News Briefs | October 2022


Oʻahu Water Protectors Rally in D.C.

Photo: Oahu Water Protectors
Last month a small delegation of four representatives from Oʻahu Water Protectors (OWP) flew to Washington, D.C., to participate in a SAFE (Scientists, Activists and Families for Cancer Free Environments) rally on Sept. 20. The delegation was given time to speak at the rally and they used their time to bring attention to what is happening here on Oʻahu at Kapūkakī (Red Hill). Representing OWP were Bronson Azama, Keoni DeFranco, Michael Inouye and Gina Peterson. While in D.C., the OWP delegation met with Hawaiʻi congressional representatives Kai Kahele and Ed Case. Members of the delegation are pictured in front of the White House with a few supporters. – Photo: Michael Inouye

Six ʻŌiwi Nominated for Maunakea Stewardship and Oversight Authority

On Sept. 12, Gov. David Ige submitted the names of eight nominees for the Maunakea Stewardship and Oversight Authority to the Hawaiʻi State Senate for confirmation, eight of whom are Native Hawaiian. The Maunakea Stewardship and Oversight Authority was established by statute via Act 255 (HB2024).

The nominees are: Kamanamaikalani Beamer, Ph.D., a professor in the Hui ʻĀina Momona Program at UH Mānoa and the Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law; Pomaikai Bertelmann, Polynesian Voyaging Society crew member and educator; Paul Horner, president and CEO of Nā Leo o Hawaiʻi (public access television); John Komeiji, J.D., vice president of the Legal Division and General Counsel at Kamehameha Schools; Kalehua Krug, Ph.D., principal of Ka Waihona o Ka Naʻauao PCS; Rich Matsuda, associate director for External Relations with the W.M. Keck Observatory; Lanakila Mangauil, cultural practitioner, educator and executive director of the Hawaiian Cultural Center of Hāmākua and; Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, Ph.D., an educator, cultural practitioner, and executive director of nonprofit Lālākea Foundation.

If the senate fails to reconvene for a confirmation session, and if Gov. Ige does not appoint the nominees as “interim,” the next governor will select the commission members. As of press time a hearing date was not set.

“The struggle to protect Maunakea from further desecration and development is far from over,” said Healani Sonoda-Pale of Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻi. “Stay vigilant. TMT will not be built on Maunakea.”

In addition to the eight appointed positions, three ex-officio, voting members will serve on the Authority: the chairperson of the board of land and natural resources – Suzanne Case; the mayor of the County of Hawaiʻi (Mayor Mitch Roth has designated Hawaiʻi County Research and Development Management Director Douglass Shipman Adams); and the chairperson of the UH board of regents (Chairperson Randy Moore has designated current board member Eugene Bal, III). UH Hilo Chancellor Bonnie Irwin will be an ex-officio, non-voting member of the Authority.

Monthly Talk Story Sessions for Kalima Case

The Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations (SCHHA) and the Association of Hawaiians for Homestead Lands has announced that they will be hosting regular monthly virtual talk story sessions over Zoom with Kalima case lawyers Carl Varady and Thomas Grande.

The talk story sessions will be held on the first Tuesday of the month at 5:00 p.m. HST. The first session was in August and will continue through April 2023. The talk story sessions are accessible via an open Zoom link –

The Kalima lawsuit (Kalima et al. v. State of Hawaiʻi et al.) was filed in December 1999 by approximately 2,700 Hawaiian Home Land waitlist beneficiaries citing over 4,000 claims of Breach of Trust by DHHL from 1959-1988. Earlier this year, the Hawaiʻi State Legislature apprpriated $328 million to settle the case.

Lawyers Varady and Grande are making themselves available to answer questions by claimants and their ʻohana. The next talk story session will be on October 4. For more information contact SCHHA at

A Kāhea to Kōkua Endangered Native Birds at Hakalau

The Hakalau Forest located on the windward slope of Maunakea includes 32,830 acres of some of the finest remaining stands of native montane rain forest in Hawaiʻi and is an essential habitat for 29 critically endangered species including seven birds, one insect, one mammal and 20 plants found nowhere else in the world.

The Friends of Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is trying to raise $200,000 to help preserve this pristine forest in the upcoming year. Annual federal funding is unreliable and jeopardizes the success and efficacy of Hakalau’s refuge management program.

“We can ensure that our endangered birds have a future if we can build the resources to assist in the critical management that must be done to restore and maintain healthy habitat in the koa-ʻōhiʻa forests of Hakalau,” said J.B. Friday, a forester on the faculty of the University of Hawaiʻi and president of the Friends group.

Funds raised will support feral pig control, forest restoration in areas adjacent and above the refuge to increase high-quality bird habitat at higher mosquito-free elevations, removal of all larval mosquito habitats, and control of predators (e.g., rats and mongoose) to improve the survival and reproduction rates of our native birds.

Established in 1985, Hakalau Forest NWR works to protect precious endemic forest birds and other species by fencing large areas of the refuge and removing feral ungulates, controlling invasive plant species, and restoring native koa-ʻōhiʻa forests on former ranch lands.

Thousands of endemic plant species, several endangered, were out-planted to the understory and endangered forest birds like the ʻakia pōlāʻau, ʻiʻiwi and ʻalawī have moved into these recovering forests to once again utilize these resources critical to their survival.

Recent climate change models predict Hakalau’s endangered birds may soon face the same threats of avian disease that have impacted these species at lower elevations. For more information or to donate go to:

Or send a check payable to “Hawaiʻi Community Foundation: Hakalau Forest Endowment” and mail to: Hawaiʻi Community Foundation, 827 Fort Street Mall, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, 96813.

New HILT Appointments

In September, Hawaiʻi Land Trust (HILT), the nonprofit land trust that protects, stewards, and connects people to the lands that sustain Hawaiʻi, announced the promotion of Denby Freeland to director of ʻĀina-Based Education and welcomed Ulumauahi Kealiʻikanakaʻoleohaililani as Kūkūau steward and educator.

Freeland has worked at HILT since 2019, most recently as an educator at the Waiheʻe Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge on Maui where she worked with students in grades K-12, teachers and community groups at Waiheʻe and Nuʻu Refuges. In her new role, she will oversee HILT’s educational programs throughout Hawaiʻi.

Freeland is a cultural practitioner, educator and artist with over 20 years of experience working outdoors with students. Born and raised on Oʻahu and Maui, she has held positions at Hui Noʻeau Visual Arts Center, Hawaiʻi Nature Center, Learning Endeavors, and worked with disabled youth. She is a well-known artist and kapa maker. Her recent works include a collection of watercolors, mixed media paintings, and kapa, which capture the light, shadow, and rhythm of Hawaiʻi’s native plants. She has a master’s degree in education from Heritage College and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington. She is a graduate of Punahou School.

Kealiʻikanakaʻoleohaililani was born in Hilo and raised in the ʻāina hoʻopulapula (Hawaiian homesteads) of Keaukaha and Panaʻewa, where his family has lived for five generations. He has been a student of Hula ʻOlapa with Hālau o Kekuhi for nearly three decades. Within the last four years he was given the privilege to elevate to Papa Pāʻieʻie Alakaʻi – a position that requires intimate knowledge regarding the forest, the ocean, gathering regulations and reciprocity of both the forest and ocean.

Kealiʻikanakaʻoleohaililani is a presenter with Papakū Makawalu Papahulihonua and has previous experience in land and forest management with Kamehameha Schools and other conservation organizations. His training in hula protocol and his upbringing with his own ʻohana, the hālau, and Edith Kanakaʻole Foundation (EKF) has taught him to be acutely aware of forest life. Kealiʻikanakaʻoleohaililani has a bachelor’s degree in geography with an emphasis on environmental studies and a minor in anthropology from UH Hilo.

Balaz Selected as Obama Foundation Scholar

Photo: Dr. Pokiʻi Balaz
Dr. Pokiʻi Balaz

The Obama Foundation recently announced the selection of Dr. Pokiʻi Balaz, chief policy and compliance officer at Lunalilo Home, for the fifth cohort of Obama Scholars. The cohort is made up of 30 emerging leaders from around the world who will study at either Columbia University or the University of Chicago for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Balaz, a double-certified nurse practitioner is the first scholar from Hawaiʻi to participate in the program.

The program partners with the universities to combine academic learning with one-of-a-kind experiences to empower emerging leaders with a proven commitment to service and provide them with tools they need to be more effective and have a greater impact on their home communities.

“The Obama Scholars program provides students with the unique opportunity to give and gain insight into the work that fellow young leaders are driving in their communities, while speaking to the intersectionality of their efforts through collaboration,” said Obama Foundation Chief Executive Officer Valerie Jarrett.”

Since its inception in 2018, the Obama Foundation Scholars program has served 125 young leaders from 55 countries. To learn more about the 2022-2023 cohort visit

Arce Appointed Maui County’s First DOA Director

Photo: Rogerene Arce
Rogerene “Kali” Arce

Rogerene “Kali” Arce has been appointed the first director of Maui County’s new Department of Agriculture.

Arce is a Molokaʻi resident and Hawaiian homesteader with more than three decades of experience in Hawaiʻi’s agriculture industry. Mayor Michael Victorino’s appointment of Arce was confirmed on Sept. 20 by the full Maui County Council.

“Her leadership of this important department is crucial in advancing Maui County’s self-reliance and economic diversification,” Victorino said. “Director Arce has the knowledge, edu-cation and experience to strengthen Maui County’s farming, ranching and food production sectors.”

Arce took on her new position in July and has been meeting with farmers and ranchers throughout the county’s three islands to determine needs and priorities.

“I love my job,” Arce said. “As someone who has supported the ag industry for 30 years on Molokaʻi in various capacities, I understand and empathize with the challenges and rewards of working in agriculture. We want our farmers and ranchers to succeed at what they do best, putting fresh food on our tables while reducing our reliance on faraway places for what’s for dinner.”

Arce is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools, has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from UH Hilo, and a Master of Science degree in agriculture from Washington State University.

In 2020, voters overwhelmingly approved a Maui County Charter amendment to create a new Department of Agriculture to help farmers and ranchers succeed in their businesses while increasing locally grown foods.

Volunteers Needed for Hōlanikū (Kure) Atoll Restoration

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) in partnership with the Kure Atoll Conservancy, is seeking habitat restoration volunteers for work at the Kure Atoll State Wildlife Sanctuary in Papahānaumokuākea. The traditional name for Kure Atoll is Hōlanikū.

Volunteering is an eight-month commitment. Before traveling to Hōlanikū, volunteers will be trained to identify/remove/monitor invasive plant species, identify/monitor wildlife and safe animal handling, and distribute/propagate native plants. Their work on Hōlanikū will also include beach cleanups to remove debris that pose entanglement or ingestion hazards to the atoll’s wildlife.

Volunteers then commit to a six-month stay on Hōlanikū. Accommodations are not luxurious. Base camp consists of a bunkhouse, a cooking shack and a work shed. The work is hard, but the impact is great. With the help of volunteers, over the last 20 years DLNR has restored Hōlanikū to a resilient, functioning ecosystem.

Tiana Boloson said volunteering was an amazing experience that has to be lived to be understood. “You donʻt only learn about conservation, you learn about yourself.”

Located 1,400 miles northwest of Oʻahu, Hōlanikū is an important habitat for endangered native Hawaiian species including ʻilioholoikauaua (Hawaiian monk seal) and 18 species of seabirds including Kaʻupu (black footed albatross), ʻaoʻū (Christmas shearwater), and the Laysan duck.

For more information and to apply as a volunteer go to: To view a video about the program go to:

Native Languages Summit

The U.S. Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Education and Health and Human Services has announced that the annual Native Languages Summit will be held on Oct. 4 in Oklahoma City. The Speaking Sovereignty Summit – which will be hosted by the Bureau of Indian Education – supports Indigenous communities seeking to protect, revitalize and reclaim Indigenous languages, many of which were erased or critically endangered through assimilationist policies, including federal Indian boarding schools.

“The cornerstone of any culture or community is its language – it’s how oral histories are passed down, knowledge is shared, and bonds are formed. As part of our commitment to strengthening and supporting Indigenous communities, the Biden-Harris administration is resolute in its efforts to ensuring native languages are preserved and protected,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.”

Last year, as part of the 2021 White House Tribal Nations Summit, the departments launched a new interagency initiative to preserve, protect and promote the rights and freedom of Native Americans to use, practice, and develop native languages.

Topics covered at the Native Language Summit will include mentoring and developing teachers, amplifying family and community engagement, and honoring Native people for their contribution to native languages within Indigenous communities. The summit will include a space to collectively share best practices and learned experiences from native language revitalization in native communities.

The summit may be attended in-person or virtually and is free to the public. Visit the Native Language Summit website for more information or to register:

Strengthening Native Co-Stewardship of Public Lands and Waters

The Department of the Interior (DOI) today released new guidance to improve federal stewardship of public lands, waters and wildlife by strengthening the role of Tribal governments in federal land management. The new guidance from the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service outlines how these bureaus will collaborate in the co-stewardship of federal lands and waters.

“Our ancestors have used nature-based approaches to coexist among our lands, waters, wildlife and their habitats for millennia. As communities continue to face the effects of climate change, Indigenous knowledge will benefit the Department’s efforts to bolster resilience and protect all communities,” said Secretary Deb Haaland.

In managing public lands and waters, the DOI is charged to protect American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal interests and further the nation-to-nation relationship and has distinct obligations to the Native Hawaiian community.

The guidance will help further the directives from Joint Secretarial Order 3403 which outlines how the DOI, and the Department of Agriculture will strengthen Tribal co-stewardship efforts. The guidance also outlines how agreements might proceed with Alaska Native corporations and the Native Hawaiian Community.

The DOI is responsible for the management of millions of acres of lands and waters previously owned and managed by Tribes and also manages many important natural and cultural resources that once belonged to the Native Hawaiian Community.

Those lands and waters contain cultural and natural resources of significance and value to Indigenous peoples, including sacred religious sites, burial sites, wildlife and its habitat, and sources of Indigenous foods and medicines. In addition, many of those lands and waters lie within areas where Tribes have the reserved right to hunt, fish, gather plants and pray pursuant to ratified treaties and other long-standing legal agreements with the United States.

Edith Kanakaʻole Quarter to be Released

Photo: Edith Kanakaole Coin Art
The image of renowned kumu hula Edith Kanakaʻoke will be featured on a new quarter in 2023 as part of the American Women Quarters Program – a four year program that celebrates the accomplishments and contributions made by women to the development and history of the United States.

The program began this year and the U.S. Mint will issue five new designs per year through 2025. Women from a wide variety of fields including civil rights, humanities, science and the arts from ethnically, racially and geographically diverse backgrounds will be honored.

The Edith Kanakaʻole Quarter is the seventh coin in the program. In addition to an image of Kanakaʻole wearing a lei poʻo which morphs into a landscape reminiscent of Moku o Keawe, the coin features the words “E hō mai ka ʻike” (grant us knowledge) from her famous chant. Other honorees include the likes of acclaimed poet and social activist Maya Angelou, the first female astronaut Dr. Sally Ride, and the Cherokee Nation’s first female elected chief Wilma Mankiller.

Kanakaʻole was a key contributor to the Hawaiian renaissance in the 1970s who helped to preserve our culture, language, practices and history for future generations.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board Chair Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey, who knew “Aunty Edith” as her Sunday School teacher in Keaukaha, said “There is no one more deserving of this honor. I have personally been touched by the legacy of this great Hawaiian woman. Although she passed in 1990 [her] voice still resonates today.”

OHA Honors Dr. Kū Kahakalau

Photo: Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) Hawaiʻi Island Community Meeting
Dr. Kū Kahakalau was honored at the Sept. 14, 2022, Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) Hawaiʻi Island Community Meeting held at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo with an honorary resolution from OHA for her contributions to the Hawaiian community and the state of Hawaiʻi. Kahakalau, the first person in the world to earn a Ph.D in Indigenous education, is a renowned educational innovator, scholar, researcher, cultural practitioner, activist, visionary and expert in Hawaiian language and culture. From left, OHA trustees Luana Alapa, Kalei Akaka, Mililani Trask, Kahakalau, Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey, Dan Ahuna and John Waihee IV. – Photo: Joshua Koh

Blessing for OHA’s New Hilo Office

Photo: OHA’s Hawaiʻi Island staff
OHA’s Hawaiʻi Island staff gathered with key Oʻahu-based staff to bless their new office space in Hilo on Sept. 15. The new office is located at 484 Kalanikoa Street. L-R: Chief Operating Officer Casey Brown; Strategy Management Analyst Charene Haliniak; Public Policy Advocate Shane Palacat-Nelson; Integrated Assets Manager Lori Walker; Legacy Land Agent Kalena Blakemore; Public Policy Advocate Kealoha Pisciotta; Beneficiary Services Agent ʻIlima Kela; Chief Executive Officer Dr. Sylvia Hussey; Community Engagement Director and Interim Chief Advocate Capsun Poe; Information Technology Manager Tiger Hu Li; and Grants Officer Keala Neumann. – Photo: Joshua Koh