East Hawaii News

Na’i Aupuni Announces ‘Aha Participants

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Na'i Aupuni Board of Directors. Top Left to Right: Kealoha Ballesteros, Gerry Miyamoto, Lehua Schuelke. Bottom Left to Right: J. Kūhiō Asam, Pauline Namuʻo. Na'i Aupuni photo.

Na’i Aupuni Board of Directors. Top Left to Right: Kealoha Ballesteros, Gerry Miyamoto, Lehua Schuelke. Bottom Left to Right: J. Kūhiō Asam, Pauline Namuʻo. Na’i Aupuni photo.

Na’i Aupuni has announced its official list of 154 participating individuals who will gather at a February ‘aha to discuss self-governance.

In late December, the list was released with a total of 152 participants. However, Na’i Aupuni officials say four additional participants have since been added as result of “delays and failures with electronic carrier systems.”

Two previously confirmed individuals have also since removed themselves from attendance.

The individuals headed to the ‘aha in February are a portion of the original 196 candidates who were in the running for 40 spots.


In mid-December, Na’i Aupuni terminated the election following controversy over the validity and federal litigation against it.

Na’i Aupuni officials say the election was terminated because the federal litigation would have stalled the counting of votes for years.

As part of its decision, Na’i Aupuni decided to invite all then-registered candidates to participate in the February gathering to discuss a path to self-governance.

In November, the election hit a snag when Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy issued a temporary stay on Nov. 27, stopping ballots from being counted until a later ruling from the court. Five days later, the entire Supreme Court granted an injunction by the plaintiffs to halt the election process until the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could issue a ruling.


On Dec. 22, new litigation was filed against Na’i Aupuni organizers, saying that the injunction issued by the United States Supreme Court on Dec. 2 was not being followed.

“Every former candidate had an opportunity to participate in this gathering. We are excited that such a large group of committed persons – who represent a broad cross section of the Native Hawaiian community in Hawai’i and elsewhere – will come together to discuss self-governance,” said Kuhio Asam, Na‘i Aupuni president.

According to Asam, the ‘aha participants are Hawaiians who have shown a deep commitment to engage in serious, civil discussions on self-governance.

“We are pleased and encouraged that so many individuals have made a decision to participate,” Asam said. “They deserve everyone’s support.”


During the first week of the month-long ‘aha, participants will engage with experts on various topics, including constitution building, federal Indian law, international law regarding de-occupation, decolonization and the rights of indigenous people, U.S. constitutional issues that relate to Native Hawaiian self-governance, ceded lands, and Kingdom Law.

Facilitators will foster discussion and assist participants in organizing. Peter Adler and Linda Colburn of The Mediation Center of the Pacific will act as facilitators.

Following the facilitation, decisions made and results of the participants’ discussions at the ‘aha will be their responsibility without interference by Na‘i Aupuni or any government entity, according to Na’i Aupuni officials.

Big Island participants include: Edwina Moanikeala Akaka, Alvin Akina Jr., Chad Awai, Fredrico Cachola Jr., Clarence Ching, Keoni Choy, Kalikookalani Chun, Desiree Cruz, Kaipo Dye, Norine Fitzgerald, Lunakanawai Hauanio, Pua Ishibashi, Amy Kalili, Katie Kamelamela, Clifford Kapono, Manuel Kiaha, Lei Kihoi, Joshua Lanakila Mangauil, Shane Palacat-Nelson, Kahiolani Papalimu, Diana Suganuma, Michalann Rae Trainer, Kanoe Wilson, and Karyle Yamane.

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