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Discussion

ʻAha delegate registration deadline apparoaches

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Photo: Will Caron

Na‘i Aupuni, the newly formed organization the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) has entrusted with the management of the current Native Hawaiian self-determination process, set the registration deadline to file as a delegate candidate to the Native Hawaiian constitutional convention, or ‘Aha, for September 15. According to the organization, only Native Hawaiians certified by Kana‘iolowalu, the Native Hawaiian Roll, can file. Candidates may file their nominations online at www.naiaupuni.org.

Many Native Hawaiian activists have criticized Na‘i Aupuni and OHA for relying on Kana‘iolowalu to determine who may and may not file to become a delegate. This criticism is part of a larger critique activists have on state-connected and -sponsored entities like OHA itself. Even OHA’s own trustees recognize the inherent problem of working to overthrow a system of control (like U.S. military dominance over Hawaii) from within that same system:

“At this point Kanaʻiolowalu is the property of the State of Hawaiʻi; it does not belong to us,” commented OHA trustee Peter Apo at an April hearing. And therein lies the main problem many Hawaiians have with Kanaʻiolowalu, and with its predecessor, Kau Inoa.

“As trustee Apo said today, Kanaʻiolowalu is the property of the State of Hawaiʻi; do you guys know what that means?” activist Andre Perez of Movement for Aloha No ka ʻĀina (MANA) asked at the same meeting. “We should know the implications of that term, roll, and the historical legal precedent of native rolls coming out of the Dawes Act. I’ve been saying for a long time now that we need to look at the implications that a roll has for our lāhui. Because state legislation is not true self-determination; it’s not self-determination unless it comes from the people.”

Delegate candidates must live in the area in which they run and will be elected by voters in that area. Delegates will be apportioned as indicated below:

Oʻahu – Represented by 20 delegates.
Hawaiʻi Island – Represented by 7 delegates.
Maui – Represented by 3 delegates.
Kauaʻi & Niʻihau – Represented by 2 delegates.
Molokaʻi & Lanaʻi –Represented by 1 delegate.
Out-of-state Hawaiians – Represented by 7 delegates.

The timeline of the delegate election process is:

Sept. 15: Deadline to file as a delegate.
Sept. 30: List of qualified delegates announced.
Oct. 15: Voter registration closes.
Nov. 1: Ballots for election of delegates sent to certified voters.
Nov. 30: Delegate voting ends.
Dec. 1: Election results announced publicly.

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