The recent passing of Princess Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawānanakoa (April 23, 1926 – Dec. 11, 2022) was a moment for reflection.
She cut a striking figure, always regal, and never without a sense of what she felt was her position in society. But it is important to remember that she never forgot the obligations that come with high stature in society. Princess Kawananakoa, or “Kekau” as she was known to many, had a great sense of her responsibilities as an aliʻi.
She used her considerable fortune to help restore and maintain ʻIolani Palace. She funded efforts to foster the teaching and learning of ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. She poured a great deal of money into providing scholarships and was known to quietly pay the medical bills and funeral costs of those in need without any fanfare or publicity. People learned of her generosity through word of mouth.
She was not an activist, but she supported those who opposed the building of the Thirty Meter Telescope. When she died, we learned that she had left $100 million to various Hawaiian causes.
She will be remembered for her personal accomplishments, her regal persona and, most of all, for her keen awareness that the needs of Native Hawaiians in their own land are many and various.
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is mindful of her example of service and generosity. We are mindful of the struggle to recover what was once ours so that we may better serve the needs of our beneficiaries.
The passing of Princess Kawananakoa was a reminder, once again, of the theft of our sovereignty, the imprisonment and forced abdication of our beloved Queen Liliʻuokalani, and the seizure of Hawaiian crown lands.
The recent public opposition from some groups to OHA’s plans for Hakuone – the parcels in Kakaʻako Makai given as a belated settlement of a state debt for years of ceded land revenues unpaid to OHA as stipulated by law – are a painful reminder of how our rights have been usurped before. Now we see them at risk of being usurped all over again.
Hawaiʻi’s Thousand Friends claims it has been protecting Hawaiʻi’s natural and cultural resources since 1981. Well, Native Hawaiians have been doing exactly this against great odds for generations!
The Kakaʻako Makai Community Planning Advisory Council claims to base their framework for planning, decision-making and implementation of its Kakaʻako Makai master plan on Native Hawaiian values and traditional and customary rights and practices protected by the state.
Yet both organizations oppose the plans of the entity whose explicit mission is this: “To mālama Hawaiʻi’s people and environmental resources, and OHA’s assets, toward ensuring the perpetuation of the culture, the enhancement of lifestyle and the protection of entitlements of Native Hawaiians, while enabling the building of a strong and healthy Hawaiian people and lāhui, recognized nationally and internationally.”
We have been robbed of our rights too many times for us to keep silent. We won’t stand idly by while others try to usurp our role.
We need people of goodwill in Hawaiʻi, Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian, to understand that the bills we have before the House (HB270) and Senate (SB736) this session are a continuation of our long fight to recover what was illegally taken from us.
You can help. Write to your Representative and Senator. Call for hearings. Visit www.hakuone.com. Learn more about how we plan to make Kakaʻako a place where Hawaiians can feel at home again.
Together we can live up to our obligations to build a stronger lāhui.