On June 4, 2014, Hoʻokele/CEO Wryen Kīwaha received a letter from Chief Harry S. Kubojiri of the Hawaiʻi Police Department. The letter dated May 28, 2014, was sent in response to the CEO’s annual letter commemorating National Police Week and Peace Officers’ Memorial Day celebrated each May 15.
In the letter Chief Kubojiri stated: “Thank you for your letter dated May 14, 2014, expressing appreciation and gratitude for the officers of the Hawaiʻi Police Department for their hard work and dedication and sacrifices they make in the line of duty. I truly appreciate your acknowledgement and continued support for our officers especially during Memorial Day and Police Week as we work together without our community to make our community a better place to live, work and conduct business.”
He continued, “I shall remind our officers to continue to serve our community with Aloha and strive to maintain the Hawaiʻi Police Department’s core values of Integrity, Professionalism, Compassion, Teamwork and Community Satisfaction. I shall share your sentiments with our officers and staff.”
In response to the letter, the Hoʻokele released this statement:
I continue to reiterate our organization’s support for the men and women of our police department. I thank the Chief for his letter.
The Hawaiʻi Police Department joined police departments throughout Hawaiʻi and the United States by holding two public ceremonies – Monday, May 12 at the HPD Headquarters in Hilo and Wednesday, May 14, at the Kona Police Station in Kealakehe, Honokōhauiki. Both ceremonies were as part of the annual commemoration of national Police Week and Peace Officers’ Memorial Day.
Each year, the Hoʻokena School PTO commemorates this event by sending a letter to the Chief of the Hawaiʻi Police Department to express the sentiments and sincere gratitude of the organization to the men and women of our police department – a small gesture of aloha from our community. As such, the Kealamākia Foundation will continue to carry on this annual tradition.
In his letter to Chief Harry S. Kubojiri dated May 14, 2014, Hoʻokele/CEO Wryen K. C. Kīwaha wrote, “Although the Hoʻokena School PTO is now a foundation serving Hawaiʻi Island, we wish to carry on the tradition of honoring the men and women of our police department; who, each and every day, put on the uniform of our beloved County and put their lives at risk in service of the people.”
“Each year, especially during Peace Officers’ Memorial Day and Police Week, we are reminded of the daily sacrifice of our officers and their families. Our community should feel ever more secure in knowing that we have such valiant and courageous individuals working to enforce the law, to mentor our youth, and to keep our communities safe.”
He continues, “On behalf of the Board of Trustees of the Kealamākia Foundation, I would like to extend our sincere gratitude and appreciation to you, our officers and civilian staff for their service. We wish you all the best and pray always for the safety and well-being of our real life heroes.”
On October 1, 1961, U. S. President John F. Kennedy signed into law a bill declaring May 15 of each year as “Peace Officers’ Memorial Day”; with observance beginning in 1962. The working holiday honors all those officers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the exercise of their duties and in service to their communities. Of the 20,000 officers killed in the line of duty, 63 are from Hawaiʻi.
Hawaiʻi Island itself has lost five officers – Manuel Cadinha (1918), William ʻŌili (1936), Ronald Jitchaku (1990), and Kenneth Keliʻipio (1997) from the Hawaiʻi Police Department; Steve Makuakane-Jarrell (1999) of the National Park Service; and, Allen Winn (1991) of the Drug Enforcement Agency.
On Friday, May 16, 2014, the initial Trustees of the Kealamākia Foundation and Hoʻokele (CEO) Wryen K. C. Kīwaha met together for an informal meeting at Hoʻokena Elementary School as the organization prepares to commence a new fiscal year on Sunday, June 1, 2014. In attendance with the Hoʻokele were Trustee Lorraine Medeiros and Vice-Chair Willow Roback, who acted as chair in the absence of Chairperson Wendy Baez.
The informal meeting, the last meeting of the organization at Hoʻokena Elementary School, signified the end of an era of continuous organized parent and community involvement in the school extending back to the very founding of the institution in 1931.
“For 83 years, the school and numerous parent, teacher and community organizations have worked closely together for the benefit of our keiki,” said Hoʻokele Wryen Kīwaha. “While it is difficult for us to have to leave this wonderful place, it’s a move that we feel was necessary; and, which was in the best interest of the organization.”
While finances and structural changes were at the forefront of the discussion, the Trustees also spent a great deal of time expressing their feelings about the transition as well as to thank all those who had worked for and supported the organization these last five years; especially Trustee Lorraine Medeiros who leaves office at the end of the fiscal year on May 31, following years of dedicated service to the PTO.
“Trustee Medeiros and another previous board member, Fran Duntz, are the very reason I began to volunteer with this organization,” said Hoʻokele Kīwaha. “Without their support and mentorship I don’t believe I would be prepared to take on this new role as the Chief Executive Officer. I treasure their support all these many years.”
The Board of Trustees did not schedule a meeting; however, they are expected to meet in September when four vacancies on the Board of Trustees will need to be filled.
“It’s never been about us,” said Hoʻokele Kīwaha. “It has always been about the children. And, despite the challenges we’ve faced and the circumstances surrounding our exit, we still love this school. And, that will never change.”
In the last week, there has been tension at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs between the Board of Trustees and the Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Kamanaʻopono M. Crabbe, concerning a letter written and sent by the latter to United States Secretary of State John Kerry. In the letter, Dr. Crabbe asked that Secretary Kerry officially request a legal opinion from the Department of Justice concerning the continued existence of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi under international law.
Immediately upon publication of the letter, Dr. Kamanaʻopono Crabbe came under attack from the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs who believed he “overstepped his authority as the Chief Executive Officer” by initiating the inquiry with the U.S. Departments of State and Justice. Chairperson Colette Y. Machado, the Trustee for Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi, described his actions as “disrespectful” to all the native Hawaiians who registered on the native Hawaiian roll.
While the Board of Trustees of the Kealamākia Foundation does not generally take a position on matters of internal dispute within other organizations – since the actions of OHA affect not only its own beneficiaries, but ours as well – the Board felt it was necessary to intervene and take a stand in support of Dr. Crabbe.
In a letter to Dr. Crabbe dated May 10, 2014, our Hoʻokele (CEO), Wryen K. C. Kīwaha, wrote: “I would like to take this opportunity to applaud your efforts in seeking information regarding the status of the Hawaiian Kingdom as a subject of international law.” He continues, “It is in the opinion of the Board that your efforts were in the best interests of OHA and nā kānaka ʻōiwi. It is a question that must be answered before we can proceed towards a governing entity.”
Since the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is a semi-autonomous political entity and its trustees are elected by the people of Hawaiʻi, CEO Kīwaha was careful in drafting letter – avoiding any form of language which may be considered political or an attempt to influence the outcome of a future election of trustees.
The original was sent to Dr. Crabbe while copies were delivered to Chairperson Colette Y. Machado (Molokaʻi/Lānaʻi), Vice Chairperson Oswald K. Stender (at-Large), former Governor John D. Waiheʻe III (Chairman, Native Hawaiian Roll Commission), and Lei Kihoi (Commissioner for Hawaiʻi Island, NHRC).
After meeting together on Friday, May 16, 2014 to further address the issue, our Board of Trustees stands by its decision to submit a letter of support and to make information on its actions public.