Grassroot Institute Questions Na'i Apuni's Avoidance of the Democratic Process
Decision not to pursue ratification indicates lack of openness in nation-building effort
News Release from Grassroot Institute
HONOLULU, HAWAII--March 16, 2016--Today, the Grassroot Institute criticized the announcement from Na'i Aupuni that they do not intend to pursue a ratification vote on the constitution created through their "aha" (Constitutional Convention). Citing the organization's earlier decision not to recognize the election for "aha" delegates, the watchdog group asked why Na'i Aupuni appears so determined to avoid submitting it to a public vote.
"Despite their continued assertions that their actions are lawful and democratic, and that they are soliciting the full spectrum of opinions from the Native Hawaiian people, every decision Na'i Aupuni makes flies in the face of such claims," stated Keli'i Akina, Ph.D., President of the Grassroot Institute. "At this point, it is obvious that the state recognizes that it lacks the support of the Hawaiian people as well the citizens of the state as a whole. Otherwise, why would they continue to hide from a public vote?"
Dr. Akina continued: "After the millions that have been spent on the state's nation-building process, from the marketing and lobbying efforts to the aha, what do the Hawaiian people have to show for it? An unconstitutional race-based election effort and a 'constitution' that the state seems to want to wash its hands of. This represents a significant waste of funds that could have been better used on the projects that Hawaiians truly care about--like health care, job training, housing, and education. Perhaps it's time for Na'i Aupuni and the state to open their books and show some accountability to the Hawaiian people for this failed project."
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NAʻI AUPUNI DECIDES NOT TO PURSUE RATIFICATION VOTE
Education and Ratification of Native Hawaiian Constitution Best Pursued by Broad-based Group
News Release from Na’i Aupuni
HONOLULU – Naʻi Aupuni said today it would not be conducting a ratification vote on the proposed constitution produced by the recently completed ‘aha. It believes that the ‘aha participants, who represent a diverse and multigenerational cross section of the Native Hawaiian leaders from Hawaii, the North American Continent, Asia and Europe, or a similarly broad-based group, would be the entity to best advance the ratification vote and conduct the important process of educating our communities about the constitution.
“Na‘i Aupuni is appreciative of the participants who utilized the strength of our rich culture, the knowledge from our kupuna and the collective wisdom of the ‘aha to significantly advance Native Hawaiian unity. Na‘i Aupuni believes that it is the participants, those who prepared and voted on the document, that are best able to lead efforts in effectively sharing the proposed constitution with the community and ultimately arranging for a ratification process. The participants have evidenced a remarkable willingness and ability to identify leadership, build critical teams, and respectfully support the voices of many divergent opinions. It is for these reasons that we are deferring to the ‘aha participants to further advance their work,” said Kuhio Asam, president of Na‘i Aupuni.
Asam said that although the stated objectives of Naʻi Aupuni were to conduct an election, an ʻaha, and a ratification vote, the overarching goals were to provide an opportunity for Native Hawaiian leaders to exercise their inherent right to self-determination, to discuss self-governance options and, if they so decided, to develop a constitution that would unify and best serve the current and anticipated needs of Native Hawaiians.
Asam also said that although there were many hurdles along the path to the ‘aha, it produced more than a constitution. “The ‘aha generated a long overdue and significant dialogue among the participants and within the larger community. It is crucial that this conversation continues. The ‘aha also allowed leaders from the community to emerge, and created momentum for further educating the public about self-governance, the proposed constitution and nation building.”
Bill Meheula, legal counsel for Naʻi Aupuni, reviewed the actions taken along the way due to legal challenges. “From the beginning, we anticipated potential legal challenges and we currently continue to defend against the Grassroot lawsuit that is now before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals,” he added. “In addition, now that we cancelled the election and will not be conducting any ratification vote, Na‘i Aupuni contends that the appeal is moot and we are hopeful that the case will be eventually dismissed.”
Meheula also said that the estimated remaining grant funds of a little over $100,000, allocated to cover the cost of the ratification vote, would be returned to OHA. Na‘i Aupuni also plans to publicly publish an accounting of how the funds were spent.
Information on Naʻi Aupuni can be found on the website: naiaupuni.org.
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FH: They Chickened Out
SA: A group of convention participants launched a crowdfunding website Wednesday that aims to raise $2 million for the ratification process
HTH: The delegates themselves will be responsible for finding a way to arrange a ratification vote
AP: Native Hawaiian group won't hold vote to ratify constitution
BIN: Na’i Aupuni Will Not Pursue Ratification Vote
CB: Nai Aupuni Won’t Pursue Vote On Native Hawaiian Constitution