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Anniversary of overthrow observed with votes, protests

January 18, 1999

HONOLULU (AP) -- Some Native Hawaiians observed the 106th anniversary of the overthrow of Queen Lili'uokalani on Sunday by casting votes for delegates to a convention that will recommend some form of sovereignty.

Meanwhile, other Hawaiians observed the anniversary by opposing the convention.

About 100,000 Native Hawaiian registered voters were eligible to cast ballots. No problems were reported at polling places set up at 75 locations throughout the state.

Donna Hanaike, spokeswoman for Ha Hawai'i -- the sponsoring group that succeeded the Hawaiian Sovereignty Elections Council -- said it wasn't known how many people showed up to vote.

''It was kind of slow and steady, so I'd say it was kind of a light turnout,'' Hanaike said.

''We'll go forward with the results of this election, no matter what the turnout is,'' said Raymond Pua, Ha Hawai'i's treasurer.

Ballots will not be counted until Jan. 26 after absentee ballots and those from Hawaiians living outside the state are received. Results will be announced the following day.

The council started the convention process three years ago by mailing ballots to 81,507 registered Hawaiian voters. Of the 30,783 ballots returned, 22,294 -- or 73 percent -- favored electing delegates to a convention.

The convention, expected to be held this summer, will have 85 delegates, but no candidates filed for nine seats. Ha Hawai'i Executive Director Kaipo Kincaid said the convention probably will fill the vacancies, but delegates could decide otherwise.

Fifty-one of the delegates will come from Oahu, 12 from the Big Island, nine from Maui, Molokai and Lanai, seven from outside Hawaii and six from Kauai and Niihau.

Any conflict between the recommendations of the convention, which will be an autonomous body, and those of other sovereignty groups can be worked out, Kincaid said.

While some Hawaiians were casting ballots, a coalition of about two dozen Hawaiian organizations and hula halau gathered at Iolani Palace to mark the anniversary of the end of the monarchy and to express opposition to the planned Native Hawaiian constitutional convention.

Members of the Kupono Coalition are opposed to the vote for delegates to the Hawaiian convention. They say the state's involvement in the Ha Hawai'i election process violates fundamental principles of self-determination.

The coalition issued a statement saying it is committed to the right of Hawaiians to determine their political status and freely pursue their social, economic and cultural development without interference from the state or the United States.

''We are not a state agency,'' Pua said. ''And at no time during this entire process were any government officials directing this.''

Ka Lahui Hawaii, a sovereignty organization and a member of the coalition, said the state-supported process is a ''malicious attempt to steal Native Hawaiian lands and resources from the Hawaiian people.''

Ka Lahui said it believes Hawaiians should be given all options under international law including free association, incorporation or independence. It said the vote process should be internationally supervised.

Mililani Task, a trustee of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and chairwoman of its sovereignty committee, told the several hundred people attending the Sovereignty Sunday observance that she will form an advisory committee to assist her committee.

''There never has been a community advisory committee on sovereignty,'' she said in an interview during the palace observance.

Under OHA rules, the advisory committee can have only five members and one must be a trustee, said Trask, who also is head of Ka Lahui.

The other four positions will go to representatives of ''the four groups fighting the most'' on the sovereignty issue, she said. Included will be Ka Lahui, Ha Hawai'i, the Kupono Coalition, and a representative of independence advocates.

However, all groups will be given the opportunity to offer their sovereignty proposals, she said.

''We want to provide an opportunity to make a good faith effort, using OHA resources, to facilitate consensus building,'' Trask said.

''We cannot move (on sovereignty) until we get consensus,'' she said. OHA has not taken an official position on Ha Hawaii or its planned convention, and has not directly funded the election. But several trustees -- including Chairwoman Rowena Akana, Trask and Louis Hao -- have criticized it publicly.


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