HAWAII – The election of native Hawaiian delegates to a gathering on self-governance has been terminated, but the formal ‘aha will go forward. Na‘i Aupuni, the independent organization that was facilitating the election until a U.S. Supreme Court ruling froze the process, announced today that all candidates will be offered a seat in the convention as delegates.
Here is the Na’i Aupuni media release:
HONOLULU – Na‘i Aupuni announced today that it has terminated the Native Hawaiian election process but will go forward with a four-week-long ‘Aha in February. All 196 Hawaiians who ran as candidates will be offered a seat as a delegate to the ‘Aha to learn about, discuss and hopefully reach a consensus on a process to achieve self-governance.
Na‘i Aupuni President Kuhio Asam said Na‘i Aupuni’s goal has always been to create a path so Native Hawaiians can have a formal, long-overdue discussion on self-determination. “Our goal has always been to create a path so that Hawaiians can gather and have a serious and much-needed discussion about self-governance,” Asam said. “We anticipated that the path would have twists and turns and even some significant obstacles, but we are committed to getting to the ‘Aha where this long-overdue discussion can take place.”
He said due to the delays caused by the ongoing litigation – that could continue for years – it was decided that the most effective route at this point would be to offer to convene all of the remaining delegate candidates and allow them to an opportunity to organize Hawaiians and achieve self-governance.
Na‘i Aupuni said Election-America has been informed to stop the receipt of ballots, to seal ballots that have already been received, and to prevent anyone from counting the votes
Na‘i Aupuni attorney William Meheula said consistent with offering to seat all candidates, Na‘i Aupuni has decided that the election votes will never be counted. “Thus, the Akina litigation, which seeks to stop the counting of the votes, is moot, and Na‘i Aupuni will take steps to dismiss the lawsuit,” he said. “To be clear, Na‘i Aupuni does not know and will never learn the election results.”
Asam said Na‘i Aupuni will manage the process of the ‘Aha but not the substance of the discussions. “We have retained Peter Adler and Linda Colburn of The Mediation Center of the Pacific to serve as facilitators to lead the instruction week and to thereafter assist in organizing the delegates,” he said. “They will contact the candidates who decide to participate in the ‘Aha.”
The confirmation deadline to participate in the ‘Aha is Dec. 22, 2015. An email will request that the candidates confirm whether they intend to accept the terms and attend the ‘Aha that runs the month of February 2016 and will be held at a meeting facility in Kailua, Oahu. On Dec. 23, 2015, Na’i Aupuni will post the list of delegates on its website.
Asam said a key component of the ‘Aha is the education and information the delegates will receive during the first week regarding constitution building, federal Indian law, international law regarding de-occupation, decolonization, the rights of indigenous people, U.S. Constitution issues that relate to Native Hawaiian self-governance, the ceded lands claim, background on Hawaiian Home Lands, Kingdom Law and constitutions drafted by sovereignty groups
About Na‘i Aupuni
Na‘i Aupuni is an independent organization made up of a volunteer board of directors from the Hawaiian community. It exists solely to help establish a path to an ‘Aha, or constitutional convention, where Hawaiians can discuss and explore various options of self-determination. Na‘i Aupuni was formed in December 2014 and is separate and independent from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the State of Hawaii. For further information about Na‘i Aupuni and a list of the 196 candidates who will be seated as delegates can be found at www.naiaupuni.org.
The nonprofit Grassroot Institute of Hawaii sued to stop the election, which resulted in the Supreme Court’s ruling that put a halt to the counting of ballots or certification of results. Today in an official response, Grassroot president Keli’i Akina and attorney Michael Lilly criticized Na’i Aupuni for going forward with the ‘aha.
In a surprising contradiction to their claim of confidence in the legality of their election process, the state and Nai Apuni have announced the termination of the election process for delegates to a Native Hawaiian Constitutional Convention. After suffering a defeat in the nation’s highest court, the state has instead decided to change its published and widely-advertised plans, bypassing the election that had drawn criticism from Native Hawaiians and others in order to proceed with a convention composed of unelected delegates.
“Clearly our lawsuit (Akina v. State of Hawaii) has brought an end to a discriminatory election,” stated Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., President of the Grassroot Institute and one of the plaintiffs in the case. “Now, in a desperate move to bypass their election, Nai Aupuni is undercutting its own efforts to even look like a democratic process.”
One of the Plaintiffs’ attorneys, former Hawaii Attorney General Michael A. Lilly, said, “Everything about the unconstitutional race-based Nai Aupuni election has been a complete waste. The State spent $4M creating a native Hawaiian Roll which will never be used. Then the state wasted an additional $2.5M on the election that will never happen. The US Supreme Court saw through this unconstitutional process when it stopped Nai Aupuni from counting the ballots. There has been no oversight of the process to ensure its fairness and credibility. The Campaign Spending Commission has no jurisdiction to ensure the election was fair and free of fraud. And now after wasting $6.5M of taxpayer funds they decide to use delegates that no one elected to hold their Aha. Who anointed them? This entire process lacks accountability and credibility.”
Dr. Akina continued: “Changing their own rules multiple times further erodes the credibility Nai Aupuni has with the Hawaiian people, who have been clear in their opposition to the state’s nation-building process. Like thousands of other Native Hawaiians, I am appalled at the millions of dollars that have been wasted on this divisive and illegal effort–funds that would have been better spent in meeting the real needs of Hawaiians, like housing, education, jobs, and health care.”
“Our legal team is carefully reviewing all options and remains committed to fighting for the preservation of the Aloha Spirit,” Dr. Akina concluded.
To see all the filings and documents associated with the case of Akina v. Hawaii, go to: new.grassrootinstitute.org.
REACTION: Keli'i Akina, president of the Grassroots Institute of Hawaii – which led the lawsuit that froze the Na'i Aupuni election – shares his thoughts on the news that the election has been terminated by the organizers, and that they plan to hold the Native Hawaiian 'aha anyway.
Posted by Big Island Video News on Tuesday, December 15, 2015
The news means all the candidates – like the ones seen in the video above who were once vying for the seats representing Hawaii Island – will be invited to participate in the discussion. Neighbor Island participants will be granted $200 per day to cover costs. The ‘aha will be shortened to 20 days, and Na’i Aupuni will also provide breakfast and lunch for each delegate.
Na‘i Aupuni Letter
Given that the counting of the votes may be delayed for up to a few years, Na`i Aupuni has decided to terminate the election as of today and to offer all 201 candidates the opportunity to serve as `Aha delegates from February 1 to 26, 2016 at a meeting facility in Kailua, Oahu.
One of the main reasons behind this decision to seat all candidates is that you represent a broad-based spectrum of the Native Hawaiian community and thus Na`i Aupuni wants to offer you this rare opportunity to organize Native Hawaiians and to propose a path to self-governance.
A Q&A that addresses many issues concerning this change of events can be found on the Na`i Aupuni website, naiaupuni.org.
In addition, the terms that Na`i Aupuni has authorized the Akamai Foundation to offer to the candidates is set forth below. Because the number of delegates has increased from 40 to up to 201, Na`i Aupuni has reduced the length of the `Aha to 20 days and Na`i Aupuni can only offer 20 days of per diem of $50 per day for Oahu candidates, $200 per day for Neighbor Island candidates and $250 per day for outside of Hawaii candidates. Na`i Aupuni will also provide breakfast and lunch for each delegate on the 20 convention days. Na`i Aupuni cannot offer any other financial assistance such as transportation, lodging, etc.
If you wish to serve as a delegate at the `Aha and agree to the terms set forth in this email, please respond to this email and indicate below that you “commit to attend this `Aha and agree to these terms” and provide the requested information by December 22, 2015, 11:59pm (Hawaii time). If you do not so respond to this email by then, Na`i Aupuni will assume that you will not be attending the `Aha.
If you have any questions concerning these terms, please contact Louis Perez at email@example.com
Mahalo nui for supporting the Na`i Aupuni process and we encourage you to support the upcoming `Aha!
Per diem will be “advanced” to each delegate by mail on the Initial Advance date of 1/4/2016, and inperson at the Aha on 2/1/16, 2/15/16 and the final disbursement by mail on 2/29/16 in accordance with the per diem disbursement schedule in Table 2.
Advances of per diem are considered “earned” by participation in the ‘Aha as documented by each delegate signing-in and signing out on the Delegate Attendance Roster at the start and end times for each day of the ‘Aha. The minimum attendance necessary for advances to be considered “earned” is 80%.
At the conclusion of the delegate training, per diem disbursements will be reconciled against the Delegate Attendance Roster to determine the amount of per diem advanced that was actually “earned”. An IRS Form 1099MISC will be issued to each delegate for the total amount of unearned per diem not returned to Na’i Aupuni.
Please do not include your social security number in your reply. Each delegate will be contacted by phone to obtain her or his social security number in the event an IRS Form 1099MISC need be issued. Your social security number will not be shared with anyone other than the IRS for tax purposes in the event you do not “earn” the per diem, as described below.
Na‘i Aupuni Q & A
December 15, 2015
Q: Why is Na‘i Aupuni proceeding with the ‘Aha and inviting all 196 Native Hawaiians who were running to be delegates to the convention?
A: Our goal has always been to create a path so that Hawaiians can gather and have a serious and much-needed discussion about self-governance.
We anticipated that the path would have twists and turns and even some significant obstacles, but we are committed to getting to the ‘Aha where this long-overdue discussion can take place.
The 196 delegate candidates have publicly indicated that they are serious about taking part in such a gathering and dialogue. They have campaigned and stepped forward to let the community know who they are. Community groups have also sponsored events and forums to further provide access to the candidates. Both the candidates and most of the Native Hawaiian community want to have this discussion and we intend to support them by moving forward with the ‘Aha.
Consistent with offering to seat all candidates, Na‘i Aupuni has decided that the election votes will never be counted. Thus, the Akina litigation, which seeks to stop the counting of the votes, is moot, and Na‘i Aupuni will take steps to dismiss the lawsuit. To be clear, Na‘i Aupuni does not know and will never learn election results.
Q: Will the ‘Aha still start with an instruction section?
A: Yes, a key component of the ‘Aha is the education and information the delegates will receive during the first week regarding constitution building, federal Indian law, international law regarding de-occupation, decolonization and the rights of indigenous people, U.S. Constitution issues that relate to Native Hawaii self-governance, the ceded lands claim, background on Hawaiian Home Lands, Kingdom Law and constitutions drafted by sovereignty groups.
Q: You have changed the ‘Aha from convening over eight weeks for 40 delegates to convening for only four weeks with 196 candidates. Why was that change made?
A: This is not a convening of elected delegates. By convening the candidates we are supporting their desire and the community’s desire to have this much-needed, long-overdue discussion about the future of Native Hawaiians.
This ‘Aha will provide the candidates with information of the main issues relating to sovereignty including the various forms of self-governance. Our goal always has been to create a path so that Hawaiians can gather and have a serious much-needed discussion about the future of Native Hawaiians.
Given the delays caused by the ongoing litigation – that could continue for years – we decided that the most effective route at this point would be to offer to convene all of the remaining delegate candidates and allow them to meet, learn, debate and hopefully reach a consensus on a process to achieve self-governance.
Q: If the meeting of the delegate candidates does not result in a proposed reorganized governing document or constitution that can be ratified by Hawaiian voters, what is the point of the meeting?
A: Whatever is discussed and proposed will be up to the delegates, not Na‘i Aupuni. However, Na‘i Aupuni believes that the convening of this leadership group will be the first step toward reorganizing a government that the majority of Hawaiians support.
Q: What will be Na‘i Aupuni’s role in the ‘Aha?
A: Na‘i Aupuni will manage the process of the ‘Aha but not the substance of the discussions. Na‘i Aupuni has retained Peter Adler and Linda Colburn of The Mediation Center of the Pacific to serve as facilitators to lead the instruction week and to thereafter assist in organizing the delegates. Linda and Peter will be in contact with the candidates who decide to participate in the ‘Aha shortly after the confirmation deadline of Dec. 22, 2015. An email that was sent to the delegates offering details and financial assistance to attend the ‘Aha can be found on our website. The email requests that the delegates confirm by Dec. 22, 2015 whether they intend to accept the terms and attend the ‘Aha that runs the month of February 2016 at a meeting facility in Kailua, Oahu. On Dec. 23, 2015, we will post the list of delegates on our website.
Q: OHA provided a grant to the Akamai Foundation for the benefit and use by Na‘i Aupuni to organize an election and convention for Native Hawaiians. Are there any legal consequences to Na‘i Aupuni cancelling the actual election?
A: The Grant Agreement, which is on our website, states that OHA will not control or affect Na‘i Aupuni’s decisions and that Na‘i Aupuni has no obligation to consult with OHA. Thus, OHA is learning about this announcement along with the rest of the community at this time. Na‘i Aupuni did not consult with OHA about this change of plans, and Na‘i Aupuni believes that it is authorized under the Grant Agreement to proceed in this fashion. The Akina plaintiffs and perhaps others may sue to obstruct the convening of the candidates, but Na‘i Aupuni believes that that case would be without merit because: (1) the current process does not involve an election, (2) conducting this ‘Aha does not constitute state action, and (3) use of OHA’s public land trust funds in this manner is consistent with the Admission Act, the Hawaii Constitution and Ninth Circuit law.
Q: You extended the deadline to vote until Dec. 21. Is there any reason for people to continue voting if all 196 candidates will be invited to the ‘Aha?
A: No, Na‘i Aupuni has terminated the election process and thus there is no need to continue to vote. Na‘i Aupuni has informed Election America to stop the receipt of ballots, to seal ballots that have already been received, and to prevent anyone from counting the votes.