News Briefs | November 2022


Prince Lot Hula Festival Premieres November 3 on KHON2

Prince Lot Hula Festival
The 2022 virtual 45th Anniversary Prince Lot Hula Festival, Hawai‘i’s largest non-competitive hula celebration will premiere Thursday, Nov. 3 at 7:00 p.m. on KHON2 and will be rebroadcast four additional times throughout the month. This year’s festival, Laukanaka Ka Hula, will be presented by Bank of Hawai‘i. OHA is helping to sponsor the event. Pictured here are ‘ōlapa (dancers) from Pua Ali‘i ‘Ilima under the direction of Kumu Hula Vicky Holt Takamine. Photo: Courtesy

Anniversary of Kapūkakī Crisis Commemorated

An event dubbed the “Lie-Aversary” took place outside the Pearl Harbor National Memorial Visitor Center on Oct. 8. Participants dressed in black funeral attire and black armbands.

The Lie-Aversary was organized by a coalition of environmental groups and the Honolulu Board of Water Supply to commemorated the anniversary of the whistleblower revelation of the U.S. Navy’s failure to disclose the fuel spill from the storage tanks at Kapūkakī (Red Hill). Protesters demanded that the Navy assist those who continue to report health and water contamination issues.

Organizers from O‘ahu Water Protectors, Hawai‘i Sierra Club and Hawai‘i Peace and Justice marked the Oct. 8 anniversary of the water crisis at Kapūkakī (the date that the fuel storage tank leak at Red Hill was revealed by a whistleblower). Many of the protestors dressed in black funeral attire and/or wore black armbands. – Photo: Michael Inouye

“The community’s demands are more than reasonable,” said Nani Peterson, of the Oʻahu Water Protectors. “Clean up the mess you made in Kapūkakī, a marker for the sacred Leilono, and remove your existential threat to the sacred waiola of our island. Take care of the people you poisoned, who you are continuing to harm, to traumatize. And provide us with the truth, a truth that has been wrongfully denied us for too long.”

Event organizers included the Oʻahu Water Protectors, Hawaiʻi Sierra Club and Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice. They presented the Navy with a petition that included hundreds of signatures demanding medical support and additional water sources for those still suffering from the contamination; that the fuel storage facility is defueled within months; and that they respond to community questions and concerns.

Maui County Elevates ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi in Government

Nalani Fujihara
Nalani Fujihara

On Aug. 5, Maui County became the first county in Hawaiʻi to appoint a communications specialist whose kuleana includes Hawaiian translation of official documents.

Kamehameha Schools Maui alumna Riann “Nālani” Fujihara is the county’s first Hawaiian Language communications specialist and will lead the Office of Council Services’ (OCS) efforts to share legislative information with the public and will translate selected documents upon councilmembers’ requests.

Maui County Council Vice-Chair Keani Rawlins-Fernandez said she initiated the groundbreaking position in the OCS, and a similar position in the executive branch’s Department of Management, to ensure that ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi has a regular presence in local government.

“So much of our culture will not be able to be practiced if the resources are not there – if the streams do not run, there will be no ʻoʻopu or hīhīwai,” said Rawlins-Fernandez, who represents Molokaʻi. “The muliwai will not have limu to teach the next generation how to properly identify, harvest, prepare and enjoy the limu that was once everywhere.”

“It is invaluable to have advocates for ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi and moʻomeheu Hawaiʻi in spaces where people are making important decisions for our community,” Fujihara said. “I’m grateful because this position opens the door to produce more public documents written in Hawaiian.”

Rawlins-Fernandez said that collaborative efforts to create a Hawaiian vocabulary for technical government terms is forthcoming.

Hugo Named New LT Trustee

Mahina Hugo
Mahina Hugo

Liliʻuokalani Trust (LT) has announced the appointment of Mahina Eleneki Hugo to its three-member board of trustees, succeeding Thomas K. Kaulukukui, Jr., who will retire Feb. 1, 2023. She will be the 18th trustee since LT’s founding in 1909.

Currently serving as LT’s executive director of Youth Development, Hugo has dedicated her career to educating, supporting, and advocating for Hawaiʻi youth. After joining LT, Hugo led a partnership with the Aspen Institute that resulted in the 2019“Hawaiʻi State of Play” report, assessing the kamaliʻi (youth) sports landscape across the state, with a focus on Native Hawaiian youth.

Hugo was a key member of UH Mānoa’s 1987 national championship-winning volleyball team and was inducted into Sports Circle of Honor. She was also named the Most Inspirational Player of the Year.

“Ms. Hugo’s lifelong dedication to Hawaiʻi’s youth will be an asset to the board of trustees,” said Trustee Claire Asam. “She has a compelling life story that will inspire our kamaliʻi and teammates alike. We look forward to continuing the Queen’s legacy and to serving our most vulnerable Hawaiian youth.”

Prior to joining the trust, Hugo was Head of School at La Pietra-Hawaiʻi School for Girls.

Joseph Named Honolulu Habitat for Humanity CEO

TJ Joseph
TJ Joseph

TJ Joseph has been appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Honolulu Habitat for Humanity. She is the first Native Hawaiian woman and Habitat homeowner to hold this leadership position.

“We could not have hoped for a better candidate to lead us forward,” said Kaipo Kukahiko, vice president of the board of directors. “TJ brings a wealth of experience and a profound commitment to serving Oʻahu’s communities. Her strategic vision and infectious passion are critical components to the success of the organization.”

Joseph previously served as Honolulu Habitat’s chief of staff and brings a unique, first-hand perspective to her new role as CEO.

In 2013, Joseph and her husband, Levi, partnered with Honolulu Habitat to build their family’s three-bedroom home in Waimānalo.

“Our Habitat home is the foundation upon which my family has built our life,” said Joseph. “I feel a deep sense of responsibility to share that opportunity with others. As a Native Hawaiian woman executive I am moved to lead this organization to do things we’ve never done before and seek out ways we can do more to serve the communities of Hawaiʻi.”

Joseph will oversee all operations of the local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, which recently built four homes in Waimānalo and Papakōlea. There are currently 18 homes in development.

KS Names Hao Director of Planning & Development

Melanie Hao
Melanie Hao

Kamehameha Schools has named Melanie Pualani Hao as its director of planning and development

Hao, a KS Kapālama graduate, has an extensive background in commercial real estate with over 20 years of national and international experience, including working for a Fortune 500 company. Most recently, she worked with Providence Saint Joseph Health System, a comprehensive non-profit health care organization comprising 54 hospitals and over 1,000 clinics in states across the west, Midwest and Southwest.

Hao will help lead the planning and development projects for KS’ commercial properties and master-planned communities, including our Kakaʻako, Keawalau redevelopment in Waipahu, and other areas across the pae ‘āina.

“I am deeply honored for the opportunity to return home and return the many gifts Ke Ali‘i Pauahi has blessed me with,” Hao said. “I’m excited to carry on the tradition of serving this amazing organization with a meaningful mission close to my heart.”

Raised on Oʻahu, Hao holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and leadership and a master’s degree in corporate real estate.

HIFF Debuts Film by ʻŌiwi Poet Laureate

A theater performance written and conceived by Poet Laureate Kealoha, and made into a film, premieres at the 42nd Hawai‘i International Film Festival on Nov. 4 on the Bishop Museum’s great lawn.

The Story of Everything, produced and directed by Engaging the Senses Foundation, illuminates the intersection between science, the environment, the arts, and mindfulness. It explores humanity’s rich and diverse explanations for the origins of life and presents powerful solutions for the continued health of the planet and all beings on it.

A preshow will include an oli by Kumu Hula Kau‘i Kanaka‘ole, and a live performance by Kealoha, an internationally acclaimed slack key guitarist, singer, composer, philosopher and activist.

“The Story of Everything is my most important work, it’s the culmination of everything I have learned throughout life,” said Kealoha, founder of Hawaii-Slam, Youth Speaks Hawai‘i and a MIT nuclear physics graduate. “It took me half my life to study the science behind this piece, half my life to study the art of poetry and storytelling, and about half a decade to actually create this work.”

For more information or to purchase tickets go to: Film screenings and special appearances by Kealoha will also be offered on Kauaʻi, Maui and Hawaiʻi Island

Bill Will Protect Maui County Wetlands

The Maui County Council recently passed a bill to restore and protect its wetlands.

Under the new law, wetland areas will be identified and mapped if they contain at least two indicators of hydrology (evidence of groundwater, hydric soils and hydric vegetation). It is intended to prohibit the loss of additional wetlands to development and ensure the perpetuation of these areas that help maintain a healthy watershed.

“Wetlands are environmentally sensitive ecosystems which create habitat for important species and environmental resilience to the effects of climate change,” Councilmember Kelly Takaya King said. “They serve essential functions, including slowing, capturing and filtering the flow of runoff and sediment in storm events.”

South Maui experiences frequent major flooding that causes significant erosion, power outages, transportation delays and other issues.

“Wetlands are essential for environmental health, biodiversity, protection of the marine environment and coral reefs, flood mitigation and protection of property and freshwater resources,” said King, chair of the Climate Action, Resilience and Environment Committee.

“Wetlands play an important role in Hawaiian culture, and we rely on them for erosion control and protection of endangered species as well as freshwater and ocean water quality.”

Sai-Dudoit Wins Falsetto Contest

Falsetto contest champion Heua‘olu Sai-Dudoit (center) was presented with awards by Cultural Advisor Clifford Nae‘ole (left) and General Manager Andrew Rogers (right) of the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua. – Photo: Courtesy

Hilo’s Heua‘olu Sai Dudoit was crowned the 20th annual Richard Ho‘opi‘i Leo Kiʻekiʻe Falsetto Contest champion at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua on Sept. 24 after impressing the judges with his rendition of the classic, Kalama‘ula.

Sai Dudoit is a graduate of Ke Kula O Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu and is currently a student at UH Mānoa pursuing degrees in Hawaiian Language and Business. He is a contributing artist to the music innovation program, Mana Maoli. He also received the contest’s Hawaiian Language Award and the Sheldon Keahiawakea Brown Music Award for his musicality.

The Richard Ho‘opi‘i Leo Kiʻekiʻe Falsetto Contest is held during Festivals of Aloha. In celebration of the contest’s 20th anniversary, Festivals of Aloha along, with Haku Collective, has released a legacy project entitled Hawaiian Falsetto Vol 1.

Ola Resilience Trail Dedicated in Hauʻula

Hauula resilience trail
Hauʻula resilience trail

The community of Hauʻula recently celebrated the dedication of its new Ola Resilience Trail with oli, pule, music and food thanks to an $18,000 AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) Livable Community Challenge Grant.

“Ola means to survive, thrive and be resilient,” said Dotty Kelly-Paddock, the executive director of Hui O Hauʻula, which received the grant.

Popular with everyone from keiki to kūpuna for exercise and play, the Ola Resilience Trail goes around the site of the future 5-acre Koʻolauloa Community Resilience Hub. The building planned for the hub will house health, education, social, economic, food, housing and other services and will also serve as a Federal Emergency Management Agency Community Safe Room in the event of a hurricane, tsunami, or other disaster.

Most government buildings on the northeast Windward Oʻahu coastline are in flood or tsunami zones – and there are no disaster shelters between Kāneʻohe and Mililani.

“It’s critical for this community to have a resilience hub because it is so at risk,” she said.

In a disaster, Kamehameha Highway, the only road connecting Hauʻula to the rest of the island, would be shut down leaving residents without power, water, shelter and food for weeks.

“We have to prepare so we can protect our community,” Kelly- Paddock said.

Netflix Debuts Indigenous Animated Series

“Spirit Rangers,” a new animated series for young children debuted on Netflix on Oct. 10 to coincide with Indigenous People’s Day. It is the first kids show in the U.S. to be created by an Indigenous woman.

The series is about a modern native family who lives and works in a national park. The three main characters are siblings Kodi, Summer and Eddy Skycedar who share a secret which allows them to transform into spirit animals to protect their national park home. Together, the children take on challenges like helping a lost thunderbird and waking the sleepy sun.

When the children transform into their animal forms, the physical environment around them changes as well – for example a thunderstorm is revealed to be a family of thunderbirds in the spirit world.

“We see that that connection to nature is really important – that everything is alive and connected,” said show creator Karissa Valencia (Chumash). “So [I hope] the next time a child kicks a rock or wants to kill a spider – that they are thinking about how everything is alive and has a purpose and a place and is connected to our land.”

Valencia assembled a talented team of all-Indigenous writers, which is at the heart of the series. In addition to the writers, Indigenous talent was tapped in other areas as well, including animators, composers, editors and voice actors.

Spirit Rangers is streaming on Netflix and includes 10 episodes that each run about 28 minutes long.

Keiki Market Swap Meet Fair

“For Kids By Kids About Kids” is hosting their first Keiki Market Swap Meet Fair on the lawn at Keʻelikōlani Middle School on Nov. 11 and 12 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

The fair will provide keiki who have an entrepreneurial spirit and are interested in learning about owning a business with the opportunity to buy and sell products from other keiki “business owners.”

For Kids By Kids About Kids is a new nonprofit created to increase the knowledge of Native Hawaiian keiki and other keiki in Hawaiʻi about economics, culture, politics and community development. The keiki swap meet is their first event. They also offer a seminar to introduce keiki to these concepts. For more information or to register your entrepreneurial keiki for a booth at the fair go to:

Ocean Policy Meeting

OHA CEO Dr. Sylvia Hussey addresses participants at OHA’s Ocean Policy community meeting in Kāne‘ohe, O‘ahu, on Oct. 17. OHA is seeking community input to develop and inform its ocean policy and advocacy. Meetings were scheduled across the pae ‘āina, and seven have been completed to date. Three more meetings are scheduled including a virtual meeting on Nov. 1 and in-person meetings in Hilo on Nov. 16 and in Kailua-Kona on Nov. 17. For more info go to:

Hawaiian Organizations Awarded Native American Agriculture Grant

Two Native Hawaiian-serving organizations are among 49 grant projects to receive a share of $12 million in funding from the Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF). The grants are given to eligible organizations serving Indigenous farmers and ranchers.

The Hawaiian Lending & Investments’ Food Producer Resource Program (FPRP) was awarded a grant for its unique lending approach. With NAAF funding, FPRP will deliver opportunities for access to capital to Native Hawaiian producers through a blended debt and equity investment to strengthen successful food production on Hawaiian Home Lands.

Grantee Ma Ka Hāna Ka ‘Ike is an award-winning training program for youth in Hāna. Nā ‘Oihana ‘Āina (Trades of the Lands) helps Native Hawaiian trainees and community producers overcome established obstacles to agriculture and harness the full potential of East Maui’s abundance through intergenerational knowledge and use of modern techniques.

NAAF provides grants for business assistance, agricultural education, technical support, and advocacy services and is the largest philanthropic organization devoted solely to serving the Native American farming and ranching community.

ʻUlu Cookbook Now Available

‘Ulu is easy to grow and is nutritionally and culturally important for Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders – yet many Hawaiians do not know how to cook and prepare this nutritious and versatile native food.

A new cookbook entirely devoted to ʻulu aims to change that.

The ‘Ulu Cookbook is a collaboration of the Hawai‘i ‘Ulu Cooperative and noted Chef Sam Choy. The collection includes recipes created by Choy, recipes contributed by some of his friends and recipes from the Hawai‘i ‘Ulu Cooperative.

No ʻulu tree? No worries! ʻUlu can be purchased at farmers’ markets across the pae ‘āina – and for cooks that don’t want to start from scratch, the Hawai‘i ‘Ulu Cooperative offers frozen, recipe-ready ‘ulu available in stores throughout the islands as well as via mail order.

The recipes are both traditional and contemporary: ‘Ulu chips with a multitude of dips; salads that pair ‘ulu with island favorites like hō‘i‘o (fern shoots), ‘ōpae (red shrimp), and hearts of palm; soups made substantial and creamy through the magic of ‘ulu. There are also recipes for burgers, croquettes, hash and more – including a variety of ‘ulu-based desserts, like decadent sour cream cake. And Choy’s secret (until now) recipe for braised short ribs over ‘ulu grits.

OWP Demands Action After Mid-October Water Main Breaks

After multiple water main breaks over in mid-October, thousands of Oʻahu residents on the US Navy water system were once again left without access to clean drinking water. The Department of Defense (DOD) had to rely on the Honolulu Board of Water Supply (BWS) to provide emergency assistance to affected households.

The BWS opened a temporary water connection to provide water for those who rely on the U.S. Navy water system which provides water to 93,000 people living on current and former military lands, including dependent families, civilians, schools, and businesses.

Oʻahu Water Protectors (OWP) said in a press release that this most recent catastrophe confirms that the DOD cannot be trusted to steward Oʻahu’s precious potable water. To protect sustainable access to drinking water for all Oʻahu residents, OWP has made the following demands for immediate action by both the state and federal governments:

1. The DOD must downsize its military presence on Oʻahu.

2. The State Commission on Water Resource Management must revoke the Navy’s permits to access our sole source aquifer, and issue fines for exceeding limits on the amount of water they are allowed to take.

3. The Hawaiʻi Department of Health must revoke the DOD’s authorization to purvey water, levy fines for on-going violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act and Underground Storage Tank regulations, hold military leaders accountable, and force the military’s compliance with the current emergency order on the Red Hill fuel facility.

4. The University of Hawaiʻi must establish a robust water testing and reclamation program funded by, but independent from, the DOD, to develop new techniques for rapidly identifying contamination in water and removing contamination from the water supply.

New Fund Announced for Equitable Good Food

A new fund could become a financial resource for farms, ranches, fisheries and food businesses.

Growing Justice is a new initiative that aims to raise $50 million to transform food systems in the U.S. The fund is the first of its kind focused on equitable ‘good food’ procurement and prioritizing the leadership and collaboration of people of color in the food value chain, from funders and farmers to workers and distributors.

Equitable good food procurement means purchasing food from locally or regionally owned, environmentally and economically sustainable farms, ranches, fisheries and food businesses that prioritize low-income communities of color and treat workers with dignity.

The goal is to transform food systems through procurement practices that increase opportunities for food producers and social enterprises led by people of color in innovative, locally led ways.

In the U.S., approximately $120 billion is spent annually on food, but the benefits often do not reach the food producers and distributors from the communities themselves. The fund will distribute $50 million over the next 10 years to community leaders committed to transforming these systems.

Agro Resources Acquired by Hawai‘i-Based Terraformation

Terraformation, a Kona, Hawaiʻi-based global forest restoration company, announced the acquisition of certain assets of Agro Resources, another Hawaiʻi-based agroforestry company.

“The acquisition of Agro Resources’ assets provides the pathway with equipment, contracts and an experienced crew,” said Terraformation Founder and CEO Yishan Wong.

Located in Waimea on Hawaiʻi Island, Agro Resources has 20 years of experience in the management of fruit and nut farms, and native forest restoration.

“Agro Resources expands and deepens our expertise to tackle the next level in native ecosystem restoration and agroforestry,” said Johannes Seidel, director of Hawaiʻi Forestry Operations at Terraformation.

“Contributing to Hawai’i’s well-established conservation and agriculture community and supporting our state in sequestering atmospheric carbon to reduce the negative impacts of climate change is at the heart of our global journey. Already our existing projects have benefited from the equipment and expertise the Agro Resources team has brought to our operations.”

The company is now planting 7,000 trees to restore a 45-acre site with a native Hawaiian dry forest ecosystem, planting 900 trees in a Hawaiian dry forest ecosystem in Kona, and is currently planting 25,000 plants at its ʻŌhiʻa Lani site between Waimea and Honokaʻa.