Facing a potential court battle that could go on for years, Na‘i Aupuni announced this morning that it will cancel the Native Hawaiian election and proceed to a four-week convention in February. All 196 Hawaiians who ran as candidates will be offered seats as delegates to the convention, or ‘aha, said Na‘i Aupuni President Kuhio Asam. “Our goal has always been to create a path so that Hawaiians can gather and have a serious and much-needed discussion about self-governance,” Asam said at a downtown Honolulu press conference this morning. “We anticipated that the path would have twists and turns and some significant obstacles, but we are committed to proceeding to the ‘aha where this long-overdue conversation can take place,” he said.
He said the board of the nonprofit Na‘i Aupuni — considering the delay it faces from a lawsuit that accused the election of being race-based — decided that the most effective route going forward would be to offer to convene all of the remaining delegate candidates and allow to organize and achieve Hawaiian self-governance.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 2 granted an injunction blocking the Na‘i Aupuni Hawaiian self-governance election while the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals considers the lawsuit challenging it.
“Clearly our lawsuit (Akina v. State of Hawaii) has brought an end to a discriminatory election,” Keli’i Akina, president/CEO of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, said in a statement. “Now, in a desperate move to bypass their failed election and ignore their voter base, Na‘i Aupuni is undercutting its own efforts to even look like a democratic process.”