East Hawaii News

Na’i Aupuni Terminates Election

December 15, 2015, 9:06 AM HST
* Updated December 15, 9:08 AM
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Na’i Aupuni officials announced Tuesday morning that the Native Hawaiian election to elect delegates to a February Constitutional Delegation, or ‘Aha, has been terminated.

The announcement follows ongoing litigation that calls the election “unconstitutional,” and a recent decision by the Supreme Court to pause the election, not allowing votes to be counted.

Organizing officials say the February ‘Aha will continue, offering all 196 Hawaiian candidates who ran a seat to participate in the four-week process that will engage delegates “to learn about, discuss, and hopefully reach a consensus on a process to achieve self-governance.”

“Our goal has always been to create a path so that Hawaiians can gather and have a serious and much-needed discussion about self-governance,” Na’i Aupuni President Kuhio Asam said. “We anticipated that the path would have twists and turns and even some significant obstacles, but we are committed to getting to the ‘Aha, where this long-overdue discussion can take place.”

The current litigation, which Asam said could continue for years, was the deciding factor in changing the method of getting to the ‘Aha, providing all running delegates the opportunity to work together.

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Election-America, the group running the election, has been notified that ballot receiving should be stopped, and ballots received should be sealed and not counted.

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William Meheula, Na’i Aupuni’s attorney, said Tuesday that since all candidates will hold a seat, the election vote does not need to be, and will not ever be, counted.

“Thus, the Akina litigation, which seeks to stop the counting of the votes, is moot, and Na‘i Aupuni will take steps to dismiss the lawsuit,” said Meheula. “To be clear, Na‘i Aupuni does not know and will never learn the election results.”

Na’i Aupuni plans to manage the process of the ‘Aha, but not the discussions.

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Education and information is a large part of the ‘Aha, according to Asam, who said that the delegates will spend the first of four weeks learning about constitution building, federal Indian law, international law regarding de-occupation, decolonization, the rights of indigenous people, U.S. Constitution issues that relate to Native Hawaiian self-governance, the ceded land claim, background on Hawaiian Home Lands, Kingdom Law, and constitutions drafted by sovereignty groups.

“We have retained Peter Adler and Linda Colburn of The Mediation Center of the Pacific to serve as facilitators to lead the instruction week and to thereafter assist in organizing the delegates,” Asam said. “They will contact the candidates who decide to participate in the ‘Aha.”

Delegates have until Dec. 22 to confirm that they will participate in the ‘Aha.

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