News Briefs | November 2023


OHA Trustees Visit Fitted Hawaiʻi

Photo: Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustees
Prior to their Honolulu/Papakōlea community meeting on September 28, Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustees visited Native Hawaiian-owned businesses in Honolulu including Fitted, whose flagship store is located on Kona Street near Ala Moana Shopping Center. Fitted is a clothing brand co-founded in 2005 by former pro skater Rene Matthyssen and former Tori Richard designer Keola Rapozo, and is best known for its contemporary Hawaiian caps. Fitted is an OHA Mālama Loans recipient. Pictured (l-r) are Trustees Dan Ahuna, John Waiheʻe, Mililani Trask, Kalei Akaka and Hulu Lindsey, Fitted co-owner Keola Rapozo, and Trustee Keoni Souza. – Photo: Nathan Takeuchi

Maui Employment Opportunities with HILT

Photo: HILT conservation staff working in the field
HILT has 48 six-month conservation jobs available for Maui residents beginning in December. – Courtesy Photo

Nonprofit Hawaiʻi Land Trust (HILT), has received a $1.1 million grant from the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation Maui Strong Fund to create temporary workforce opportunities specifically for Maui residents affected by the recent wildfires.

HILT is encouraging residents to apply for one of the 48 available six-month positions being offered in partnership with nonprofit KUPU, with work beginning Dec. 4, 2023.

The positions will support land stewardship and conservation activities at HILT’s 277-acre Waiheʻe Coastal Dunes & Wetlands Refuge in Waiheʻe, its 82-acre Nuʻu Refuge in Kaupo, and its 4.5-acre Veteran’s Peace Park in Wailuku. Most positions do not require previous experience.

“We are focusing this workforce development effort on individuals who lived and worked in Lahaina and are out of work due to the wildfires,” said ʻOlu Campbell, HILT president and CEO. “We are grateful to be able to provide meaningful opportunities that will empower families to support themselves financially through this tough time, while gaining valuable green workforce experience, and improving the wellbeing of our ʻāina.”

HILT’s mission is to protect and steward the lands and connect people to the ʻāina through education, public access, and cultural practice. HILT has preserved nearly 22,000 acres through land purchases and conservation easements. Partner KUPU is a nonprofit dedicated to providing environmental stewardship opportunities.

To apply go to: Applications must be submitted by Nov. 17, 2023.

FEMA and SBA Deadlines Extended to November 9

Homeowners and renters with uninsured or underinsured damage to their property from the August 8 wildfires on Maui now have until Thursday, November 9 to apply for federal disaster assistance from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Survivors should file insurance claims for damage to their homes, personal property and vehicles before applying to FEMA for assistance. To apply for FEMA disaster assistance go to: or call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-3362.

SBA provides low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters, businesses and nonprofit organizations. Apply online at: or call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955.

Businesses with economic losses can apply for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan until May 10, 2024.

Makuakāne Named a MacArthur Fellow

Photo: Kumu Hula Patrick Makaukāne
Kumu Hula Patrick Makaukāne – Photo: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

San Francisco-based Kumu Hula Patrick Makuakāne was recently honored by the MacArthur Foundation as a 2023 MacArthur Fellow.

The MacArthur Fellowship is an $800,000, no-strings-attached award to extraordinarily creative individuals as an investment in their originality, insight and potential, and to encourage them to pursue their own creative, intellectual and professional inclinations.

Although formally trained in traditional hula and graduated by renowned Kumu Hula Mae Klein, Makuakāne has forged his own unique style that he calls, “hula mua” (hula that evolves) by blending traditional hula and oli with contemporary music, staging and subject matter.

Balancing traditional hula with modern innovations, Makuakāne’s hālau, Nā Lei Hulu i ka Wēkiu, often presents long, narrative performances exploring subjects such as colonialism, sovereignty, the impact of Christian missionaries on 19th century Hawaiʻi, the digitization of Hawaiian language newspapers and most recently, gender fluidity and the role of māhū in Hawaiian culture.

In addition to demonstrating exceptional creativity, selected Fellows have an existing track record of significant accomplishments, and potential for the funds to facilitate subsequent creative work. Twenty to 30 Fellows are selected each year. Recipients may be writers, scientists, artists, social scientists, humanists, teachers or entrepreneurs. Since 1981, 1,131 people have been named MacArthur Fellows.

Founded by the late John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur, the MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks actively working to build a more just, verdant and peaceful world.

Defueling at Red Hill Has Started

Blessings offered by Kahu Kordell Kekoa and Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on October 14 prepared the way for the safe defueling of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, which began on October 16.

The 80-year-old facility includes 20 fuel tanks, 15 of which are still operational. With 104 million gallons of jet fuel stored there as of mid-October, the gravity defueling process will take an estimated three months to complete.

More than 16 million gallons of fuel were removed from the facility by the end of the first week, according to the Joint Task Force–Red Hill, the team leading the defueling process.

Using gravity, the fuel is being drained into pipelines at the lower part of the 250-foot-tall tanks. The pipelines run through roughly three miles of tunnels to Pearl Harbor where the fuel is loaded onto tanker ships then transported to existing Defense Fuel Support Points.

The merchant tanker Empire State received the first 12 million gallons of fuel and hauled it to a storage facility in Kapolei owned by Island Energy Services which can store up to 63 million gallons. A second tanker, Torm Thunder, is also being used to transport the fuel.

Once the gravity defueling phase of the process is completed in mid-January 2024, work will begin to remove up to 70,000 gallons of residual fuel expected to accumulate at the bottom of the tanks or in the pipelines during gravity defueling. That work should be completed in the spring.

Kapaemahu Monument Gets New Signage

Photo: Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu and filmmakers Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson
(L-R) Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu and filmmakers Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson celebrate the Honolulu City & County’s dedication on October 24 of a new bronze plaque installed in front of the Kapaemahu Monument in Waikīkī. The three collaborated, along with artist Daniel Sousa, on the 2021 Academy Award-nominated animated short film, Kapaemahu, that tells the moʻolelo of the stones. It is the story of four travelers from Tahiti who brought healing arts to Hawaiʻi. The four were māhū, individuals with dual male and female spirits. When they departed Hawaiʻi, they transferred their names and healing powers into the stones. The story of the healers and their identity as māhū was nearly lost, not just through antiquity, but through deliberate erasure and prejudice. About 10 years ago, a movement began to restore the truth of the stones and honor to māhū as respected members of society. Previous signage did not mention that the healers were māhū or that their duality was intrinsic to their healing abilities, so the installation of the new plaque is a hard won victory. – Photo: Puanani Fernandez-Akamine

Red Hill CRI Calls for More Water Testing

The Community Representation Initiative (CRI), a 10-member citizen group overseeing community concerns related to Red Hill Bulk Storage Facility defueling, closure and drinking water safety, has called on the U.S. Navy to fully investigate recent reports of water contamination in the Navy water distribution line, to include testing their hot water tanks.

In mid-October, more than a dozen families on the Navy water line reported symptoms consistent with water contamination and provided documentation, including photographs.

CRI representatives say that the Navy Emergency Operations Center has received 34 calls pertaining to water quality since September 1. The Navy informed CRI that one gallon of fuel leaked on October 14, two days before defueling began.

As defueling efforts progress over the next few months, CRI is urging households in communities adjacent to Red Hill to document and report any observed changes in water quality, noting the date, time, and location.

Reports can be made to the DOH Safe Water Drinking Branch (808-586-4528), the Navy Rapid Response Team (808-449-1979), and the Environmental Protection Agency (415-947-4406).

The Story of Everything

Photo: ʻŌiwi Poet Kealoha
ʻŌiwi Poet Kealoha performing in The Story of Everything. – Courtesy Photo

The Story of Everything (TSOE) is a film produced and directed by Engaging the Senses Foundation and based on a live theater performance written and conceived by Hawaiʻi Poet Laureate Emeritus Kealoha that premiered in Honolulu at the Mamiya Theatre in 2015.

The film will be screened on November 3 at 7:00 p.m. and on November 4 at 2:00 p.m. at The Honolulu Museum of Art, and at the Kauaʻi Writers Conference in Līhuʻe on November 11 at 7:30 p.m.

TSOE illuminates the intersection between science, the environment, the arts, and mindfulness. The film explores humanity’s rich and diverse explanations for the origins of life. It also presents hope, encouragement, and powerful solutions for the healing of Earth in an era of devastating climate change.

“The Story of Everything is my most important work, it’s the culmination of everything I have learned throughout life,” said Kealoha, founder of renowned HawaiiSlam 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.”

TSOE incorporates the talents of Kumu Hula Kauʻi Kanakaʻole, ʻukulele virtuoso and composer Taimane; Hawaiʻi-based freeform band Quadraphonix; aerial dancers Jamie Nakama and Jory Horn; hip-hop artist Jonathan Clarke Sypert; and visual artist Solomon Enos.

The Story of Everything film premiered at the Maui Film Festival in 2022 where it won the People’s Choice Award. For more information visit:

Manuel Reinstated as Water Commission First Deputy

After considerable pushback from the Native Hawaiian community and water protectors, the State Commission on Water Resource Management reinstated popular First Deputy Kaleo Manuel, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported on October 9. His reinstatement was effective immediately.

Following the Maui wildfires, Manuel was “reassigned” on August 15 to another division of the Department of Land and Natural Resources by Chair Dawn Chang at the request of Hawaiʻi State Attorney General Anne Lopez pending an investigation of “certain personnel events” related to the August 8 wildfires.

The decision angered the community who responded with rallies, criticism at public meetings and a lawsuit seeking his reinstatement.

As Ka Wai Ola reported last month, some aloha ʻāina and conservationists suspected his removal was politically motivated, as Manuel had become an “obstacle” to large-scale water consumers on Maui, such as West Maui Land Company.

Makuakāne and Paloma Honored at 2023 ʻŌʻō Awards

Kahu Kenneth Makuakāne and Dr. Diane Paloma were honored at the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce’s 46th annual ʻŌʻō Awards last month. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is a proud sponsor of the ʻŌʻō Awards which were established to recognize leaders who demonstrate resilience and dedication to their craft and has become one of the lāhui’s most prestigious honors.

Photo: Ken Makuakane
Kahu Kenneth Makuakāne – Photo: Kawaiahaʻo Church

Makuakāne serves as senior pastor at Kawaiahaʻo Church. Born and raised in Hilo, he comes from a long line of pastors. He is also an accomplished musician – both a singer and songwriter. Over the years he has received 21 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards and in 2015 received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hawaiʻi Academy of Recording Arts. Makuakāne is also an accomplished entrepreneur who has produced and recorded more than 100 albums.

Photo: Dr. Diane Paloma
Dr. Diane Paloma – Photo: UH Mānoa

Paloma is the CEO for Hawaiʻi Dental Service. Previous roles include serving as CEO for Lunalilo Home, as director of The Queen’s Health Systems Native Hawaiian Health Program, and as a faculty member at the John A. Burns School of Medicine. She is a University of Hawaiʻi Regent, an Omidyar Fellow, and was named one of “20 for the next 20” by Hawaiʻi Business Magazine. Paloma is a longtime dancer with Ka Pā Hula O Ka Lei Lehua.

Acclaimed Film by Kahunahana Hits Hawaiʻi Theatres

Photo: Christopher Kahunahana
Christopher Kahunahana – Courtesy Photo

Filmmaker Christopher Kahunahana took the film festival scene by storm with his gritty, paradigm-shifting film, WAIKIKI, an intimate narrative that challenges the stereotypical images of paradise.

WAIKIKI is the story of Kea, a hula dancer played by Danielle Zalopany. While trying to escape her abusive boyfriend, Kea crashes her van into a mysterious homeless man and soon finds herself in a surrealistic journey of self-discovery. The movie is a vulnerable and authentic portrayal of indigeneity and tackles the generational trauma of Hawaiʻi’s post-colonial culture.

Kahunahana has shown the film at festivals for the past three years, earning numerous awards, from Best Feature Film to Best Cinematography. Having completed the film festival circuit, WAIKIKI debuted at selected theatres in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles on October 27.

WAIKIKI will be released in Hawaiʻi on November 3.

“The Hawaiʻi of my childhood is a world far different from the glossy misrepresentation presented in Hollywood films,” Kahunahana said. “The repercussions of colonialism and statehood have left a people severed from ancestral land and culture. This has had a profound effect on Hawaiian psychology and self-image.”

To find a theatre or watch the film’s official trailer go to:

UH Hilo to Lead $6.6M National Native Language Resource Center

The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) recently awarded a $6.6 million grant to establish a National Native American Language Resource Center (N-NALRC) over the next five years. The center will operate as a consortium of three entities under the leadership of UH Hilo.

UH Hilo’s Hawaiʻi ʻImiloa Institute will work in collaboration with the University of Alaska Southeast and Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe University in Wisconsin, organizations with long-standing ties with ʻImiloa that have been working relentlessly to reclaim their languages as well.

The award is the first of its kind to implement, lead and advocate for training and resource development for Indigenous language education pathways in America. The NALRC Act was authored by Hawaiʻi Sen. Brian Schatz.

“This is not only an acknowledgment of the value of our Native languages but is also a testament to the hard work our community has put into renormalizing our ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi over the past 40 years while also working to uplift other ʻōlelo ʻōiwi nationally and internationally,” said Kaʻiu Kimura, director of Hawaiʻi ʻImiloa and UH Hilo’s Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language.

“Culturally based instruction is critical to promoting and revitalizing native languages,” said Schatz. “This funding will directly support [these institutions] in developing resources and fostering collaboration to promote the use of Native American languages across the country.”

Hawaiʻi Island Chamber of Commerce Hosts its Annual Meeting

Photo: Dr. Kū Kahakalau, Nā Leo TV CEO Ashley Keirkiewicz, NHCC past-President Richard Ha, Benson Medina, and OHA Hawaiʻi Island Trustee Mililani Trask
Hui ʻOihana, Hawaiʻi Island’s Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce held its annual membership luncheon on October 12 at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel in Hilo. The event was attended by over 80 business owners, nonprofit and community leaders, government officials and residents and co-sponsored by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA), and local Hilo-based businesses Creative Arts and Aiona Car Sales. The meeting focused on the impact of Native Hawaiian culture on business, community planning and the future direction for Hawaiʻi County. CNHA CEO Kūhiō Lewis was the keynote speaker. Other speakers included Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy, KU A KANAKA executive director Dr. Kū Kahakalau, and former Bay Clinic CEO Dr. Kimo Alameda. Chamber President Benson Medina closed the event with a talk about connection, community and culture. Pictured (l-r) are: Dr. Kū Kahakalau, Nā Leo TV CEO Ashley Keirkiewicz, NHCC past-President Richard Ha, Benson Medina, and OHA Hawaiʻi Island Trustee Mililani Trask. – Courtesy Photo