News Briefs | January 2022



Photo: Makaʻalae
Ke Ao Hāliʻi, a Hāna-based nonprofit has acquired more than 30 acres at Makaʻalae (pictured above) located along Maui’s Hāna coast. The acquisition is “phase two” of a four-phase plan to purchase and permanently preserve 1.5 miles of coastline and open space south of Hāna town. Makaʻalae is a wahi pana with rich moʻolelo associated with the area. Ke Ao Hāliʻi has been working in partnership with the State of Hawaiʻi, County of Maui and the Hawaiʻi Land Trust. Upon completion of the plan, all 152 acres of undeveloped land will be managed by Ke Ao Hāliʻi with help from the Hāna community and supporting partners. They will implement a land management plan to balance cultural and community access while preserving the ʻāina as a conservation area.- Photo: Courtesy

Kamehameha Names Three Trustee Finalists – Public Comment Invited

The Probate Court appointed a Trustee Screening Committee to nominate three candidates to be considered by the Court for appointment as a Trustee for the Estate of Bernice Pauahi Bishop.

The Screening Committee solicited applications from individuals who possess a deep sense of commitment and the ability to ensure Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop’s vision and legacy are perpetuated into the future.

After reviewing resumes and vision statements of 83 applicants, and conducting personal interviews with semi-finalists, the Screening Committee has determined that the following three finalists (listed in alphabetical order) best meet the Probate Court’s requirements and desirable qualities and characteristics: Naleen N. Andrade, MD; Jennifer Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, PhD; and Leslie Kaʻiu Kimura.

The public is welcome to submit written comments on the candidates, which will be filed with the Probate Court and will become public record. Comments should include the sender’s legal name and contact information and be sent to the address below by 4:00 p.m. on January 31, 2022.

Trustee Screening Committee
c/o Inkinen Executive Search
1003 Bishop Street, Suite 1477
Honolulu, Hawaiʻi 96813

Anonymous comments will not be accepted. For more information, please visit

No Tickets Available for 2022 Merrie Monarch Festival

Merrie Monarch Festival organizers have announced that there will be no tickets available to the general public for the 2022 festival.

Due to ongoing caution and adherence to strict COVID-19 safety protocols, organizers are able to welcome some audience members back to Hilo, however, seating capacity at the Edith Kanakaʻole Multipurpose Stadium is limited. Priority will be given to participating hālau and their ʻohana, and to longstanding festival supporters and sponsors.

In a Facebook post Merrie Monarch Festival President Luana Kawelu wrote, “We apologize that we are currently unable to welcome back more of you to experience the Merrie Monarch Festival in person. However, we want to ensure a safe event for our community, kūpuna, participating hālau, staff and volunteers, as well as audience members. We look forward to the time when we can gather more freely, but until then we will proceed with caution, all the while ensuring that we are able to maintain our mission of supporting and promoting hula and Hawaiian culture.”

The 2020 Merrie Monarch Festival was canceled due to the pandemic. In 2021, the festival resumed but was held in late June with no audience. The performance was recorded and then broadcast in early July.

This year, the 2022 Merrie Monarch Festival is scheduled for April 17-23 and will be broadcast live.

ʻŌiwi Designer Chun-Lai Invited to NY Fashion Week

Photo: Sharayah Chun-Lai

Sharayah Chun-Lai, a Native Hawaiian designer from Keaʻau, Hawaiʻi Island, has become the first Native Hawaiian woman to accept an invitation to New York Fashion Week.

Chun-Lai, 27, launched her modern Hawaiian-inspired clothing and lifestyle retail line, Ola Hou Designs, in 2019. Her designs reflect her Hawaiian cultural roots, and her goal is to create inspirational styles and designs with a contemporary Hawaiian feel.

Last October, Chun-Lai received the invitation from Runway 7 (a hybrid fashion platform that presents runway shows) to be a featured designer and to showcase Ola Hou Designs at Sony Hall at New York Fashion Week in February 2022. She is creating a new, contemporary line for the event and working with a team of local seamstresses to fashion 20 one-of-a-kind pieces. She plans to travel to New York next month with a team of 45 local professionals, including 19 models and is seeking partnerships and sponsorships to help make that happen.

Chun-Lai graduated in 2012 from Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi and went on to the Fashion Design and Merchandising program at U.H. Mānoa where she earned a B.A. degree.

New York Fashion Week is one of the fashion industry’s most prestigious events. It is one of four major “fashion weeks” in the world known collectively as the “Big 4.” The other three are in Paris, London and Milan. New York Fashion Week is a semi-annual event held each year in February and September.

Chun-Lai joins the growing number of Native Hawaiian fashion designers achieving national and international recognition for their work.

Last September, another Hawaiʻi Island designer, Micah Kamohoaliʻi, was invited to participate in New York Fashion Week, and that same month the work of ʻŌiwi designers Kēhaulani Nielson, Manaola Yap and Kini Zamora was featured in REDValentino’s submission to the prestigious Chelsea in Bloom annual floral art show in London.

For more information about Ola Hou Designs go to

More than 150 Acres of Hāna Coastline Protected

Hāna-based nonprofit community organization Ke Ao Hāliʻi (Save Hāna Coast), in partnership with the State of Hawaiʻi, County of Maui, and Hawaiʻi Land Trust (HILT), announced in November the purchase of more than 30 acres at Makaʻalae along Maui’s Hāna coast. The purchase completes the second phase of a four-phase plan that started in 2018 to purchase and permanently preserve 1.5 miles of coastline and open space south of Hāna town, from Hāmoa Beach to Waioka Pond and Waihonu Stream.

Ke Ao Hāliʻi purchased the land for just over $3 million from Hana Ranch Partners, with the State Legacy Land Conservation Program contributing nearly $1.6 million, and the County of Maui’s Open Space Fund contributing $1.5 million. The land is permanently protected with a conservation easement co-held by HILT and the County of Maui.

“Mahalo Ke Akua for helping us find the way and blessing us with purchasing this ʻāina and giving a chance for the descendants and community to mālama this special place,” said John (Irish) O’Hara, a lineal descendant and resident of Makaʻalae and vice-chair for Ke Ao Hāliʻi.

“This is a priceless holiday gift for our community today and for generations to come. To preserve 30 acres on the Hāna coastline will ensure that one of Hawaiʻi’s few remaining Hawaiian communities will be able to perpetuate traditional cultural practices for years to come,” said Maui Mayor Michael Victorino.

“The conservation easements over these lands prohibit subdivision and development, allowing for the continuation of cultural practice, ranching, indigenous ocean food systems, and maintaining community access in perpetuity,” said Shae Kamakaʻala, HILT’s Director of ʻĀina Protection.

This effort builds on conservation work spanning nearly two decades. The third phase plan includes protecting 40 additional coastal acres at Mokae. Once that is complete, Hāna Ranch Partners has committed to donating the remaining parcels (previously protected in conservation easements with HILT) to Ke Ao Haliʻi, completing the acquisition and protection of all 152 acres of undeveloped lands makai of Hāna Highway from Haneoʻo Road to Waiohonu Stream.

The land will be managed by Ke Ao Haliʻi with help of the Hāna community and supporting partners through the implementation of a land management plan that will enable community access and cultural, subsistence, agricultural and recreational uses while preserving the conservation values of the land.

To learn more and contribute to this effort, visit

We will be the stewards, we will be the pillars, the mountains, unshakeable. - Pualani Case

‘Ōpio Explore Identity and Advocacy

Native Hawaiian student artist Kaila LenWai shared a message of steadfast aloha ʻāina in artwork presented at the Museum of the Middle School Mind, a recent showcase at the School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability (SEEQS). Students spent the semester exploring questions about identity and advocacy. Kaila is in the 8th grade and is the daughter of Thadd and Nohea LenWai.

Kaʻohewai Coalition Formed to Defend Kapūkakī

Last month, in response to the Navy’s failure to address mounting concerns about fuel leaking from its massive underground fuel storage facility at Kapūkakī (Red Hill), a new coalition of Hawaiian organizations, called Kaʻohewai, was formed to defend Kapūkakī. Along with other organizations and agencies across Hawaiʻi, Kaʻohewai has called for the immediate removal of the 20 fuel tanks (see pages 4-8 for related coverage).

Kaʻohewai is comprised of individuals and organizations who are rooted in and bound together by decades of shared efforts to nurture and sustain the wellbeing of our land and water, the life they support, and our cultural practices that can only occur in the embrace of nature.

On December 12, Kaʻohewai built and dedicated a koʻa (shrine) at the entrance of the command headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. It will remain in place until the Navy removes its fuel tanks.

“The Navy and its fellow military branches have wreaked havoc across our islands and cannot be trusted with our land and water,” said Andre Perez, a leader of Kaʻohewai and the organizer of the Hawaiian Unity and Liberation Institute (HULI). “They promise safety, they fail, they conceal, they apologize, and they expect to resume their behavior. No more. This is the end. We will not let the Navy continue to deceive us and destroy our land and water.”

Kaʻohewai means “the bamboo water container.” ʻOhe (bamboo) is a kino lau (body form) of the god Kāne who also takes the form of freshwater. “An ʻohe wai is a bamboo water container, much like the container of water that is the Hālawa aquifer,” explained Kaʻohewai’s Kēhaunani Abad. “When water sits beneath the land it is a form of Kanaloa, a constant companion of Kāne. In this way, the name Kaʻohewai also references the god Kanaloa whose aquifers are essential to the water cycle upon which all life depends.”

DLNR Releases Plan to Restore Reef Fish Populations

In November the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) released a plan to sustainably manage Hawaiʻi’s reef fish populations by implementing sustainable harvesting practices to protect our reefs for both current and future generations.

The plan, called Holomua: Marine 30×30 Initiative Sustainable Herbivore Management, includes four “pillars:” place-based planning; pono practices; monitoring; and protection and restoration. The plan incorporates a mauka to makai approach and will rely on community engagement. Key actions outlined in the plan include implementing regulations (place-based and statewide) to promote sustainable fishing practices, enhancing monitoring efforts to track efforts and evaluate effectiveness, and collaborating with stakeholders and partners to better address land-based impacts. The plan will be reviewed every five years to ensure that management actions are effective and that sustainability targets are adjusted as needed.

The intricate ecosystems of the coral reefs face both local and global challenges. In addition to place-based issues such as invasive species, excess nutrient runoff, damage from ocean activities and unsustainable fishing practices, our coral reefs and the life they support are also at risk from climate change, pollution, ocean acidification and marine debris.

In addition to the obvious cultural and environmental issues related to protecting and preserving healthy reef ecosystems, fishing is an important industry in Hawaiʻi. Commercial and non-commercial fishing in Hawaiʻi is worth $10-$16 million annually.

Read the plan

America’s First Indigenous National Park Service Director

Photo: Charles Sams
Charles Sams III

The Biden Administration continues to intentionally appoint Indigenous people into senior leadership positions within the federal government, including the recent appointments of Native Hawaiians Krystal Kaʻai, Keone Nakoa and Summer Sylva.

The most recent such appointment is not a Native Hawaiian but a Native American. Charles Sams, III, has been named the new director of the National Park Service (NPS). As such, he will have oversight of Hawaiʻi’s five national parks, two national historic sites, one national historic trail, and one national memorial – so his appointment is significant to Native Hawaiians.

Sams is an enrolled member, Cayuse and Walla Walla, of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. He has more than two decades of experience as an executive leader in both tribal and conservation organizations and is the first Indigenous person ever to lead the NPS.

Hawaiʻi’s national parks include countless wahi pana and cultural/historical sites and more than 380,000 acres of land, primarily on Moku o Keawe, which includes Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. The NPS’s inventory of Hawaiian land also includes Haleakalā on Maui, Kalaupapa on Molokaʻi, and the Pearl Harbor National Memorial on Oʻahu.

Defend Kapūkakī

On December 12, Kaʻohewai, a new coalition of Native Hawaiian kiaʻi formed to protect the wai at Kapūkakī, built a koʻa (shrine) at the entrance of the U.S. Pacific Fleet command headquarters. According to Kaʻohewai, “the koʻa will remain in place as a focal point for Hawaiian religious practices until the Navy removes its fuel tanks. Kaʻohewai is urging all those who care about our precious water resources to offer at the koʻa their prayers and wai (freshwater) from their own lands. Koʻa are ceremonial focal points that draw and multiply abundance, health and ola (life).” – Photo: Kaʻohewai