Papa Ola lōkahi is saddened to learn of the passing of Senator Daniel Kahikina Akaka, statesman and voice for the people of Hawai‘i.  He was 93 years old.

Daniel Akaka served in Congress for more than 40 years, first in the House of Representatives, and then in the Senate.  He was an advocate for education, veterans’ affairs and Hawaiian affairs, especially.  He was known to work the halls of Congress with aloha.  He developed relationships with both parties

He was supportive of Hawaiian programs in health, education, housing and others.  In 1997, he was responsible for the revision of the Office of Management & Budget’s Circular 15 (OMB 15) to tease out Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders throughout all federal offices, institutes and agencies, which ultimately led to our own box to check in the Census.  This was an early, but critical, move toward recognition of Native Hawaiians as a distinct people.

 “He was such a strong voice for our people,” exclaimed Sheri-Ann Daniels, Papa Ola Lōkahi executive director. “He was approachable and he got things done.  He was a true statesman.”

POL in Akaka office 2009 March P3230241

Photo by Kilipaki Vaughan, POL boardmember, March 2009.

Senator Akaka always welcomed Papa Ola Lōkahi whenever we travelled to Washington D.C., the perfect antidote to homesickness.  His office exuded warmth and familiarity.  Aunty Millie, his wife, sat down and talked story as if we were in her parlor.  And the Senator never failed to end a meeting by singing “The Rainbow Song.”

Senator Akaka was awarded the Ka‘ōnohi Award by POL in 2005, for his significant contributions to Hawaiian health and well-being.

All of us on the board and staff of Papa Ola Lōkahi, the five Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems, and the Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship Program will miss him.  All of our aloha to Aunty Millie, his children and their families, and to all the Akaka ‘ohana.

 # PAU #

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