Daniel K. Akaka. Moritsugu with OHA Chair Carmen "Hulu" Lindsey
On March 22, Erika Moritsugu, deputy assistant to President Joe Biden and the White House’s Asian American and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander senior liaison met with Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) trustees. Moritsugu, who is from Hawaiʻi, took time to explain her kuleana, as the position was newly created by the Biden administration. A lawyer by trade, Moritsugu has extensive and diverse experience in Washington, D.C., including having served as deputy legislative director to Sen. Daniel K. Akaka. Moritsugu is pictured here with OHA Chair Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey. – Photo: Jason Lees