`Ano`ai kakou… On January 6th, Na‘i Aupuni announced that a total of 154 individuals will participate in the February ‘aha to discuss self-governance.
The ‘aha participants were derived from a list of 196 former candidates of an election that would have resulted in 40 delegates attending a constitutional convention. Na‘i Aupuni decided to terminate the election on December 15, 2015 because of pending federal litigation that would probably stall the vote count for years. So instead, Na‘i Aupuni offered all of the then-registered candidates a chance to participate in a gathering to discuss a path to self-governance.
As one of the 154 participants, I have been receiving emails of conversations between other ‘aha participants and while I am enthused by their excitement and the wide varieties of topics being discussed, I would like to steer the conversation back to the essentials of forming a nation.
I believe that calling for an ‘aha is an excellent opportunity to provide an open and democratic forum to discuss possible governing documents of our new nation. This is where the ultimate form of the Hawaiian government can be debated and considered.
The first step is for everyone attending the ‘aha to come with an open mind and clean slate. We must all be willing to learn how other native peoples have drafted constitutions and formed governments that serve their people. To do that, we must focus on questions such as:
- What kinds of powers would we want our nation to have?
- What will our new nation’s relationship with the State of Hawaii, the Federal Government and the International community, including other Pacific islanders entail?
- What are the fundamental rules we would like to see written in our constitution?
- Will our new nation have the power to tax?
- Will our new nation be free from state and federal taxes?
These are the kinds of important issues that I would like the ‘aha to focus on.
Given the fact that there are so many participants and such a short amount of time, it is clear that it will be challenging to build a consensus by the close of the ‘aha. However, I am hopeful that the more experienced participants will help to organize smaller working groups and also assist in steering the discussion towards constructive topics such as what it takes to form a government.
Hawaiians have a spirituality that is admired by the world – the Aloha spirit. It’s a feeling in the heart that can’t be described. It’s a feeling that we all feel when we come together as one and recognize that while we may have differing views, all views are welcomed and respected.
No matter what the outcome of the ‘aha may be, let us all remember to move forward, together as one people. Aloha Ke Akua.