News Briefs | June 2023


OHA’s Board of Trustees Meet with Maui Kupa

Photo: OHA Trustees with Maui Kupa

Photo: OHA Trustees with Maui Kupa

As part of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees’ recent Maui Island community and regular board meetings on May 24 and 25, trustees took the opportunity while on the island to visit with Bobby Pahia and his team at Hawaiʻi Taro Farm in Wailuku (top photo) and with iwi kūpuna advocate Noelani Ahia at Parkways at Maui Lani in Kahului (bottom photo). Pictured at the Hawaiʻi Taro Farm are: (kneeling) Bobby Pahia and his daughter, Kiana Reyes. In the back row (l-r) are trustees Dan Ahuna, Brickwood Galuteria, Luana Alapa, Hawaiʻi Taro Farm’s Germaine Balino, trustees Hulu Lindsey, Keliʻi Akina, Mililani Trask and Keoni Souza, OHA CEO Dr. Sylvia Hussey, and Trustee Kalei Akaka. Hawaiʻi Taro Farm is a hui of 23 family farmers who are trying to create a network of growers and a centrally located hub with processing and food distribution facilities for the island. They are encouraging new farmers to come and farm on their 310 acres to help build sustainability and food security on Maui. Pictured at Maui Lani (l-r) are Trustee Akaka (with her daughter Ava), trustees Ahuna and Souza, Noelani Ahia, trustees Lindsey, Galuteria, Trask, and CEO Hussey. Iwi kūpuna were discovered during the construction of the Maui Lani housing development. Ahia and her hui of volunteers were able to block the construction of some of the homes and reinter some of the iwi that were disturbed but could not stop the entire project. Homes at the Maui Lani development range from $900,000 to $1.5 million. – Photos: Jason Lees

Napoleon Appointed KCC Vice Chancellor

Photo: Nāwaa Napoleon
David John “Nāwa‘a” Napoleon

David John Nāwaʻakauluaokamehameha “Nāwaʻa” Napoleon has been appointed as vice chancellor for academic affairs of Kapiʻolani Community College (KCC.

Napoleon has been an educator, administrator and leader at KCC for 33 years, most recently serving as dean of arts and sciences.

“I started as a lecturer in Hawaiian language here at KCC when I turned 21 years old and I have truly been raised by the college’s community,” said Napoleon. “I appreciate the opportunities that have provided for me to learn, teach and grow. As we look to the future, I am excited to continue working with the campus to carry on our mission and values.”

“Nāwaʻa has a multitude of qualifications and experiences in Native Hawaiian epistemology and education including hula, ʻōlelo, haku mele, oli, hoe waʻa (canoe paddling), in addition to [holding] bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Hawaiian studies. He has elegantly integrated the leadership skills developed in all of his experiences to support the students, staff, faculty and administrators [and] he is a trusted leader who will be immeasurably valuable as we navigate through the new phase of our growth as a campus,” said KCC Chancellor Misaki Takabayashi.

State Awarded $26M to Fund Coastal Climate Change Initiatives

The U.S. Department of Commerce will give $26 million to eight climate change resiliency projects in Hawaiʻi. It’s part of the Biden Administration’s Climate-Ready Coasts initiative, funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Three projects under the UH Mānoa Sea Grant College Program will use the funding to address the problem of marine debris. One program to study the use of aerial drones to detect trash will receive $1.8 million to identify the most effective method to find garbage in Hawaiʻi’s shallow waters.

The second project (a partnership with Hawaiʻi Pacific University) will receive $2.9 million to repurpose plastic waste into asphalt roads. The third program was awarded $299,000 and will share climate-resilience plans with American territory Pacific Islands as they are disproportionately affected by ocean garbage.

Other organizations receiving funding include the Conservation International Foundation. They will receive $8.9 million to construct coral reefs using a 3D printer that will provide a foundation upon which coral can grow and eventually build a natural reef. The project focus is Waikīkī’s coral reefs.

Mālama Maunalua will get $7.8 million to restore watersheds and reefs in Oʻahu’s heavily urbanized areas and use traditional ahupuaʻa systems to study the flow of water from land to ocean and determine the best way to build climate-resilient watersheds.

Kuleana Coral Reefs will receive $465,000 to train residents living in West Oʻahu in reef conservation via its Community Dive Program.

Stem Cell Donors Needed

Be The Match® is the world’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to helping patients with life-threatening blood cancers find bone marrow and stem cell donors. In May, as part of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month, they partnered with singer AJ Rafael, a celebrity advocate for Be The Match and a blood stem cell donor himself at a special concert in Los Angeles.

Be The Match is committed to eliminating health disparities and increasing access to cellular therapy for patients of all backgrounds. Currently, AANHPI patients have only a 47% chance of finding bone marrow and stem cell donors.

Anyone can help increase those odds by joining the registry with a simple cheek swab.

For more information about how you can get involved, visit

KS and Chaminade Offer 150 Muʻo Scholarships

Kamehameha Schools (KS) and Chaminade University have announced an innovative and community-focused partnership to educate, train and prepare aspiring early learning kumu via 150 full-tuition Muʻo Scholarships.

“Native Hawaiian keiki are at the center of everything we do at Kamehameha. Equity and social justice start with access – access to foundational early learning opportunities in all of our communities. To achieve this, we must ensure we have qualified early learning kumu to welcome and prepare our keiki,” said Dr. Waiʻaleʻale Sarsona, KS vice president of Hiʻialo.

Beginning in fall 2023, 50 Muʻo Scholarships will be provided to enroll in Chaminade’s online bachelor’s degree in teaching program. This will continue for two additional years for a total of 150 funded scholarships as a partnership through KS Kaiāulu (community).

“This 100% online program means a future educator could be living in Kaʻū or Molokaʻi or Hāna or Kauaʻi and doesn’t have to leave their community or island to become an educator,” Sarsona said.

Scholarship applications are now being accepted with a requirement to complete a student-teaching track. Students will be paired with an academic advisor. Applications are open to all Hawaiʻi residents with additional consideration extended to those of Native Hawaiian ancestry. Recruitment and admittance priority will also be given to early childhood education applicants.

New Water Sources Sought for Honolulu

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply (BWS) is seeking new water sources to compensate for the capacity it lost after the 2021 Red Hill water crisis required BWS to take its Hālawa shaft offline.

BWS, which supplies drinking water to most of Oʻahu, had hoped that the six sites it has been exploring would be suitable for well development, but BWS Manager and Chief Engineer Ernie Lau says four of the locations have been deemed unsuitable.

Lau said the BWS is looking at locations farther uphill, meaning the wells would need to be deeper.

The search for new water sources began soon after jet fuel leaked from the U.S. Navy’s Red Hill facility in November 2021, polluting the aquifer located just 100 feet below the underground tanks. BWS shut down its Hālawa shaft, which is about a mile from Red Hill, the following month, resulting in a 20% reduction in the water supply for urban Honolulu.

Lau said BWS is also conducting a water treatment study to see whether petroleum chemicals, as well as PFAS (forever chemicals), can be cleaned from the water at the Hālawa shaft.

Concerns about deadly PFAS have increased after the Navy reported a 1,300-gallon leak of concentrated fire suppressant foam at Red Hill in November 2022.

OHA Leaders Meets With Nānākuli Neighborhood Board

Photo: Nānākuli Neighborhood Board (NNB) Members
At their May 16 meeting, the Nānākuli Neighborhood Board (NNB) passed two unanimous resolutions in support of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA). One was to kākoʻo OHA’s planned development at Hakuone, and the other to kākoʻo OHA’s Biennium Budget. Attending the meeting were representatives from OHA’s Board of Trustees and executive leadership team. Front row, l-r: OHA CEO Dr. Sylvia Hussey, Samantha DeCorte, Trustee Kalei Akaka, Trustee Hulu Lindsey, Germaine Meyers and Trustee Keliʻi Akina. Back row, l-r: OHA Interim Chief Advocate Capsun Poe, OHA BOT Chief of Staff Colin Kippen, David Carona, NNB Chair Patty Kahanamoku-Teruya, Richard Medeiros, Joe Akana and Paul Aio. – Courtesy Photo

LGBTQ Romantic Adventure ʻAikāne’

The team behind the acclaimed animated short Kapaemahu premiered a new film, Aikāne, at the Animayo and Seattle International Film Festivals in May.

Aikāne, a term for intimate friends of the same sex, has taken on new relevance with the resurgence of anti-LGBTQ hostility. The film premiere will be followed by a series of screenings during “Pride Month” in June.

Producer Hinaleimoana Wong- Kalu, who has been collaborating with co-directors Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson for a decade, said there was also a personal aspect for creating the film. “As a Kanaka, a native person on an island occupied by a foreign power and ideas, I want our young people of all genders and sexualities to understand that being their authentic selves, and loving who they love, is a reason to rejoice not to fear.”

Aikāne tells the story of a warrior who falls into a strange underwater world after being wounded in battle. When the octopus who rescues him shapeshifts into a handsome young man, sparks fly and an epic adventure begins. Love, trust, and courage are the glue that binds the unlikely couple together in their fierce battle against foreign invaders.

Upcoming screenings include Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival (June 7-11) and the Abhimani Queer Film Festival Sri Lanka (June 19-21).

WCC Receives $3.5M Grant

The Kiaʻi Loko Center for Limu Research, created and managed by Windward Community College (WCC), has received a $3.5 million grant to provide education and limu research opportunities for the long-term benefits for the Windward community. The grant is from the National Science Foundation’s Tribal Colleges and Universities Program (TCUP).

The center focuses on applying traditional Native Hawaiian knowledge alongside Western scientific methods to study limu and traditional Hawaiian fishponds. Aquacultural practices used to maintain healthy fishponds and produce limu are essential aspects of traditional Native Hawaiian lifestyles that contribute to critical contemporary issues such as food security, biodiversity and cultural perpetuation.

Student-led research will advance the knowledge base surrounding limu ecology and production.

“Students [will be trained] to work in an important emerging industry promoting sustainability and self-reliance in these islands,” Dave Krupp, WCC professor of biological and marine sciences said. “Working with our partners, we will serve our Koʻolaupoko and Koʻolauloa communities to solve issues such as the restoration of native limu to our reefs and elimination of invasive seaweeds.”

Kahahawai to Play for USA Volleyball

Photo: Devin Kahahawai
Devin Kahahawai

Devin Kahahawai, a Kamehameha Schools Kapālama graduate and the 2022 Hawaiʻi Gatorade Player of the Year, was one of 18 athletes selected by USA Volleyball for the 2023 Women’s U21 NORCECA Pan American Cup roster.

Twelve players from this group will be chosen to compete at the 2023 Women’s U21 NORCECA Pan American Cup.

Dan Fisher, head coach of the University of Pittsburg’s women’s volleyball team, will be the U21 team’s head coach.

“USA Volleyball has put together a wonderful group of athletes and coaches, and it is humbling to get a chance to lead this group,” Fisher said. “I expect intense competition in our training, preparing us for another strong showing at the Pan Am Cup.”

Kahahawai is one of eight players returning from the team that won the 2022 Pan American Cup and qualified for the 2023 FIVB World Championship. The roster for the 2023 FIVB U21 World Championship on August 17-26 in León and Aguascalientes, Mexico, will be announced later this summer.

Register for CNHA’s Convention in Las Vegas

The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) will host its first convention on the continent, June 19-22, 2023, at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino.

For two decades, CNHA’s annual convention has served as the largest gathering of Native Hawaiians to discuss issues facing the community. CNHA is taking the convention to the continent now that the number of Native Hawaiians living there has surpassed the number residing in Hawaiʻi.

The convention will also include an ʻAha ʻŌpio (youth gathering) strand with a registration waiver for and all participants attending the ʻAha ʻŌpio (ages 12-26).

Pre-convention activities will feature cultural workshops on mele, oli, hula, ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, genealogy and Mauna Kea, as well as a panel discussion on public policies impacting Native Hawaiians.

The convention officially begins on June 20 with formal protocol and will include panel discussions and breakout workshops on an array of topics that include politics, land, cultural awakening, social justice, health and business.

Evening festivities include Māhū Magic on June 20, a showcase of ʻŌiwi and Polynesian drag performers featuring Sasha Colby. And June 21 will feature a performance by Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award-winning musician Josh Tatofi.

For more info go to:

Protecting Hawaiʻi’s Only Designated Koa Canoe Forest

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is seeking public input on a plan to protect Hawaiʻi’s only designated koa canoe forest.

The 1,257-acre Kapāpala Koa Canoe Management Area on Hawaiʻi Island is located on the southeastern slopes of Maunaloa. The land ranges from 3,000 to 5,000 feet in elevation and is almost entirely covered with native koa and ʻōhiʻa trees.

The area was first designated for koa conservation in 1989 when the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) approved it for commercial koa timber production. The designation was later refined to specify that the timber would be used specifically for koa canoes.

The proposed preservation plan has a lifespan of 100 years, with official check-ins every 10 years. It outlines strategies to mitigate environmental threats such as climate change and invasive species, as well as plans on how timber harvesting will be regulated.

The draft is now available to the public for input until June 7. DLNR has also released an interactive digital mapping system for users.

The proposed preservation plan can be viewed at

To submit comments, email or send a letter to the forestry program manager at 1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 325, Honolulu, HI 96813.

Kauhane Named Next KS Trustee

Photo: Michelle Kauhane
Michelle Kauhane

The state Probate Court has selected Michelle Kauhane as the next trustee for Kamehameha Schools. She will replace Lance Keawe Wilhelm, whose term expires on June 30, 2023.

Kauhane has more than 15 years of executive leadership experience in public and nonprofit administration. She has been with the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation (HCF) since 2018 and currently serves as senior vice president – chief impact officer, overseeing the foundation’s external facing departments, including community grants and initiatives, development and donor relations, and strategic communications and public policy.

Prior to joining HCF, Kauhane was president and CEO of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA). She also served as deputy director of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands from 2011 to 2012 and as executive director of Hawaiian Community Assets from 2004 to 2011.

In 2021, Kauhane was appointed by President Joe Biden to the Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders to help advance equity, justice and opportunity for Asian Americans and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander communities.

Kauhane is vice chair for CNHA, a board member of the Kapolei Community Development Corporation, and a member of Ahahui Sivila O Kapolei. She is a 1986 graduate of Kamehameha Schools Kapālama and has a bachelor’s degree in communication from Gonzaga University.

First Kūʻokoʻa ʻĀina Based Leadership Graduates

Photo: Brissa Christophersen and Kaleohano Farrant
Brissa Christophersen and Kaleohano Farrant.

Last month, UH Mānoa’s Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies (KCHS) graduated its first cohort of more than 30 Kūʻokoʻa ʻĀina Based Leadership graduates. Of these, two students received a brand new Kūʻokoʻa Graduate Certificate created to cultivate aloha ʻāina leaders connected to and caring for Hawaiʻi’s ʻāina using interdisciplinary skills grounded in ʻike kūpuna (ancestral knowledge).

Receiving the Kūʻokoʻa Graduate Certificates were Brissa Christophersen and Kaleohano Farrant. They both earned master’s degrees from the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) Department.

“As a Kanaka ʻŌiwi, I find myself with my two feet in separate worlds at times where the field of science/environmental management often disagrees with Hawaiʻi lifeways. The Kūʻokoʻa program was foundational in providing me with the support I needed to understand what it means to walk in both worlds,” Christophersen said.

“Since 2020, I have been involved with restoration and research in the ahupuaʻa of Waialeʻe on the northern shore of Oʻahu, where the North Shore Community Land Trust is working to restore 20 acres of historic loʻi as well as Kalou, a 2-acre loko iʻa wai (fishpond). The Kūʻokoʻa program is a great opportunity for students to invest themselves in projects that matter to them as well as communities in Hawaiʻi,” Farrant said.

Director of Strategic Partnerships and Community Engagement at Hawaiʻinuiākea Malia Nobrega-Olivera said, “We celebrate the accomplishments of our Kūʻokoʻa leaders that are committed to sustaining their relationships with the ʻāina and the community and to kiaʻi or protect, care for and make decisions about, natural and cultural resources.”

Onishi Named New CNHA COO

Photo: Paige Onishi
Paige Onishi

Paige Onishi has been named the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement’s (CNHA) new chief operating officer (COO).

She will oversee day-to-day operations and ensure that CNHA departments are working collaboratively and strategically.

“With more than 25 years of management experience and proven success in stewarding large-scale projects in Hawaiʻi, Paige is a highly qualified candidate to fill our COO role,” Kūhio Lewis, CNHA CEO said.

Prior to joining CNHA, Onishi was the COO of Hawaiian Building Maintenance where she oversaw all daily business and administrative operations for over 200 locations and more than 700 employees encompassing a mix of retail, commercial and residential accounts on Oʻahu, Maui and Kauaʻi.

Onishi has also served as business development director with Sandwich Isles Communications, Inc. where she was instrumental in managing contracts that provided comprehensive wireless services to residents of Hawaiian homelands.

Onishi is a graduate of UH Mānoa and has actively volunteered with the Pilot Club of Honolulu since 2011. She resides in Salt Lake.

Artates Receives Four Pele Awards

Photo: Wailani Artates
Wailani Artates

The American Advertising Federation – Hawaiʻi Chapter hosted its annual Pele Awards on May 6 in Waikīkī which celebrates the best of the best in advertising and design.

The big winner of the evening was ʻŌiwi graphic designer Wailani Artates of Artistry8 on Maui. Artates was awarded “Best of Show,” – the competition’s highest honor – for her outstanding designs for Pono Potions, an Oʻahu-based business with a line of artisanal flavored syrups using locally sourced ingredients. Artates also received a Pele Gold Award and a Pele Silver Award for Pono Potions’ packaging and logo designs, and a second Pele Silver Award for the logo design she created for Haku Maui, a lei and flower shop in Makawao.

Pele Awards are Hawaiʻi’s most prestigious design awards and recognize excellence in advertising and design across a wide range of categories, including print, digital, advertising, film and video, and social media.

“I am truly humbled to receive this honor, there’s nothing like being recognized by your peers,” she said. “We have a job that makes the world a more beautiful and meaningful place.”

Artates previously garnered four Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards for her album design covers. In 2011, she won for Nāpua Greig’s album “Mōhalu,” in 2015 for Sean Robbins’ album “Olanui,” in 2018 for Nāpua Greig’s album “Makawalu,” and in 2020 for Amy Hānaialiʻi’s album “Kalawaiʻanui.”

State and City Leaders Sign Unified Agreement on Red Hill

In a historic show of solidarity, state and city leaders gathered at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol on May 9 to sign a unified statement on Red Hill, calling for aquifer remediation and an integrated approach to resolving the water crisis. The statement represents the shared kuleana of Hawaiʻi’s leadership to preserve access to safe, pure water and signifies a commitment to cooperation across all governmental levels and agencies.

Members of the House Special Committee on Red Hill developed the unified statement with the help of community advocates. The seven-member committee was initially formed by the House of Representatives in December 2021 after thousands of gallons of jet fuel leaked from the Red Hill facility and contaminated the drinking water of hundreds of families living on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and nearby areas.

“All of us in leadership positions — whether government, community organizations and, of course, the military — have to work together to ensure the water and the land at Red Hill and the aquifer under it, will be remediated properly and expeditiously. Clean water for future generations must be our shared goal,” said Gov. Josh Green.

“What is at stake regarding the quality and purity of our aquifer, is the health and wellbeing of all of our people living on Oʻahu now, and for future generations,” said Mayor Rick Blangiardi. “There is no greater priority.”

Smith Akana Wins MLK Poetry Competition

Photo: with International Peace Poem Project Coordinator Melinda Gohn and his kumu, Waianuhea Walk
Smith Akana is pictured with International Peace Poem Project Coordinator Melinda Gohn and his kumu, Waianuhea Walk. – Photo: Courtesy of Gary Kubota

Kiaʻiokapo Smith Akana, a seventh-grade student at Ke Kula Kaiapuni o Pūʻōhala in Kāneʻohe, Oʻahu, took top honors in the Hawaiian language division of the 24th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Peace Poem competition. More than 250 people attended the award ceremony last month at the Mission Memorial Auditorium in downtown Honolulu. Smith Akana received an ʻukulele from Kala ʻUkulele President Mike Upton. Winning students in all divisions also received a limited edition poster of the Hōkūleʻa sailing past the United Nations building in New York City from the Polynesian Voyaging Society and ʻŌIWI-TV.

Hawaiʻi Feature Film Explores New Genre

My Partner, a new feature film directed by ʻŌiwi filmmaker Keliʻi Grace, follows the evolution of a relationship between two teenage boys in Lāhainā.

Written by Lance D. Collins, the film focuses on the relationship between Pili, a Native Hawaiian student-athlete portrayed by Kaipo Dudoit, and Edmar, a high-performing Filipino student portrayed by Jayron Munoz.

The film is of the “Boy Love” genre which originated in Japan. The genre has spread worldwide; this is the first feature film of its kind from Hawaiʻi.

The film explores social themes including cultural and self/sexual identity, immigration, and ʻāina stewardship. Respecting Hawaiian culture throughout the filmmaking process was a conscious effort to ensure that the film and all aspects of the production would have a positive impact on Hawaiʻi and the various communities represented.

The cast is all local and the majority are first-time actors and real-life representatives of the issues highlighted in the film. The production crew was also either Native Hawaiian or local.

My Partner premiered last month at the Asian Pacific Film Festival in Los Angeles where it won a Narrative Audience Award.

Supporting Native Hawaiian Intellectual Property

Before the 2023 Legislative Session ended, the House adopted House Concurrent Resolution (HCR)108, urging the formation of a working group to study policies and legislation with respect to Native Hawaiian intellectual property. The resolution seeks to protect the intellectual property rights of Kānaka Maoli, including cultural expression, language, and art forms.

Introduced by Rep. Darius K. Kila, the measure calls for the creation of a nine-member working group peopled by cultural practitioners and experts in Native Hawaiian law, Indigenous intellectual property, or Native Hawaiian cultural customs and art.

“There is a kuleana to address the global cultural appropriation that has occurred in various forms,” Kila said. “For years, weʻve observed mainland companies opening businesses and using a Hawaiian name to increase sales, despite having no connection to our culture.”

Kila noted that disputes over ownership and control between Indigenous peoples and third-party users of Indigenous knowledge resources have steadily increased in the last decade. A recent example was a non-Hawaiian food chain from Chicago, Aloha Poke Co., which issued cease-and-desist letters threatening small food shops in Hawaiʻi from using the words “aloha” and “poke,” claiming “ownership” of the words.

Indigenous people worldwide have developed strategies and frameworks to protect their collective intellectual property rights. Groups include the Indian Arts and Crafts Board, the Toi Iho registered trademark for Maori art and artists, and the Alaska State Council on the Arts Silver Hand Program for Alaska Native artists.

OHA Hosts Native Hawaiian Climate Resilience Scoping Meetings

Photo: Scoping meeting for the federal government's Native Hawaiian Climate Resilience Program
On May 8, 2023, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs hosted the first in a series of scoping meetings for the federal government’s Native Hawaiian Climate Resilience Program. An initiative of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Native Hawaiian Relations (ONHR), the program is an effort to build capacity within the Native Hawaiian community to increase resilience in the face of climate change and to enhance the ability of our community to cope with the effects of climate change by incorporating ancestral ingenuity into climate change adaptation. To achieve this, ONHR plans to provide funding to advance climate change resilience and adaptation activities that serve the Native Hawaiian community. The meeting was attended by dozens of Native Hawaiian organization and community leaders. – Photo: Jason Lees