Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 8 Primary Election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions about where they stand on various issues and what their priorities will be if elected.

The following came from U’i Kahue-Cabanting, candidate for Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees Molokai resident. Other candidates include Luana Alapa and Colette Machado.

Go to Civil Beat’s Elections Guide for general information, and check out other candidates on the Primary Election Ballot.

Candidate for Office of Hawaiian Affairs Molokai Trustee

U'i Kahue-Cabanting
Party Nonpartisan
Age 53
Occupation Self employed, agricultural and cultural
Residence Hoolehua


Community organizations/prior offices held

NAC (Church-Fr: four years); Ka Lahui since the 1980’s tutor, TA and EA; Hui Makua and PTA/PSO board; AYSO Coach; Girl Scouts; Aloha festivals (five years); Hawaiian culture kumu/volunteer (2000-present); Lahaina Action Committee; Hawaiian Civic Clubs,; cultural practitioner teaching at Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, Hui No’eau, Lokelani Intermediate, Maui Ocean Center, Ho’omau o Molokai and Maui.

1. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing Native Hawaiians? What will you do about it?  

Loss of Culture and identity, the ability to practice and perpetuate. On a personal level, continue to be a practitioner and kumu. Bring awareness and opportunity.

With OHA, I would continue with community-based input on what resources are available and/or can be shared, and what needs help. Cross-reference with other communities so that resources can be complemented and comprehensive for all in the ahupu’a’a and Moku. Provide public lands to physically perpetuate these resources or use funding from ublic lands to facilitate needed infrastructure, improvements, Education etc.

2. What would you do to change how OHA is run? 

Implement term limits, residency requirements, resident voting by the respective island’s residents, to start. Have all accounting services done by an insured, independent third party, voted on by registered voters for a service of not more than four years and no more than two service terms. (Mostly implemented currently.)

Use regularly published public survey and opinion to help determine projects, community needs, spending and/or action. Provide regular opportunities to engage public in communication and forum.

Overall, align the Office of Hawaiian Affairs as the most powerful voice and action of the Native Hawaiian people. An equal among the highest of state entities including the Governor’s Office. Where subject to checks and balances like any other form of government. OHA’s management of public trust lands may not be hindered, questioned, attached or conditioned. It is the reason OHA exists, but is a shadow of that mission today.

3. What would you do to bridge the gaps within the Native Hawaiian community over issues like construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope or development of energy projects?

Provide education and disclosure for both sides. Initiate public forum on how to bring the two sides together (kukakuka). Facilitate the venue to do so (i.e., instead of constructing TMT, build a Native Hawaiian meteorology and astronomy cultural center). Have Space camp for young people and accredited degree courses for adults. Segue into applications for navigation (voyaging/Hokule’a), hurricane preparedness, astral calendars and everyday uses in ag and fishing, native cultural and religious education with access to Mauna Kea.

4. Do you support the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea? Why or why not?

No.  It is a sacred place. “Native Rights Matter.”

5. Do you support OHA providing financial aid to Mauna Kea protesters?

Yes. The keeping of sacred places is the keeping of a culture and its identity.

6. What role should the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands play in reducing homelessness?

It should be mandated that DHHL and OHA work together to put our Kanaka on the aina, in a hale, with a kuleana (ability to be self-sufficient).  DHHL works on designating the beneficiaries and putting in the infrastructure (as agreed by the three parties, i.e., Kahiki Nui, Maui) and OHA works on getting the beneficiaries on the aina, in a hale and started with a kuleana (as agreed by the three parties).

How would OHA facilitate this? With kokua in the financial process (education and preparation), building and permit process, partnerships with other Hawaiian groups such as Alu Like, Liliuokalani Trust Trust, Hoala, HOFA, Hawaii Farm Bureau, Sustainable Molokai, Maui Fishpond Association and Hui Malama Loko Ia  for vocational education and the opportunity to be sustainable. This is a picture of what could be regarding Hawaiian Home lands.

What about our other Kanaka who don’t qualify for DHHL? OHA should facilitate a class action lawsuit with any and all groups and entities that purpose the betterment of the Hawaiian people against the State of Hawaii, namely the Department of Land and Natural Resource, for illegal management and negligent use of public lands. One outcome would be to create a sovereign DLNR where a sovereign OHA should have direct management over? But until that day, OHA should have a direct access and management over public lands and if it is held by DLNR then OHA and the Kanaka Maoli should have carte blanc and first priority over the use of said lands (military and government use not to supersede). The state has its own lands it can designate for other than indigenous use and should be grateful that another entity (OHA) will step up as a major resource in the housing/homelessness crisis and more. 

7. Why do you think Hawaiians are disproportionately represented in our prisons and jails? What can be done about it?

I currently support the ACLU in keeping our Kanaka home, creating awareness for unfair and unequal treatment. Our culture is different than our colonizers’ and is very difficult to adapt to in the first place.  When we as native peoples can not, we find ourselves lost and in trouble and unable to navigate our way.  We succumb and/or become institutionalized. There are many studies on indigenous peoples and the effects I just mentioned. The system is designed that way so that we also lose our identity, assimilate into the “colony” and are easier to control. 

We go sovereign and police our own people? Communities should have the ability to effect consequences on lesser “wrongdoings” and hopefully (one day) all the way to the most capital offenses. Point being we take care of “ours.” We support the fallen by including them in the ohana, help them to realize the effect they have on their ohana, and showing them a more positive way to be a part and help their ohana.

Hooponopono would be a great start. What can/would a thief steal, or from who, if he is in Molokai, off the grid with a piece of land and a home, given the ability to farm kalo and fish the ocean to feed his family and kupuna? How would he react to learning the ways to be self sufficient and even being able to care for others, an important and valued member of his community? 

8. What are your views regarding Hawaiian self-determination?

I am pro self-determination. I am praying/fighting to see some form of it within my lifetime so I can give hope to our keiki and future generations.

9. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?

The Molokai and Lanai communities are made up of mana kanaka/strong individuals who have a first kuleana to malama our ohana and our pae aina. Molokai has a unique position of being a leader in community-based self-sufficiency and practicing stewards of our aina, we are also part of the ohana of responsible and sustainable agriculture in Maui County. We can help lead the way into the future by respecting the past and perpetuating our culture.

To “restart” Hawaii, first, we need to take care of Hawaii – the land and ocean. If we take care of our resources, they will take care of us and our future generations. COVID-19 has given us a few rare opportunities. It has allowed our resources to rebuild and replenish but still needs our help to be sustainable. It has also shown us what is not sustainable and that is our No. 1 industry — tourism. While the No. 1 industry cannot be replaced in a snap, we can start to modify and make changes right now, and possibly over a short period of time turn it into a viable, responsible, self-sustaining industry that will be positive for both visitor and host alike.

I strongly believe in the potential of eco-tourism in agriculture/aquaculture and that our land and people can thrive while we share and perpetuate our aloha. There are those that will say there is no way to replace the amount of money generated by tourism. And who makes that money? Not the people. But a community-based industry mostly goes to that community.