KINA'U BOYD KAMALI'I / 1930-2005
STAR-BULLETIN / 1996
Kina'u Boyd Kamali'i, right, shown hugging Sol Kaho'ohalahala at a native Hawaiian rally, was remembered by friends and colleagues yesterday as a defender of Republican principles and Hawaiian rights. Kamali'i died at home Friday at the age of 74.
GOP maverick advanced Hawaiian interests
Kina'u Boyd Kamali'i, regarded as one of the trailblazers for the Hawaii Republican Party, died Friday at home. She was 74.
She was the GOP national committeewoman for Hawaii in 1971-1975, when the party "didn't enjoy as much popularity as it does now," said former GOP Chairman Sam Aiona, calling her "a trailblazer" for the party.
"She was a defender of Republican principles, and for that we thank her. She really fought hard for the people of Hawaii. She was a good public servant. She was a very spirited woman with a lot of energy and a lot of spunk."
Kamali'i served as a state legislator representing the Ala Moana-Waikiki district from 1974 to 1982 and from 1984 to 1986.
As minority floor leader, "she was a great speaker on the floor of the House," said former Rep. Andrew "Andy" Poepoe, who served in the Legislature with her Kamali'i for many years.
She was feisty and capable and "always exuded confidence," he said.
"Because we were in the minority in the House, you had to be able to stand up and speak your piece. She was able to do that. She gave great support to the (Republican) caucus, but she goes beyond any kind of party.
"She certainly had Hawaiian issues at the forefront."
House Speaker Calvin Say recalled serving with Kamali'i when she was the GOP leader in the House.
"I really enjoyed working with her. She was someone who represented the old Hawaiian values and culture. I think she contributed a lot to the Hawaiian renaissance," said Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Wilhemina Rise).
"She was a strong-willed, down-to-earth lady, and I wish more members of the House had an opportunity to work with her.
"I can say she was an eloquent voice on the House floor, and she was a force for Hawaiian causes and the creation of OHA," Say said.
Kamali'i served with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs as an at-large trustee from 1992 to 1996.
Haunani Apoliona, chairwoman of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees, said Kamali'i "had a rich history of public service and policy-making, and certainly in the last phase of her public service she was focused on improving and advancing the future for native Hawaiians.
"So we are grateful for her decades of work on behalf of the people of Hawaii," and more recently her work on behalf of native Hawaiians, Apoliona said.
Kamali'i felt her greatest accomplishment was as chairwoman of the Native Hawaiian Study Commission from 1981 to 1983, said her daughter, Na'unanikina'u Kamali'i.
She brought together Hawaiians from all islands after her appointment by President Ronald Reagan, and gave them an opportunity to say whatever they wanted about the needs and concerns of native Hawaiians, her daughter said.
"When the federal commissioners came down, I remember Mom saying to them, 'I have only one requirement: that the hearings be held until every last Hawaiian speaks.'
"Sometimes they went until 2 a.m. to 3 a.m."
Kina'u Kamali'i wrote a minority opinion that disagreed with a main report absolving the federal government of wrongdoing in the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. The commission's findings led to legislation that established native Hawaiian health programs, Na'unanikina'u Kamali'i said.
Kina'u Kamali'i served on the native Hawaiian community working group that drafted the Akaka Bill, but not did not support later versions, her daughter said. "She believed that the peoples' authority to engage with the federal government already exists."
She was active in the Hawaiian community and Hawaiian civic clubs, working for repatriation of Hawaiian burial remains from East Coast museums and for preservation of Hawaiian language and culture.
In the late 1990s, she worked on a program to pull together all Hawaiian leaders "under a tent, literally, at Kualoa" to discuss issues regarding native Hawaiian self-determination, her daughter said. "She believed in everybody getting under a tent and doing the work."
She was also administrator of the State Health Planning and Development Agency for eight years under former Gov. John Waihee. Kamali'i served as Reagan's Hawaii campaign chairwoman in 1980. And she was a former Iolani Palace director and vice-chairwoman of the Kamehameha Day Celebration Commission.
She was honored as outstanding Hawaiian of the year by the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs in 1985.
Survivors include daughters Na'unanikina'u Kamali'i of Honolulu and Sissi Horton of Seattle, son Rudolph Kamali'i Jr. of Maui; sister Yvonne Erickson of Kailua; five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
A memorial service is set for Nov. 11 at St. Andrew's Cathedral in Honolulu, with interment to follow at Oahu Cemetery.
Star-Bulletin reporter Richard Borreca and the Associated Press contributed to this report.