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The Stories of COVID-19 – Jasmyne Kaleimakana Lewis

The Stories of COVID-19
Jasmyne Kaleimakana Lewis

Over the past year, Covid-19 has been affecting people all over the world in many different ways. Particularly in Hawai‘i, job loss is evident in the tourism industry as it reveals how Covid-19 has had a tremendous impact on all aspects of life to the people of Hawai’i over the past year. Additionally, the sudden and dramatic changes resulting from Covid-19 have led to an increase in trauma and mental health issues. Over the past months, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Davianna McGregor, Professor of Ethnic Studies and Director at the Center for Oral History, interviewing people to document their experiences in and what they’ve learned through the COVID-19 pandemic. In preserving these stories, my hope was that participants would feel a sense of healing when they shared their stories with me and that it gave hope for a better future.

The individuals that I interviewed either lived in Hawai’i, or grew up here, and what I found was not surprising as it was a mixture of things. At first, I did not grasp just how much people’s lives and well-being were changed in so many different ways. Yet, all these stories made me realize the magnitude that the pandemic also has on people. It made me realize that stories much like our lives should be cherished in the present day as well as in the future because they are a part of history.

What follows are several stories highlighting some of the ways that Covid-19 has impacted the people of Hawai’i. From immigration status to changing social relations, to living with the virus. While sharing the experiences of these individuals, these stories paint a picture of what so many in Hawai’i have been living through over the past year.

Immigration Status

Anis Hamidati, a student from Jakarta, shared with me how tough it is to have to travel during the Coronavirus when she had to travel back to Jakarta from Hawai’i when the virus began here around March, 2020. She is an international student at the University of Hawaiʻi studying education, and she said, “As much as I love Hawaiʻi, there are so many uncertainties as an international student that on top of being a normal student living during the pandemic, we continue to worry about our immigration status.” What I found interesting was that she had no power over what she could do. In a way, she had to go home because that’s all that she had left, and what makes the Coronavirus and immigration so serious is that in the time of great panic she knew that her only option was to go home. That’s the big thing with Coronavirus— that your options are narrowed as you have to do what is safe and what’s best for your circumstance. Anis went on to say in her interview, “I don’t think I’ve lived in a place that has harsher or more difficult immigration status.” This surprised me because when you think about it, the US is one of the most powerful countries in the world yet when it comes to immigration it’s very difficult. I appreciate Anis and found her message powerful. Even though she’s not here in the Hawaiʻi, she is still working for her doctorate and hopes to return soon.

Mental Health

Caroline Koa from Kaneohe has experienced difficulties since the start of COVID-19. Her husband lost his job working in the travel industry and is unable to receive unemployment at this time. She receives unemployment and her daughter is a full-time teacher so they are living off of the daughter’s salary. The daughter has a baby who is still breastfeeding and they all live together. What’s hard about this situation is that Mrs. Koa has to watch her granddaughter now that the daughter is working full-time and she has noticed significant changes in the granddaughter’s social skills and interactions.

Koa says her daughter “has regressed socially. She’s timid and she’s afraid of staying… you know strangers. I mean, at this age, it is not uncommon for babies to, you know, be wary of strangers and to be afraid of new people. But she was just getting to that place where she was kind of interested in what other kids were doing and wanting to go and look and see what they were doing and play with them. But now she just, you know, leaves her head in our neck and or our chest and doesn’t even want to look at strangers.” Because Mrs. Koa’s daughter works at school, she had to make sure that it was safe for her to be around her child. Mrs. Koa stated, “The baby’s too young to understand that, no, you cannot come to Mommy right now. So she can’t even see her mom till the mom has decontaminated.” It’s heartbreaking to see a child, who does not even know what is going on, have to learn how to cope with not being able to play with other kids or even go outside.



The effects of Covid-19 have been impacting children on their education and social interaction. Lai‘kū Morales from Kūnia has especially missed his classmates and friends at school. He is in the second grade and from March 2020 he has been attending school on Zoom. Since the start of quarantine, he has started a drawing book and throughout our interview, he showed me various drawings and paintings he has made throughout his time at home. What I found particularly interesting about his interview is the childhood innocence that remains in him. Though he knows that Covid is serious, he tries to get through it the best he can by drawing what is happening in his life and around him. As a seven-year-old, he has had to adjust to life online with no social interaction, and even for adults, this has been challenging. Yet, he remains happy and optimistic about the pandemic and that he will be going back to school soon.

When I asked him what he wished he could do, he replied, “What I wish? I wish I could go bowling.” This made me laugh, because it’s something that adults would not even think about, a seven-year-old child is wishing to go bowling. Lai‘kū’s interview was different in that it made me think back to when I was a child and the joy I found in the little things. Now putting your childhood self in Lai‘kū’s shoes it is both sad and scary to think about all the missed opportunities that he and many other children may be experiencing right now.

A Positive Case

At the start of the pandemic in the United States, New York was one of the major hotspots. Susie Liang and her husband both live in Brooklyn, and though she does not live in Hawai’i, her parents live on Oʻahu. Before the pandemic, she tried to visit as often as she could. However, at the time when Covid-19 began, their neighborhood was hit pretty hard. They did not physically leave their apartment for five months unless they were getting groceries. Since they both worked from home, they figured it was for the best. Unfortunately in March, Susie and her husband began to feel sick. Explaining her symptoms she said, “We felt like we had a cough and we had some symptoms but mild and then I mean we called for a test and they didn’t call us back until two weeks later which we thought we weren’t even gonna test positive because after two weeks it doesn’t make sense but I did [test positive] and so he had the same exact symptoms as me but he tested negative. So we deduced that he did have it.” Though her husband tested negative it was presumed that he also had Covid. This was the first interview I had where an interviewee had Covid, and in truth, it revealed to me how unpredictable this virus was. The interview with Susie was in July and even then she and her husband still had lingering symptoms of the virus, and there was not much she could do about it then rest as much as they could. They are doing much better now, but her story truly opened my eyes to how much Covid can devastate the body both physically and mentally.

Life Lessons

The devastating effects of the pandemic also brought on other issues that have been brewing for a long time. The Black Lives Matter movement re-emerged just months into the pandemic and forced everyone to look again at the way society perceives race and culture in the U.S. As a result, the pandemic opened society’s eyes to face the issues that have all along been a problem. Ruth Marie Pulelehua Quirk was living with two black roommates at this time when Black Lives Matter and the pandemic came together. When the pandemic hit, her roommates went home to be with their families. However, her two roommates, who were black females opened her eyes to address race more in her life and to those around her. As she lived with them as all the protests over George Floyd’s murder were erupting across the world, she became more aware of her privilege and being more conscious of other races around her. Sometime after that, because she had underlying health issues, her two roommates moved out because they did not want to potentially transmit Covid to her. She shared her mana‘o with me addressing what she has learned from the pandemic and also how Black Lives Matter has transformed her thinking of race and privilege as we go through this tough time.  Ruth shares with me what she has learned from the past year with the pandemic stating, “That’s what I’m learning, is that there’s way more bias in everything that we do. And it’s not necessarily political. It’s social, racial, cultural. And I can now see my white privilege bias in the way I view the world that I never saw before, that I probably would have never become aware of one until I live with two black women, young black women who are more than willing to tell me what I was doing wrong because I was willing to listen and apologize and talk to them, but, but also because of the pandemic, put us in a place where when racism boiled over, we’re all already paying attention at a very different level.”

Conclusion: A Time To Self-Reflect

What I have learned from these interviews is that human life is fragile. Family ties can shift overnight, and what the pandemic taught me is that every day we should be thankful for the small things we have. To be thankful and to be able to recognize not only our physical worth but also our worth for the future. Though we cannot change the past to prevent the pandemic, we can learn from personal stories to help cope and forge the future.

Covid-19 has opened up the discussion to addressing all the issues that have been accumulating over the years. To many, we have now understood the importance of our ‘āina and how we should not take for granted our oceans and what lies in between. As a society, Covid-19 has illuminated various social issues such as immigration, in better addressing our education system, in focusing on mental health. All these issues have now forced society to be more grateful for what we have and the fact that despite everything society will remain determined to come out of this pandemic stronger.

Stories will remain intact as they are vital for human growth. I now understand to cherish the stories that these individuals have shared with me and to remember that every life matters. This is the most important thing to remember as we are faced with this incredibly difficult pandemic.


Lewis seen from the waste up standing in front of a tree.I am originally from Southern California. I am majoring in Sociology, and I am a Senior. I am interested in Oral History with a focus on Hawaiian people. I was first interested when I took an Anthropology course that centered around Oral History interviews with people from Waialua, O’ahu.


Why is research important for Native Hawaiians?

Research is important for Native Hawaiians because it gives an opportunity and a voice to those that may not have had the chances before. Especially oral history research opens up the opportunity for Native Hawaiians to share their past experiences as a way to perpetuate their story.


What is one thing you’ve learned from your project?

My project was important because it gave people of Hawai’i an opportunity to share how Covid-19 has impact them. Last year was hard for all people, and what I have learned is that a great way to get through that is to open the discussion to allow others to share their experiences in the last year. I learned more about myself in regard to my personal life, and how meaningful life is to others who have had a difficult year.




Kanikau: Songs for the Soul and Inoa Hoʻopilipili – Asia Kilinoe H. Kimura

Kanikau: Songs for the Soul and Inoa Hoʻopilipili
Asia Kilinoe H. Kimura
Hawaiian Language and Hawaiian Studies


It is no surprise when I make a statement saying that the people of Hawaii love their land. This is evident in the mele and oli written by our kūpuna as they were skilled poetic composers. Mele and oli were forms of expressions that refer to the love they had for the places they lived, places they resided in, the places that they visited and most importantly about other people through the referencing of these places. Examples of such expressions are shown in so many writings that we have access to through the Hawaiian newspapers. Reading old Hawaiian newspapers at the Papakilo database has helped me to get a glimpse into life through the eyes of our kūpuna. Mele did not always name a place specifically but instead, the places were written about through the use of inoa hoʻopilipili or epithets. Inoa hoʻopilipili are used profusely throughout many different genres of mele, many of which can be found in the  mele and oli can be found in the Hawaiian newspapers.

One specific genre that I have read and researched is lamentation songs or kanikau. My mentor, Noelani Arista shared with me that kanikau are songs or stories written for loved ones who have passed away. Kanikau may have told of their lives and of the composer’s love for their deceased loved one. While researching kanikau published in the newspaper between 1860 – 1869, I was able to learn a little more about how our ancestors mourned and dealt with the loss of loved ones through the expression of this specific genre of mele. I learned that in the past, kanikau were given orally and not written down. Later, kūpuna wanted to document their mele by sending them into the newspaper to be published for all to see. There were actually too many people sending in their compositions to be published in the newspaper so they began to charge people for it.[1] There was an article that said the newspaper would not just publish anyone’s composition if they aren’t of a higher social status.[2] Kanikau has helped us to learn about our kūpuna and the writers who are honoring them. This type of mele would allow the composer, the deceased, and those hearing it to share one last moment of intimacy as it would allow them to grieve in the way necessary in order for them to slowly recover and heal.

As I went through different kanikau in the newspaper, I started making notes of different inoa hoʻopilipili. I noticed that I was seeing these references quite often so I created a spreadsheet to keep track of the various phrases I came across when reading through kanikau. I use the links from the papakilo database of the different phrases found in the kanikau so that I could go through each mele line by line. I then took note of the date of when the newspaper was published (“Helu o ka lā” column), what island the inoa hoʻopilipili takes place on (“Mokupuni” column), the land name that it mentions (ʻĀina” column), the inoa hoʻopilipili, the link to the article in papakilo (“Lou” column), and any notes that I haven (“Noka” column). I usually include if there are multiple places called by the same name and list the other places so others reading it will be able to follow along easily. In the figure below, you will see in the “Mokupuni” column that there is a highlighted cell with the same name and list the other places so others reading it will be able to follow along easily. You will also see in the “Mokupuni” column that there is a highlighted cell which for me indicates something is unsure about the information and I need to go back to review it when I get more information.

I started to see trends of inoa hoʻopilipili that speak of specific places in our Hawaiian islands. There were poetic phrases that allowed the reader to visualize the place they were written for and over time have become known phrases or inoa hoʻopilipili that are automatically associated with the area of the island. Inoa hoʻopilipili may be seen as ʻōlelo noʻeau, and we will see a lot of examples that overlap with that. However, in the context of kanikau which are written to share love and grief, what do these inoa hoʻopilipili tell us about Hawaiian ways of mourning and how does it speak to the connection that we as kanaka have with our ʻāina?

Follow me on a short journey through excerpts of inoa hoʻopilipili via kanikau that you may have heard before as well as other phrases that you may not have realized were place references. My research has taken me all over the islands and even places around the world, however, let us begin with this beautiful island of Oʻahu, specifically the land right below Nuʻuanu called Kekele.


 “hala ʻala o Kekele”

“mai ka ua kahiko hala o Kekele”

“aloha ka hala ʻala o Kekele”

“mai ka hala hoʻi o Kekele”


One story about this special place tells about a man named Kaulu who was a kupa from this place and who had taken a wife whose name was Kekele. Her favorite plants were hala, maile,ʻieʻie and she slept with a lei hala every night till it dried out. When the lei hala finally dried out, Kaulu planted it and from there grew the hala trees known from this land area called Kekele. Today, we have come to associate this area with the beautiful hala trees told of in this story. I came across a couple references to the area of Kekele in three different kanikau. One example of an inoa hoʻopilipili referring to Kekele says the “hala ala o Kekele” (the fragrant hala of Kekele).[3] Another example says, “mai ka ua kahiko hala o Kekele” (from the rain that drenches the hala of Kekele).[4] A few more examples of inoa hoʻopilipili say, “aloha ka hala o Kekele” (adored is the hala of Kekele), “mai ka hala hoi o Kekele” (indeed from the hala of Kekele). Although these are just a few examples of how our kupuna wrote, there are many more. They refer to areas by the scents, the scenery and the climates of the area. As you drive through the area of  Nu’uanu Pali it is said that the fragrances of the hala can be smelt even though the hala grove was plowed over. Perhaps, there is a play on words here with the word “hala”? The composer understood there was a dual meaning here to this word, meaning, to pass on. Just like the fragrance of the hala that is said to linger at Kekele despite the fact that the hala grove no longer physically stands there today, it reminds us of a memory that once was. Like the haku mele of old, we see that “kaona” or the underlying meaning of things come with a level of understanding and not only do we see this practice of haku mele being used in love but in grievance as well. In this example in particular, this line shares the “wehi” or the beauty of the language, the “ʻala” in particular speaks of the fragrance of the hala which then triggers memories of the beloved deceased. Therefore, when the kanikau is published, it is published with the idea of layered meaning, that being, the moʻolelo, the memories, and the ʻāina itself all entwined together in this lei of words for a loved one. 


“kuʻu kaikamahine mai ka ua kanilehua”

“ka ua kanilehua o ka nahele”

“e nana ana i ka ua kanilehua”


Our next stop on our journey through the islands brings us to a more common inoa hoʻopilipili from Hilo known as the land of the “ua kanilehua.” The story of this rain name refers to the birds that feed from these lehua. It was said, when everything was calm and still, the birds were joyous because they ate their fill of the nectar that resides within these lehua blossoms. However, when these raindrops poured down in torrent, the birds would be alarmed because the rain would pelt away the nectar and leave the birds crying.[5] The description of this rain continues to explain the description of this rain as if it was thrown down from above, “treading the bud of the ʻōhiʻa, and its blossoms, a pelting lehua rain of Panaʻewa”.[6] This inoa hoʻopilipili is used when speaking of Hilo. The land grows abundantly in the moku of Hilo because of the great amount of rain that falls throughout the year. Hilo has become famous due to the frequency of rainfall. One example from a kanikau in the newspapers says “kuʻu kaikamahine mai ka ua kanilehua” (my beloved girl from the kanilehua rain).[7] Another reference I found says, “ka ua kanilehua o ka nahele” (the kanilehua rain of the forest).[8] A third reference of inoa hoʻopilipili says “e nana ana i ka ua kanilehua” (watching the kanilehua rain).[9] As we see here, inoa hoʻopilipili can be as simple as describing the land by the name of the rain that falls or the wind that blows here. Knowing these things will allow us to have personal appreciation for the places around us. Like Elbert states, rain is a poetic expression of grief.[10] Perhaps, the haku mele was trying to showcase the great deal of emotion that they felt during this time and compared their sorrows to the pelting rain that falls in expression of love and sadness for the loss of a loved one.


“kuu wahine mai ke one kani o Nohili”

“Hoohihi koʻu manaʻo i ke one kani o Nohili”

“o ka auhau ke one o Nohili i ka pali”

“kupinai ke kaha ke one o Nohili”


Next, I will take you along to the island of the “barking sands,” Nōhili on the island of Kauaʻi. Here, this place is known for its massive sand dunes. A few examples I found of the usage of this inoa hoʻopilipili in the newspaper says “kuu wahine mai ke one kani o Nohili” (my beloved women of the barking sands of Nohili),[11] “Hoohihi koʻu manaʻo i ke one kani o Nohili” (My thoughts are entangled by the barking sand of Nohili,[12] “o ka auhau ke one o Nohili i ka pali” (the sand of Nohili is the bark that grows abundantly on the cliffs),[13] “kupinai ke kaha ke one o Nohili” (the hot, dry, sand of Nohili is mourned).[14] These particular lines are well known because they are seen in several genres of songs. The inoa hoʻopilipili that our kūpuna use gives us visual imagery of the land even if we may never have a chance to visit them in person. For this inoa hoʻopilipili in particular, we know that Nohili is referred to as an ancestral place and through these ancestral places can we connect these words and associate our loved ones to. We often talk of the ʻāina and of characteristics that make it special but most times we do this, we also associate these thoughts and feelings to someone through the referencing of these ʻāina. Thus, this is just a way we situate those who have passed on, even if they no longer exist physically in our realm of the living there are still references to places that bring back memories and thoughts of these people as if they were still here with us. Therefore, when one hears the kani of the sands of Nōhili, one may recall the kani of precious moments spent there with those who have passed on. Knowing these inoa hoʻopilipili gives us a different capacity of the way we view our land. A lot of inoa hoʻopilipili are seen in songs of lament, love songs, aloha ʻāina songs, and other genres. If we learn these inoa hoʻopilipili and the story behind each one, the capacity of our ability to understand our language and tell our stories in our native tongue will help us in our thinking and understanding. Kanikau has shown me that the way our kūpuna grieved and honored the deceased is unique. Kanikau gives us a direct visual of how they expressed themselves in these times. It is a way for us to get to know the loved one that has passed as it usually speaks of the person’s life and places they loved.

It is important for us to learn the land references that our kūpuna used. Learning the inoa hoʻopilipili referred to by our kupuna can be considered a form of true aloha ʻāina. This will help us to reclaim our spaces and native thought about them. Knowing the names of the land you grew up on is something that our kūpuna knew so firmly. It strengthens our foundation of being Hawaiians in Hawaiʻi and also gives respect to those of the past by letting their names live beyond our own mouths.

Our kūpuna were smart, strong and brilliant. Kanikau shows us “snapshots” into the lives of our kūpuna. They knew that their language was important, and our land was important. Having documented kanikau in the newspapers provides our generation with knowledge of the way our kūpuna expressed themselves during the time of hardship and loss. Doing the research seems to be becoming a regular thing for the modern-day Hawaiian because it is necessary for us to relearn the things that made our kūpuna exceptional in composing mele that exemplified the way they loved and grieved. Our love is intimately tied to the land for the land helps us express our love and loss. These newspapers provide us with a way to understand our own culture from another time. Afterall, all this knowledge is a privilege to have so we should use every opportunity we can to honor them by learning all that we can.


Asia Kilinoe Kimura seen from the waist up standing in front of a wall with kalo leaf art made of wood on the wall Asia Kilinoe H. Kimura
I was raised here in Oʻahu in Mōʻiliʻili just below our Mānoa campus. I am currently in my third year here but technically have the class standing of Senior pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Hawaiian Language and Hawaiian Studies.


Why is research important for Native Hawaiians?

Research is important because it allows us to tap into the knowledge of our kūpuna. Many things that we know today is from doing research. Our kūpuna left us multitudes of documents that have yet to be reviewed and understood, we owe it to them to learn all they can to continue their efforts of restoring and revitalizing our language and culture.


What is one thing you’ve learned from your project?

Kanikau has shown me that the way our kūpuna grieved and honored the deceased is unique. Mele kanikau gives us a direct visual of how they expressed themselves in more ways than one during these times specific times of grievance and mourning. Knowing these inoa hoʻopilipili gives us a different capacity of the way we view our land. A lot of inoa hoʻopilipili are seen in songs of lament, love songs, aloha ʻāina songs, and other genres. If we learn these inoa hoʻopilipili and the story behind each one, the capacity of our ability to understand our language and tell our stories in our native tongue will help us in our thinking and understanding.



Akana-Gooch, Collette L., et al. Hānau Ka Ua: Hawaiian Rain Names, p. 51. Kamehameha Publishing, 2015.

Kalionui, J. W.. “He kanikau NO ESETERA WAHAHEE.” Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 31 Mei 1862.

Kapaalua, Helene. “He Kanikau no Nehemia Hepa.” Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 27 Kēkēmapa 1862.

Kealakaa,  A. B. W.. “He Kanikau Aloha no S. Luka.” Ka Hoku o ka Pakipika, 26 Kepakemapa 1861.

Kekai, N.. “He Kanikau no J. Kapena Apiki.” Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 24 ʻOkakopa 1863.

Konaaihele. “He Kanikau.” Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 19 ʻApelila 1862.

Kuhaupio, D.. “He Kanikau no ke emi ana o ka Lahui Hawaii.” Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 6 Iulai 1865.

“Na Palapala no ka Hae.” Ka Hae Hawaii, 8 August 1860.

Mrs. Naale. “Kanikau aloha no Iulia Kahaule.” Hoku o ka Pakipika, 28 August 1862.

Mrs. Kaleialoha, O. “Ka make ana o Lonoliʻi.” Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 2 January 1864.

P., J.. “Kanikau aloha no Mrs. Maleka Ii. Kamealoha nuiia i make aku la.” Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 1 Nowemapa 1861.

“Ancestral Visions of Aina (Land That Feeds).”,

Sterling, Elspeth P., and Catherine C. Summers. Sites of Oahu. Bishop Museum Press, 1993.

[1] In conversation with Noelani Arista.

[2] “Na Palapala no ka Hae.” Ka Hae Hawaii, 8 August 1860.

[3] A. B. W. Kealakaa. “He Kanikau Aloha no S. Luka.” Ka Hoku o ka Pakipika, 26 Kepakemapa 1861.

[4] Konaaihele. “He Kanikau.” Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 19 ʻApelila 1862.

[5] Akana-Gooch, Collette L., et al. Hānau Ka Ua: Hawaiian Rain Names, p. 51. Kamehameha Publishing, 2015.

[6] Ibid. p. 61

[7]  J. P.. “Kanikau aloha no Mrs. Maleka Ii. Kamealoha nuiia i make aku la.” Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 1 Nowemapa 1861. Ke kuhi nei wau, ʻo J. P. ʻo ia nō ʻo John Papa ʻĪʻī.

[8] Mrs. Naale. “Kanikau aloha no Iulia Kahaule.” Hoku o ka Pakipika, 28 August 1862.

[9] Mrs. O. Kaleialoha. “Ka make ana o Lonoliʻi.” Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 2 January 1864.

[10] Elbert, Samuel Hoyt. Symbolism in Hawaiian poetry. p. 392.

[11] J. W. Kalionui. “He kanikau NO ESETERA WAHAHEE.” Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 31 Mei 1862.

[12] Helene Kapaalua. “He Kanikau no Nehemia Hepa.” Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 27 Kēkēmapa 1862.

[13] N Kekai. “He Kanikau no J. Kapena Apiki.” Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 24 ʻOkakopa 1863.

[14] D. Kuhaupio. “He Kanikau no ke emi ana o ka Lahui Hawaii.” Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, 6 Iulai 1865.

The Kawānanakoa ʻOhana and a Moʻokūʻauhau of Aliʻi Trusts – Tina Kaleiwahea

The Kawānanakoa ʻOhana and a Moʻokūʻauhau of Aliʻi Trusts – Tina Kaleiwahea

Kawānanakoa standing on the steps of ʻIolani Palace

Finance, Information Technology Management, and Accounting

The trust of James Campbell’s estate dissolved in 2007 distributing $2.3 billion to heirs of this 19th-century capitalist. James Campbell made his fortune via agriculture in the Hawaiian Kingdom. Now, his descendants could, near single-handedly, bring about a Pae ʻĀina that could grow enough ancestral food to feed the lāhui in perpetuity, if they so choose to join a legacy of aliʻi trusts.

To the members of the Kawānanakoa ʻohana: please endow your estimated $1 billion net worth from the James Campbell trust to the lāhui. This is not a call out; this is a call in. In the context of our ancestral history, we can see the aliʻi trusts in existence today were not bestowed upon the lāhui in a sporadic fashion. They represent a methodic, collective vision for millions of kānaka ʻōiwi yet unborn. A moʻokūʻauhau of aliʻi de-privatizing their substantial wealth into perpetuity is what the Lunalilo, Pauahi, and Liliʻuokalani trusts constitute. The Kawānanakoa ʻohana can heed this ancestral kāhea to take your place in this specific genealogy as some of the only Kānaka uniquely able to endow substantial capital in contemporary times.

James Campbell was Loyal to Queen Liliʻukalani; The Kawānanakoa are Descendants of Both

Campbell was not your typical haole plantation owner. He never became a Hawaiian Kingdom treasonist like most 19th and 20th-century haole capitalists we’ve become accustomed to. In a short biography written by the Estate of James Campbell, Campbell was said to be “a partisan of Queen Liliʻuokalani…and remained a Royalist to the end of his days”[1]. As an aside, it is quite impressive that James Campbell Company LLC, a for-profit real estate company, houses this description of their founder when most 21st century Hawaiʻi corporates assert neo-colonial language. While briefly so, Queen Liliʻuokalani speaks of Campbell fondly and even mentions Abigail Campbell, the wife of James Campbell, caring for the Queen during her imprisonment[2]. Perhaps Campbell remained loyal to the Queen since Abigail was ʻōiwi or because he was an Irishman, not an American, but we’ll save that story for another time.

The Kawānanakoa of today are the progeny of David Kawānanakoa and Abigail Campbell, daughter of James Campbell. David Kawānanakoa, along with his brother, Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole, became a prince under Mōʻī Kalākaua’s reign. In contemporary times, the Kawānanakoa have been critiqued for overextending the claims of their lineage. Queen Liliʻuokalani, in her biography sparsely mentions the aforementioned princes. She does, however, refer to Prince Kalanianaʻole as her cousin and also discusses Prince Kawānanakoa’s participation in negotiations with the US to withdraw the treaty of annexation[3].

Whether the Kawānanakoa descendants look to their Campbell or Kawānanakoa lineage, they will see onipaʻa for the Hawaiian Kingdom and Queen Liliʻuokalani who lives on in the lāhui today. It would only be a natural decision for them to endow their wealth given their historical position.

A New Hanauna in the Moʻokūʻauhau of Aliʻi Trusts

One Kawānanakoa has, no doubt, made herself a part of this genealogy in present times: Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawānanakoa. Albeit a controversial figure, she is virtually the only Kawānanakoa to have entrusted her distribution from the James Campbell Estate to ka poʻe Hawaiʻi after her death. However, her non-ʻōiwi wife continues to make attempts to divert some of Abigail’s $200 million to herself[4][5] and sell invaluable Native Hawaiian possessions[6].

Others have, at much smaller scales, established foundations. The James and Abigail Family Foundation was established in 1980 and funds community grants, although not exclusively for ʻōiwi. The endowment assets were valued at $21 million in its 2018 annual report[7]. It’s unclear which of the Kawānanakoa are contributors to this foundation, though Edward and Quentin Kawānanakoa, as well as Kapiʻolani Marignoli, are named in said report. They are appreciated for their start but need to take it much further. Ronald Olson, James Shingle, Louise Stevenson, and Muriel Lighter are some of the known beneficiaries who have received approximately $100 million or more from the James Campbell Estate[8]. It is hoped that those who know these individuals start discussing the prospect of endowing their wealth for the lāhui.

A Proposal: Ancestral Food Grown in Hawaiʻi to Supply the Lāhui in Perpetuity

Bear with me for a little finance speak. 5% of the $2 billion Campbell Estate distribution is $100 million. 5% is considered a conservative, annual return on investment. For reference, the stock market returned 16.3% in 2020, even in the midst of a pandemic[9]. The historical average annual return on the S&P 500 since 1957 has been 8%[10]. While there are liquidity and control considerations to be had as in pertains to the Kawānanakoa shares in James Campbell Company LLC, there is no doubt the Kawānanakoa could continue to live large, say, receive payment of $10 million / year, and still afford to theoretically disburse $90 million / year to the lāhui. The  Kawānanakoa are urged to take bold action especially since 13.5% of the lāhui lives in western induced poverty.

In my research, I have estimated that it would cost $300 million annually, under today’s market conditions, to grow enough kalo to feed every person in the lāhui. Even an annual $50 million, half of the $100 million mentioned, would propel us toward a self-sustaining future of wellbeing in the relative near future. I consider ancestral food grown in Hawaiʻi to be low-hanging fruit in creating a robust infrastructure of aloha ʻāina. As a comparison, I have estimated that healthcare for all in the lāhui would cost $6 billion annually, which, for context, rivals what the settler State of Hawaiʻi collects in tax revenue annually. Ancestral food for all is more financially feasible in today’s terms and is, quite frankly, more proactive than western medicine for purposes of healing our lāhui.

Though a proposal for the restoration of our agricultural abundance in the Hawaiian Kingdom was offered, there are many other workable possibilities. The hope is that this provides a vision for what an immense impact the Kawānanakoa can have in creating economic agency for our people by endowing their assets.

Says Who?

I was told to bring myself into my writing by our Kumu Kūhiō Colleps, which I am admittedly trained not to do as a finance, accounting, and information technology management student and practitioner. I also fail to have a personal ʻano because an upbringing by a single mother in low SES, citified Honolulu removed from Native Hawaiian culture, demands hardness. Perhaps, though, my interest in decoding kālā is a direct result of it being rare to come by in childhood. I wouldn’t change these experiences if I could, though. I want to give what I’ve learned in western finance to the lāhui, especially those keiki whose fathers are felons like mine or whose mothers were on welfare like mine. I see them getting it how they live to survive in this urbanized, American manufactured poverty. I’m driven by them. If my kuleana to the lāhui were a superhero, it’d be the “bad” Black Panther because I am disinterested in Wakanda if it isn’t for all of our people, not just the elitist few.

This disposition has caused me to endeavor, while I balance my accountant day job, in taking seriously the future of the Hawaiian Kingdom political economy. My research up to this point has quantified the cost of providing certain economic supports—healthcare, housing, child care, to name a few—to every Hawaiian Kingdom citizen, which of course mirrors the very progressive nature of our Kingdom in the 1800s. I also have laid out a critique of the hegemonic analysis of Hawaiʻi’s historical economy that has been dealt with, solo, by American classical economists. Lastly, I offer a framework for aloha ʻāina political economy in a de-occupied Hawaiian Kingdom that bypasses what I consider a distracting, western capitalism vs. socialism debate by analyzing moʻolelo from our ancestral economy and extrapolating it to present and future contexts. I’m currently pondering a Ph.D. because, although I plan to adhere to a finance path in the private sector, I know the research question requires rigorous, ongoing pursuit.

I hope to help ʻōpio in the lāhui who are dealing with what Dr. Kamana Beamer calls “complex identities”, particularly as it relates to being both a financier and Hawaiian Kingdom patriot. Maybe in the kanaka realm, we are few and far between, but many of our kūpuna have mastered these particular roles. I am not an expert. I am still studying to earn my certified public accountant license and had only just begun the Master of Science in Finance program last year. But if this speaks to you and you want someone to hash it out with, I’m here. I feel the Hawaiian Renaissance we are living in right now will soon unfurl a wave of aloha ʻāina economists, among many other important thinkers and practitioners.

The topic of this blog, aliʻi (lāhui) trusts, represents my most recent and tentative area of research. My writing has focused on a future Hawaiian Kingdom economy that is self-sufficient and regenerative. But I have not yet committed to paper a bridge there, which I believe to be the expansion of the aliʻi trusts. There should be more aliʻi trusts, including that of the Kawānanakoa. This approach does not negate strategies to compel the settler state to deoccupy our institutions or return unceded crown lands it has stolen. Rather, it runs parallel–a different means to the same end. By creating conditions of economic independence, our legal independence will grow in its self-evidence.

I have analyzed the largest of the trusts, Pauahi’s Kamehameha Schools, and have concluded that the portfolio has been well managed notwithstanding trustee mishaps in the 1990s. It has fended off settler attempts to force land sales and the disbandment of its mission—to exclusively serve ʻōiwi, the rightful and only beneficiaries. KS has its faults, but I argue against those that demand Kamehameha Schools distribute its assets on anti-capitalist grounds. I do not believe capitalism has a place in the Hawaiian Kingdom, as someone who has studied abroad in Denmark where capitalism is openly problematized. However, I see using capitalism against itself as a viable, long-term strategy as long as it continues to dominate our everyday lives in Hawaiʻi.

With that said, I lack in methodologies outside of business and economics and would love feedback/critique. I plan to look into the Ward, Damon, and many other ʻohana to quantify their wealth. The Estate of Samuel Mills Damon, for example, developed an $800 million fortune partly due to the many acres of land bestowed onto Damon by Ke Aliʻi Pauahi. I do not have training in legal research aside from US tax-related code and cases. Please email me if you would like to share manaʻo.


Tina Kaleiwahea seen from the shoders up standing in front of the gates to ʻIolani Palace

I am from the Honouliuli ahupuaʻa on Oʻahu. I am a senior majoring in Finance, Information Technology Management, and Accounting. My research interests include financial and philosophical examinations of a future aloha ʻāina political economy in a post-occupied Hawaiian Kingdom.

Why is research important for Native Hawaiians?

Research is something our kūpuna have always excelled at. Moʻolelo is a hypothesis. Kilo is experimentation. Intergenerational knowledge is a peer-review process.

What is one thing you’ve learned from your project?

Iʻve been blessed to spend time discerning what comprises an ʻōiwi political economy (which by default includes regenerativity and resilience) without being dependent on western concepts—whether they be from Adam Smith or Karl Marx of past centuries or their “green” counterparts in contemporary times.

[1] James Campbell Esq. by the James Campbell Estate, 2005
[2] Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen by Queen Liliʻuokalani, 1898
[3] Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen by Queen Liliʻuokalani, 1898
[4] Abigail Kawānanakoa’s wife would receive $40 million under amended trust
[5] Abigail Kawānanakoa’s wife among 4 seeking conservatorship
[6] Foundation fights auction of items belonging to Campbell Estate heiress Abigail Kawānanakoa
[7] James & Abigail Campbell Family Foundation 2018 Annual Report
[8] The great divide, Honolulu Advertiser, 2006
[9] S&P 500 Index, CNN Business
[10] What Is the Average Annual Return for the S&P 500? Investopedia


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