As Election Day approaches in the coming months, there is one candidate who clearly stands out among the rest, her name, Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu.
In early January, Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, an educator and chair of the Oʻahu Island Burial Council, announced her run for a seat on the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) Board of Trustees. Since then, her efforts have met nothing but overwhelming support and admiration from Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike.
Kumu Hina stands out not because she is a transgender woman, but because she is a woman who dedicates herself to improving the overall wellbeing of her people. She is an educator who has dedicated much of her career to perpetuating the language, culture and traditions of our ancestors through her haumāna (students) at the Hālau Lokahi Public Charter School.
She has also empowered our communities through her roles with different organizations such as Bishop Museum, Leeward Community College, Kamehameha Schools, Polynesian Airlines, and Ke Ola Mamo Native Hawaiian Health Care System. For the past six years, her role as Chairwoman of the Oʻahu Island Burial Council, has also allowed her to be a leader and advocate in ancestral burial issues that continue to affect our communities. She was also one of the many vocal leaders who rallied in support of the Hawai'i Marriage Equality Act of 2013. To this day, she continues to actively engage in many community events around the island.
Yet, what makes her unique is her strong sense of kūleana, or responsibility.
In the times of our kūpuna, our aliʻi were respected leaders who guided the makaʻāinana (common people) to live pono, or with respect and righteousness. They were known for their great accomplishments and possessed skills and attributes that the people revered and admired. They were brave warriors and wise leaders. However, it was their personalities and love of their people that solidified their place in society.
In this modern era, these same attributes are what we as Kanaka ʻŌiwi look for in our leaders. Kumu Hina posses all of these attributes that. She is a woman of character, who, despite all of the challenges that she has faced in her life, continues to carry herself with dignity and class. She exemplifies the value of "leading by example." Kumu Hina is not afraid to stand for what is right. It does not matter whom she is up against, she will fight for what is pono. She embodies everything that our aliʻi stood for and this is why I believe she is the right fit for our people.
In this time of transition and change, we as Kanaka ʻŌiwi need someone who will not be afraid to voice the concerns of the people. We need someone to "tell it as it is." I believe that Kumu Hina will be the type of leader who will not have her own agenda, but her agenda, will be the "people's agenda."
It is evident through these early months of her campaign that she has a strong following. Kumu Hina has been someone in which people of all races, gender and sexuality has come to rally around. She has their full support in all what she is trying to accomplish.
Furthermore, as we look forward to Election Day, we must remember that it is our kūleana to elect the leader who has our best interests in mind. A leader must listen to the voice and concerns of the people. Kumu Hina is that leader for our people and we must help support her in all that she is trying to accomplish. IMUA KA LĀHUI O HAWAIʻI! IMUA KUMU HINA
He Maiʻa Ua Paʻa I Ke Koʻo
A Banana Tree Well Supported By Props
A Leader Well Supported By His/Her Followers