(BIVN) – A Hawaiian Home Lands planner with connections to Kaʻū has been appointed as the next deputy of the state Commission on Water Resources Management.
Kaleo Manuel, currently the Acting Planning Program Manager with the Hawai‘i Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, has been named the next CWRM deputy by Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resource chair Suzanne Case. The appointment was made in consultation with Governor David Ige and is subject to confirmation by the Commission on Water Resources Management.
“Kaleo has a wealth of experience in the complicated field of water resource management and brings both western educational training and traditional Hawaiian values to the position,” chair Case commented in a media release. “We are at a pivotal point of opportunity in Hawaii to bring balance to water resource use and protection – in-stream, downstream and off-stream – consistent with the public trust, including aquatic life restoration and traditional and customary practices such as taro farming, as well as diversified agriculture for food security.”
The appointment could be good news for Kaʻū. Manuel’s family comes from Waiʻohinu. Also, as DHHL planner, Manuel helped assess the water resources in Kaʻū for homesteaders. Manuel made a presentation to beneficiaries in Naʻalehu in 2015, following a site visit to South Point earlier that day.
In the DLNR media release, Manuel said, “Ola i ka wai – water is life. I am excited for the opportunity to join with Governor Ige, Chair Case, and the Water Commission staff to continue the collaborative work of this administration in protecting and managing water throughout Hawai‘i. As a public trust resource, it is our collective kuleana to be responsible stewards of water for current and future generations.”
Manuel was recently named a member of the inaugural cohort of Obama Foundation Leaders: Asia Pacific.
Hawaiʻi DLNR also added that under DHHL, Manuel:
… leads a team of planners and community development specialists who create affordable housing and homestead communities for native Hawaiians across the state. He completed traditional ‘ūniki rites as a Ho‘opa‘a in 2017 with Kumu Hula Victoria Holt-Takamine of Hālau Pua Ali‘i ‘Ilima. He also holds a B.A. in Hawaiian Studies, a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning, and a Graduate Certificate in Historic Preservation, all from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
His Hawaiian and western educational training serve as equal parts of the foundation for his worldview and his endeavors. Evolving from a land use focus, over the past seven years, Manuel has focused on bringing planning and indigenous expertise to the fields of water advocacy and management in Hawai`i. Through his work with water in Hawai‘i, he hopes to empower, inspire, and reconnect our indigenous, island, Pacific, and world communities.
If approved, Manuel is expected to begin his new position on January 28.