Lifetime Hawaii Island resident Dru Mamo Kanuha has announced he will run for the newly-created County Council District 7, representing downtown Kailua Village and the Kona area from roughly Kainaliu north to Kona’s Old Airport.
Kanuha was born in Kealakekua and raised near the shore, in the ahupua’a of Holualoa. His father, Jerome Kanuha, was also born and raised in Kailua-Kona. His mother, Debbie Kanuha, was born in Pennsylvania, raised in Redondo Beach, California and has been in Kona for more than 40 years. The Kanuha family has lived for generations in the Keopu ahupua’a that extends from Kailua Bay through the area now known as Emma’s Square and mauka, and is known for their stewardship of Kona lands.
Kanuha attended Mokuaikaua Church pre-school, Kahakai Elementary School, and Kealakehe Intermediate and High School. Kanuha graduated from the University of San Diego in 2002 with a B.A. in Political Science, and a minor in Business Administration.
Kanuha says he’s been interested in serving the people of Hawaii Island in a leadership role since he was a boy, and attended many public meetings about roads, infrastructure, and development with his father while he was still in high school. Kanuha feels the time is right for him to represent the people of Kona and West Hawaii on the County Council. He says recent divisiveness on the County Council has concerned many citizens. He says he feels he can help the County Council regain a sense of looking out for the entire island as a whole, even though his primary focus will be the new Kona District 7.
Kanuha has been involved in public service for more than a decade. He has taught free tennis lessons to children every summer at the Old Kona Airport, worked with the Kealakehe High School Waveriders Against Drugs, and cleaned rubbish off beaches. Kanuha also served on the Hawaii Island Burial Council from 2010 to 2011 as the Kona Representative. Over the past year he served on the Hawaii Island Redistricting Commission, representing (the current) Kona District 7. Kanuha also serves on the Board of Director for Kai ‘O Pua Canoe Club, one of the oldest Canoe Clubs in the state with a membership of over 300, and in which his great-grandfather had a founding role.
Kanuha is employed by Kamehameha Schools-Land Assets Division, Hawaii Island, focusing on water and agricultural resources. In this capacity, he supports community outreach, promoting agricultural related events that support Kamehameha Schools’ Strategic Agricultural Plan. Previously Kanuha worked for Judiciary and Labor Chairman Clayton Hee as a Legislative Aide at the Hawaii State Capitol.
Kanuha is a founding member of The Betty Kanuha Foundation, Inc., which was formed in 2001 as a tribute to his grandmother. The Betty Kanuha Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports literacy and cultural programs for the youth of Hawaii Island. In the past 11 years, the Foundation has given over $250,000 to the West Hawaii Community, in the form of start-up reading programs, computers for classrooms, athletic programs for schools, scholarships for pre and post high school students, repairing the aging Simmons field at the Old Kona Airport, and holding eight consecutive years of the free “Kalae Iki” Youth Baseball Clinic for island boys and girls. The Foundation has also supported the continued restoration of Keolonahihi Heiau, beach cleanups, and numerous other programs aimed at cultural and educational opportunities for Kona Youth.