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Delegates return from Ha Hawai`i to seek direction

The Maui News
February 25, 1999, p.A3

Staff Writer

WAILUKU -- Now that all the newly elected Ha Hawai'i delegates have met onOahu and started the process that will lead to a convention later thisyear, they've gone back home to look for direction.

''At this point, we're just gathering mana'o (thoughts),'' said KehauFilimoe'atu, who was chosen chair of the nine-member Maui County delegationlast week. ''We're here to do the bidding of the people, so you tell uswhat you want. You tell us what you want your nation to look like.''

That inclusive intent was demonstrated in the name the Maui group adopted:Maui Nui A Kama (''The Greater Maui''). Filimoe'atu said leaders want toensure that Native Hawaiians from all four Maui County islands, from allpoints of view and from all ages join the process.

Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr., vice chair of the Maui group, agreed.

''Eventually, we have to have the majority of all Hawaiians involved if wehope to have a nation,'' he said. ''Our job now is to educate and to bring(more people) into the fold.''

The first outreach meeting by Maui Nui A Kama will be March 13 at alocation to be named later. More sessions will be held over the next coupleof months at various sites to collect input and visions before thestatewide representatives return to Oahu.

Ha Hawai'i is the nonprofit organization that sponsored the Native Hawaiianelection last month to choose delegates from around the islands to discussself-governance at a convention. Controversial because it was the successorto a state-appointed council, Ha Hawai'i attracted fewer than 10 percent ofeligible voters to the polls and no one knew what to expect when thewinners -- from one end of the political spectrum to the other -- wereassembled under one roof.

But Filimoe'atu, Maxwell and state Rep. Sol Kaho'ohalahala, another ofMaui's delegates, all labeled the first meeting a success.

''I think we all came with that caution, but after having sat down to meetthe other delegates, I have to say I was very, very happy to be a part ofthis,'' said Kaho'ohalahala. ''There are a lot of points of view, but we'reall here to work and move forward.''

Although officers were not elected, Peggy Ha'o-Ross of Oahu was namedtemporary chair. An executive council composed of representatives of allthe islands was also chosen, including Kaho'ohalahala of Maui; his brother,Gaylien, of Lanai; and Jeanette Kahalehoe of Molokai.

Other members of Maui Nui A Kama are Daisy Lind of Hana, the Rev. ClarenceKamai of Wailuku, Joe Kanahuna of Makawao (who was selected as a vicechair) and Mary Helen Lindsey of Lahaina.

The first meeting of the statewide delegates was held -- for three nightsand two days -- at Kamehameha Schools on Oahu over Presidents Day weekend.Until they actually all had assembled, no one realized the human potentialthe elections had produced.

''We had some of the greatest minds in the Hawaiian community,'' saidFilimoe'atu. ''You had everybody from Bishop Estate like (former trustee)Pinky Thompson to opio (young people) who are brand-new to this. The oldestwas 86 and the youngest was 19. There were people who were somebody andothers who were nobody kine.''

Critics of the election feared delegates would become puppets of the state,but Filimoe'atu said that seems unlikely.

''Unlike the previous council that was appointed by the governor, all of ushave been technically elected, so we aren't beholden to the government butto the electorate,'' she said. ''We're here to do the people's business.''

Kamai, who was named kahu (spiritual leader) for the Maui group, said hefelt a sense of unity among the differing voices.

''We were all of one mind and one accord that our job is to reset,re-create and re-establish the Hawaiian nation as it was,'' said Kamai. ''Iask everyone to pray for us.''


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