KAPOLEI, Hawaii (KHON2) — The Hawaiian Homes Commission adopted a resolution to honor the late Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi at its Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021 meeting.

William Punapaiaʻalaikahala Kenoi died on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021 following a years-long battle with cancer. He was 52 years old. Kenoi served as the mayor from 2008 until 2016. He was an attorney and served as an aide for Harry Kim during his first stint as mayor.

He was also a Hawaiian Home Lands lessee.

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands staff shared this with the commission.

In reading the many speeches given by our U.S. Delegate, Prince Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole, we admire the oratory, the cadence of the words being spoken and know our kupuna were as mesmerized and appreciative for the Prince’s abilities as they were proud he was native Hawaiian and an aliʻi. He was called the ‘People’s Prince’ because of his innate ability to speak to the common man and yet rub elbows with the Washington, D.C. political elite. As the son of one of the first lessees at Makuʻu Farm Lots and then as a successor and co-lessee with his siblings, Mayor Kenoi gave us in this generation and this 21st century, the same inspiration our Prince did to the Hawaiian people over a hundred years ago. And as we honor Mayor Kenoi with this resolution today, let us all remember ‘that if can, can! If no can, still can!’

Department of Hawaiian Home Lands staff

HHC Chair William J. Ailā, Jr. said, “Many in our community knew Billy Kenoi as the Mayor, but the Commission wanted to acknowledge his many accomplishments as a native Hawaiian and his status as homesteader. He was a tremendous orator, and I never wanted to follow him on a public speaking agenda. Billy was a tough act to follow.”