Hawaii 24/7 Staff
Puna’s State Rep. Faye Hanohano has apologized to those offended by racial and ethnic remarks she made in response to artwork being installed in her office.
As part of the “Art in Public Places” program, artwork is provided for the state Capitol offices of elected officials.
Exhibit specialists with the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts claimed Hanohano, who is Native Hawaiian, was upset that none of the work being installed in her office was by Native Hawaiian artists.
She has been quoted as telling workers “any work done by Haoles, Japs, Paranges, Pakes, you can take them away right now.”
Hanohano on Thursday issued the following statement and apology:
First and foremost, I’d like to express my sincere apology to any individuals or groups who may have been offended by my comments. Clearly comments that were intended to be an impassioned plea for increasing the visibility and support for Native Hawaiian artists were expressed in a manner that did not accurately reflect their intent, sentiment or the integrity of this office.
I accept full responsibility for this unfortunate incident and, again, I apologize.
My office has already reached out to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to assist us in obtaining additional training for all of our staff. We are committed to taking immediate steps to ensure that an incident like this never happens again.
I will also be reaching out to the State Foundation for Culture and the Arts to attempt to rebuild and improve that relationship.
I stand firm in my position that individuals who serve in state leadership positions should be thoroughly educated and informed on the history and native culture of Hawaii.
I am hopeful that this unfortunate incident can serve as a platform for improving dialogue and cross-cultural relationships between state departments.
Hanohano also delivered an apology on the floor of the state House of Representatives.
The full text:
Ka Hua olelo o ka la – MIHI – Apology
O ku’u leo mihi ho’i keia e noi ha’aha’a nei ia ‘oukou i ka huikala mai ia’u.
I am an honest and straight speaking woman whom descends from long line of proud leaders and warriors from Puna of Hawaii Island.
I aloha all of our people in Hawaii and will continue to find ways to champion the plethora of issues and challenges that my Hawaiian people continue to endure.
I firmly believe in my naau, in my heart that when my native people don’t just survive but actually thrive and prosper then ALL of our other ethnicities of Hawaii nei shall find greater benefit and blessing.
Todayʻs word is MIHI and I humbly apologize to all of you whom may have been offended by sentiments expressed that were taken into the news media.
I realize that as public elected officials we all come to the table and kukakuka about the issues that matter most to our communities. Sometimes we agree, and sometimes we donʻt however let me reaffirm my commitment to all of you that I shall serve my people and the people of the State of Hawaii to the best of my ability, integrity and for the honor of my kupuna.
House Speaker Joe Souki issued the following statement:
“I absolutely do not condone this type of offensive language and behavior by anyone. I have spoken to Rep. Hanohano and emphasized that this is not in keeping with the spirit of the House of Representatives. She will be sending a letter of apology to the State Foundation on Culture and Arts Exhibit team specialists. As Speaker of the House I have also extended my sincerest apology to the members of the Exhibit team.”