East Hawaii News

Na’i Aupuni Will Not Pursue Ratification Vote

March 16, 2016, 2:04 PM HST
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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 file 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 file photo.

Na’i Aupuni does not plan on conducting a ratification vote on its proposed constitution that was created as result of the ‘aha completed in February.

The announcement was made via a media release on Wednesday.

“The ‘aha participants, who represent a diverse and multigenerational cross section of the Native Hawaiian leaders from Hawai’i, the North American Continent, Asia and Europe, or a similarly broad-based group, would be the entity to best advance the ratification vote and conduct the important process of educating our communities about the constitution,” the release read.

Kuhio Asam, Na’i Aupuni president, noted that the objectives of Na’i Aupuni were to conduct an election, an ‘aha, and a ratification vote, but that the overall goal was to provide an opportunity for Native Hawaiian leaders to exercise their “inherent right to self-determination, to discuss self-governance options and, if they so decided, to develop a constitution that would unify and best serve the current and anticipated needs of Native Hawaiians.”

“Na‘i Aupuni is appreciative of the participants who utilized the strength of our rich culture, the knowledge from our kupuna, and the collective wisdom of the ‘aha to significantly advance Native Hawaiian unity,” said Asam. “Na‘i Aupuni believes that it is the participants, those who prepared and voted on the document, that are best able to lead efforts in effectively sharing the proposed constitution with the community and ultimately arranging for a ratification process.

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“The participants have evidenced a remarkable willingness and ability to identify leadership, build critical teams, and respectfully support the voices of many divergent opinions. It is for these reasons that we are deferring to the ‘aha participants to further advance their work.”

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In addition, Asam said that despite the hurdles that stood along the path to the ‘aha, more than a constitution was produced as result.

“The ‘aha generated a long overdue and significant dialogue among the participants and within the larger community. It is crucial that this conversation continues,” said Asam. “The ‘aha also allowed leaders from the community to emerge, and created momentum for further educating the public about self-governance, the proposed constitution and nation building.”

Na’i Aupuni legal counsel Bill Meheula noted that potential legal challenges were anticipated.

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“…We currently continue to defend against the Grassroot lawsuit that is now before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals,” said Meheula. “In addition, now that we cancelled the election and will not be conducting any ratification vote, Na‘i Aupuni contends that the appeal is moot and we are hopeful that the case will be eventually dismissed.”

In addition, Meheula said that remaining grant funds provided by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs will be returned. That totals to a little over $100,000, according to Meheula, who also noted that Na’i Aupuni plans to publicly publish an account of how the used funds were spent.

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