A non-Hawaiian who appreciates the Aloha of the host culture

By: OHA Trustee Rowena Akana

Source Ka Wai Ola o OHA, October 2005

‘Ano’ai kakou… While the Arakaki plaintiffs may see the recent 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision regarding their lawsuit as a victory, we here at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs were pleased that the 9th Circuit actually denied them any standing regarding the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and ceded land revenues. That just leaves OHA’s matching funds from the state, which I feel is a pretty ridiculous argument since OHA is a state agency and uses those funds to operate — just like any other state agency.

I believe the Arakaki lawsuit is just another one of a long series of challenges that Hawaiians have had to overcome since 1893. As with those many hurdles in the past, so shall the Hawaiian community come together once again and work diligently to overcome it.

In these challenging times, I truly appreciate the non-Hawaiians who have had the courage to step forward and speak in support of their Hawaiian friends and neighbors. People like Robbie Alms, who thoroughly impressed me with his speech during the Kamehameha Schools’ Unity Rally on Saturday, August 6, 2005 at ‘Iolani Palace.

Alms spoke from the heart when he said that he has never felt deprived because he could not attend the Kamehameha Schools. He sincerely felt that his friends who were able to attend were blessed, but their blessing involved no loss on his part. He knew that there were plenty of other options available to him.

Alms talked about how he was taught by his parents that “we all receive gifts but not necessarily the same gifts, and that we should celebrate the gifts we receive, not covet the gifts of others.” I feel it is a real shame that none of the Arakaki plaintiffs seem to have learned this from their parents. Alms felt that the 9th Circuit Court decision forces Kamehameha Schools to give him a very special gift that he was not intended to receive. He emphatically said that he does not need or want it.

Alms stressed that he does not feel “trammeled” by the Kamehameha Schools admissions policy; but he does feel trammeled when such legalisms “take precedence over the health of our islands’ social fabric.”

Alms also showed great insight when he said that laws designed to “lift the yoke of slavery from black Americans” are now being used as weapons to harm Native Hawaiians. I absolutely agree with his point that the law is being used to condemn our special heritage with the harsh and ugly words of “civil rights violation.” Another excellent point he made is that the 9th Circuit seems to erroneously think that diminishing Native Hawaiians will somehow build a healthy and pono society.

Alms ended his speech by encouraging Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians to call upon our court system to live up to its highest purposes and values, and to call upon our community to stand up for Kamehameha Schools. He said that our very future depends upon honoring our unique history and the very special institutions that that heritage has given us. In his words, “We all need to honor the Princess’ gift just as she meant it to be honored.”

I would like to send out a warm mahalo nui loa to all of the non-Hawaiians out there, like Robbie Alms, who continue to speak out for the Hawaiian community in its time of need. As for the Arakaki lawsuit, make no mistake, none of the programs currently working to assist disadvantaged Native Hawaiians will ever fall victim to its terrorization by the likes of Thurston Twigg-Smith, H. William Burgess, and their ilk. Imua e Hawai’i nei…