Aloha nui kākou! As we continue our journey around Hawai‘i Island sharing stories of different kanaka, we head to Waimea to visit with Michael Lee Kahaeokalaniokapakipika Hodson. Mike, his sweetheart, Patricia Kainoa Hodson, and their ‘ohana have lived in Waimea for many years. Many on Hawai‘i Island know them through their family farm, WOW Farm Inc. That success story is worthy of a whole article by itself. However, I would like to share with you a little more about Mike and his ‘ohana that some people may not know.
Mike grew up in his early years on the leeward coast of O‘ahu. He spent time in ‘Ewa Beach, Mā‘ili and Wai‘anae. He attended Campbell High School and Hilo High School. At the tender age of 19, he began his career at the Hawai‘i Police Department. He spent 27 years in the department before retiring as a Narcotic Detective. His wife, Kainoa, also attended Campbell High School and then Honoka‘a High School. She is a 3rd generation Waimea Hawaiian Home Lands lessee. They have 4 children and 6 grandchildren.
For the past 13 years, Mike has been a homestead farmer. He has been the President of the Waimea Hawaiian Homesteaders Association (WHHA) for the past 8 years. He has been the Chairman of the Waimea Nui Community Development Corporation for the past 5 years. Working with Federal, State and County agencies, he led the “Veteran-to-Farmer Program” or “Farming for the Working-Class Program” as it was dubbed by the kama‘āina of Waimea. Now, after 66 years of waiting and due to the WHHA’s persistence coupled with support from state leaders, the Waimea Nui Community Development Initiative began construction in March 2018.
When asked about the future of Hawai‘i and our kānaka, he shared some personal thoughts. Here is some of what he had to say.
“It starts with our native Hawaiians as defined in the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. Each of our 21 regions of homestead lands could be a political subdivision or state of the future Native Hawaiian Government. This would breathe life into Prince Kūhiō’s plan of getting our people back on the land and fulfilling the main purpose of rehabilitation. Our people could go back to what we once were in being socially accepted, thriving culturally, being highly educated, being economically self-sufficient and politically sovereign.”
He cautions us to remember our differences and explains it in this way. “By lumping us all together as one language, one culture, and one belief, this amounts to a campaign of cultural eradication…a genocide of sorts.” He goes on to say, “…thirty years from now, each community may face regret and mourn for their old ways, region by region!”
Before passing in the 1990s, Mike’s Tūtū Wahine, a retired teacher and fluent in our native tongue, told him how difficult it was to speak to our young people learning the language for the first time as adults in institutions of higher learning. “They are changing our language,” she would say. “The old tongue is dying, and the new University tongue is taking over. No can help. No more much of us left!”
“Today,” he says, “Let’s not do it again! We must respect the different cultural practices of each native community! We must fulfill Prince Kūhiō’s plan. We are a land-based people and our land base is different from district to district. Our cultural practices may be different from district to district. Let’s not do it again!”
E holomua kākou. Always with aloha…