News Briefs | May 2021


47.2 Tons of Marine Debris Removed from Papahānaumokuākea

In April, a team of scientists carried out a 24-day expedition to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) and returned to Honolulu with 47.2 tons (94,472 lbs.) of marine debris.

The 12-member team, led by the Papahānaumokuākea Marine Debris Project, included staff from NOAA Fisheries, Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Hawaiʻi Pacific University – Center for Marine Debris Research, and was supported, in part, by OHA.

The team cleaned and restored approximately 10 linear miles of shoreline habitat from the Northwest Hawaiian Islands and removed nearly 80,000 lbs. of derelict fishing gear (ghost nets) and almost 15,000 lbs. of other trash including buoys, baskets, bottles, tires, foam and plastic fragments.

Endangered Hawaiian monk seals, threatened green sea turtles, seabirds and other species are routinely found entangled in derelict fishing gear at PMNM. On this mission the team rescued a Hawaiian monk seal, three black-footed albatross chicks and one ʻiwa (great frigatebird).

“We were in the right place at the right time to rescue a monk seal with fishing net wrapped tightly around her neck,” said project lead Kevin OʻBrien. “That motivated us to work as hard as we could to remove every bit of debris possible.”

Since 1996, more than two million pounds of marine debris has been removed from PMNM. For more information visit:

Hawaiʻi State Senate Confirms Three HHC Commissioners

Last month, the Hawaiʻi State Senate confirmed David Kaʻapu, Michael Kaleikini, and Dennis Neves to the Hawaiian Homes Commission (HHC).

Kaʻapu is a practicing attorney at law in Kailua-Kona, with emphases in quiet title, business law, wills and trusts, general litigation, and land use. He graduated from UH Mānoa with a BA in anthropology and received his JD from Santa Clara University in 1988.

Representing East Hawaiʻi, Kaleikini has worked in the power generation field for 34 years – six years in the U.S. Navy and 28 as an employee with Puna Geothermal Venture. Kaleikini attended college in California and at Brigham Young University–Hawaiʻi.

Neves currently serves as the second vice president of the Kalalea Anahola Farmer’s Hui. With over 27 years of public service, he has an extensive management background, including serving as executive manager for the San Francisco International Airport.

To learn more, visit

Workspace and Distance Learning Center Opens in Kailua-Kona

Laʻiʻōpua 2020 will present its Ululoa Hale at an Open House on Saturday, May 1, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to introduce this new workspace to the community.

Built on Department of Hawaiian Home Land (DHHL) property, the center will be a regional resource for Hawaiians living in DHHL’s Laʻiʻōpua Villages, and throughout North Kona. Ululoa Hale features collaborative and individual spaces offering high-speed WIFI available to people who work remotely or for distance learning. At the Open House, guests will tour the space, learn about its features, and be treated to meaʻai, courtesy of the Ironman Foundation.

The Hale was designed to create a center for education and learning programs, workforce development and community events. The commercial kitchen and open air lānai create new venues and opportunities for events, fundraisers and more.

Laʻiʻōpua will also offer learning opportunities, the first being a series of classes on business-building basics, such as business licensing and incorporation, bookkeeping, marketing, and social media.

For more information contact

PIC Accepting Applications to the Shorts Fund

Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC) is looking for short fiction and nonfiction film projects that cover issues important to Indigenous Pacific Islanders. Projects should encourage positive social change and encourage a more informed, equitable and inclusive society.

PIC is especially interested in films with the potential for digital and broadcast distribution on public media. Applicants selected will receive strategic support and up to $25,000 in funding for a short film or web series about the Indigenous Pacific Islander experience.

Applicants with fiction projects will also be considered for the 2021 ʻOHINA Labs, regardless of whether their project is awarded PIC funding. The Lab is an intensive filmmaker education workshop that provides mentorship from Hollywood professionals in a variety of fields, including script development, honing pitches and more.

Nonfiction projects awarded funding from PIC will be considered for other strategic mentorship opportunities to include working with veteran producers and directors who will provide advice on story development, fundraising, pitching and producing.

To apply for the PIC Shorts Fund, visit

Establishing the Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve

Learn how community activism resulted in the transfer of title for the island of Kahoʻolawe from the U.S. Navy to the State of Hawaiʻi through the recently established Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC), ending the U.S. military’s decades-long use of this sacred ʻāina for target practice.

On Wednesday May 5, 2021, from 5:30-6:30 p.m., the King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center, in partnership with the Historic Hawaiʻi Foundation and Ulu Lehua Scholars Program, is presenting a Zoom webinar that will share the history behind this historic achievement, the kuleana of KIRC, current Kahoʻolawe land use policy, and the progress made towards restoring this precious wahi pana.

Presenters include Davianna McGregor of the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana, Michael Nahoʻopiʻi of KIRC, and Stanton Enomoto of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

For more information or to register go to:

Free Training Seminar Offered to Protect Iwi Kūpuna

The Native Hawaiian Burial Protection and Native American Graves and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) will be hosting a free seminar on grave protection and repatriation in partnership with the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service and Office of Native Hawaiian Relations. The seminar is scheduled for Wednesday, May 26, 2021, from 10 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. and will be hosted on Zoom.

The seminar will provide training in burial treatment and protection, and the laws and procedures that govern them. It will present the historic and cultural context for grave protections and repatriation, and best practices for avoiding sensitive sites and engaging in consultation with lineal and cultural descendants.

The course will include an examination of the federal NAGPRA law and the state HRS 6E historic preservation law, and explore procedures, standards and guidelines and their relationship to Native Hawaiian burial treatment and protection.

For more information and to register for the webinar visit

Relief Law Delivers $5 Million to DHHL for Housing Assistance

Sen. Brian Schatz announced that the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) will receive $5 million in new federal funding to help provide affordable housing options for Native Hawaiians living on and off DHHL lands during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding is targeted to help Native Hawaiians facing eviction or mortgage foreclosure due to the pandemic by preserving safe and sanitary housing stability.

Authorized under the American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law on March 11, this new funding for the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant Program (NHHBG) may be used for rental or mortgage assistance, to make repairs, and to receive housing services – including counseling, financial literacy and other resources to address housing disparities.

Schatz, who also serves as chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, worked to secure a total of $185 million in funding for Native Hawaiian programs in the latest COVID-19 relief law. To learn more go to

Pacific Heartbeat Unveils its Landmark 10th Season

Pacific Islanders in Communication (PIC) unveiled the line-up for the 10th season of its public TV series, Pacific Heartbeat, with four new documentary films recounting diverse aspects of Pacific lives, including two encore presentations about the world of hula.

The new season will be available to viewers on PBS and online at beginning May 3, 2021.

Pacific Heartbeat is an anthology series that provides a glimpse of the real Pacific – its people, cultures, languages, music, and contemporary issues. Its showcase of feature length films is complemented by its online companion series, Pacific Pulse, which presents award-winning short films from across the region.

Films are selected each year from numerous submissions, including projects funded by PIC, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Hawaiian Student Featured in New Series on Amazon Prime

Photo: Zion Leonahenahe Basque
Zion Leonahenahe Basque

Zion Leonahenahe Basque, a computer science major at Arizona State University, is one of 18 students from ASU featured on The College Tour, a new Amazon series streaming on Amazon Prime Video and Roku.

Amazon Prime Video is partnering with colleges and universities in an innovative approach that allows prospective students and their parents to tour these universities from the comfort of their home. ASU was one of the first to be featured in the new series hosted by Emmy-nominated TV personality Alex Boylan. To date, four episodes have been completed, with another 15 or so in the works.

The ASU episode provides a tour of ASU’s campuses with insights provided by a diverse group of ASU students from around the world. Student choices and personalized learning opportunities are highlighted. Basque, who is from Kealakekua, Hawaiʻi Island, focused in his segment on having an innovative mindset. To watch the full episode, visit:

Niʻihau Community’s Contributions Recognized

The House Hawaiian Affairs Committee recently presented a Certificate of Congratulations to the Niʻihau community for having perpetuated Hawaiian language and culture with no break in the intergenerational transmission of the language, as well as for its contribution to the revitalization of ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi across the pae ʻāina.

The presentation was made at Windward Community College last month.

Among those representing the Niʻihau community at the presentation were Dr. Kuʻuipolani Wong and Kahea Kaohelauliʻi Faria. Wong, a Hawaiian language professor at UH Mānoa, is the first person from Niʻihau to earn a Doctor of Philosophy degree. Faria is also a faculty member at UH Mānoa (College of Education) where she trains aspiring Hawaiian immersion teachers.

Fewer than 100 residents of Niʻihau remain on the island, with the majority of the Niʻihau community residing on Kauaʻi. In 2016, then-Mayor Bernard Carvalho established a Hawaiian language advisory committee for the county. Named Ka Leo o nā Kupa, the committee was comprised of members of the Niʻihau community.

It is hoped that recognition at the state level of the contributions of the Niʻihau community in perpetuating ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi will result in legislation that supports efforts to preserve the Niʻihau dialect, which has its roots in antiquity. There is concern by some that contemporary Hawaiian (the version of ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi taught in schools and universities) will eventually supplant the Niʻihau dialect.

There are two churches and two schools on Kauaʻi serving the Niʻihau community and where the Niʻihau dialect of Hawaiian is spoken exclusively.