News Briefs | May 2024


Kekoa Enomoto Receives Namahana Award of Excellence

Photo: Kumu Hula Kaponoʻai Molitau and Kekoa Enomoto
Kumu Hula Kaponoʻai Molitau presented Kekoa Enomoto with the Namahana Award of Excellence recently at the 32nd Celebration of the Arts. – Photo Courtesy

Kekoa Enomoto, a 30-year Hawaiian homelands leader and advocate, received the Namahana Award of Excellence at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua resort in March. The distinction salutes kūpuna, elders, who have served the culture with a zest for life.

The Waiohuli native Hawaiian homesteader is a kahuna kakalaleo, or chanter of prayer. She serves as a charter director of two Valley Isle nonprofits: Paʻupena Community Development Inc. that works for Hawaiian homesteaders, and the disaster-relief organization, Na Kiaʻi O Maui, founded in the wake of the Aug. 8, 2023, Maui wildfires.

A career journalist, she retired as a staff writer, copy editor and columnist for two daily newspapers: the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, and The Maui News. The cultural practitioner of hula and outrigger canoe paddling has medaled at outrigger World Sprints in Australia in 2016 and England in 2022.

Organizers named the award for the late Aunty Lydia Namahana Maioho, the longtime kahu, or caretaker, of the Mauna ʻAla — Royal Mausoleum State Monument on Oʻahu. Aunty Namahana was lauded as a zesty ambassadress at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua. At the citation ceremonies, Enomoto noted she herself is a Kamehameha Schools Kapālama classmate of the award namesake’s son, Abraham Maioho.

New alga discovered at Papahānaumokuākea

Earlier this year, the Journal of Phycology published the description of a new genus and species from the mesophotic (deep) coral reefs of the monument. Collected by the monumentʻs technical dive team at depths between 265 and 330 feet, not only is this alga completely new to science, it is so distinct from all other known life forms that it warranted the creation of an entirely new genus.

The new alga is known as Aununuuluaehu liula, named in partnership with the Papahānaumokuākea Native Hawaiian Cultural Working Group (CWG). The genus name, ʻĀnunuʻuluaʻehu, reflects the wavy, colorful red blades of this alga, the depths of the ocean in which it lives, and honors Luaʻehu, a mythic ulua fish (giant trevally, Caranx ignobilis). The species epithet, liʻulā, literally means twilight or dusk, is a play on the depths at which this limu is found, namely the mesophotic zone (often referred to as the “twilight zone”), as well as the ʻula, red, color of the alga.

This represents the growth of a reciprocal partnership with the CWG Nomenclature Subcommittee whose goal is to perpetuate a Native Hawaiian nomenclature process to build, strengthen, and continue relationships with elements/species as a placeholder for future generations.

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is administered jointly by four co-trustees – the Department of Commerce, the Department of the Interior, the State of Hawai’i, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Homestead Nonprofit Partners with State DHHL to Serve Waitlist Hawaiians

The Hawaiian Lending & Investments (HLI) nonprofit founded by the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations (SCHHA) has partnered with the State of Hawaiʻi, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) to support home building and home ownership by native Hawaiians waiting for a homestead lot award.

Under an agreement executed in March, HLI will administer DHHL matching down payment assistance grants of up to $5,000 to eligible state DHHL beneficiaries toward the cost to build or purchase a home on Hawaiian Home Lands.

According to the agreement, DHHL will set aside a first investment level of $250,000 for the matching down payment grants, with HLI processing and documenting compliance to Act 279, the Waitlist Reduction Act.

The DHHL Matching Down Payment Assistance Program supplements family funds, mortgage loan funds and grants from financial nonprofits, toward the goal of homeownership, and most importantly, the goal of moving families off the state DHHL waitlist when homestead lot opportunities are made available.

$1 Million in NATIVE Act Funding for Native Hawaiian Organizations

In April, the Department of the Interior’s Office of Native Hawaiian Relations announced $1 million in funding for Native Hawaiian Organizations (NHOs) through the Heritage Opportunities in Hawaiʻi (HŌʻIHI) grant program.

The funding is made possible by the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act, which enables Indigenous communities to participate in national tourism goals and strategies.

This is the third year that funding has been made available to NHOs through the HŌʻIHI grant program.

“The Heritage Opportunities in Hawaiʻi Program seeks to encourage a tourism model that accurately showcases Native Hawaiian culture and traditions while providing protection and awareness for Hawaiʻi’s natural and cultural resources,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget Joan Mooney.

The HŌʻIHI program establishes a more inclusive national travel and tourism strategy and provides opportunities to NHOs that have the potential to deliver significant benefits, including job creation, elevated living standards and expanded economic opportunities, to the Native Hawaiian Community.

“We are seeking grant awardees for 2024 who exemplify Hawaiʻi’s overall movement towards regenerative tourism, with projects enhancing Native Hawaiian community involvement, and presenting culturally mindful education opportunities for kamaʻāina and visitors alike,” said Keʻala Fukuda, HŌʻIHI program manager

Native Hawaiian cultural practices may include, but are not limited to, traditional food production and preparation, health and healing, material gathering and production of implements, products and adornments, construction and recreation, and cultural activities such as dance, chant, song and arts.

The Department anticipates awarding 12 grants in 2024, ranging between $75,000 and $200,000, with an anticipated average of $100,000. Depending on their proposals, successful NHOs may use grant funding for up to three years from the date of award. Eligible applicants must affirm that they are a Native Hawaiian Organization as defined in the NATIVE Act.

Please contact Fukuda for more details at

Grant applications must be submitted electronically to no later than June 3, 2024.

House Adopts Resolution to Establish Puʻuloa Range Working Group

In April, the House of Representatives adopted House Resolution 18, establishing the formation of a working group to address issues related to water and air contamination and remediation arising from the operation of the Puʻuloa Range Training Facility.

Rep. Rose Martinez authored HR18 and emphasized the urgent need for action, stating, “The concerns voiced by residents regarding potential contamination and impact on marine life show that we need to address the wellbeing of the ʻEwa Beach community and act now. This is a community-led effort and the Puʻuloa Range Working Group, comprised of stakeholders and volunteers, is committed to addressing these concerns and advancing remediation efforts.”

Last year, Martinez and ʻEwa community stakeholders demanded action, citing noise and potential lead contamination from the Puʻuloa Range Training Facility affecting Puʻuloa Beach Park, a popular daily recreational spot for ʻEwa families. In November 2023, Marine Corps Base Hawaiʻi (MBCH) announced the implementation of a mitigation plan to address upcoming testing for contaminants in the Puʻuloa Range Training Facility Shoreline.

Martinez stated that the working group anticipates reviewing MBCH’s plan and intends to conduct informational briefings on issues concerning water and air contamination.

Group members will comprise area lawmakers including Martinez and City Councilmember Augie Tulba. Community members include a member of the ʻEwa Neighborhood Board, a marine biologist from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, a representative from Kuleana Coral Restoration, a representative from the fishing industry, a representative from the United States Marine Corps, and other community stakeholders.

According to HR18, the working group will meet quarterly, provide regular reports to the House of Representatives, and shall cease on June 30, 2025.

Hoʻākea Source Awards Funds to Ten Art Projects

Puʻuhonua Society’s granting program, Hoʻākea Source, in partnership with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts’ Regional Regranting Program, announced the inaugural group of 10 awardees. Review panelists, Jaimey Hamilton Faris, Puni Jackson and Patrick Flores, selected awardees from 38 total applicants.

Awardees include artists, art collectives and artistic collaborators living and working in Oʻahu: Nālamakūikapō Ahsing and Kamehanaokalā Taylor; Kalikopuanoheaokalani Aiu; Bradley Capello and Madelyn Biven; Sean Connelly; Kainoa Gruspe; Kamaliʻikūpono Hanohano; G. ʻUmi Kai; Anuhea & Kailikapu; Sancia Miala Shiba Nash and Noah Keone Viernes; and Sheanae Tam.

Projects celebrate the diverse practices of artists of Hawaiʻi and take many forms including a zine, exhibitions, dance party, non-narrative short film, feature length experimental documentary, multimedia live performances, mapping and data visualization, community and student-centered workshops, ceremonies, and events.

Recipients have one year to bring to life a range of projects centered around ʻāina (that which feeds), pilina (relationality), and huli (change).

Grantees will present their finished art projects in venues and communities of their choice.

For more information about Hoʻākea Source and its initiatives, visit

NOAA Marine Debris Program Seeking Request for Proposals

In April, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, in partnership with the NOAA Marine Debris Program, announced a request for proposals under their Nationwide Fishing Trap Removal, Assessment, and Prevention (TRAP) Program.

Using funding from NOAA’s Marine Debris Program provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science will award up to $1,475,000 in grants to remove derelict fishing traps throughout coastal waterways of the United States while collecting data to prevent future gear loss.

Projects may range from $50,000 to $200,000.

Priority will be given to projects that provide ecological and/or economic benefits; integrate innovative, sustainable approaches to derelict fishing trap disposal; and take place in sanctuaries, reserves, tribal or Indigenous community fishing grounds, or other protected areas.

Projects throughout the coastal United States, including United States territories and Freely Associated States, are eligible for consideration. Eligible applicants include American Indian and Alaska Native governments and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Organizations; non-profit 501(c) organizations; state, territorial, and Freely Associated State government agencies; local governments; commercial (for-profit) organizations; and educational institutions.

Proposals are due on May 30, 2024. More information is available at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science National Trap Program website.