Ka Wai Ola

Colette Y. Machado, Chair, Trustee Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i

OHA honored the late Larry Kamakawiwoʻole with a resolution, excerpted below:

WHEREAS, Lawrence “Larry” Kamakawiwoʻole was born in May 1943 in Honolulu, Oʻahu, to William Kamakawiwoʻole, a bus instructor and dispatcher for the Honolulu Rapid Transit Company, and Wenonah Kamakawiwoʻole, a substitute elementary teacher; and

WHEREAS, Larry Kamakawiwoʻole was raised in Pālama and ʻĀlewa, attending area public elementary schools before enrolling at Kamehameha Schools, where he graduated from high school in 1961; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Kamakawiwoʻole earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Hawaiʻi; master’s degrees from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, and the University of Hawaiʻi; and a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Kamakawiwoʻole had a long and distinguished professional career, serving as the first full-time director of the Ethnic Studies Program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, a deputy prosecutor for the City and County of Honolulu, and a special deputy attorney general to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Kamakawiwoʻole played an indispensable role in the Hawaiian Renaissance, an unprecedented political movement of environmental consciousness and appreciation for native culture and language; and

WHEREAS, upon returning from Berkeley in the 1970s, he employed the community organizing skills he learned in graduate school to protest Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate’s evictions of residents and farmers in Kalama Valley, a seminal land struggle that would help to launch the Hawaiian Renaissance and spark two decades of Hawaiian political activism and cultural renewal; and

WHEREAS, he was a founding organizer and spokesperson for Kōkua Kalama Valley and later Kōkua Hawaiʻi, which sought to keep special Hawaiian communities intact and uphold basic human rights in housing for the poor and disenfranchised; and

WHEREAS, he and the other leaders and organizers of Kōkua Hawaiʻi broadened the conversation on human rights and housing to include the planned evictions of several other communities in Hawaiʻi, such as Ota Camp, Waiʻāhole-Waikāne, Heʻeia Kea, Waimānalo, Chinatown, Hālawa Housing and “Census Tract 57” in Kalihi; and

WHEREAS, these leaders established a legacy of peaceful protest and civil disobedience that reshaped Hawaiʻi’s laws to recognize the rights of the disenfranchised, including Native Hawaiians, immigrants, and the poor; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Kamakawiwoʻole’s tireless work also helped to lay the foundation for the 1978 Constitutional Convention, the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, among other institutions, that continue to uphold his vision of social justice for Native Hawaiians; and

WHEREAS, with the recent passing on October 9, 2019, of Mr. Lawrence “Larry” Kamakawiwoʻole, Hawaiʻi has lost a leader and community advocate who helped to shape the future of Hawaiʻi and the social fabric of our islands[.]

Resolved clauses have been omitted for length.

OHA presented this resolution to Larry’s family on November 21, 2019, and recognized an extraordinary advocate who dedicated himself to protecting the poor and disenfranchised. The resolution also expresses aloha for leaders of Kōkua Hawaiʻi and community organizers for their pivotal work for disenfranchised cultures and communities in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific.