Prominent activist and former trustee announces candidacy for Office of Hawaiian Affairs At-Large seat
Walter Ritte News Release
Longtime community leader and former Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Walter Ritte will hold a press conference today to announce his candidacy for the at-large seat for OHA. The announcement will take place at the Queen Lili’uokalani statue on the grounds at the State Capitol in Honolulu starting at 12:15 p.m.
A Kamehameha Schools graduate, Ritte is a prominent Hawaiian activist and long-time advocate for Hawaiian rights. He is also a member of the original “Kaho’olawe Nine,” the group of activists who landed on Kaho’olawe in 1976 in opposition to the military bombings and eventual return of the island to the State of Hawaii, where it is currently held in trust until such time as a Native Hawaiian governing entity is formed. Ritte was also a member at the 1978 Constitutional Convention and supported the formation of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. He helped author Article XII Sec. 7 of the Hawaii State Constitution, which codifies Native Hawaiian cultural and gathering rights.
Ritte has formerly served as a trustee with OHA, and for the last three decades, he has fought for the protection of Hawaii’s most valued and fragile resources. He is known for his opposition to uncontrolled development and strong advocacy for traditional and sustainable natural resource management. In recent years, he has been at the forefront of numerous environmental issues, including the protection of endangered species, the protection of kalo and water rights, advocacy for community involvement in sustainable tourism and advocacy for legislation that would require labeling of genetically modified foods.
A Molokai Hawaiian homestead resident from Ho’olehua, Ritte’s candidacy brings diversity to an otherwise Oahu-exclusive pool of candidates. All four current OHA At-Large Trustees are Oahu residents. Ritte would be the only at-large representative from a neighbor island.
Supporters welcome the greater diversity among at-large trustees. “It is both necessary and fair to have more representation from the neighbor islands,” said supporter Trisha Kehalani Watson. “For too long decision making in Hawaii has been Oahu-centric. We need to remember we are an ‘ohana of islands, which means giving greater voice to the neighbor islands.” She adds, “Uncle Walter’s leadership, experience and unparalleled commitment to community are exactly what the Office of Hawaiian Affairs needs right now. He is the perfect person to bring multiple generations together to inspire us all to work as one people for the betterment of all Hawaiians and all of Hawaii.”
Statement from Walter Ritte
I am concerned for the life of our islands. Our economy is at war with our natural resources. Unsustainable economics are killing the goose that lays our golden eggs, depleting the corpus of the trust, destroying our mother, neglecting our kuleana to Haloa.
The disappearance of our wildlife and traditional plants from our forests has caused us to be the endangered species capital of the world.
We can no longer drink the waters in our rivers. The ‘opae, hihiwai and o’opu in our rivers are gone. Corporations are diverting rivers away from our traditional food production uses in our taro lands and fishponds.
Corporate industrialized development and farming are turning our lands into chemical laden dust bowls, which run into the ocean and cover our reefs.
Our major source of food along the shoreline such as ‘opihi, ahukihuki, limus, crabs, shrimp, lobster and fish are all but gone.
Our state legislature and governor are beginning to support the wrong side in this war on our natural resources.
OHA can provide leadership and resources, by tapping into its 2,000 years of indigenous knowledge, to help solve Hawaii’s problems of food security, climate change, self-sufficiency and resource management.
We need effective ecosystem-based management plans for all of our vital natural resources based on the proven values of the ahupua’a, kapu system, sharing, eliminating waste, adaptive management, and ecological engineering. Aloha ‘aina is a matter of our survival.
We need to deal with the unresolved and un-relinquished sovereignty of Hawaii.
1893, the United States supported and helped to overthrow the Kingdom of Hawaii.
1898, the United States annexed Hawaii with an illegal resolution.
These illegal acts cannot be the foundation upon which we build the future for our children. It is like building our house on sand.
OHA needs to educate and organize the Hawaiian people and build our nation from the bottom up.
Our Ali’i Trusts need to lokahi and broaden their scope of responsibility by providing leadership for the well being and betterment of the Hawaiian people.
I want to bring my skills and experience to help Hawaii and its people, and to malama our future generations.