Hawai'i House Democrats
Representative Lynn DeCoite's Statement on the Bill Signing of SB939
Aloha Everyone – Mahalo Governor for having me here today.
The history of Kalaupapa and it's people, the patients, is one of exile and isolation. We have come a long way from this time. We have medicine and education on our side now. We also have compassion and understanding, many of it thanks to the those who were patients at this settlement.
This bill serves as a tribute to Clarence Woody Kekaula Kahilihiwa aka "Uncle Boogie" and all of the residents, past and present, of Kalaupapa. In the words of Uncle Boogie 'to all of our people, you will always be remembered. You are the pillars and icons of times past...Your stories are of solitude, passion, and grace. May your legacy live on with aloha.' Designating the month of January as "Kalaupapa Month" is a sign of Respect and Aloha to their legacy.
I would like to give a shout out to the Kalaupapa residents who may be watching today’s event through live stream and give a special mahalo to those who provided support testimonies during the legislative hearings. Health issues and limited flight availability were among a variety of reasons for more of the eleven remaining residents from Kalaupapa that could not be here today. Their average age is over 85 years. But I’m am happy to see John Arruda made it over from Kalaupapa and that several descendants are here also.
I’d also like to thank the Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa organization founded by the residents of Kalaupapa, their descendants and long-time friends of the Kalaupapa community for introducing the Kalaupapa Month Bill for us legislators to consider and approve.
And of course Mahalo to Senator English for authoring this bill and championing it though this session.
Mahalo to my colleague in the legislature that understood that we could not wait any longer to make this happen so the eleven remaining patients could see this day. And of course, I join everyone in expressing our extreme appreciation to Governor Ige for agreeing to sign this bill to honor residents, past and present, of Kalaupapa and to his staff for arranging this special event.
I am honored to be here. With all of my Aloha, Mahalo nui loa.