PATRICK W. HANIFIN 1955 - 2003 -- His Work On Behalf of Unity and Equality in Hawaii


Attorney Patrick W. Hanifin worked tirelessly to protect the unity of Hawai'i under a single sovereignty, and the concept of equality under the law. His published works included major scholarly essays about the concept of reparations for ethnic Hawaiians; the history of citizenship and voting rights in Hawai'i; the Rice v. Cayetano decision and the civil rights lawsuits it spawned; and the evils of the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill. He represented plaintiffs in three important progeny lawsuits based on the Rice decision. Mr. Hanifin was a graduate of Harvard Law School (cum laude, 1980) and also earned a master's degree in public policy in 1986 from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. This webpage is a tribute to his scholarly and legal work on issues directly related to Hawaiian sovereignty and civil rights. Sub-pages provide published obituaries; a compilation of Mr. Hanifin's scholarly articles and some of the legal briefs and memos he filed; and text of his testimony and letters in opposition to the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill.

[Photo of Patrick Hanifin, as published in the on-line Honolulu Advertiser obituary article of June 17, 2003. Photo probably taken on the steps of the U.S. District Court in Honolulu on September 19, 2000 immediately following the hearing when Judge Gillmor granted the permanent injunction in Arakaki I, abolishing racial restrictions on candidacy for trustee of Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Obituary article URL:
Photograph URL: ]

On Saturday June 14, 2003 Patrick W. Hanifin died from complications following emergency surgery to repair an aneurism of the aorta. He was 48, a native-born Hawaiian who died in the same place where he was born (Queens Hospital, Honolulu). His early and unexpected death is a personal tragedy for family, friends, and colleagues. He was a partner in the law firm Im Hanifin Parsons LLLC, along with Kyong-Su Im and Chris Parsons. His specialties were environmental law, water and land use, eminent domain, and civil rights. He was the Hawai'i attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, a nonprofit public interest law firm. He was also an adjunct professor of environmental law at William S. Richardson School of Law (University of Hawai'i).

Patrick was a graduate of St. Louis High School (Honolulu, 1973), Notre Dame College (1977, magna cum laude), and Harvard University Law School (cum laude, 1980). He practiced law in Hawai'i for four years (Goodsill); then returned to Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government where he earned a master's degree in Public Policy with specialization in environmental policy (1986). He then worked with the New England Legal Foundation for 9 years. Upon returning to Hawai'i he worked with the law firm of Cades, Schutte, Fleming and Wright for five years. He left on August 1, 2000 to join the law firm of Im, Caliboso, Yamamoto, soon becoming partner in the reorganized firm Im, Hanifin, Parsons. In 2001 he was recommended for a Presidential nomination to fill a vacancy as judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and was interviewed for that position at the White House. His candidacy for that nomination was an acknowledgment of his strong credentials as lawyer and scholar, especially since he had never been a judge.

Patrick was a zealous advocate for unity and equality in Hawai'i. He participated actively in the Aloha For All movement. His published works included major scholarly essays about the concept of reparations for ethnic Hawaiians; the history of citizenship and voting rights in Hawai'i; the Rice v. Cayetano decision and the civil rights lawsuits it spawned; and the evils of the Akaka bill. He presented formal testimony during Clinton administration hearings regarding “reconciliation” with ethnic Hawaiians, testimony against the Akaka bill, and occasional newspaper letters regarding Hawaiian sovereignty and the Akaka bill. Mr. Hanifin's publications are used extensively throughout this website; links to them are gathered and provided below.

As an attorney, he participated in three of the most important civil rights lawsuits following after and based upon the Rice v. Cayetano decision. In the Arakaki I case, he won the right for all qualified citizens of Hawai'i to run for state government office without racial restriction, and the right of voters to choose from a racially unrestricted slate of candidates. Later he stepped into the Barrett case after it was initially mishandled, and tried to salvage as much as possible. At his death he was very actively engaged in the Arakaki II lawsuit to put an end to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Department of Hawaiian Homelands on the grounds that they are agencies of the state government providing racially exclusionary benefits. There are large sections of this website devoted to Arakaki I and Arakaki II; links are provided below.

Patrick's fiancee at the time of his death was Nena Uche, Ed.M., originally from Nigeria where she is a member of the Ibo tribe. They met at Harvard. Ms. Uche had worked as a journalist with The Guardian, specializing in health and science. She was a member of The Boston Research Center for the 21st Century (an international peace institute that fosters dialogue among scholars and activists on common values across cultures and religions). At BRC she was project manager for the Journalist to Journalist Project, working closely with the National Press Foundation. Later, she worked at the Baltimore City Health Department where she was Director of HIV/Substance Abuse, Mental Health, Primary Care Services Integration Project. She also worked with the International AIDS Economic Network (IAEN), which provides data, tools and analysis on the economics of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in developing countries, to help developing countries devise cost-effective responses to the global epidemic.

This webpage is a tribute to the scholarly and legal work of Patrick W. Hanifin on issues directly related to Hawaiian sovereignty. No attempt is made to describe his extensive body of legal work on topics other than Hawaiian sovereignty and civil rights.



Shortly after Thanksgiving 1999 I was invited to attend a meeting of the Aloha For All group, which was just then beginning to get organized. A statement I later wrote describing my own views and my perception of the views of this group is at:
At that meeting attorney Paul Sullivan gave me a copy of Patrick Hanifin's 1982 publication on Hawaiian reparations. A couple weeks later, while reading the “Price of Paradise” internet bulletin board section on Hawaiian sovereignty [no longer available], I came across a message that had been posted by Patrick Hanifin, which included his e-mail address. I invited him to attend the next meeting of Aloha For All, held on Sunday January 9, 2000. I asked him whether he would allow me to post a copy of his article on my then-new website, and if so to please bring to the meeting a floppy diskette containing his article in electronic form (it was unclear whether he would have his article in electronic form, since word-processing by computer was an emerging technology in 1982 and computers had changed enormously since then). He attended the meeting and brought the diskette; and thereafter our relationship grew. It had been 20 years since he had started writing that article, and 18 years since its publication. At long last Patrick had found a social/political group who appreciated the importance of his analysis, and with whom he could have an ongoing exchange of ideas.






(c) Copyright 2003 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved