An Update from the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission

Here is a compilation of information, directly from Kanaʻiolowalu and the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission office.

  • As of May 30, 2014, the current Kanaʻiolowalu Native Hawaiian Roll stands at over 125,000. Additional work to confirm ancestry and clean up data may increase or reduce this number.

  • Over 80% of the Roll is comprised of residents of Hawaiʻi. In addition however, there are Native Hawaiians from all 50 U.S. states, and several foreign countries, who are on the Roll.

  • The Native Hawaiian Roll is a base roll – the list of eligible individuals wishing to participate in reorganizing a Native Hawaiian government for the purposes of native self-governance. A base roll is not a census – it is akin to a voter registration list.

  • Like all voter lists, people have a choice about their participation. Less than one-half of one percent have asked to be removed from the base roll.

  • On July 6, 2011, Governor Abercrombie signed a law (also known as Act 195, SLH 2011) recognizing the Native Hawaiian people as the only indigenous people of Hawaiʻi. This is one example of political recognition. The law also established a Native Hawaiian Roll Commission to prepare and maintain the roll.

  • Commissioners were appointed in September 2011.

  • In July 2012, the first on-line indigenous registry in the nation was opened. The registration campaign is known as Kanaʻiolowalu.

  • The registry was open for 18 months, officially closing on January 19, 2014.

  • On March 6, 2014, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ announced that it would fund and facilitate the governance process moving forward. Given the exciting news, the Roll Commission agreed to reopen the registry until May 1, 2014 for those who had yet to register.

  • In just 19 months of registration, over 40,000 Native Hawaiians signed on to Kanaʻiolowalu.

  • 87,000 Native Hawaiians were transferred to Kanaʻiolowalu from three OHA lists: Kau Inoa, Hawaiian Registry, and Operation ʻOhana. In the first six months of the registration effort, nearly a thousand Hawaiians who were on the Kau Inoa list asked the Roll Commission, its staff and volunteers why they had to sign up on yet another list. Many believed that they were already on board for self-governance, and were excited to participate in the next steps. (Kau Inoa was a ten-year organizing initiative of OHA.) Talks occurred to ensure as much inclusivity as possible in this historic effort. OHA sought an amendment to the law (Act 195, SLH 2011) in 2013 to allow for the transfer of ancestrally-confirmed beneficiary lists.

  • In 19 months of registration, Roll Commissioners, staff and volunteers made 252 presentations and participated in an additional 350 community events.

  • Upon transfer of OHA lists, several thousand duplicates were manually identified and removed, and close to 25% of the lists from OHA needed to have contact information updated, or missing information added. This was done in conjunction with mail, email, and phone calls to Native Hawaiians. The individuals who are enrolled want to engage in the process going forward and it is imperative that current and correct contact information is maintained.

  • A major unseen work product is ancestry confirmation. This is a very time-consuming process, requiring assistance from staff, case management, and a historic agreement with the state Department of Health. There have been over 2,000 hours of data management, case management and document review put in to confirming ancestry in order that the list produced can be certified by the Commission.

  • The primary reason for the base roll is to serve as the list of people who will participate in the nation-building process. As such, constant work is needed to maintain the most updated roll. The law also says that the persons on this list and their descendants are recognized as the indigenous people of Hawaiʻi. Therefore, those persons who have deceased will be identified as such but remain on the list. There are also minors on the list who are currently ineligible to vote. Over 80% are adults eligible to participate in the self-governance process.