HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The vote to ratify a Native Hawaiian constitution is being delayed until late 2017. Organizers say they need to raise a lot more money before the movement can advance.
"We're trying to do it right and we're trying to make sure that we have the resources available," says Naalehu Anthony, a leader in the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, "It takes time to go and raise those kinds of dollars, so we're working on it slowly."
Anthony had hoped the vote would take place by the end of this year, and then another vote to name a President, Vice President and members of the legislature would follow, but fund raising efforts are not moving as quickly as the group had hoped. The new timeline puts the ratification at the end of 2017.
"After working on this for 100 plus years, what's one more year," says former Hawaii Governor John Waihee. Waihee was not part of the group that drafted the constitution, but is providing guidance on the issues. Waihee says the delay is not a concern, he's proud at the efforts of the organizers who are using technology to fund the vote.
The website, AlohaLahui.com helped them raise a quarter of a million dollars so far, but they need $2 million total.
The constitution was approved in late February by participants of the Nai Aupuni convention and calls for a government of Native Hawaiians. But the controversial convention pitted groups seeking self-governance against those seeking federal recognition and caused some community leaders to back out of the process.
Threats of a lawsuit over the use of any public funds pushed those left in the convention to use a 'grass roots' fundraising effort.
"It's so exciting," says Waihee about it, "Social networking, private funding, small contributions as opposed to large donations, and the emphasis on independence. Not only are we going to be talking about independence, where we can, we are going to be independently organized."