Youth Plaintiffs

Navahine youth voices were heard and met with direct action! Their bravery, perseverance and hope secured a climate victory for young people and all people in Hawai‘i, and around the world.

Youth Plaintiff

Kawena F.

Age: 11
Hometown: Hilo, Hawai‘i

Kawena lives with her parents and four younger siblings in Hilo. For Kawena, maintaining familial connections and perpetuating the traditional Native Hawaiian lifeways of her ancestors (kupuna) is everything. That is why she helps her family maintain a traditional Hawaiian diet and the massive garden of Polynesian subsistence plants that it relies on. Kawena’s ‘ohana maintains three māla kalo (dryland taro patches) with over 100 plants growing, which the family uses to make kalo poke, kūlolo, laulau, and lūʻau stew.

Recognizing the risk that climate change poses to indigenous lifeways in the Pacific, Kawena’s ‘ohana continue to adapt their practices to the changes around them, while also reinforcing ancestral and communal connections. Learning to speak ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i roots Kawena to her culture, community, and place, shaping and reaffirming her reciprocal relationship with the natural world around her. She joined this lawsuit to demonstrate the strength inherent to a lifestyle rooted in aloha ‘aina.

I am very happy that the Transportation Department is committed to doing all that we have asked of them. I hope the State upholds its responsibilities and other governments can follow our lead.

—Kawena F.