Ryan Finnerty


Ryan Finnerty is a producer on Hawaiʻi Public Radio's local public affairs talk show The Conversation where he reports on local and state politics, business, economics, the military, science, and the environment. His work has been featured nationwide on American Public Media's Marketplace and C-SPAN Radio's View from the States project. Before coming to Hawaiʻi Public Radio, Ryan was an officer in the U.S. Army stationed at Schofield Barracks on Oʻahu. He graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in economics.   

Ryan Finnerty

A homeless community on Oahu’s leeward coast is one step closer to finding homes. The group received a $150,000 donation to help fund a plan to transition the residents of Pu'uhonua o Waianae to permanent housing. The money came from some of the biggest real estate trusts in Hawaii.

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The number one vector for invasive species coming to Hawaii is not well regulated. Hawaii is not unique in the lack of regulation concerning biofouling, which is the transfer of organic marine life on the underside of ship hulls. Much more attention is given to the agricultural products being transported on board those ships.

California DFW / Flickr

In December of 2018, officials from 22 states met in Hawaii for a meeting of the Western Governor’s Association. Hawaii Governor David Ige hosted the gathering in Kona which was focused on the impacts of invasive species. Invasions from ecologically alien plants and animals are contributing to environmental and economic degredation around the world. In many ways Hawaii is ground zero for the fight against invasive species. This series explores the problem and what can be done to limit the damage.

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Hawaii has the highest rate of rentership in the nation, with 43% of residents renting the property in which they live. Last year around 1,700 of those renters were evicted by their landlord. According to a new report from non-profit group Lawyers for Equal Justice, 95% of eviction cases in Hawaii resulted in the tenant being evicted. 


Hawaii is already spending tens of millions of dollars per year dealing with the effects of invasive species and without coordinated action that number will balloon in the coming decades. That was the message from a panel of Hawaii-based experts earlier this week.

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Hawaii Governor David Ige hosted the 2018 winter meeting of the Western Governors' Association in Kona this week. Ige selected invasive species as the topic for the two day event. Hawaii's efforts to study and control the Little Fire Ant were highlighted during one panel discussion.

California Surf Museum

In the early years of the Vietnam War a cultural revolution was underway on the West Coast of the United States. It wasn't women's liberation or the counterculture. It was the Shortboard Revolution. As the modern sport of surfing was taking shape, many of its earliest adopters were being sent to war the jungles of Vietnam.

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Although it has been 77 years since the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II, many American servicemen killed in the battle have yet to be identifed. But that is beginning to change. Technological advancements are allowing forensic scientists at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to determine the identities of hundreds of Americans who were buried as unknowns. 

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Since 2011 more than 700,000 veterans nationwide have donated their genetic information to help the Department of Veterans Affairs research the origins of disease and find new treatments. It’s called the Million Veteran Program. In 2015 MVP became the largest human genomic database in the world.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr

Some of Hawaii's most polluted waterways may soon get help from an unlikely source: oysters. After a successful test project in Pearl Harbor, the Hawaiian Islands branch of the Waterkeeper Alliance is seeking to expand the use of oyster colonies to clean polluted waters. 

Grace Simoneau / DVIDS

American troops deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border got a lot of attention over the Thanksgiving holiday. But at the same time there was a quieter mission underway, involving military personnel from Hawaii and Guam.

Since late October, American militaryy personnel have been in the Commowealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. They are on the islands of Tinian and Saipan responding to widespread damage from a super typhoon.

surfglassy / Flickr

Surfing may be the ancestral sport of Hawaii but these days it is also big business. The global surfing industry is worth around $10 billion per year. At the forefront of that industry is the World Surf League. Every year the WSL runs more than 180 events at all levels of competition. In 2018, more than 2,400 male and female athletes caught waves in 27 countries around the world.


  Eating healthy is all the rage these days – and our options at the grocery store reflect that trend. High-end food stores like the Amazon subsidiary Whole Foods and local chain Down to Earth are expanding. Traditional grocers like Foodland are making room on their shelves for more organic and local products.

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Mothers Against Drunk Driving; The Long View; Tales from the Emerald Isle


Niall De Burca

Ireland is a land misty bogs and green fields. Much like Hawaii, it is a land rich in stories of ancient heroes and spirits who shaped the physical world. This week Hawaii residents will have the opportunity to hear some of those Irish tales.

Niall De Burca is a travelling storyteller – a seanchai in Irish Gaelic. He’s touring Hawaii to tell the stories of his homeland and spoke with HPR’s Ryan Finnerty here in our studio.

The U.S. National Archives / Flickr

The Honolulu City Council has given final approval to a bill that aims to streamline the process for getting a building permit. Lengthy delays in issuing permits have been frustrating builders and homeowners alike.

Members of Oahu’s residential construction industry have been lobbying the Council to address the months-long wait for permits they say is costing them millions of dollars. In an otherwise booming local economy, some contractors have been reducing hours or laying off workers entirely.


Waikiki War Natatorium Memorial; HPR Reporter Debrief; Building Permit Backlog; HIFF Film, United Skates




The State Department of Health is holding a public hearing in Hilo on Wednesday regarding the future of a new power plant. The Hu Honua Bioenergy facility on the Hamakua Coast would burn eucalyptus trees to generate electricity. Some say that its clean, renewable energy, but other community members have serious environmental concerns.

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Coffee farmers on the Kona Coast are seeing harvests with as much as a 40% reduction in crop yields. It's been a year filled with natural disasters and many farmers are just now learning the effect that all of the hurricanes, floods, and volcanic activity had on their crops. Many cite the heavy emissions of sulfur dioxide and ash from Kilauea volcano as the main culprit for the lackluster growing season.

Ryan Finnerty

“No True Hawaiian Will Evade It.” That was the headline of a two-page newspaper ad penned by Queen Lili’uokalani and Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole in 1917. They were encouraging residents of territorial Hawaii to donate to the Red Cross following America’s entry into World War I. 

David G. Concepcion / DCG's Hawaii Hiking Tales of the Vast Unknown

A large piece of undeveloped land in Oahu’s Ko’olau mountain range is now preserved in perpetuity for the public. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources acquired the property to be set aside for recreational activities like hiking and hunting. But accomplishing that took a lot of help and a lot of money. 

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The Honolulu Planning Commission has unanimously approved a proposal from Mayor Kirk Caldwell to regulate short term rentals on Oahu. Last month a similar proposal was voted down by Planning Commission after overwhelming community opposition from both sides of the issue.

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Election day is less than a week away and some of the most competitive races in Hawaii are happening on neighbor islands. Both Maui and Kauai have open races for county mayor and several contested seats on the County Council. Ryan Finnerty spoke with contributors to The Conversation around the state to get their perspectives on local races.


On January 1st, Hawaii’s Death with Dignity law will go into effect. The law allows terminally ill patients to request a lethal prescription to voluntarily end their lives. Including Hawaii, there are now 5 states plus the District of Columbia that allow medical aid in dying.

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Low-income residents in Hawaii are paying a higher share of their income in taxes than higher level earners. That is the conclusion of a recent report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy titled Who Pays?  The Hawaii tax system is considered highly regressive, due to heavy reliance on the General Excise Tax, or GET. This is despite a progressive, graded state income tax and the lowest property taxes in the nation. 

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What do you get when you combine American football, rugby, soccer, and a few other sports into one? A little game called Australian Rules Football. It’s one of the most popular, and rough, sports from the Land Down Under.

But the game isn’t confined to its native land. The US Australian Football League held its national finals in Wisconsin this past week and a Hawaii resident was on the championship team. He’s part of a local club trying to bring Aussie Rules to Hawaii.

Ryan Finnerty / Hawaii Public Radio

Homeowners and members of Oahu’s construction industry rallied outside Honolulu Hale Thursday morning to highlight a growing backlog of building permits. The Building Industry Association says months-long delays in the permitting process are harming local businesses, and homeowners. The demonstration was meant as a show of support for City Council Bill 64, which would streamline the permitting process using lessons learned from other cities.

Unite Here! Local 5

It’s been one week since 8,000 workers at Marriott Hotels walked out on strike in eight cities around the country. Here in Hawai‘i, 2,700 workers are on the picket lines outside five hotels managed by Marriott and owned by Kyo-Ya.  They are demanding higher wages, protections against sexual harassment, and guarantees about not being replaced by automation.


This week workers at Marriott hotels are on strike. Here in Hawaii that includes the Sheraton Waikiki, The Royal Hawaiian, Moana Surfrider, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, and the Sheraton Maui. Among demands regarding compensation, the strikers are seeking guarantees about job security as the hospitality industry begins to embrace automation.