Editor’s note: Following is the transcription of an interview Big Island Chronicle editor and publisher Tiffany Edwards Hunt had with Rep. Faye Hanohano regarding the controversy she had during this session of the Hawaii State Legislature. House Speaker Josephi Souki reprimanded Hanohano for her attitude toward a Hawaii Pacific University environmental studies student and staff with the Department of Land and Natural Resources who have gone before her Ocean, Marine Resources and Hawaiian Affairs Committee. The interview was conducted Saturday, March 8, at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, within days after Souki announced Hanohano’s committee meetings will now be monitored.
David Corrigan, of Big Island Video News, and Baron Sekiya, of Hawaii247.com, both captured video footage of the BIC interview. The video is available on those sites and on bigislandchronicle.com. Hanohano has served three terms in the Legislature, representing Puna’s District 7. She is currently seeking a fourth term in office.
H: Good morning
TEH: I’m with Rep. Faye Hanohano and we are at here today at one of the most beautiful places on our beautiful island, at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, and we are gathered to discuss some recent events that have happened at the Hawai‘i State Legislature.You gave me a packet of information, thank you very much for this, to give me some background. And it looks like for this legislative session trouble began when a young man by the name of — it actually began on Feb. 12 with a letter that this young man, who’s an HPU student, is that correct?
FH: Yes, that is correct.
TEH: And he testified before one of your committees? Which committee was that?
FH: This is the Ocean Marine Resources and Hawaiian Affairs committee, and the discussion was on the shark, protecting the mano. And so when he came to testify he was really unprepared of what he was really saying, so I just needed clarification. So what he did, because I took interest in what his interest was, protecting the mano, I was trying to explain that we needed to know a lot of our history before we could you know do a protective clause for the mano because the mano is very important in our Hawaiian culture, whether it is somebody’s aumakua, somebody’s god, whether some people used it for a resource to make our pahoa, our clubs, our war clubs, or whether we even used it for food, our ma’am. So when I started to explain to him like what would happen if we protected the sharks and the shark took over the beach and he had no response. I mean, he was adamant that we really needed to protect it. So I just told the story, like, um, what if my tutu was so ono for shark, would I deprive her of the food that she grew up with. And tutu is in her 90s. I mean, it’s almost time for her to leave our beautiful home and go to a greater home and he just did not understand what I was saying to him and being that this was his first time testifying, I knew he wasn’t prepared. So, I tried to explain that all to him, and apparently he wasn’t listening, he said he felt offended, and he said I didn’t know anything about ocean marine resources, and here I’ve been living in these islands, born and raised in the Puna area, and we have a lot of coastal — and we do a lot of harvesting at the sea, whether it’s for limu, opihi, or fishing along the coastline, or even ikashibi (handline deep sea fishing) along the coastline. So, I mean for him to make statements like that in his email, is so hewa, it’s so wrong, it needs to be corrected. So, I’m glad I have the opportunity to explain myself of what really happened there. And if he had listened and taken to heart the lessons that were being given to him, he would have left the committee in a better spirit, as a more fulfilling and educational student. But apparently he decided to hide behind his email and send information that he perceived to be correct.
TCEH: This is his name: Lewis Edward Aaron Jacobs, and he says he is in the field of environmental studies. He wrote to our representatives on Feb. 12. Less than a week later, the director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, William Aila —
TEH: … wrote to the honorable House Speaker Joseph Souki, and he alleged his own list of allegations against you —
FH: Yes, and a lot of this allegations, if you look at it, out of the five, two have invalid dates. And if you look at it, the signature signing off for him is his deputy director, Esther Kiaaina, and my understanding when I requested information from Mr. Aila, if you know he had leaked out this information to the media, and I have a copy that says he hasn’t leaked it out. So, a lot of this information that the media has been gathering is generated from, I can only presume from the House Majority leadership and our communications director Carolyn Tanaka.
TEH: Um, I was going to ask you about William Aila’s allegations, but along those lines, since you believe that information is being leaked out —
TEH: …the House speaker or communications director, do you kinda feel like you’re involved in a witch hunt of some sort?
FH: Yes, I definitely do.
TEH: Why and what do you think is the motivation?
FH: I think people are just — Hawaiians would say maka’u, afraid. It’s because when I start to speak in English and Hawaiian, or Hawaiian and English, and I flow into both of them, because I do understand both sides, and people don’t understand actually what I’m actually saying, and even if I don’t translate for you, because our language is so rich you need to go to the deeper land. It’s what we call hohonu. But a lot of times a lot of these people are papa’u, so shallow that they don’t get the message.
TEH: Hawaiian language is filled with double entendres, it’s how I would describe them.
FH: Yes, it’s what we call the kauna.
TEH: And if you read through William Aila’s complaints, it’s kind of along the same lines as —
FH: He has a double standard, because he’s saying I need to explain to his administrators what I meant especially when I was speaking in my mother tongue, olelo moku hini, and it is very double standard because I have seen chairperson Aila at blessings and events where he does ‘olis and it’s never translated. So now he wants me to translate for his administrators. So, I did introduce a resolution for him to train, for the head of the DLNR, to train their administrators in Hawaiian history, Hawaiian language, so they would have a better understanding and a better focus of our `aina and our na waiwai, our land and our resources, because this is what their kuleana is. They’re responsible for all our natural resources, our lands, and our waters. But when you don’t have a deeper understanding of our Hawaiian perspective lens, then it’s hard to really get your kuleana done to achieve a better standard and move Hawaii to a better place.
TEH: It seems as if you — if you step away from the complaints themselves and look at the overriding theme, it seems as if you have been misunderstood, like, as if maybe, and this is where I want to get your point of view, you’re in an effort to educate people about Hawaiian history and Hawaiian culture? Is that where you’re coming from when this tension is happening?
FH: When I’m explaining things, when I’m clarifying things — but it’s unfortunate that a lot of these people we hire, they’re not from — they’re not born and raised here, one. They come from what we call `aina e, the mainland, and they come with more western perspectives. So, they do not come with the native, indigenous lens. So, when they’re looking at the same things, like, we both can look at a rock. The western person would say, ‘it’s just a rock.’ A Hawai`i person would say, ‘oh, a pohaku,’ you know, and they would have a relationship. And this is what the western lens does not have the pilina, the relationship with everything around us, because an indigenous person would place themselves right in the center and look at everything around them. The wai lani (rain water). Our skies (lani). The waikele, our forest lands, our wai kai, our sea, and what we would do is work with the resources. We would not try to change it. So, when they’re talking about climatic change today, I have a hard time with it because there is nothing we can do to change mother nature. We can prevent — all the preventative measures — but that’s already been proven because in the 1960 lava flow in Kapoho they built dikes to prevent the lava from flowing. And being that this a mother nature force and being a mother also myself, we’re going to do what we need to do for survival. So, the lava flow will never be stopped by a dike. And they also did it in one of the lava flows up on the Hilo side, the Mauna Loa flow. And, so, when we talk about climatic changes or changes to our seas, our rising seas, and what’s happening in the world, I really have a hard time with it, because people need to adapt to what’s happening around instead of trying to change it. Because when you do a lot of changes, especially ecosystems, like how you want to change, like to protect the mano in the ocean, now what happens to the other species in the ocean? What happens to us as human beings, or kanaka maolis? What happens to our sustainability, or our enjoyment at the beach, we want to aukai (swim) because we need our exercise physically and mentally. We go down there to meditate so can clear our mind of all the he was in this world. And we can come back to our state of maluhia, of finding ourself in a loving and peaceful world where we all need to be. But people today haven’t even gotten to that point. And also in our Hawaiian perspective, the golden rod is to be a kanaka makua, and a kanaka makua that is one who is very mature in everything and it doesn’t matter what the age is. It’s like, today people are always calling me a kupuna. And I’m always telling them, ‘no, I’m not there.’ But they tell me I’m a kupuna, because of the wealth of iki and knowledge I have that puts me there in their status. But for me, because of my age, it’s 60 right now, I don’t consider myself a kupuna. And if I’m doing a lot of outreach work in teachings and stuff, that’s part of me, because in our Hawaiian culture we’re very accepting, we’re very accommodating, and I can always remember as a young girl we were always inviting people over to eat. And I used to tell my mom, ‘Why are you inviting them over to eat? You haven’t prepared anything.’ And then she goes, ‘that’s okay.’ And then she starts. We have the conversation with the people. Then she starts to prepare the food. After the food is done, then we all eat together. This is how we establish pilina, our relationship with people, and once we know who are neighbors are, then, at least we know our kauhale e, our village. And it will be a better place to be, because everyone is living in lokahi, harmony. Everybody is at their maluhia state, at peace and loving. So, this is what it’s all about. It’s the expressions of really maluhia, of living lovingly and peacefully. And if we’re going to do big decisions, we need to come from that point of view and we need to be at that state, instead of having all the emotions running, where we tend to not do sound decisions. So, that’s how you get a lot of the hewa, a lot of the wrongful type of decisions.
TEH: You received, um, a disciplinary action from the House speaker, Joseph Souki. He — they’re now monitoring, or saying they’re going to be monitoring your committee meetings as a result of your —
FH: Yes, but that’s not true because I just had an informational briefing on Wednesday, March 5, 9 o’clock, I had the informational briefing on ‘opihi, and then at 10, I had an informational briefing on OHA, and there was no one from the speaker’s office or from the House Majority leadership who was there to monitor. However, before that, I always had this other person, CJ Leong, coming in to monitor. So I used to just laugh it off and tell people, ‘oh, we have a babysitter, a kahu keiki.’
TEH: Do you feel like, well, they’re not following through with what they’re saying?
FH: Yes, I certainly do. And I did not sign for the letter. I refused to sign it. I did write that it was unacceptable and it was one-sided.
TEH: There was actually a proposed House resolution to censure you. And do you know who put forth this resolution?
FH: That was put forth from leadership by Speaker Souki and Majority Leader Scott Saiki. And for your information Mr. Jacobson is a constituent of Majority Leader Scott Saiki.
TEH: Oh, this Jacobs boy.
FH: And so on the letter from DLNR, it was at the request of leadership, that asked DLNR to send in the letters and the complaints.
TEH: Okay, so where do you feel like you fell on the other side of the House Majority?
FH: Well, what happened was I had some colleagues that was unhappy about the beach bill. So, we had made a decision and it got deferred on the first reading. Then, later on, the chair of water, land, Rep. Evans, brought up the bill again and she had asked me to re-sign it if I wanted to redo the decision making. And we can do that, and I told her no. Then she went to my vice speaker, Rep. Cullen, and he also declined to sign off it, so then she ended up with our vice speaker John Mizuno, who signed off, but he didn’t really know all of the details. So we did, they did schedule decision-making on that bill again, and then at that decision making I was not there due to the fact that I was hosting Office of Hawaiian Affairs — because this was Jan. 31, and I was hosting them for their informational briefing and they were also having a fellowship with all of the legislators— it was a meet and greet. Since I was the hostess, I needed to be there. I mean, of course, a hostess never leave the party, right? Or the event. I mean, that would be so ungracious from a Hawaiian perspective.
TEH: So, what happened after John Mizuno signed the bill for Cindy Evans?
FH: And then it did get that hearing on that same day on Jan. 31.
TEH: Did you end up exchanging words with Cindy Evans?
FH: No, I did not exchange no words with Rep. Evans. I only talked to my vice chair Rep. Cullen because he came up for advice. And I told him, ‘Well, you do what your na‘ao tells you, you move by what your true feelings are going to be about the bill.’ And he told me he was not in concurrence with the House Draft 1. So I said, ‘well, then you would have to defer the matter on the side of the ocean marine resources as the vice chair,’ since I wasn’t able to assist him in the decision-making. So he did that, and then that same day, Friday, after our session, I see an interaction between Rep. Evans and Speaker Joe, and then lo and behold on Monday, this is Feb. 3, I have Speaker Souki approaches me down in the chambers before our session and he tells me that, why am I not being a team player, or talking story with the other chair, and I said, ‘Speaker, what are you talking about? I don’t understand what you’re saying.’ And he says, ‘Oh, your committee is giving me a headache.’ And I’m like, ‘Really?’ So, I asked him what was the problem, so he didn’t express himself anymore. But apparently to his choice of words he had already chosen sides. And he didn’t listen to what I had to say, and because I really come from the really Hawaiian perspective on how to mitigate conflicts, I would have, for me, as a leader, I would have brought everybody to the table and discussed what was the major issue and why does the bill have to be passed out and then later on they keep telling me, oh, I need to sign off on the committee report. And then I refuse to sign off on the committee report and then later on they tell me, ‘the bill needs to pass out, can you just defect the date?’ And I says, ‘No, I cannot do that, because that would be wasting taxpayers’ money and time.’ So I just stood my ground because, for me, that was pono. And I felt good in my decision-making after weighing out all of the facts. Because I’m a really detailed person. And I really look at all of the facts before I make my decision.
TEH: What was it about that beach bill that really set you off, that you didn’t like it?
FH: The beach bill set me off because, when Rep. Evans decided to define beaches as including submerged lands. She had no jurisdiction in that area. Submerged lands belong to the public. And that’s in our State Constitution. And also another trigger on that bill was that we have to remember, we’re island states, so all of our islands are impacted. So, we can never have policies that’s one size fits all. So, it’s not conducive — So, I had concerns about my cliffs, my lava cliffs, were they going to be considered as beaches? Because the bill was just going to deny people from smoking their cigarettes. So, to me, that piece didn’t make sense and we could have done it better on an outreach educational line, where we could have gone into the schools and educated our K through 12 students and they could go home and deliver the message to their parents — because their parents are the only ones at age to buy cigarettes.
TEH: You know, as I’m listening to all this, I see that there seems to be a trend at the Legislature that your bucking up against where they kinda want the Big Island delegation to scratch each other’s backs. And if you don’t really go with your colleague here on the Big Island’s legislation then you’re not considered a team player, but here you are standing on the principle that you don’t like the bill.
FH: Well, I don’t like the bill because it doesn’t benefit the people. Because I’m elected by the people and I work for the people. I’m not working for the colleague that is my counterpart. I mean, that’s irrelevant. And that bill would have jeopardized the Puna people, because of the cliffs and because of submerged lands.
TEH: But they’re saying you’re not a team player because you’re not willing to sit down with her and try to make her bill work.
FH: Well, it works both ways. People need to come to terms and take away all the emotions and come to the table, like I said, in a loving and peaceful way and we can move forward to ho‘oponopono, make it correct, and then we can have better, sound decisions.
TEH: Going back a little bit to the last session, you were in the news about the art in the public places —
FH: Well, that was also mischaracterized —
TEH: Yeah, well, here’s an opportunity to clarify.
FH: The content was not about people. It was about the people that did, that they had used to create the arts, you know, to the collection. And a lot of these people weren’t really connected to Hawaii. They were only connected because they were here, you know whether they were visiting or whether they had a position at the university, you know, as a professor or as a chancellor, so they got to be the ones that were juried to do the arts. And so when I was looking for Native Hawaiian artists, a lot of our other artists I found were not juried because the criteria for them is hard to get. Because they have to participate in a lot of different exhibits to qualify and the Culture and the Arts does not provide that opportunity for our Kanaka Maoli artists to get that opportunity, so they can get classified as juried. And also the inventory at Culture and the Arts is not, you know, it needs to be updated, because they’re still using typewriters and carbon papers to do their work. It’s not even digitalized. And if you go to them and ask them for a specific piece, the first thing that will come out of their mouth is, ‘we don’t have it.’ And then you send them off to go look for it and indeed they do have it. Because they have it in storage, but because their inventory is not fluid, where you could just put in the number and see where the location is, it’s not even up to that par. So, for me, we need to do a two-year moratorium to upgrade the systems instead of buying more arts, because we are running out of places to, storage. Which is more important? Updating the inventory, or buying more arts and storing it? And yet they said, you know, the people who came to me, you know, when they mischaracterized me, it was so funny because, even if I used the word ‘jap,’ you know, which is prevalent in my, you know, local community — everybody understands but they don’t get offended, and, you know, just for clarity, I am Japanese, so, I mean, and then even the word ha’ole, I am Caucasian. So, how can I be a racist against myself? So, racist is only a word used when they want to mask their real self of being a racist. So they use the word, because racist doesn’t even exist in my category, I’m sorry.
TEH: Correct me if I’m wrong, but it appears that ever since that incident last session, you’ve been really making a point of trying to make a point.
FH: Right. And all I’m trying to do is educate people, so I do not be misunderstand. And I follow all of the protocol of our House leadership, Speaker Souki, Rep. Saiki, of apologizing and all of that, and yet I still get thrown under the bus. Media, instead of letting it bring to closure, they don’t, because they need news to sell their wares, whether it’s video, whether it’s the television, whether it’s the magazines, whether it’s the newspapers, so, you know, I had the opportunity to do, Ka Hui Lalo O Ka La, the Hawaiian word of the day, so I did one of the words called, maha oi, which means ‘rude.’ So, I used it in a sentence, and I said, ‘Maha oi na kanaka nupepa,’ ‘the reporters are rude.’ And that was so fitting. Because they are. And they’re only here to get a story, nothing more. They don’t care about your integrity. They don’t care about your dignity. If they can strip you, they would rape you right in front of the cameras. So, right now, I have no trust in these people. And I’m glad I have a good friend like Tiffany Edwards who understands where I’m coming from, plus she’s one of my constituents and she took the time to at least understand what’s really happening and clarifying a lot of the things that have been done in the past. And we don’t need another overthrow of government.
TEH: So, how do you feel like you can assure your constituents that you represent everyone and not just the Hawaiians?
FH: Oh, I do represent everyone. If you look at my track records, I have passed out a bill in human trafficking, passed out some bills in our kupuna, our keiki caucus, our women’s caucus, contraceptives, even passed out Muslim Day, I mean, I’m just very progressive in a lot of things I’ve done. Plus, also when we came up with the Public Land Development Corporation, I was of nine of my colleagues that voted it down. So, it passed out in, you know, in 2012, and then last session, in 2013, we removed it and repealed it. And I did have a repeal bill during 2012, which I had stuck into another open, because the title was broad, I could stick it in. And it went to Fin (Finance), but Fin wasn’t ready to repeal it and then after the fact to find out all of the facts of whys. So — you know, for me, if people are true to themselves, they’re transparent and accountable, and they give me all the right facts, and none of these kind of shenanigans, then I can make sound decisions. But when people try to feed you lies, or half truths, it’s very hard for us as legislators to make sound decisions. So, a lot of times, when my colleagues vote, a lot of them don’t know what they’re voting for. But if you watch me on Olelo TV you will see me standing up for a lot of kanaluas, which is reservations, only because there’s a lot of work to be done, or there’s some facts that have been left out. Or, if I go on a straight kakou a’ole, which is no, it will mean that I did vet out all of the point of views and found that the bill would not benefit all of the people of Hawaii. Or, sometimes the bill is just self interest groups. Or, sometimes because the finance value of that policy increases, like how they had increased vehicle registrations, which I did not vote up on. You can check my records. There’s a lot of things. I’m just one of those legislators that vote for the people, vote really for the people. I don’t want you to spend more, waste our tax monies, when we could be feeding the homeless, be clothing the keiki that really need some clothes or they need some medical help. It’s not about me. I have no agenda. This is really about the future generations that are coming. Na mamo.
TEH: As a kanaka makua, you did mention you would like to see the Department of Land and Natural Resources get better training as far as Hawaiian culture and Hawaiian cosmology. Would you like to see the other departments, as well, take on that kind of training?
FH: Well, they all need to. They all need to do that. And OHA has been giving classes through some of the grants to our Richardson Law School. And I did attend one of those workshops in January. That’s why I couldn’t attend the opening of our Hawaiian Language Building (Ka Haka ‘Ula o Ke‘elikolani). So I was at Richardson and we did discuss water issues, land issues, iwi kupuna burials, and kingdom laws that have been brought forth into our constitution. And customary traditional rights, Article 12 Section 7.
TEH: You wrote a statement regarding the disciplinary action by the House leadership and you ended it recalling your once good relationship you had with the chair, Joseph Souki, on his committee of transportation, when you served on that committee. And you said, ‘He was a man who understand the importance of protecting this House as an institution and the necessity of setting aside petty politics for the public good. How times have changed, Speaker Souki. And how disappointed I am.’ Where are we going from here?
FH: Well, for me, you know, I have already set all of this, I call it, ‘opala, rubbish, to the side. I mean, I already brought closure to all of it, because, as long as I am in my state of maluhia, and lokahi, and being pono with who I am, it doesn’t matter where I go, because it’s only for the good.
TEH: Do you feel like you’ll be able to continue to work with your colleagues?
FH: Of course, I’ve been just working, because yesterday alone, I think I produced about 10 different resolutions.
TEH: How are you able to, I guess, from your point of view, transcend the pettiness when everyday there seems to be a new —
FH: It doesn’t matter to me, for me, pettiness, if they want to be (Ho‘okamali‘i), and be childish, that’s fine. They choose the path. I choose the path of being ke ala pono, the right path. And to just be who I am. And I’m not going to change for nobody, because I am an elected official and I’m here for the people and to do the work of the people and in their best interest of everything that I have done for the people.
So, I have no regrets of what have happened. It’s just that, you know there’s miscommunications and leadership shouldn’t have been responsible for creating these chaotic situation, which they could have done. Because we really don’t have really good leadership, alaka‘i, if we can mold better alaka‘i for the future, and I think that’s something Department of Education might be able to do with our kamali‘i, our children, that are growing up and having more role models and also, well, because I’m really into the Hawaiian, for me, it’s like `onipa‘a, being steadfast, and kulia i ka nu’u, strive for the highest, I mean I live those models. You know, people say it, but they don’t live it. A lot of these olelo loi au, these proverbs, wise sayings, you know, I truly live it. And I truly live a lot of the values that are expressed, the values of lokahi, the values of everything that makes me who I am. These are my makana (gifts) from my ancestors.
TEH: So, the opposite of pono, absolute correctness, is kala, right?
FH: Yes, and then there’s only two things in life, really. Either you’re going to be a western world, which is about the kala, the money, the ‘anunu, the greed, the corporate world, the ho’okuku, the competitiveness, the lili, the jealous. So we need to transcend into kanaka maoli, which is all about being pono, being at your state of maluhia, being lokahi. I mean, all the positive values that we should all be living today. And that’s what it’s all about.
TCEH: So, do you feel like a lot of this is getting lost in translation, maybe?
FH: Well, it doesn’t matter, because the people that don’t get it, the po’e nalowale, that are lost, they’ll be lost, until they find who they truly are. And a lot of people, um, don’t have a self-identity, they don’t know who they are. They don’t know where they’re going, because, in order to do that, you have to pono with oneself. If you’re not pono with yourself, if you don’t find your maluhia early, then you can never assist others, because all of these other wrongful doings, these hewas, are going to just keep you back, because you are not open and you haven’t brought closure to things that should have been, you know, corrected, early. And there are people that take their grief and the emotions to the grave without bringing closure. And that’s really tragic.
A good example is like, we have children who go into Kamehameha Preschools. And then they try to get into the kindergarten. And it’s really tragic because they treat the children like they’re a number, they give them these westernized testing, and because the child doesn’t meet the westernized testing, they get rejected. And yet they are part of Pauahi’s kamali‘i, children! Na pua o ka — you know, of Pauahi! And I just don’t get it. And I did express that to Kamehameha Schools and, of course, you know, they’re trying to defend it. But the problem is, a lot of our Native Hawaiians that get educated, they’re not immersed enough to assist their own people, which is a tragic, because they become so westernized, and they forget that there’s other best practices that prevailed here, before they were even born.
TEH: So, do you feel like a ho‘oponopono is in order here?
FH: Well, that would be great, we should come to the p?kaukau (table) and k?k?k?k? (confer) and throw away all the ‘opala. But like I said, I already did all mine. So, I’m okay, I don’t know about them. If they’re still taking me home, that’s fine. That’s their So why we so ha oe and going to fight somebody else’s war? . I’m moving on, holomua already. I’m ola.
TEH: Ola is what? You’re okay?
FH: I’m okay, I’m healthy, I brought closure.
TEH: Is there any other point that you want to get across to the people of Hawaii, or even your constituency?
FH: Yes, I would like to get the point across that if you’re somebody new who have come here, like the malihini. It’s really important to immerse yourself, you can be part of the community. You shouldn’t come here with values that you think is right, but was already vetted here. That’s why we don’t do those practices. Or, you need to understand that you are malihini. You cannot become a kama‘aina. And the real question is going to be this: are you going to die here? Are you going to be a stakeholder here? Are you going to be committed to our lands? Because this is the most beautiful place on earth. And we should be the state of maluhia. The state of aloha. The state of lokahi. These are profound values that’s in our indigenous culture, the host culture. And people shouldn’t just be using the host culture and says, ‘Oh, we had a good Hawaiian experience.’ But what is it? What is a good Hawaiian experience? Is it because you had fun at the — drinking mai tais, fun playing the ukulele, fun dancing, or you had good memories? But what is that real memory? So, when you came here, did you leave Hawaii in a better state? Or, did you make it worse? That’s the question for all of them. So, are you here to contribute to make it a better place to live? Or, are you coming here to break up what we have?
TEH: We’re reaching the conclusion of our interview… The only other question I have, after you say that, it’s a good ending note. We have such a transient community in Puna. And, so, I understand the message you’re giving them. But what should they know about you, if they are registered voters, with that point of view. Can you still represent them, who may be one of those takers?
FH: I do represent all of the people.
TEH: Yeah, but it’s almost as if you’re in the position where you need to educate them, you cannot just allow them to take.
FH: Yeah, and if I didn’t care about them I wouldn’t educate them, I would just let them hang, try to figure out, and there will just be more mental health problems on the streets. That’s what’s going to happen. And we haven’t given enough monies for that type of programs. And I keep pushing for more of these services, because we, you know, like, our population in the prisons, in the facilities, in the correctional facilities are too high. Plus, Native Hawaiians are high. But we haven’t done our job in public safety, because we haven’t treated our people with dignity and also healed their broken spirits. That’s what it’s all about.
TEH: In a way, do you feel like you’re helping to mend these people’s broken spirits by referring to the Hawaiian language on a regular basis on the floor, on the House floor?
FH: Yes, because it brings back the true values of what it was like before colonization, the invasion of outsiders.
TEH: And do you feel like people mostly supportive of the position that you’ve taken?
FH: Yes, because I can be walking all over the place, and I’ll get somebody that give me a compliment, ‘thank you for standing up for us.’ I mean, yesterday, that was happening all day, and people I don’t even know.
TEH: Well, thank you so much for taking the time to sit with us.
FH: Well, thank you for taking the time to let me present my side of the story, because all of the other medias did not do it. They tried to put things in that’s not there, which is kinda crazy because I’m so up front. And, you know, I only can talk the truth, so when somebody tries to put the spin of what I say, it really upsets me, one, but then it doesn’t quite bother me because I know that they’re there to make money, because I know they’re operating in the western lens, and in not the very loving manner, so —
David Corrigan, Big Island Video News: And only in a minute, 30 (seconds) too. How can you get across in a minute, 30, that’s the rule of thumb. Or, two minutes.
FH: Or, two minutes, yeah, right.
DC: If they give you two minutes, that’s a big deal.
FH: And it’s too short a time.
DC: Too short, they have to cut your interviews off.
FH: Right. The interview and you show only what you want to show, because it’s the perspective you believe to be the truths.
TEH: Well, you do make a point about the predators, like they want to strip you bare. That seems to be kind of along the lines of human nature, or at least the westernized thinking of tearing people down.
FH: Yeah, and in the Hawaiian way, it’s to bring everybody together, so everybody can coexist. It’s not to have this bickering and this pilikia and this fighting, because it does not accomplish anything. Why do you think we have wars? So I get upset when people talk about wars, because all of my moms’ brothers, four brothers, went to war. My dad went to war. My two brothers served also. And yet it’s not our war. So why we so ha oe and going to fight somebody else’s war? Because the United States told us we had to? No.
TEH: Do you feel like we’re in America right now?
TEH: Do you feel like we’re in an occupied state?
FH: We’re still in an occupied state. And people need to know that.
TEH: How is it that you’re able to go in and serve in the State Legislature when truly you don’t believe this is America?
FH: It doesn’t matter about patron-ism or what people call the American way. It’s just that, we just have the respect. See from the indigenous point of view, we accommodate. We accept what it is, till we can fix it. So, for me, it’s okay to operate in both worlds. It’s just that a lot of people cannot do that. They get confused, because, they get all that emotional that keeps them down.
TEH: It seems that, as you’ve matured as a legislator, you’ve gotten more like the rearing bronco, like, ‘okay, I’m not going to allow this rodeo continue where I am this —
FH: the dog and pony show.
TEH: Right, I totally get your point of view as far as going into the State Legislature and seeing everything so westernized and yet feel in your heart of hearts that this is not truly how —
FH: It should be.
TEH: It should be. Okay. And, so, are you going to maybe suggest the ho‘oponopono, or —?
FH: Well, actually, the solution for that. We gave them the solution, where leadership needs to be accountable for their actions. But when people try to defend themselves and hide behind a person, for the person to be a scapegoat, that’s unacceptable. Not in my books.
TEH: So you’ll just continue to run your committee meetings, with or without a monitor and — ? Okay, see where it goes.
FH: I’ll just continue to do the work that I was elected for. Because I’m pretty sure a lot of the other communities, the other districts, would probably like to have a representative like me, because I’m speaking for them, you know. And I’m not afraid to say what I need to say. But a lot of people are, because of election year. And whether I get elected or not, it doesn’t matter to me, because I already done what I needed to do. I completed my career, I’m already on retirement. I actually can just sail away. I have assets, that, if I wanted to leave today, you know, and (leave) Hawaii, and can go and go live on one island.
TEH: Do you feel like you want to seek re-election?
FH: I am, I already put in my paperwork. And we’ll let the people decide.
TEH: I guess your last statement can be misinterpreted, like you don’t want to continue. You’re kinda ready to retire.
FH: The statement was just to be said that, I don’t really have to be in this arena. But I choose to be here, only because this is my giving back to the community that has supported me for the least 60 years.
TEH: So we can expect you to continue to be in your essence of really advocating for the Hawaiian, the renaissance, basically, Hawaiian culture.
FH: And for our lack of infrastructures and services in Puna, basically, like for example, the Booster Club that needs to be created, that’s another thing I’m working on. There’s a lot of things that I’ve been working on —
TEH: Helping to lay the foundation.
FH: There’s a lot of things I have laid the foundation. That’s why we’re going to open up Kulani Correctional Facility and we’re going to use the ho’oponopono program, because when I was chair of public safety, that was one of my priorities. And then when they started to close it down I had my big fight about not closing it down. Luckily, we changed in to a different governor, so now we have the opportunity to reopen it. And I told them in the beginning it wasn’t conducive for children to be there, because it was far away, no medical services, too cold. But were these adults listening? No. But I lived there 25 years, so you doubting me? Because I worked three watches, you know. Through the midnights and all, the frosts on the ground. And the coldness. And the wind. And, you know, all the different weathers. But when people are not listening, then they don’t care.
DC: Do you support the pu‘uhonua idea for that place?
FH: Yes, I do. But they should be run by somebody who truly believes in it. But now we have all these what they call ulinas, all these plastics, trying to act like it’s a pu‘uhonua. And then the program — You know, so we need to really monitor very well from the beginning. Plus I know there’s going to be challenges with the administration, because I’ve already got the phone calls. And I get some people asking me, are you going to go back there? Well, you know, that’s going to be a big decision for me. It depends where I want to be.
TEH: Well, again, thank you for taking the time to sit with us and take so much, um, time to explain your perspective. We really appreciate you.
FH: Thank you for taking the time too, and for letting me express myself.