Hawaiʻi to Washington, D.C.


Photo: Kaleihikina Akaka

King Kamehameha Statue Lei Draping, OHA D.C. Office Open House, and “Hawaiʻi on the Hill”

Gorgeous lei, flowers from Hawaiʻi, Hawaiian music, hula, and messages of aloha filled the halls of the U.S. Capitol as we celebrated King Kamehameha ʻEkahi in Washington, D.C.

Photo: Trustee Akaka and her ʻohana at the King Kamehameha statue
Trustee Akaka and her ʻohana at the King Kamehameha statue.- Courtesy Photo

Lei draping of the statues of our beloved King Kamehameha the Great and Saint Damien took place as we gathered to honor our historic Hawaiʻi leaders. OHA Trustees presented lei with this year’s theme “ʻAuʻa ʻia ka Lāhui.”

The ceremony speeches spoke of the unifying leadership of King Kamehameha I and his words to carry on his good work, as well as the legacies of our Hawaiian monarchs and leaders of yesteryear and today, lovingly acknowledging my dearest Pa, U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, all leading with aloha and celebrating diversity to be the change that we seek.

Mahalo to our lady leaders, OHA Board Chair Hulu Lindsey, Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke, U.S. Rep. Jill Tokuda, and U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono for their memorable messages, and to OHA’s trustees, CEO, Chief of Staff, dignitaries, officials, Aunty Darlene Kēhaulani and her ʻohana, the Hawaiʻi State Society of Washington, D.C., the office of Rep. Tokuda, various Hawaiian organizations, emcees, lei presenters, performers, and the many others who make this celebration continue.

As we celebrated at our new OHA Washington, D.C., Bureau Open House, seeing familiar faces, getting to know attendees, and talking story with our young ʻŌiwi leaders who participated in the Daniel K. Akaka Congressional Fellowship made the day that much more special as we gathered near the portrait of my Pa with OHA trustees and the D.C. delegation to commemorate the then newly opened OHA D.C. Bureau back in 2003 – exactly 20 years prior.

Our time in Wakinekona (Washington) at our nation’s capital provided key opportunities to further cultivate our relationships with our county, state and federal legislators. We had productive meetings with all four Hawaiʻi congressional members, discussing top priorities and mindful engagement of federal options, including the inventory of Hawaiian ceded lands, Hakuone, ʻāina and wai.

Hawaiʻi’s presence continued with the 7th Annual “Hawaiʻi on the Hill” and “Taste of Hawaiʻi on the Hill,” that showcased ʻono local products. Mahalo to Hawaiʻi Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara, Sen. Hirono, and sponsors, bringing Hawaiʻi businesses and representatives to Capitol Hill.

The new connections and reconnections, and our time together, brought the spirit of aloha from Hawaiʻi to Washington, D.C.