How long have you lived in Hawaii: Born and raised, residing my whole life just outside the Waikiki/Kapahulu area. My family line originates from Hawaii Island.
A self-described “agent of change” and “the 10th Trustee,” Kealii Makekau is a regular attendee of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs meetings, saying, “I already know the genetic makeup of the board, what’s going on and won’t be walking in blind.”
The 43-year-old Honolulu resident is running for the OHA at-large seat as an independent, which he defines as “one who defends and promotes liberty as a heritage and a destiny.” Makekau said there’s no hidden agenda or special interest groups telling him what to say and do. Unlike others running for his seat, Makekau is quick to also recommend other OHA candidates, such as Dan Ahuna for Kauai and J. Keeaumoku Kapu for Maui, because “we need to move things forward, which means electing people who will.”
“Truth in and truth out — that’s my pledge. For me, truth is not determined by majority vote,” he said. “My hope is to bring new perspectives and renewed values to OHA through my experience. We need new blood and leadership in OHA to address the complex conditions surrounding and affecting Native Hawaiians in this complex modern world. How I would define those conditions is housing, medical, economic, development, environmental and political.”
His top priority, if elected, would be ensuring the long-term sustainability of Native Hawaii assets. Makekau thinks there should be policies that the Board of Trustees make, adopt or amend which make OHA’s chief executive officer and staff address the day-to-day affairs dealing with the conditions Native Hawaiians face, as well as prevent trustees from politically bullying each other, such as being barred from voting. He also would “demand fiscal and financial transparency.”
“We need to address OHA’s spending. There needs to be an audit, examining exactly where the money is going and who it is benefiting,” he said.
His second priority would be pursuing true sovereignty, which he described as being of “the supreme, absolute and uncontrollable power by which any independent state is govern, not a one-sided, state-run initiative.” He said the state and OHA have moved forward in a manner that is creating “a domestic sovereignty, which is not liberation from federal or state rule; nor is it a right to self-determination because there’s interference by such agencies.” Instead, he said the process now shrugs the burden of liberty and morality back onto predecessors of the U.S.A., using “colorful, confusing metaphors to cloud the authority” to land here in Hawaii and keeping the people of Hawaii, both native and non-native alike, in “a disenfranchised, turbulent environment.”
His third top priority would be fixing the “flawed” election process so that OHA has a primary.
“The islands themselves should first vote for their trustee in a primary to choose which candidate should advance and best represent them, ensuring a true democratic process,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to participate and to hold elected officials accountable for their decisions and choose leaders who will make decisions affecting you and your community. … As the process is now, the incumbent almost always wins because of name recognition.”