E nā Paemoku o ka ʻāina kulāiwi mai ka lā hiki ma Kumukahi a i ka welona a ka lā i Lehua kāpī kai aloha nui kākou.
‘O au nō ʻo Amy Kalili he keiki na ka ʻohana Awai Kalili no ka ʻāina o Paʻalaʻa e waiho ʻia ʻana ma ka aekai ʻākau o kēia mokupuni nei i hānau ʻia nō naʻe ma ke one o Hanakahi ma Hawaiʻi mokupuni.
Eia ke kū alulike nei me ka ʻohana a me nā hoaaloha i hoʻoholo e hoʻomau ma ke ala i hoʻomoe ʻia e nā kūpuna – ʻo ia ala hoʻi e hoʻihoʻi ʻia mai ai ko kākou mana hoʻokele aupuni iā kākou ka Hawaiʻi. He leo aloha a mahalo kēia i nā kūpuna o mākou a me Ke Akua pū kekahi e ikaika mai ai mākou i kēia lā. Aloha nui.
We also want to mahalo all of those who are here helping to spread our manaʻo. Iā ʻoukou e ko ka papaho you are the means for us to reach people. And again a sincere mahalo to those standing here with all of us to share our manaʻo. And we mahalo all of those who came before and walk along with us today on this journey in reclaiming our mana hoʻokele aupuni, our self governing power as native Hawaiians.
We are Nā Makalehua, a hui of young Native Hawaiians, who have committed to participate in the Naʻi Aupuni governance ʻaha or convention. Over 95,000 Native Hawaiian adults are able to vote for 40 delegates to an upcoming convention. Itʻs a historic time in which our generation has an opportunity to lead, add to this process, to kōkua with the ʻike – the knowledge, the mākau or skill, and the mana (strength) that we have to to help facilitate the next steps in this Native Hawaiian self-determination.
We have different manaʻo for the priorities for restoring this mana aupuni (strength to govern), and we have different manaʻo on the governance model that will get us there, the political solutions to address the issues facing our people as well. We represent farmers, business owners, advocates, parents, cultural practitioners, attorneys, students, media specialists, voyagers, academics, lawaiʻa, policy experts, educators all steeped in knowledge both from traditional and from beyond our shore.
In our diversity, we stand in solidarity. We choose to be agreeable, while also recognizing that we will not always be in agreement. We commit to abide by our fundamental cultural values. And we choose to do the work before us through ʻauamo kuleana or fulfilling our responsibility, hoʻāno puʻuhonua – honoring safe spaces, hoʻōla hoʻopaʻapaʻa – perpetuating a Hawaiian approach to discourse and debate, mālama pilina – nurturing relationships, a me ka hoʻokō i kēia mea ʻo ke kapu aloha –and engaging in everything that we do with a sincere aloha for this place and for each other.
We were prepared and are empowered by over seven generations to continue the work of hoʻoulu lāhui – the caring for our people. Our legacy is one of master navigators, resource managers, skilled artisans and architects, statesman, warriors, educators, and policy makers again. And our generation has inherited amazing gifts through the sacrifices, battles, and love of previous generations.
Today, our communities here in Hawaiʻi are faced with real and pressing issues including the lack of access to:
· Affordable and safe housing;
· Healthcare and wellness-care;
· Healthy and flourishing natural environments;
· High-quality education;
· Sustainable economic drivers;
· Food from our homeland;
· Opportunities to earn a living wage;
· Access to our Land; and
· Our cultural places.
And, as we address these issues, we must remember that we borrow Hawaiʻi from those generations yet-unborn – and that we have kuleana (responsibilities) to our ancestors, akua, the ʻāina, each other, and again these future generations.
The Naʻi Aupuni hosted ʻaha is a thoroughly human process with its flaws and also flashes of brilliance. Some of our communities have chosen to kūʻē or stand against and oppose the ʻaha and we respect that decision as they see that as their kuleana. Some of our communities, however, including Nā Makalehua, have chosen to engage and ʻonipaʻa, to stand up for and support the ʻaha, as we see that is our kuleana.
In the past, ʻo kēia aliʻi i aloha nui ʻia ʻo Liliʻuokalani along with fellow aloha ʻāina patriots made the decision to kūʻē things such as the annexation of Hawaiʻi to America and other issues that were detrimental to our lāhui (people) and yet also however they were equally adamant about engaging in the system subsequent to that and were ʻonipaʻa within the American system for the survival of their people. Here are some of her words:
“ʻAʻole o kākou kuhi ʻana aku i koe, koe wale aʻela nō kēia pono ākea i hāʻawi ʻia mai …, e hopu a paʻa, a na ʻoukou e hoʻoponopono no kākou no kēia mua aku.”
“There is no other option left, all that remains is this fundamental right, a right to engage in the process, it is up to you to make things right for all of us for the future.”
We see ourselves as part of that future in which Her Majesty the Queen called us to hoʻopono or make things right. And we see the ʻaha as a communal pākakau, or a collective table for Native Hawaiians to envision, plan, and empower a righteous future for the benefit of all of Hawaiʻi.
With the charge and blessing of our mentors and kupuna, we stand together with our ‘ohana (family), as a new generation of humble and prepared warriors, to use this moment as an opportunity before us to hoʻoholomua or move forward, our lāhui and fulfill our kuleana.
E hopu a paʻa, take hold of the right to vote, and place people into this ‘aha who will do the work of righting the future.
Me ka mahalo nui iā ʻoukou, aloha.
Q & A PORTION
QUESTION: What do you hope to accomplish by standing up as a hui today, and moving forward through the process? What will that mean as some of you are elected and some of you aren’t?
ʻAha Delegate, Hawaiʻi Island
“I think, which was kind of iterated in this statement, the true goal of Nā Makalehua is to just represent this notion of solidarity I think for us as this generation. This by far is not the first time that native Hawaiians have had an opportunity to engage in a process, in a political process for native Hawaiians. It is, however, I think for most of us, and especially for people younger than me, the first time that we had this opportunity in our lifetime. We come from a very diverse background in terms of what we want to see happen in terms of the specifics of this governance process, we are however realizing that we’re in a place and time where we need to at least agree to come together and interact with each other in appropriate ways. So that I think, first and foremost, is really important that we’re trying to encourage younger people who have manaʻo, who have ʻike to offer to engage in the process. And hopefully, me ka haʻahaʻa loa, I think one of our other goals is to epitomize and be great examples of our ability to sit at a table with people who don’t agree with what our manaʻo are, but we can still engage in discourse and come out of this process hopefully with something that the voters can agree to to take us forward after this convention is done. “
QUESTION: There are so many now who find themselves in either a state of misinformation or confusion about moving forward whether there is a predetermined end result, whether they should even participate, whether that requires that they relinquish their sovereignty or their rights therein, how would you guys like to address that?
ʻAha Delegate, Oʻahu
“I think we can approach this in many different ways in terms of looking at whether our people should participate or not and the information or misinformation that is being put out there. Itʻs, as Amy had mentioned, itʻs an opportunity. And the way that we see it, many of us, is that there is no predetermined end. So no matter how flawed the process has been to get us to this point, the only thing that is going to determine the outcomes after this point are who the delegates are and the conversations they have. And that’s it, itʻs really simple. On another scale, whether, you know, we have people out there determining whether they are going to participate or not. Look at people who are running as delegates and if there is someone there that you trust they are saying something that really aligns with what you believe then trust in them and vote for them. If you don’t see a candidate there that you believe in their histories or their perspective or where they are coming from, then maybe itʻs appropriate to sit out the process. But please keep informed, keep seeking information and as the ʻaha is brought together, seek opportunities to put your voice in no matter whether you decided to vote or not. I think the voices of our entire lāhui are important to this process at every step of the way.”
QUESTION: What do you think is the strength of this process, the flashes of brilliance so to speak?
Anthony Melvin Makana Paris
ʻAha Delegate, Oʻahu
“The Naʻi Aupuni hosted ʻaha, I view it as a kāhea, a call by elders, kūpuna that are setting a place for the members of our community to gather. It is like having a lūʻau and our aunties and uncles are saying, come, come use our house and use my hale. But as they are setting the space and place, it is we who are within the family the ʻohana, the lāhui that is required to bring the ʻopihi, the limu, the plates, the entertainment, the pule. So it is through kākou, through kākoʻo, it is through us all and through our support that we actually can build something great. So as some of our colleagues and members of our community has called for the demand for the process to be better, I agree wholeheartedly, but the demand is on ourselves. Native Hawaiian self determination is our community deciding to hoʻoulu, to build, to grow together. And that is why this is so brilliant, it is because this generation is being enabled by the last 7. We have been able to actually benefit from the aliʻi trust for education, for healthcare, for eldercare, for childcare, because of what our ancestors did. And we have a generation that can speak i ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi now, because they sacrificed and survived for the past few generation as they have been engaging with the absorption of Hawaiʻi nei into the American polity. And that’s why we come together now to thank our ancestors and to honor the kāhea and not expect our kūpuna to do all the work.”
QUESTION: Aunty Davi, could you talk about what it took to get here, the fact that we have the opportunity as a younger generation based on the foundation that you guys have laid out and all of the fight, all of the struggle that you guys have put out before us?
Davianna Pōmaikaʻi McGregor
ʻAha Delegate, Oʻahu
“I came out to support Makalehua and all of the younger candidates because the convention will need to have a strong intergenerational representation. And I feel very strongly those of us who have been on the forefront of the struggles for our ʻāina from Kahoʻolawe, to Honokahua and the burial issue, to Pele, to just supporting our subsistence farmers and fishermen, we know very well that unless we can establish a native Hawaiian government we will not have the standing that is going to be required for this next generation to hold on to the benefits that we have established. Our constitution protects our Hawaiian language, supports Hawaiian cultural education in the schools, protects our access rights, but all of that could be lost with a race based litigation. And the only thing that will stop race based litigation is for us as native Hawaiians to have a native Hawaiian government that is standing and ceded and that will represent the interest of our families and our communities, our nation and our land.”
Mahalo nui for this timely expression of solidarity!