Thursday, July 24, 2014         


 Print   Email   Comment | View 21 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

Pioneer Hawaiian activist stood by Kalama Valley residents

By Star-Advertiser staff


A leader of a group that became a catalyst for social change during the emerging Hawaiian Renaissance in the early 1970s has died.

Henry "Papa Kihei" Welo­kiheiakea‘eloa Niheu Jr. died of complications associated with diabetes on Nov. 30 in Honolulu. He was 69.

"He was an independent fighter for indigenous rights in Hawaii and the Pacific and an early supporter of ethnic studies," said Ibrahim Aoude, chairman of the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Hawaii.

Political observers said Niheu, also known as "Soli," and other leaders of Kokua Hawaii (not to be confused with Jack Johnson's Kokua Hawaii Foundation) were at the vanguard of a social movement that empowered threatened ethnic communities and backed Native Hawaiian rights.

Kokua Hawaii supported the concept of "self-determination," empowering communities to determine their destinies, an idea that buoyed the concept of Native Hawaiian sovereignty.

Former Gov. John Waihee, who met Niheu while both worked in the federally funded Model Cities Program, said Kokua Hawaii became the training grounds for scores of volunteer community organizers.

"It wasn't an academic exercise," Waihee said. "They went into the community. That was the magic of it.

"The Hawaiian movement started back then with Kokua Hawaii."

Niheu became a symbol of the new island social consciousness, criticizing the destruction of ethnic communities for new housing developments. He helped form a group protesting the eviction of Hawaiian residents and farmers in Kalama Valley.

Some 32 people, including pig farmer George Santos and more than 14 Native Hawaiians, were arrested in Kalama Valley in 1971.

"They had the political conscience to stand up and say, ‘This is wrong,'" said Davi­anna McGregor, a University of Hawaii professor in ethnic studies and a leader of the Protect Kahoolawe Ohana.

Niheu used his skills in business administration to help organize Hawaiian music fundraising concerts at Andrews Amphitheatre and the Waikiki Shell to help evicted residents.

Kokua Hawaii helped to support resistance to other evictions in several ethnic communities, including Ota Camp, Waiahole-Waiakane, Hikina Lane in Kalihi, and Niu­malu-Nawiliwili and Nukoli‘i on Kauai.

Kokua Hawaii brought a coalition of hundreds of community residents onto the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus in 1972 to lead a sit-in protest and back the continuation of an endangered ethnic studies program.

The program, now a department, teaches students about histories of Hawaiians and of ethnic immigrant plantation laborers, the precursor of the University of Hawaii's Center for Hawaiian Studies.

Retired university professor Haunani K. Trask said Niheu was the first to defend her when administrators wanted her removed in light of her political activity on behalf of Native Hawaiians.

She said Niheu's action helped to open the way for many politically active Hawaiians on university campuses.

"They may not know it, but they owe their current positions to Soli as much as anyone else," she said.

Niheu is survived by daughters Kala‘iokamalino, Kalamaoka‘aina, Aloha‘aina Harawira and Keali‘ikauila Hinewhare-Niheu; son Kekahikoa; brothers David and Luther "Hoppy"; sister Karen Gomes; and four grandchildren.

Services are at noon on Jan. 5 on the grounds of Iolani Palace. Traditional maoli attire.

Services at his house in Waimea on Hawaii island are to be announced.

 Print   Email   Comment | View 21 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
Ken_Conklin wrote:
Will he lie in state in the Capitol? Will he have a traditional Hawaiian burial, with his bones hidden in a cave?
on December 23,2012 | 04:40AM
Lanikaula wrote:
WHAT business would it be of YOUR interest, KKK?! You ALWAYS seem to pop out from under your rock when someone of significance ua hala, like a fly on "shirt!" This time keep your comments to yourself as you HAVE NO IDEA who this person was. Tssssahh! Hemu oia!! The same goes for you allie! you BOTH should crawl back to where you came from and stay there until the world that you desire appears...NEVER!
on December 23,2012 | 08:22AM
ragnar wrote:
Something is wrong with you, Ken.
on December 23,2012 | 10:17PM
allie wrote:
I am sure he was a decent man. But that he was guaranteed the right to speak out and organize was made possible because he was an American with rights never allowed him under ancient Hawaiian society. That is really the ultimate irony. Lucky he was an American and not in China. We would never have heard about him as he would have been quickly executed.
on December 23,2012 | 08:00AM
Anonymous wrote:
He was A Hawaiian he was born before this islands became states. the rest was forced
on December 23,2012 | 09:37AM
OB1NONO_ME wrote:
Allie - shut your trap.
on December 23,2012 | 09:56PM
allie wrote:
I am speaking the truth. No need to curse or threaten or you will be removed. Please follow the rules of this blog.
on December 24,2012 | 12:24PM
holokanaka wrote:
where in the Hawaiian Kingdom laws were the people forbidden the right to speak out and organize? "hon"
on December 24,2012 | 02:42PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
The early 70s were tumultuous times. Lots of the folks involved in these turf battles became well known activists. A lot of them have since "sold out" and become fat and well to do but some still have the fire in the belly. Along with the political battles there was a renaissance in Hawaiian music too and that was good times. The piece that has always puzzled me is why this grassroots movement never acquired formal political power meaning strong Hawaiian representation and positions of leadership in City and State government. I suppose it is in part because the groups remained divided and fractional - the old story of 5 Hawaiians means 7 opinions - but for awhile there it looked like this movement would change the face of local government.
on December 23,2012 | 08:49AM
Lanikaula wrote:
U DON'T understand because THEY DID AND STILL DON'T RECOGNIZE AMERICA's OCCUPATION of Hawaii and therefore nothing under this government would satisfy that desire. until more people understand the Reality of the Illusion that Hawaii IS part of america maybe then we'll have pono. And even if you didn't get it the face of local government HAS BEEN IMPACTED...now moreso w/o the Emperor's interference in JUSTICE. u should know better as it sounds like you do, but just holding off your real feelings of Aloha for Hawaii and its kanaka maoli hawaii.
on December 23,2012 | 09:04AM
allie wrote:
Hawaiians voted for statehood in 1959 by huge majorities hon. Very few Hawaiians want to go back to the horrors of the chiefs and ali'i. Most are happy to vote and have all the rights they neevr had under the tyranny of the chiefs and kings.
on December 23,2012 | 11:06AM
Lanikaula wrote:
on December 23,2012 | 11:52AM
allie wrote:
you know what I say is true and I don't mind saying the truth
on December 23,2012 | 12:20PM
holokanaka wrote:
hawaiians voted overwhelmigly against becoming part of america-(Ku'e Petition). obviously you not familiar with the true legal history of the Hawaiian Kingdom in the 1800's and still not have educated yourself with that history but continue to post nonsence here. Why? and by the way what is this "hon" stuff..
on December 23,2012 | 12:36PM
OB1NONO_ME wrote:
Allie uses the term "hon" as a put down or as a way to say he is surerior than you. Notice I said he - some speculate she is actually a he troll.
on December 23,2012 | 09:59PM
allie wrote:
A petition is not a vote hon. And my discussion as the vote on statehood. You are talking about another issue and era.
on December 24,2012 | 12:26PM
holokanaka wrote:
a petition is a vote when the outcome is in your favor. the vote on statehood was illegal because it did not follow the required three choices. educate yourself "hon".
on December 24,2012 | 12:37PM
Anonymous wrote:
aliie you would not no the truth if it bit you in behind lol, the fact most of your statement are lies that you been caught in time and time again You do not speak for Hawaiians your just a visitor here-. Hawaiians want to self govern im sure you have heard this. Hawaiians all did not want statehood. do not come out with your make believe Hawaiian friend. And im sure that being at UH you seem the numbers growing for Hawaiians who want to self govern. the programs grow every year. why don't you try putting energy into your own life instead of the hate and lies you keep saying about native Hawaiians The STEM program at UH is just one of the programs with a lot of native Hawaiian students.
on December 23,2012 | 02:21PM
allie wrote:
The 94% figure is in every history book. Go look it up
on December 24,2012 | 12:25PM
holokanaka wrote:
the history books say that these islands was "annexed" by america in 1898. show me an annexation treaty "hon".
on December 24,2012 | 12:39PM
manoakeiki wrote:
Soli as part of the Hawaiian Renaissance of the 60s and 70s.was in the middle of turbulant changing times in Hawaii and with a full heart worked with many groups to make people aware of the cost to the Hawaiian culture that would occur with statehood. Santos farm is now filled with houses with the traditional land culture pushed further out and hidden while more and more building takes the land to accomodate incomers from the Orient and the Mainland. His determination, and spirit will be missed as will his love for the aina.
on December 26,2012 | 08:05AM
Latest News/Updates