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

Pahonu C.

Age: 18
Hometown: Waimānalo, Oah‘u

From an early age, Pahonu’s deep connection to his Native Hawaiian ancestors, family and community and Hawai’i has filled him with a passion to advocate for the people of Hawai’i and educate others about the beauty and cultural importance of Hawai’i. Pahonu is particularly committed to addressing Kanaka Hawai’i (Hawaiian People) displacement, combating food insecurity through sustainable solutions, and fostering and supporting cultural identity for Native Hawaiian youth. Pahonu sees climate change as a direct threat to his community and the island nation he calls home.

He is named after the first fishpond built on O’ahu, Pāhonu loko i’a, and as Chairman of Pahonu Restoration, works to restore the kuapa (rock structure). Sea level rise threatens the continued existence of Pāhonu loko i’a, which has served the Waimanalo community for generations. Pahonu has been involved in aquaponics and agroforestry initiatives to empower families to grow their own food and founded Nā Kukui o Waimānalo, a nonprofit organization aiming to enhance cultural exploration and Hawaiian education for youth through programs led by cultural practitioners.

I aim to inspire my fellow peers, I believe that this is just another avenue to continue the work that I and others are already doing in communities to bring awareness to our climate and the need for us to protect it and find solutions to this urgent matter. I know that this suit will change the judiciary climate and I hope to continue my family’s legacy with impacting public policy within the pacific. I joined this lawsuit to share my story and elevate the story of my community with a personal focus on the importance of ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi and indigenous languages to serve as primary databases for the ever so changing climate.

—Pahonu C.