News Briefs | November 2021



Hawaiʻi’s 2020 Census Campaign Wins a Gold Effie Award

The Kālaimoku Group, a Native Hawaiian-owned marketing agency based in Honolulu has earned another award for its contribution to the 2020 Census campaign.

The 2020 Census Campaign orchestrated by The Kālaimoku Group, in conjunction with VMLY&R marketing firm was awarded a Gold Effie in the Government/Public Service category. The campaign featured a historic music video directed by Ruben Carrillo and Dawn Kaniaupio and produced by John Aeto of The Kālaimoku Group that showcased leading Native Hawaiian and Pacific Island musicians collaborating in a cover of This Is Me, a song from the motion picture The Greatest Showman.

The project was recorded on location in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Hawaiʻi. This Is Me featured the talents of Amy Hanaialiʻi Gillom, Lehua Kalima, Kalenakū, Raiatea Helm, Natalie Ai Kamauʻu, Mark Kealiʻi Hoʻomalu, Jerome & Tinifu Grey, and more.

The Kālaimoku Group’s 2020 Census This Is Me music video also won an Emmy Award and two PELE Awards. The video has garnered over one million views on Facebook and YouTube since launching in early 2020.

The Effie Awards were established in 1968 by the New York American Marketing Association as an awards program to honor effective advertising efforts. For more information go to

He Leo Aloha

Photo: Kaʻula Krug (left) and Kaneikoliakawahineikaʻiukapuomua Baker
Kaʻula Krug (left) and Kaneikoliakawahineikaʻiukapuomua Baker in a scene last month from He Leo Aloha, a UH Mānoa Hana Keaka production performed entirely in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. The play was written and directed by Master of Fine Arts candidate Kaipulaumakaniolono. – Photo: Courtesy

Matching Gift Campaign for Hakalau Forest

The Friends of Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) launched their fall Matching Endowment Gift Campaign. If they can raise $75,000 by December 31, five donors will match the $75,000 for a total of $150,000.

Donations support mitigation or elimination of threats before they can impact the native species of Hakalau Forest and its ecosystem.

Hakalau Forest NWR, on Hawaiʻi Island, is one of the most successfully managed sites for endangered species restoration. It was established in 1985 and has made strides towards protecting precious endemic forest birds and other species by fencing large areas of the refuge, removing feral ungulates, controlling invasive plant species, and restoring native koa-ʻōhiʻa forests on denuded former ranch lands.

Thousands of endemic plant species, some endangered, were out-planted to the understory and endangered forest birds like the ʻakia pōlāʻau, ʻiʻiwi and alawī have moved into these recovering forests.

This is the only place in Hawaiʻi where endangered forest bird numbers are stable or increasing. The 32,830 acres of Hakalau Forest NWR provide important habitat for 29 critically endangered species including seven birds, one insect, one mammal, and 20 plants found nowhere else in the world. Although Hakalau Forest NWR is located high on the slopes of Maunakea, recent climate change models predict its endangered birds will soon face the same threats of avian disease that have impacted these species at lower elevations.

For more information or to donate go to:

Board’s Decision Protects Oʻahu’s Reefs

In early October, the State of Hawaiʻi Board of Land and Natural Resources rejected an environmental impact statement (EIS) aimed at reopening the aquarium pet trade on Oʻahu. Last year, the Board rejected the aquarium industry’s initial EIS to reopen aquarium collection in West Hawaiʻi.

The Board concluded that the EIS failed to disclose the true environmental harm of commercial aquarium collection. “The lack of any analysis for Kāneʻohe Bay, which already experiences the heaviest collection pressure, was an egregious omission,” said Rene Umberger, executive director of For the Fishes. “The industry’s plan allowed for a take of nearly 293,000 fishes and invertebrates every year from Kāneʻohe Bay – or any other area around Oʻahu.”

“Oʻahu’s reefs are in crisis,” said Maxx Phillips, the Center for Biological Diversity’s Hawaiʻi director and staff attorney. “There is no place for the industry’s false narrative, skewed analysis, or outdated science in the fight to protect Hawaiʻi for generations to come.”

“To restore the beauty and abundance of our reef, reef wildlife, and our ocean ʻohana, the people and agencies must work hand in hand for the greater good of Hawaiʻi,” said Kealoha Pisciotta of Kai Palaoa. “I am thankful the Board did not bend under pressure from the aquarium industry and listened again to the voices of our people.”

Oʻahu was once the epicenter of the Hawaiʻi aquarium pet trade until overfishing caused the collapse of Oʻahu’s nearshore fishery in the 1980s. The trade then relocated to West Hawaiʻi but has maintained a presence on Oʻahu. Currently, commercial aquarium collection is prohibited statewide.

Savings Accounts to Create Greater Educational Equity

Hawaiʻi nonprofit Partners in Development Foundation (PIDF) was awarded $2,527,045 in funding from the American Rescue Plan to support grants under the USDOE Native Hawaiian Education Program (NHEP). The grant will support the unique Keiki Assets Account (KAʻA) project to address the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on educational equity and outcomes.

KAʻA is a savings program for keiki. The project serves Native Hawaiian children, birth through age 5, and ʻohana in 15 Native Hawaiian communities across the state.

In partnership with American Savings Bank, KAʻA will create and manage up to 800 savings accounts for keiki enrolled in programs with PIDF, the Institute for Native Pacific Education and Culture (INPEACE), and Keiki o Ka ʻĀina (KOKA).

Participants in PIDF’s Tūtū and Me Traveling Preschool, Ka Paʻalana Homeless Family Education, and Nā Pono No Nā ʻOhana Family Education programs will be invited to participate alongside ʻohana attending INPEACE’s Keiki Steps, and KOKA.

Together with INPEACE and KOKA, PIDF is working to create a high-impact multigenerational savings and education program designed to increase early learning engagement and support households in need to access educational opportunities, including saving for college, summer programs, tutoring, and more.

To learn more go to

Wassman Named Hawaiʻi’s Strongest Man

Photo: Kamuela WassmanPowerlifter Kamuela Wassman of Honolulu was named 2021 Hawaiʻi’s Strongest Man Heavyweight in Kailua-Kona on Sept. 25, 2021. This sanctioned event was hosted by Imua Iron, Powered By Buddah, Puna Powerhouse, and The Strongman Corporation.

Last year strength competitions were canceled due to the pandemic. This year, 13 men and 8 women entered from Maui, Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi Island, and the continent, proving their strength in five events. Wassman took top honors with the most points awarded per event.

Earlier in September, Wassman set a new State Deadlift record in the World Association of Bench & Deadlifters competition. For the past decade, Wassman has won a number of strength and powerlifting awards including the Strongman Comp in 2011 and 2019, Honolulu’s Fit Expo in 2016, 2017, and 2018, and Hilo’s BISAC Strongman in 2019. He has also placed in Oregon’s Feats of Strength competition in 2018, 2019, and 2021.

Wassman is a 2006 graduate of Kalani High School. He works for the Hawaiʻi Protection Association and coaches discus and shotput for Kamehameha School Kapālama’s track team.

Fundraiser for Homeless Youth

November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, and Residential Youth Services and Empowerment (RYSE), a nonprofit organization located in Kailua serving youth ages 14-24, is holding its annual fundraiser all November long to raise funds sufficient to cover their operating costs for 2022.

RYSE offers emergency, transitional, and long-term housing, education and employment assistance, medical and behavioral healthcare, life skills training, case management and agency referrals, a food pantry, and laundry and shower services for youth across Oʻahu. RYSE also operates a Mobile Crisis Outreach van with a team of partner agencies to respond to housing emergencies 24/7.

In 2020, RYSE had 144 admissions with 51% identifying as Native Hawaiian.

Due to the pandemic, RYSE pivoted their annual fundraising event to a more intimate, dine-at-home experience from November 1-30 that includes cuisine from MW Restaurant and premium wines. Table sponsorship includes gift cards for 10 people at MW Restaurant (mailed), and ranges in price from $3,500 to $25,000. There is also an option to purchase an individual seat for $350 which includes a gift card for one to MW Restaurant. To reserve your table or for more information please visit or email


Photo: Volunteers planted native species at Kalaeokaunaʻoa
On October 9, volunteers planted native species at Kalaeokaunaʻoa (Kahuku Point) as part of an effort by the North Shore Community Land Trust to restore and protect about 39 acres of coastal dune ecosystem. The effort was supported by a $5,000 AARP Livable Communities Community Challenge Grant. Kalaeokaunaʻoa is one of the few remaining places on Oʻahu with intact coastal strand habitat that includes monk seals, Layssan albatross, nesting sea turtles, ʻōhai, and yellow-faced bees. The group provided symbolic fencing along trails to encourage users to stay on paths and out-planted native species to provide safe habitat for monk seals, turtles and seabirds at a higher elevation, which is less likely to be impacted by sea-level rise. – Photo: Courtesy

ʻAʻole TMT Protest at UH

Photo: Maunakea Protectors gathered at UH
On Oct. 8, 2021 Maunakea Protectors gathered at UH Mānoa to voice opposition to the UH Draft Maunakea Master Plan. The Protectors reject the UH Draft Maunakea Master Plan, stating that the Maunakea summits are stolen Hawaiian lands that are at the piko of Hawaiʻi’s Indigenous culture. “UH has shown itself to be a bad manager of these important lands for over 50 years and their Master Plan for the future of Maunakea validates the fact that UH has not been listening nor do they care about the harm further development on the summits will do to the Kānaka Maoli people and to those who love and protect this mountain,” said organizer Healani Sonoda-Pale. – Photo: Courtesy