Ku`uwehi Hiraishi

General Assignment Reporter

Ways to Connect

Pacific Islanders in Hawai’i continue to see the disproportionate impact of COVID-19. They make up nearly 30 percent of the state’s coronavirus cases but only 4 percent of its population. For the thousands of Pacific Islanders who don’t speak English, access to health care during the pandemic has been largely dependent on access to a language interpreter.

Kia'i Kaua'ula

Maui County has dropped all charges related to protests over construction on known historic burial grounds in Kaua’ula Valley. Five native Hawaiian women with familial ties to the area on Maui’s west end have been refunded their bail and are calling for a halt to the project after human remains were uncovered.

Sonny Abesamis
Sonny Abesamis

It’s been a month since Hawaiʻi started its pre-travel testing program, slowly expanding the number of visitors in the islands. In some places, that shift has gotten a mixed reaction, even for communities that have come to depend on tourism dollars. Here's how this is playing out in the Maui beach town community of Pāʻia.

Justin Sullivan/Pool via AP

The election of Kamala Harris to serve as vice president of the United States has sparked conversations across the country about the role of gender and race in politics. Here in Hawaiʻi, the discussion covers history, culture, and the future of political power in the state.

Big Island Video News

Events are being held across the country today in honor of those who have served in the U.S. military. Veterans Day celebrations in Hilo will be especially meaningful in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak that claimed the lives of 27 residents at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home. 

Catherine Cruz/Hawaii Public Radio

Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee Colette Machado was voted out of office Tuesday, after more than 24 years on the job.


Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

The embattled Sandwich Isles Communications may soon need to sell off its statewide telecommunications network to pay off mounting federal debt. Another local telecom company is emerging as a potential successor to provide services on Hawaiian Home Lands.

Cory Lum

Mass COVID-19 testing of hundreds of Hawaiʻi inmates being held at an Arizona prison begins Thursday. This comes days after 56 Hawaiʻi inmates at the Saguaro Correctional Center tested positive for the coronavirus.

Hilo Medical Center / Hilo Medical Center

Big Island Mayor Harry Kim says a recent spike in COVID-19 cases on the island is not a result of reopening trans-Pacific or interisland travel. The uptick in cases is due to community spread.

Wikimedia Commons

Updated: 10/23/2020. 7:30 p.m.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino has asked the governor to lock down Lanai to travel and order residents to stay at home beginning Tuesday after the number of COVID-19 cases on the island spiked to 65 today. Lanai has a population of about 3,000.

Shanty Asher

Hawaiʻi’s Pacific Islander community is seeing a bump in COVID-19 cases after weeks of declining numbers. The situation has been particularly rough on the state’s Micronesian community, which has experienced a void in diplomatic leadership throughout the pandemic.

Keeaumoku Kapu

Tensions are rising on Maui’s west end over construction that’s begun on known historic burial grounds in Kauaʻula Valley. Lineal descendants of the area have flocked to the site in recent days to halt the project until archeological work can be done to ensure ancestral remains are protected.

Free-Photos from Pixabay

Even before the pandemic, internet service on Molokaʻi was rarely ideal – spotty coverage, slow speeds and constant buffering. This has become an even bigger frustration for residents on the island’s Hawaiian Home Lands, where service is limited to one embattled telecom provider.

The Popolo Project

Being Black in Hawaiʻi is a rare experience shared only by about three percent of the state’s population. But, what about being Black and adopted by Native Hawaiians? That’s the story of Hawaiian falsetto music star Kamakakēhau Fernandez – and the subject of an upcoming documentary.

Ikaika Marzo/Facebook; Mitch Roth Campaign

Election ballots will be going out across the state starting next week. On Hawaii Island, what began as a crowded race among some 16 mayoral hopefuls is now a head-to-head battle to the finish line for local entrepreneur Ikaika Marzo and county prosecutor Mitch Roth.

AP Photo/Tim Wright

Updated: 9/23/2020, 9:42 a.m. Staff at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo have been getting death threats, according to a state emergency management official.

This comes just one day after the state released a report placing partial blame on staff for a COVID-19 outbreak that has taken the lives of 26 veterans and infected another 78 residents and staff.

Big Island Video News

Updated: 9/22/2020, 10:50 a.m. A culture of complacency among staff at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo was a major contributor to the rapid spread of COVID-19 throughout the facility. That’s according to a new report on the outbreak, which has claimed the lives of 25 veterans as of today and infected another 79 residents and staff.


AP Photo/Tim Wright

Updated: 9/19/2020, 3:06 p.m. There was very little evidence of proactive preparation or planning for COVID-19 at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home, according to a report released late Friday. The 16-page report was compiled by a team of infectious disease experts from the Department of Veterans Affairs after an onsite assessment last week. 

pixabay/Creative Commons
pixabay/Creative Commons

The oversight commission for Hawaiʻi’s jails and prisons is raising concerns over the state’s plan to mass test inmates for COVID-19. The state Department of Public Safety maintains its prison population is a priority for testing, but at their monthly meeting, the commissioners disagreed, saying it is jails that are more of a worry.

Big Island Video News

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is sending a larger COVID-19 team to the Big Island Thursday to help contain the coronavirus outbreak at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home. Multiple investigations are underway into the outbreak at the Hilo nursing home that has claimed the lives of 14 veterans and left another 84 residents and staff infected with the virus.

Marshallese Community Organization of Hawai'i

Pacific Islanders in Hawaii are being disproportionately hit by the pandemic. They're 4 percent of the population and more than 30 percent of the state’s COVID-19 cases. The state has struggled to bring that number down, prompting at least one Pacific Islander community to take matters into their own hands.

A trust founded by Queen Liliʻuokalani, Hawaiʻi’s last-reigning monarch, is expanding to adapt to the changing needs of the most vulnerable Native Hawaiian children. But recent decisions by Liliʻuokalani Trust leadership, including staff layoffs and site closures, are creating confusion for some in the community who want answers.

Hawaii County

Hawaiʻi County Mayor Harry Kim says further restrictions are not the answer in stopping a surge of COVID-19 cases and community spread on the Big Island.

Support Mo'omomi Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area

A proposal on Molokaʻi aimed at giving the community greater control over local fisheries is prompting opposition from some families on the island who say they aren't being heard.  The state has been developing a community-based model for marine resource management over 26 years now. But what happens when a community can't agree on how to manage the fishery?

Ku'uwehi Hiraishi

Hawaiʻi County is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases on the Hilo side of the Big Island. State health authorities say its community spread and that testing and contact tracing are aggressively being pursued.

Ku'uwehi Hiraishi

In response to a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Hawaiʻi, some are turning to cultural practice and tradition for answers. Dozens of kumu hula are calling for a 30-day kapu – a period of discipline and focus on well-being – to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Pueo Press

According to the latest U.S. census figures, less than 3 percent of Hawaiʻi’s population is Black. But there is a long history of Black experience in Hawaiʻi, and that includes early writings by Hawaiian monarchs like King Kalākaua and Queen Liliʻuokalani. UH Mānoa English Professor Joyce Pualani Warren examined the literature and shares her findings with HPR.

The state Supreme Court yesterday added non-violent felony defendants to the list of inmates eligible for release. The presiding judge in each case has until Monday to make a decision.

The court earlier gave the state until tomorrow to release two dozen detainees facing misdemeanor and petty misdemeaor charges from an overcrowded Oʻahu jail, where a COVID-19 outbreak has infected more than 200 people.

The Hawaiʻi Supreme Court will hear arguments today on a potential second round of inmate releases at an Oʻahu jail, where more than 80 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. The state Public Defenders’ office filed the petition with the high court after hearing news of the spread of the coronavirus in the overcrowded Oʻahu Community Correctional Center.

Catherine Cruz/Hawaii Public Radio

Casting a ballot in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs election is a right shared by all Hawaiʻi voters - both Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian. But the consistently high number of blank votes cast in the OHA races show that while everyone can vote for OHA, it's certainly not the custom.