The Constitution of the Native Hawaiian Nation

`Ano`ai kakou…  On February 26, 2016, the majority of the Na‘i Aupuni ‘aha participants voted to adopt The Constitution of the Native Hawaiian Nation by a vote of 88 to 30 and one abstention.

There were 10 to 15 participants that were absent and a few sat outside when the vote took place.  All of them were given every opportunity to return and vote if they had missed their turn for whatever reason.

It is very difficult to put into words the awesome experience this was for me.  Not only was this an important historical turning point in our history, but it was also at times a very emotional for me to experience.

In the room sat kupuna, makua, and our young warriors.  Among them our leaders who have been at the forefront of the movement to reunify our people and restore our nation’s sovereignty.

They included Emmett Aluli, Lilikala Kameꞌeleihiwa, Poka Laenui, Aꞌo Pohaku, Keoni Agard, Melody MacKenzie, Devianna McGregor, Dr. Claire Hughes, Mahealani Cypher, Bumpy Kanahele, and, in spirit, Uncle Buzzy Agard, Dr. Kekuni Blaisdell, and Peggy Hao Ross.

Unfortunately missing from this auspicious occasion were two sisters who should be credited with helping to drive the sovereignty movement to where it is today.  They are, of course, the Trask sisters, Haunani K. and Mililani.

This constitution is in honor of all of those warriors who came before us and who could not be there.

It was moving to see people who were often on opposite sides of an issue come together for the good of the whole.  There were several participants that frequently came to OHA to protest our positions on nationhood and yet we were all able to put those differences aside and finally draft the governing documents needed to restore our nation.

I guess the most amazing aspect of the ‘Aha was to see our young people so energized and ready to take our efforts to the next level.  I have no doubt that they will make our dreams to form a new Hawaiian nation a reality.

The next step is to ratify the Constitution by taking it out to our people.  I encourage all of our ꞌohana to give the Constitution serious consideration.  While it is not a perfect document, it is a beginning.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need any assistance in understand the document.  If you are would like a copy of the Constitution, please visit my website at or e-mail me at to request a copy.  Aloha Ke Akua.

We need nationhood to protect our lands

`Ano`ai kakou…  Throughout the month of February, I was privileged to participated in the Na‘i Aupuni ‘aha to discuss self-governance.  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.

I have always advocated that gaining federal recognition as a native people would finally allow Hawaiians to negotiate with the state and federal governments for the return of some of our ceded lands that the state holds in trust.  Federal recognition would also put us in a stronger position to protect our lands and trust assets.

The three key elements of nationhood are sovereignty, self-determination and self-sufficiency.  In order for Hawaiians to exercise control over their lands and lives, they must achieve self-determination by organizing a mechanism for self-governance.  Hawaiians must create a government which provides for democratic representation before they can begin to interrelate with the State and the Federal governments who control their lands and trust assets. The ultimate goal of nationhood is to become self-sufficient and self-supporting.

My hope is that, as a result of the ‘aha, we will be able to draft the articles or provisions of our constitution for the new Hawaiian nation, whatever form it ultimately takes.  It is important to remember these documents can be changed or annulled.  This is only the beginning.  Once these governing documents are ratified by the Hawaiian people, they can be implemented to protect our lands and trust resources.  We would then be able to care for our people without assistance from anyone.

The window of opportunity for us to act on controlling our lands is closing.  For those who think we have lots of time to talk about this, they only need to look at all of the laws that have been passed in the last ten years to realize time is running out.

A good example of why nationhood is so critical for our people is the recent attempt in the legislature to pass the “forced land sales bills.”  Kamehameha Schools (KS) recently led the charge against legislation that would have forced Hawai‘i’s landowners to sell leasehold lands to their lessees.

If HB 1635 and HB 2173 had become law, all commercial, agriculture, conservation and industrial lands would have been put under threat to be forcibly sold.  KS would have been hurt by these bills since nearly 80 percent of their commercial properties are ground leased.  Our ceded lands controlled by DLNR would also be threatened.

Private land developers could have moved in to condemn and remove historical lands that were passed from generation to generation of Hawaiians.  This would have also negatively impacted the ability of Native Hawaiian organizations and trusts to fulfill their missions.  HB 1635 and HB 2173 represent yet another example of the government’s shameful history of removing Native Hawaiians from their ancestral lands.

Thankfully, on February 8th, KS announced that the House cancelled the hearing for HB 1635 and HB 2173, which effectively killed the bills.  However, there are other land bills in the legislature we need to be concerned about such as DLNR selling off remnants and the transfer of land to the military.  Let us be makaꞌala (watchful).  Aloha Ke Akua.

Mahalo nui to all


Source: December 2006 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column

`Ano`ai kakou…  Let me begin by expressing my warmest Mahalo to all those who supported me in the General Election.  Your kokua has allowed me to return to OHA to serve you for another four-year term.  A very special Mahalo nui to Ke Akua for his divine guidance and love that he has bestowed upon me and my family.  I would also like to recognize and bid a fond Aloha to Trustee Carpenter, who has served OHA’s beneficiaries well on the board and who will be sorely missed.

This was an unusually difficult race with so many people running for the three at-large seats.  As I traveled around the state, I listened to many complaints that people had about the OHA organization.  Here is a list of the most asked questions and concerns: 

  1. When will we see some changes in the leadership at OHA?
  2. Why aren’t trustees more visible? 
  3. Why isn’t OHA in the communities more often? 
  4. Why is OHA planning for Nationhood without us?
  5. Why is the administration of OHA speaking for the trustees?  Where are the trustees?  Why aren’t the trustees in the communities speaking to the people themselves instead of sending staff people to talk for them?
  6. How is Nationhood going to impact me?  What does it mean?
  7. I did not sign up for the Kau Inoa because I don’t know what it will mean.  Will it mean that I will be a registered member of the Nation?

There were so many questions about what OHA was doing with regard to Nationhood that I could only conclude that we (OHA) were not doing enough to educate the people in our own home state about sovereignty.  What would sovereignty mean to Hawaiians and, just as importantly, how or will it affect the non-Hawaiians.  OHA has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars educating and enrolling many Hawaiians on the mainland but has yet to make any meaningful impact on Hawaiians in Hawaii.  This situation has got to change.  Trustees are going to have to speak up and make this happen. 

I believe that before any federal legislation is written again, OHA must do much more to help the Hawaiian communities and the general public to understand what Nationhood would or could mean to them.  I also believe that with the Democrats now back in the driver seats in Congress, a Hawaiian recognition bill that would mirror the Apology bill can be written and passed.  This would satisfy and address the many concerns that so many of us had with the Republican inserted amendments that changed the original bill’s intent.

I assure all of you that, after listening to your concerns, I will do everything that is humanly possible to address those concerns.  What is also needed is your participation.  You must challenge EACH TRUSTEE to be accountable to you.  It is unfortunate that you cannot assume that trustees will do this on their own.  Like any governing entity, from time to time, especially when one faction has been in power for too long like it has been at OHA, “the people” need to become actively involved.  Otherwise, complacency occurs and the abuse of power is inevitable.

As we close out the year of 2006, I would like to wish each of you a very safe and happy holiday season, and may the lord in his grace bless each of you and your families and take you safely into 2007.  Have a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

A Bellows Community We Can All Live With

By Trustee Rowena Akana
April, 1993

Source Ka Wai Ola O OHA

As the federal government debates whether to demilitarize Barbers Point, it continues to harbor another base far less important but far more valuable — Bellows Air Force Station.

Bellows occupies 1,493.15 acres of Windward Oahu, of which 1,456.93 acres is ceded lands held in trust for Hawaii’s inhabitants. The station’s current estimated value is more than $88 million. On the open market, the Bellows land could be worth several hundred million dollars more. As a Hawaiian-managed and planned community, the land value would be priceless for so many with so few housing options.

The time has come to make Bellows available for Hawaiians’ housing needs.

Bellows, unlike much of Hawaiian Home Lands, is a fairly large parcel of land resplendent with utilities, roads and water in place. The state has zoned the land for 5,000 single family units and an equal amount of agricultural plots. Rentals are less expensive than most of Honolulu and houses sell for half the average single family home prices, added to which most of the area is flat, on or near the beach and only two miles from Kailua.

As early as 1966, the federal government realized it did not really need the Windward land base. The Director of the Bureau of the Budget determined “… that the [Bellows] property hereinafter described is no longer needed by the United States …” (Deed dated July 25, 1966, P. 2)

Since then, the military has made no serious attempts to defend the recreation facility as a necessary military activity and has admitted the communications facility could be easily relocated. The Marine Corps small unit exercises, if ever all that vital, could continue on a permit basis as they do on other state lands. Hoarding land for no other reason than its pretty to look at seems a bit foolish when compared to the dire needs in the Hawaiian community for housing.

Aside from the operational specifics, there remains the more fundamental question: to whom does the land belong? The Bellows property, formerly public lands of the Kingdom, then the Republic, then the Territory of Hawaii, was subsequently commandeered by the president for the War Department in 1917 and 1928, and last used as an airfield during World War II.

The Admissions Act of 1959 and the Conveyance Procedures Act of 1963 require ceded lands be returned when no longer needed for federal purposes. Hawaiians are entitled to revenues from ceded lands, and failure to move on the reversion of Bellows denies Hawaii’s original inhabitants their rightful benefits. In any event, the military states a weak case for federal retention and the people of Hawaii have a strong, legitimate claim on the property.

And Hawaii already employs in its place a state agency to manage revenues from the ceded lands trust for the betterment of Hawaiians, an agency mandated to promote a body responsible to the needs of the indigenous community — a Hawaiian government.

A Hawaiian government, with a vested interest in the indigenous community, would do right by its people and prepare Bellows for a high-quality, low-cost master-planned community. Conveyances could be issued, orders given, documents signed, rules written and procedures installed to transfer control of the Bellows land to OHA or its constitutional successor which would contract to redesign and rebuild the land and its properties.

And perhaps in a short decade or two, a smartly planned, quality community would be ready to house and possibly employ several thousand Hawaiians.

Since the legislature still debates a Hawaiian ConCon, OHA remains the only existing agency that could kick-start the legislative process, hire the contractors, secure the proper papers and ensure the affordable Hawaiian housing is really housing Hawaiians can afford.

OHA has done more for the Hawaiian community than any other government agency, and is the only existing entity with the means to accomplish such a task.

But given the chance, a Hawaiian government certainly could do no worse than its predecessors with a ceded parcel of land. The military doesn’t need it, the state can’t handle it, so perhaps its time for a Hawaiian government to manage it.