Ku`uwehi Hiraishi

General Assignment Reporter

Ways to Connect

Ku'uwehi Hiraishi

Governor David Ige is considering a measure passed by Hawaiʻi lawmakers that would allow the state to extend leases of public lands for up to 40 years if tenants agree to make significant improvements to the property. Supporters of House Bill 499 say it will attract long-term investments in public lands. Critics argue it could open the door to public lands being held in private hands for more than 100 years.

AP Photo/John Minchillo

The conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd is stoking discussions locally on the use of force and the role of racial bias in policing Hawaiʻi’s communities of color.

Scott Cameron/WikimediaCommons / CC BY 3.0

A new study out of UC Berkeley ranks Hawaiʻi the top state in the country when it comes to inclusiveness. Researchers looked at factors like income inequality, political representation, and reported hate crimes to determine just how each state treats vulnerable and marginalized groups. 

Kaipo Kīʻaha / ʻŌiwi TV

Chad Kālepa Baybayan died suddenly on Thursday—after a lifetime perpetuating the tradition of Polynesian navigation—including many years aboard the Hōkūleʻa. He navigated not only the ocean waters, but also the challenges of leadership—and mentoring the next generation of voyagers.

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File

Hundreds of Pacific Islanders on the Big Island received the COVID-19 vaccine over the weekend, in a first-of-its-kind mass vaccination clinic in Kona targeting this high-risk population.

Rep. Kaiali'i Kahele

The old Hawaiian fishing village of Miloliʻi on Hawaiʻi Island is on its way to achieving herd immunity against COVID-19. This past weekend alone, nearly half of the residents in this remote South Kona community received their coronavirus vaccine.

Becca Hiraishi

Researchers at the University of Hawaiʻi want to know more about Native Hawaiian dietary habits. For some of the answers, they’re looking to expectant mothers and their babies.

Pop Up Mākeke

Pop Up Mākeke, an online marketplace for local vendors; Hawai‘i's rural residents share their challenges during the pandemic; Reality Check with Civil Beat; A new campaign to warn teens of the dangers of e-cigarettes; Gourmet chocolate shop in Chinatown


It’s been just over a year since the threat of COVID-19 began to change the way Hawaiʻi residents work, learn, and travel. Here's a snapshot of how the pandemic has impacted some of the state’s most remote and rural communities.

Casey Harlow / HPR

The Maui Community Correctional Center is seeing a significant drop in COVID-19 cases after nearly two months of trying to contain the virus. But there are concerns that staff shortages and the presence of a more contagious strain of the coronavirus may jeopardize the progress made thus far.

UH John A. Burns School of Medicine

It’s Match Day madness at medical schools across the country today as med school seniors find out if – and where – they’ll train to become full-fledged doctors. For Hawaiʻi, Match Day is especially crucial because its an opportunity for local residency programs to recruit the next generation of doctors to fill the state’s growing physician shortage.

Casey Harlow / HPR

State lawmakers have advanced a proposal to end cash bail in Hawaiʻi for pre-trial detainees – those arrested but not yet convicted of a crime – who are being held for certain non-violent offenses. Senate Bill 1260 aims to address overcrowding in Hawaiʻi’s jails and prisons, but those who oppose the measure argue that the bail system is there for a reason.

Pelika Andrade

Heavy rains on Kauaʻi triggered a landslide last week that completely covered Kūhiō Highway just before the Hanalei Bridge – essentially isolating communities from Hanalei to Hāʻena. Fortunately, a cadre of community-bred leaders set up an all-volunteer shuttle system along the Hanalei River to transport residents and supplies until government officials can restore roadway access to their communities.

Duke Kahanamoku, Patsy Mink, Eddie Aikau. What do they all have in common? They’ve all since passed away, and the rights to their persona – things like their name, voice, and likeness – are at risk of being used by others for commercial gain.

Department of Land and Natural Resources

As communities across the island state grapple with heavy rains, flooded roadways and overflowing streams, Maui residents are dealing with the aftermath of what could have been a disaster. Maui County says about a half a dozen homes were destroyed and more than 100 households evacuated when a torrential downpour overflowed Kaupakalua Dam in Haʻikū.

Courtesy Netflix

The Netflix original "Finding ‘Ohana" debuted a little more than a month ago, and is now available in ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i - with Hawaiian subtitles that is. Any Netflix movie or television show can now be captioned in the Hawaiian language, thanks to a new platform called ‘Ōleloflix.

Small farmers on state-owned land agricultural lands, or the lack thereof, was a point of criticism by lawmakers at a recent public hearing on Hawaii's embattled Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC). A report by the state auditor found the government entity has done little in its 27-year history to fulfill its mission of developing diversified agricultural enterprises.

U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr
U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

Hawaiʻi legislators are one step closer to dissolving the state’s Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC).  The 27-year-old entity was initially created to develop economically viable farms to fill the void created by the closure of plantations. But a recent state audit found the ADC has done little to fill that void.

Ku'uwehi Hiraishi

The Hawaiʻi Nature Center located right on the outskirts of urban Honolulu has been connecting kids to nature for nearly 40 years. But now under the pandemic, the center has become an outdoor classroom for keiki wanting more than what virtual learning has to offer. 

Hawaiʻi lawmakers are considering legislation to help the state’s funeral services industry accommodate traditional Hawaiian burial practices by using a technology known as water cremation. Supporters say this is a cleaner alternative to burial or traditional cremation. But industry representatives say it could come at a higher cost to consumers.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The Oversight Commission on Hawaiʻi’s Correctional Systems is requesting an analysis of inmate deaths at state jails and prisons. So far eight Hawaiʻi inmates have died of COVID-19 while in state custody, and their relatives are looking for answers.


When a Hawaii inmate dies at any of the state's jails or prisons, the state Public Safety Department is required to provide a report to the governor withing 48 hours. A legislative proposal would require that same report be made available to the public and a copy given to the inmates' family.

AP Photo/Steven Senne, File

Updated 2/12/21, 12:05 p.m.

A Hawaiian housing organization plans to file federal racketeering charges against Bank of America for failing to fulfill a decades-long pledge to provide home loans to Native Hawaiians.

Casey Harlow / HPR

Updated 2/5/21, 3:10 p.m.

The state Department of Health's State Laboratories Division has confirmed the highly transmissible B.1.1.7 variant is present in Hawaii. The variant was originally detected in the United Kingdom, and leads to a more rapid spread than other common COVID-19 strains.

Community opposition is growing in Kohala over plans to develop a parking lot near the Pololū Valley lookout. The proposal would improve access to the area’s popular hiking trail, but it could also open the door to residential development on the valley ridgeline.

A grassroots effort is underway for a local non-profit to purchase an ancient Hawaiian fishpond on Kauaʻi. The Alakoko Fishpond was recently put on the market with a pricetag of $3 million dollars.


American Samoa’s repatriation system picked up five COVID-19 cases so far among the more than 160 residents in quarantine here in Honolulu. This is American Samoa’s first attempt to help residents get home since the pandemic closed its borders more than 10 months ago.  

Ashley Mizuo/HPR

Updated 1/22/21, 11:58 a.m.

The latest state COVID-19 data shows more than 3,100 confirmed cases of the virus among Native Hawaiians, including 26 Hawaiians who have died of the coronavirus. The numbers are even worse for Pacific Islanders, who make up about four percent of the state’s population and more than 24% of the state’s COVID-19 cases.

Hawaii State Legislature

State lawmakers are taking a hard look this session at some of the long-standing issues contributing to the spread of the coronavirus in Hawaiʻi’s jails and prisons. According to the latest data from the state Public Safety Department, nearly half of Hawaiʻi inmates have contracted COVID-19 while behind bars.

Pixabay Commons
Pixabay Commons

The doctor shortage on the Big Island has grown nearly 40 percent since 2007. That’s according to research on Hawaiʻi Island’s health workforce over the years.  Big Island doctors say the high cost of living, heavy tax burden, and low reimbursements have created a bad situation that’s likely to only get worse amid a global pandemic.