Walter Ritte will announce Wednesday that he is disenrolling from the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission’s registry, withdrawing his candidacy as a Nai Aupuni election delegate and calling for a boycott of the election.

Ritte, a longtime Molokai activist for Hawaiian independence and against genetically modified organisms, is scheduled to speak at 10:30 a.m. in front of Hawaii Hall at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

“Four-fifths of all Native Hawaiians in Hawaii and abroad are excluded from this election,” Ritte said in a statement Tuesday. “I cannot participate in a process that is not pono, and have decided to remove my name from consideration to be a delegate in the ‘aha.”

Governor Ige’s chief of Staff Mike McCartney speaks with Walter Ritte outside the Governor’s office. 21 april 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat
Governor Ige’s chief of Staff Mike McCartney speaks with Walter Ritte outside the governor’s office in April. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Ritte added, “We need to be steadfast and remain on the path that our kupuna have laid because we are still a sovereign and independent state.”

The Nai Aupuni election is to take place through the month of November via mail and online balloting. Some 95,000 Native Hawaiians are eligible to vote for 40 delegates from a slate of more than 200.

The chosen delegates will then convene next year in an aha, or convention, to possibly determine a path toward self-governance.

Ritte was one of three delegate candidates running for the one position to represent Molokai and Lanai. The remaining two candidates are Noa Emmett Aluli and Lori Buchanan.

UPDATE: Nai Aupuni released this statement Wednesday:

Nai Aupuni encourages Native Hawaiians to voice their opinion on the election process because the voters and delegate candidates should hear all voices.

However, the fact that some Native Hawaiians protest because they are concerned that their desired outcome will not be accepted emphasizes the need for a Native Hawaiian convention. Without a process where elected leaders can discuss various options and issues to find a consensus, the Native Hawaiian community will never proceed forward in unity. The outcome of the Na‘i Aupuni process, which involves 90,000 potential voters and 200 candidates, cannot be predetermined but it will be an important first step toward achieving Native Hawaiian solidarity.

Nai Aupuni has drawn its share of supporters and critics. Read some of Civil Beat’s related stories:

Roll of Thunder: Lifting The Veil On Na‘i Aupuni

Naʻi Aupuni Election: A Voice of the Newest Generation

Hawaiians-Only Election Gets Court Approval

A Lot of Familiar Faces in Hawaiian Self-Determination Election

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