About the Author
Naka Nathaniel has returned to regular journalism after being the primary parent for his son. In those 13 years, his child has only been to the ER five times (three due to animal attacks.)
Before parenting, Naka was known as an innovative journalist. He was part of the team that launched NYTimes.com in 1996 and he led a multimedia team that pioneered many new approaches to storytelling.
On 9/11, he filmed the second plane hitting the South Tower. His footage aired on the television networks and a sequence was the dominant image on NYTimes.com.
While based in Paris for The New York Times, he developed a style of mobile journalism that gave him the ability to report from anywhere on the planet. He covered the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and was detained while working in Iran, Sudan, Gaza and China. He is one of a handful of Americans who has been in North Korea, but not South Korea. He worked in 60 countries and made The Times’s audience care about sex trafficking, climate change and the plight of women and children in the developing world.
Besides conflict, The Times also had Naka covering fashion shows, car shows and Olympics. He did all three of those events in the same week (Paris, Geneva and Turin) before going to Darfur to continue reporting on the genocide (it was the fifth of sixth trips to the region.)
Naka lives in Waimea on the Big Island and his writing for Civil Beat will initially focus on his reflections on moving home.
A report issued at the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement conference in Las Vegas summed it up using four birds as symbols.
LAS VEGAS — Talk about Hawaiian birds dominated discussions on Tuesday at the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement conference in Las Vegas to the point that it’s hard to avoid writing an avian cliche or a pun — but, I will spare the readers a trite introduction.
During a morning session, four leaders from the Hawaii Executive Collaborative (Duane Kurisu, Kamana’opono Crabbe, Micah Kane and Lynelle Marble) and former Gov. John Waihee shared their four scenarios for possible futures in Hawaii. Each of the scenarios was given the name of a bird: The iwa, the nene, the manu o ku and the ua’u.
The Hawaii Executive Collaborative, a business organization chaired by Kurisu, teamed with Reos Partners for a process called “Transformative Scenario Planning.” The process was inspired by the Mont Fleur Scenario Exercise, which was conducted in South Africa after the release of Nelson Mandela and the end of apartheid.
In 1991-1992, South African leaders were brought together to think creatively about possible futures for their still deeply divided country.
They settled on four plausible scenarios and gave them the names of birds: The ostrich symbolized what would happen if the country’s government continued to be nonrepresentative; the lame duck, in which the transition was slow and indecisive; the icarus, in which transition is rapid but the new government pursued populist economic policies; and the flight of the flamingos, in which the government’s policies are sustainable and the country took a path of inclusive growth and democracy.
Iwa is a great frigate bird whose appearance warns of incoming storms. In iwa, the structures of Hawaii’s governing system do not change, and access to power, influence and opportunity is increasingly controlled by those from outside. The nature of the economy is extractive, built around using the land, culture and people in Hawaii to drive economic profits. Iwa sees those who are benefiting under the current conditions continuing to benefit, while those who are currently struggling see their lot deteriorating.
Nene, the Hawaiian goose, is known to fly in pairs. In nene, Native Hawaiians seek and receive federal acknowledgement as Indian tribes and establish a government-to-government relationship with the United States. The term “Hawaiian” is defined as a person holding citizenship in the tribal government. Hawaiians in this scenario feel reconnected to land, and a subsistence economy emerges on Hawaiian lands. Nene enshrines existing tensions between the Native Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian communities in new structures.
Manu o ku, the white tern, is a native Hawaiian bird that thrives in both ocean and urban environments. In Manu o ku, the structures of Hawaii’s governing system do not change, and traditional Hawaiian values are increasingly embraced and embodied by leaders in business, politics and civil society. Manu o Ku sees access to power, influence, and opportunity being driven by those inside Hawaii. This widespread adoption of Hawaiian values fundamentally shifts how people and institutions in Hawaii engage with one another, and the term “Hawaiian” grows less fraught.
Ua’u, the Hawaiian petrel, guides voyagers to unknown lands. In ua’u, regulatory power and governing authority shift toward the individual states. A weakened federal government leads some states to leave the union, and Hawaii becomes its own sovereign nation. As an independent nation, Hawaii becomes a political and economic target for existing world powers. All citizens of the new nation are considered Hawaiian. ua’u occurs via a major shift in the longstanding international order, and contains the most uncertainty around Hawaii’s future.
The scenarios were accompanied by taglines: For iwa. it was Hawaii’s soul is lost; for nene, it’s Hawai’s soul is split in two; for manu o ku, it’s Hawaii’s soul is transformed; and for ua’u, it’s Hawaii’s soul is tested.
“In today’s world, we want to say, if I do these three things, this is the outcome that we’re going to have and (the scenario planning) is not that,” said Kane. “It is more about understanding the trajectory of our place and are the actions we are taking in alignment with one of those scenarios? And, if you don’t like that those actions are leading to that scenario then maybe you should rethink those activities. So it does force us to do a lot of self-reflection, especially if you have a higher degree of authority, and the decisions you make impact peoples’ lives.”
When the ua’u scenario was read aloud by Kurisu, Hilinai Son-Dudoit, a University of Hawaii Manoa political science doctoral student, gasped. He was bothered that it was the only scenario with a sovereignty pathway.
“Obviously everything is hypothetical, but they took a lot of liberties with the ua’u, more so than with the manu o ku,” he said. “The only feasible possibility of independence (in the ua’u scenario) is the dissolution of the federal government.”
Kahilo Keller, an ethnic studies student at UH Manoa, said the ua’u perspective was “the only one where sovereignty would be gained and it was with the United States collapsing.”
“Then a new (foreign) power, or multiple powers, would subject themselves onto Hawaii. I thought it was interesting that it was the only sovereignty route that they saw as realistic,” Keller added.
Michelle Ka’uhane, a member of the Rediscovering Hawaii’s Soul Core Steering Committee, said there was power in the process of scenarios.
“If you don’t like parts of one or you don’t like anything about any of them, you can ask yourself what are you doing to perpetuate the scenario that has the transformation that you want?” she said. “We each need to say to ourselves, what are we going to do to perpetuate the things that we want to happen?”
She also acknowledged to Kainoa Azama, 21, that a deficiency in the project was the lack of youth input for the scenarios.
“None of the scenarios seem to be in a position of abundance,” Azama said. “But as an opio (youth) watching how things are, there’s nothing I saw that would be a huge benefit to us.”
Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole brought the discussion of the scenarios into his panel on public policy.
“What I thought was fascinating and ultimately necessary and critical that they did is that they expanded the circle to non-Hawaiians, to people that are decision-makers and have influence and reach,” he said. “They put them all together and asked them what you think and they stepped away and that was the result of that conversation. I don’t know that anybody on Bishop Street in downtown Honolulu has actually been asked meaningfully about what they think about the kingdom and independence. But you saw that that was the number four scenario.”
Makaio Villanueva of Waianae said his visceral reaction to seeing the scenarios was hurt.
“I felt like federal recognition was being shoved on our throat,” he said. “They tried to frame it in a way where it’s different, but each one of these presented a scenario where we were always subject to another world power.”
The Reos team told Kane that this is one of the most complex projects they have worked on..
“It has generational issues, it has interracial issues because of the early influx of immigrants into Hawaii,” he said.
“You have people that have come to this place, six, seven generations, eight generations ago. They know no place other than this place as their home. And when you look out a thousand generations from now is the 30 generations difference between what one would say is we want our culture to have a presence here that guides this place forever.”
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