Maui Nō E Ka ʻOi


Keoni Souza: Trustee At-Large

The past few months have been busy with our annual OHA island visits and community meetings. We were able to visit the islands of Maui, Kauaʻi, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi and Hawaiʻi Island as well as some homestead communities on Oʻahu. I have enjoyed my time with all of whom I had the pleasure of meeting with, hearing your concerns and suggestions and seeing firsthand all the great things being done by and for our lāhui.

One of the highlights from our island visits came on Sept. 14-15 when we visited Kanu o Ka ʻĀina in Waimea, Hawaiʻi. As one of the first Native Hawaiian charter schools, it was awesome to see the keiki living and learning through a culture-based education made for Native Hawaiians. OHA helped fund the start-up and continues to help with rent for some locations.

Maui remains one of OHA’s top priorities and along with our initial pledge of $5 million dollars towards recovery and rebuilding efforts; we will stand in solidarity with our people moving forward.

There is a beautiful mele entitled Maui Nō E Ka ʻOi, which was composed by my dear friend and mentor, Uncle Ainsley Halemanu. The music and lyrics came to Uncle in a dream after the passing of his dear friend, Kekua Fernandez. The mele describes the beauty of our island, Maui, such as the heavenly pua roselani, our majestic Haleakalā, ʻĪao Valley and even Māla o Lahaina. Hidden within the very first lines is a message of hope that I have begun to repeat in my mind.

ʻO Maui, ʻo Maui nō e ka ʻoi
He ʻāina nui, he ʻāina uluwehiwehi

Maui, Maui is the best
A great land, a land so prosperous

We know our beloved Lahaina will return as “he ʻāina nui, he ʻāina uluwehiwehi,” a great land, a land so prosperous. It may take many years, but we are dedicated to making this happen for our people of Maui.

We have two more upcoming community meetings on Oʻahu, please look out for updates and information on our Office of Hawaiian Affairs Facebook page as well as our Instagram, @oha_hawaii.

If you would like to testify during one of these meetings on a board agenda item or have something to share during Community Concerns and Celebrations, please contact our OHA office at 808-594-1888 and follow the written guidelines for meeting testimonials. I look forward to seeing you there.