The Lahaina News
Thursday, January 08, 2009 11:33 AM
Facing major challenges, Hawaiians call for Constitutional Convention
BY LOUISE ROCKETT
LAHAINA – E Onipaa Kakou (Let us all be steadfast).
These simple but powerful words of the proud and
wise last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, Queen
Liliuokalani, echo through the years, calling to
her people today.
Saturday, Jan. 17, is the 116th anniversary of
the illegal overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii,
and Na Kupuna O Maui is commemorating the
occasion with a petition drive for a Hawaiian
Constitutional Convention, educational outreach
and concert at Lahaina Civic Center.
“It’s also a day for the people to come together,
and our theme is E Onipaa Kakou,” said West Sider
Jon Kinimaka, kako’o (helper) for Na Kupuna O
“We are trying through the commemoration; we are
trying to fulfill the Queen’s words,” he added.
Concert headliners are Na Hoku Hanohano and
Grammy Award winners George Kahumoku Jr. and
Richard Ho’opi’i – definite draws to the event.
But the focus of the fund-raiser is the petition
for a Hawaiian Constitutional Convention, “a
free, fair and impartial political process,” the
Kupuna announcement reads.
“Na Kupuna O Maui thinks the most appropriate way
to commemorate this event is to unite our
Hawaiian people together with an Hawaiian
Constitutional Convention,” explained Aunty Patty
Nishiyama, spokesperson for the group of elders.
Kinimaka agrees. “I know that this is what our
Queen wanted to do. Within days up to the illegal
overthrow, she was going to have a Hawaiian
Constitutional Convention, and she wanted
petitions from all parts of the kingdom. I
remember reading about that, and it never got to
“The Hawaiian community is looking for answers
and looking for solutions and trying to make what
was wrong right,” he continued.
“The thing is, that I feel that this process will
give everyone a chance to move forward. There has
been a lot of hard work, and we want to make sure
that everybody has a chance to bring their mana’o
to the table. There are a lot of sovereignty
organizations out there that have been striving
for many years and have put a lot of work into
having a government. We have more than one
government out there. We want to bring them
“How can you argue against a fair process? You
can’t. I look at this as a way for the many
different sovereignty organizations to continue
moving forward by bringing everyone to the
Hawaiian Constitutional Convention table,”
Na Kupuna advisor and longtime advocate for an
independent Hawaiian nation, Pu’uhonua Dennis
“Bumpy” Kanahele, considers the timing for a
constitutional convention perfect, if not
The Apology Resolution, Public Law 103-150,
passed through the 103rd Congress and was signed
into law by President Clinton on Nov. 23, 1993.
It acknowledged and apologized, on behalf of the
United States government, for the illegal
overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii on Jan. 17,
On Jan. 31, 2008, a Hawaii Supreme Court
injunction barred the State of Hawaii from
selling, exchanging or transferring ceded lands.
“Because of the lack of ownership, because the
state doesn’t have any title over our lands, over
our situation, that’s how strong our claim is.
When they lost in the Hawaii State Supreme Court,
they went to the U.S. Supreme Court and filed a
writ, a Writ of Certiorari? they (the state) want
to know whether they can sell the ceded lands or
not. They going to the ultimate right now,”
“Because of all these rulings coming out, that
means there is a big issue regarding Native
Hawaiian claims. When you look at it, the Apology
Bill, the Hawaiian State Supreme Court ruling,
then they file a writ to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Based on those actions, it’s coming to closure,
with or without us; that’s the dangerous part,”
he doubly warned.
“You can tell that the moment is clearly here
right in the front of our faces. That’s what the
registration of Kau Inoa is all about. That’s
what the Akaka Bill is all about.”
He urged “the people” to attend the commemoration
and sign the petition for the free, fair and
political Native Hawaiian caucus.
“The whole purpose of the constitutional
convention is to finally, once and for all,
address the issues facing Native Hawaiians. We
got some real, real deep, deep issues that need
to be addressed by our people and not be
representatives or misrepresentatives of our
people. This is the purpose of the
constitutional convention – to have all our
people in a forum, which we believe is the
constitutional convention, in a forum to debate
and discuss all the political, economic and
cultural conditions and opportunities and
situations that we’re in right now.
“Signing the petition, getting people more
involved, educating each other, our families.
Everybody needs to know this. Every Hawaiian has
an interest in what is going on; they need to
know that,” Kanahele stressed.
Nishiyama said time is of the essence.
“With this convention, it is going to protect the
future generations of our grandchildren forever
and ever. The governor (Linda Lingle) right now
wants to settle. They are working with OHA
(Office of Hawaiian Affairs) to settle. If we
settle, that’s it. We have nothing for the future
generations of our grandchildren if we settle,
because money will only be for a short time. It
is not going to be for ten generations down the
road. It is just going to feed us, make us happy
a couple of years and that’s it. After that, we
have no legacy for our grandchildren. The land is
the legacy,” she commented.
Gates open at 8:30 a.m.; protocol begins at 9 a.m.
Pre-sale tickets cost $10, and admission at the
gate is $15. Children under ten are free.
Tickets are available at Lahaina Music in West
Maui Center, Bounty Music in Kahului on Hana
Highway, or by calling 205-1034.
The event, open to the public, will feature a
silent auction, Hawaiian food and lots of
entertainment, including the Kahaialii ‘Ohana,
Kekona ‘Ohana, Mele Pono, Dezman, Zacc Kekona,
Unifiers and Hewahewa.
“We’re going to have people there who can educate
us on the water rights. We are going to bring
awareness about different types of Hawaiian
rights and educational scholarship opportunities
for our Native Hawaiians,” Kinimaka noted.
“We also invite our non-Hawaiian supporters to
join us and sign the petition as well,” Nishiyama
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