View Point

By Kelly Greenwell

Saturday, September 13, 1997

Why not open
Kamehameha to children
of all ethnic groups?

I hope those chosen and appointed to research the proceedings of the Bishop Estate will not be sidetracked by mere symptoms of the problem and focus instead on the underlying issue.

At this point, there seems to be considerable concern as to whether the Bishop Estate can retain its tax-free status if it is determined that enrollment at the Kamehameha Schools is granted according to race.

This practice, I believe, is undeniable, and therefore the concern is real. However, while this tax-free status affects all of us, it is not fundamental to the problem.

What I believe to be the real issue is that Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop clearly states in her will that she wants to educate Hawaii's children, boys and girls.

Although she specifies that, in the case of orphaned and indigent children, there be special consideration given to youngsters of Hawaiian ancestry, her intent is clear: She wants all of Hawaii's children to go to Kamehameha.

If the schools were charged with educating all children, we would have a vastly superior system of education in this state and the desire of our princess would be more closely met.

With this current opportunity to investigate the operations of the estate, let's hope that we don't look only at money and management issues. While these matters are of major concern, they are born of the symptoms of the problem and are not the root.

During the time of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the Hawaiian culture and the spirit of aloha were strong forces in determining the future of children and the concept of hanai was deeply felt.

Both Bernice Pauahi and her cousin Keekikolani, from whom much of the lands of the estate were acquired, had a strong sense of fair play as demonstrated in both their actions and their letters.

These leaders realized that for a nation to be strong, its citizens' primary need was to be educated -- all of its citizens. They realized that all real wealth flowed from knowledge and problems could only be dissolved by truth.

Today, much of this insight has eroded and the all-mighty dollar seems to rule. This is a foreign concept to many of us who have lived here when things were different and there is frustration and now anger.

As a haole, although one whose ancestors were subjects of the princess, I hope the kanaka maoli do not consider my view toward opening Kamehameha Schools to all children to be in opposition to the fight to stop further degradation of Hawaii's culture.

My view is that all of us are affected by the will and I hope we can move into the future as one people together.

It is unfair to all people that the largest business venture in the state, the Bishop Estate, be exempt from taxes. The rest of us can't carry the load anymore, unless of course, they were educating all of our children as the will directs.

It is unfair to all of us that persons with no qualifications other than political association are in charge of the $10 billion operation vested with educating our children.

But most important, it is unfair to all people that one group of people, the native Hawaiians, be treated as a special class, because it hurts them to a much greater degree than it helps them -- and that hurts all people.

This, then, is not about money and it is not about management. At issue are fairness and justice.

A person's will -- the assurance that a person's last desire remains even after his or her passing -- is one of the most sacred underpinnings of law and morality and must not be violated.

Fortunately, those chosen to sort through the workings of the estate have the highest level of respect in this community. I wish them Godspeed.

Bishop Estate Archive

Kelly Greenwell, a fifth-generation Kona native,
is a landscape contractor and nurseryman and a member of numerous
community organizations. The opinions in View Point columns are
the authors' and are not necessarily shared by the Star-Bulletin.

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