The Native Hawaiian convention, or aha, commenced in Maunawili last week and some involved in the process say they are inspired by the progress being made.
“What I am most amazed about is that we have the talent in the room to assume that kuleana and actually produce documents to produce proposals for consideration by our greater community,” said Anthony Makana Paris, Oahu delegate to the aha and Na Makalehua member.
Na Makalehua is a diverse group of individuals who live in Hawaii and beyond participating in the Native Hawaiian convention.
Over 100 Native Hawaiian delegates met daily and focused on laying the foundation for the weeks ahead. Matters discussed included international law of indigenous communities, constitution drafting and Hawaii’s public land trust.
After week one of the convention, Na Makalehua sees the collective in the room as a group committed to moving forward.
“Sometimes there’s a very heavy feeling in the room because we haven’t had enough discussion with one another,” said Lilikala Kameeleihiwa, Native Hawaiian historian, activist and Oahu delegate. “What’s amazing is when we sit at the same table with opposite points of view, with many different points of view, as we talk to one another, we find out we’re cousins, we find out that we have so much in common that we love our land and our people and we find ways to actually listen to one another.”
The aha will continue throughout the month of February and delegates say their discussions on the shape and path a Native Hawaiian governing entity should take will continue to build.
“One amazing thing is that there’s a sense of urgency,” Paris said. “This time is the time that we need to do this work, it’s not in a month, it’s not in a year, it is now.”