Colleen Hanabusa
Colleen Hanabusa

Candidate Profile

Candidate’s Name: Colleen Hanabusa
Political Office/Position Sought: US House of Representatives
Senate/Representative District: Congressional District 1
Are you an incumbent? No; but I served the First Congressional District from 2011 to 2015
Campaign contact name, phone number, and email: Shea Baker, 808-398-8713,

1.  Why are you running for office?

Having served over 15 years in the Hawaii State Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, I have gained a thorough knowledge of both the legislative system and the issues that most concern our citizens. I am proud to offer that experience in representing our state.

It is important for us as a state to make sure that our federal delegation is united and working on behalf of the state to deliver results. In his first term in Congress, Mark made good on several of his promises and when he asked me to run for his seat, I humbly accepted because I know how important it is to have someone in this seat who is a fighter.

Native Hawaiian rights have always been an important issue to me and continue to be a driving factor for me serving in elected office. I am running again to be an effective advocate in Washington for Native Hawaiian rights and our entire state as a whole.

2.  What are your views about Hawaiian self-governance? In your capacity as a legislator, what action, if any, would you advocate in support of Hawaiian self-governance?

The indigenous population of Hawaii should have the right—like all other indigenous and native people of this country—to self-determination and federal recognition. A Native Hawaiian government could be achieved through rulemaking, Acts of Congress, or through the courts; these avenues, via the three branches of government, have helped other indigenous people of this country earn their rights and all venues should be available to Native Hawaiians.

Before Hawaii became a state, the federal government created a trust relationship with 50% quantum qualifiers, which identified Native Hawaiians under the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. The ceded lands revenue as set forth in 5(f) of the Admission Act are for the stated purpose of the betterment of their conditions. This defined beneficiary group is to whom that trust and fiduciary duty is owed by the federal government and also the group entitled to rulemaking.

An Act of Congress in today’s climate would be a very difficult task. We must remember the important work and deep dedication Senator Akaka has provided to Native Hawaiians in looking for a path forward. Earlier this month, two rules for the HHCA have become final and 43 CFR Part 50, if enacted, would reestablish a government to government relationship with a Native Hawaiian Governing Entity. This may be the quickest path the self-determination and federal recognition and is something we must look at.

3. When it comes to Native Hawaiian issues, what do you perceive your role as a legislator to be? What ways can you, if elected, support Native Hawaiian concerns through your legislative abilities? If elected, describe specific Native Hawaiian bill ideas that you would be willing to propose or support for the advancement of Native Hawaiians.

As a legislator, it is my duty to not only make sure that current legislation is upheld but to also look for ways in which we can do better. As I have done in the past, both as a member of the Hawaii State Senate and as a member of the US House of Representatives, I will work hard to make sure that I work with all interested parties to ensure that we are working toward a common goal of ensuring that Native Hawaiian issues are advocated for effectively.

In my 12 years in the Hawaii State Senate, I chaired the Senate Committee on Water, Land, and Hawaiian Affairs as well as the Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee where, as the Senator for the Waianae Coast, I was able to uphold my responsibility to work on Hawaiian Affairs issues.

If elected, I will continue to strive for federal recognition for Native Hawaiians whether that be through an administrative process or through a legislative process. Native Hawaiians have waited too long to achieve federal recognition and I would work ardently, as I have in the past, on this issue. In addition, I would continue to work to make sure that important Native Hawaiian education, housing, and health issues are supported and funded.

Working with colleagues like Don Young of Alaska on the House Natural Resources Committee reminds me of the reality that there are a lot of advocates for Native Hawaiian rights, on both sides of the aisle, and this is important to keep in mind as we work to find solutions to these important issues.