LAHAINA - "In La- haina (West Maui), there are 4,000 Hawaiians," Aunty Patty Nishiyama advised, "and all kanaka maoli have the right to register with the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission."
Nishiyama represents Na Kupuna O Maui. Last weekend, the group of elders called a meeting hosted by Na Aikane O Maui, inviting "all Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians for an educational and informative update on the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, Kana'iolowalu."
According to its website, www.kanaiolowalu.com, Kana'iolowalu is a "campaign to reunify Native Hawaiians in the self-recognition of our unrelinquished sovereignty."
Dennis “Bumpy” Kanahele discussed the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, Kana‘iolowalu, at a meeting on Friday night in Lahaina.
According to the commission, those Native Hawaiians on the list, 18 years of age or older, will be eligible to participate in an election this fall of delegates to an 'Aha - "an official gathering to take the next steps in forming the modern government."
At the meeting last Friday night at the Hawaiian cultural center in the heart of historic Lahaina, Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele was the guest speaker.
"January 19, 2014, four hours before the deadline, I signed up," Kanahele told attendees.
He announced the registry has reopened, and over 120,000 Hawaiians have signed up.
"The plan is to open the roll 'til May 1," he said. "When it shuts down, going out to the community, especially from June all the way 'til the convention starts A Hawaiian convention will happen this year - sometime maybe September, October - at which time each island will be asked to send delegates"
Kana'iolowalu voting-qualified registrants are eligible to run as delegates.
"The roll commission is taking a count of all these people that will have one government in the future. Now that government, after ratification that government goes into effect. A real government," Kanahele emphasized, and quickly added, "but it is only as strong or as real as we make it."
"We gotta own this process; and that's the message, to own it. We just have to be real, real disciplined about that. I never seen anything come this close in my life."
Kanahele is steadfast. His website cites his purpose: "I have dedicated my life to addressing the long-standing issues and concerns of our people. I do this for, 'The Love of Country' and to secure the foundation of our Future.
"This Hawaiian convention now we trying to create something that will negotiate treaties, agreements - all that kine stuff we ever dream of
"I don't know what, where we going," Kanahele continued, "but the more of us dream and think and start actually talk about this It's time for say check 'em out."
The challenge, Kanahele admitted, is "mistrust."
Not everyone at the gathering was enthusiastic; there were questions about the process.
"You got representatives; talk to 'em," Kanahele recommended.
Roll commissioners are Chairperson John D. Waihee III, former Hawaii governor; Vice Chair Na'alehu Anthony, Oahu; Lei Kihoi, Hawaii Island; Robin Danner, Kauai; and Mahealani Wendt, Maui.
"Talk to 'em. If we let somebody do 'em, they gonna do 'em; but maybe not the way we like it. But if we own 'em, how they gonna do that? We own 'em if it's our government," he added matter-of-fact.
For those voicing uncertainties, Kanahele was sympathetic.
"If you don't like participate, don't participate. Not good for you in your heart and in your mind until you ready, 'cause you know why? Country gonna be there waiting for you come back. I not kidding with you this time around," he said.
Opportunities to learn more about Kana'iolowalu are plentiful.
Akaku: Maui Community Television is airing a broadcast of the meeting; "check their schedule," Nishiyama suggested.
A series of televised forums are being aired monthly live on 'Olelo Community Media or streamed live at www.TheSovereigntyConversation.org. The purpose is "meant to build public awareness and create a better understanding among both Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians about what the sovereignty movement means for all the people of Hawaii."
"Hawaiian sovereignty will affect everybody in the state," the site observed. "This monthly series of forums comes before the Native Hawaiian convention, which will organize a modern Hawaiian government."
Forum dates for the remainder of the year are on April 15, May 20, June 17, July 15, Aug. 19, Sept. 16, Oct. 21, Nov. 18 and Dec. 16.
Act 195, the empowering document enacted in 2011, can be read at www.kanaiolowalu.org/about/act195/.
Non-Hawaiians are being invited to join the movement by signing the Petition of Support, urging others to support, and becoming a volunteer.
For more information, call Nishiyama at (808) 281-5470 or Sarah Nakihei at 276-0307.
"We now have hope," Nishiyama said. "Go to your 'ohana. Get them to sign up. This is for the future generations."