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The theme for the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement’s Native Hawaiian Convention, held this week at the Sheraton Waikiki, was hulihia, which means change or upheaval.
“It refers to a time when we can look at a renewed place. It’s time to reset and reform,” CNHA CEO Kuhio Lewis said in an email to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
The group’s 21st annual convention — its first large-scale, in-person gathering since the pandemic emerged in 2020 — drew some 1,700 attendees for discussions of issues affecting Hawaii’s communities, weighing various issues and potential solutions. .
“The gathering allowed us to reassess our cultural, economic, political and community needs in the wake of the unprecedented events and challenges of recent years, and created space for us to revisit possibilities for the future of Hawaii,” Lewis said. Thursday was the last day for the registered public to attend the event, and CNHA members participated in panels on intellectual property and strategic planning on Friday.
Panels open to non-members ranged from Regenerative and Conscious Tourism to Affordable Housing and Red Hill. The 2021 water contamination crisis linked to the Navy’s Red Hill underground fuel facility has sickened hundreds of military families and sparked widespread public outrage.
For Cody Pueo Pata, attending the convention has been invaluable for learning more about Hawaiian issues and for building pilina, or relationships. Pata, a kumu hula who works in the Maui Mayor’s office on Native Hawaiian topics, was the recipient of this year’s CNHA ‘Oiwi Leadership Award.
Another attendee, Daniel Ito, Marketing Director of Kona Brewing, said he appreciated the diverse backgrounds of the panelists “not only from tourism or hospitality, but also from sports, business and the intellectual industry. “.
As he stood in line to attend a panel on reinventing relations with tourists, Ito recognized several other attendees and greeted them with a hug or a handshake. “I think it’s really cool to see a lot of us borderline millennials on panels” because they “share a different perspective than I think the older generation had before,” said Ito said. “A lot of them, I get to call peers and friends, so it’s really good to see that passing of the guard.”
Among the attendees representing an older generation was Ipo Mossman, a community liaison in the Maui mayor’s office and active in Hawaiian politics for more than five decades.
Mossman, who has attended many Native Hawaiian conventions, said, “To me, it’s a paradigm shift that we’re going in this direction.” He added: ‘I think this is the first time community engagement has been so focused and focused.
For Mossman, the Red Hill panel effectively brought to light the seriousness of the water contamination problem. The discussion focused on topics related to the work refueling plan and environmental monitoring efforts. The Red Hill facility, which delivers oil to ships and jets, is perched 100 feet above Oahu’s drinking water aquifer.
Melissa Waiters, diversion specialist for the nonprofit Kinai ‘Eha, and several of her colleagues attended the convention, chaperoning a group of boys they work with. Translated from Hawaiian, “Kinai ‘Eha” means “extinguish the pain”. The program aims to provide an alternative education option for youth as well as instilling Hawaiian cultural identity and workforce training in construction and trades, community service, and leadership.
Servers said a discussion about empowering a homeless population in Waianae — Pu’uhonua o Wai’anae — was particularly impactful for their group. The community now consists of around 250 people who support each other. Due to their success, they were allowed to live on government property until they completed development of the land they purchased in the back of the Upper Waianae Valley.
Although the waiters and boy band chose to wait outside the ballroom during the roundtable due to the large crowd, Pu’uhonua o Wai’anae’s chef, Twinkle Borge, is next went out to talk to them directly.
“Anyone she saw that needed anything more than her, she would give them all her stuff,” said Evan Goad, 20, who was part of the group of eight boys. “I think it’s an important part, to show everyone else that they could do the same.”
Being at the convention gave the boys the opportunity to learn about various current Hawaiian issues, Waiters said. And having the opportunity to speak with Borge was like speaking to someone who had already been in his shoes.
“Some (of the boys) are homeless from the Waianae Coast, which really affected them,” Waiters said. “It gives them ideas for their future.