Petition to change Kahuku nickname draws supporters, opponents

(Note: The counter petition was started by Fatu Te‘o-Tafiti and has been updated as of July 9, 9 a.m.)

A petition drive is underway to change the nickname of Kahuku High School.

The school has been “Red Raiders” for decades after receiving much-needed uniforms from ‘Iolani generations ago. While ‘Iolani later dropped “Red” from its nickname two decades ago, Kahuku has thrived in athletics and has a rich tradition, particularly in football.

The online petition has 478 signatures as of 3 p.m., Wednesday. Kahuku graduate Kainoa Kester started the petition, which had 139 likes and 69 comments on a Facebook post by Norman “T-Man” Thompson, an uncle of Kester. The petition is titled, “Change Kahuku High’s Racist Mascot.”

As of Thursday, 9 a.m., Kester’s petition has 570 signatures.

A counter petition has drummed up even more support. Fatu Te‘o-Tafiti’s petition, titled “Petition Against Dumb Petition,” had 991 signatures as of Wednesday, 3 p.m. on the same site.

The counter petition has been shared by some former Kahuku football players, including Kaniela Tuipulotu on social media. The counter petition now has 1,086 signatures as of Thursday, 9 a.m.

Between the two posts for two petitions, there was plenty of banter.

“I am a Red Raider for Life, but what does it even mean to be a Red Raider,” wrote Maria Matagi Tejada. “It’s not in the name. It’s in the community. It is the people, which would never change. I’ve always disliked the fact that our name came from hand-me-down uniforms.”

Jess Benioni-Naluai agreed to disagree with Kester.

“I don’t agree with his method of approach. He could have chose to go a different route to open up dialogue on a very sensitive issue,” Benioni-Naluai wrote. “To go directly to, especially during these tenuous political times, is definitely inviting a lot of toxic divisiveness. I hope he tries a different approach. Open up the conversation to the entire community. Do something that is inclusive rather than exclusive. Can’t fault someone for trying, though.”

Thompson views the petition drive as a positive.

“I think people get intimidated by petitions more than they should, since their petitions are merely to ‘empower people everywhere to create the change they want to see.’ It holds little political power in and of itself. I think it’s a good way to jump start the discussion, which it clearly has,” Thompson wrote.

The history of the Red Raiders nickname goes back to the Father Bray era at ‘Iolani. In 1950, the private school in Moiliili donated jerseys to Kahuku. With “Red Raiders” on the jerseys, Kahuku adopted the nickname. Prior to that, the unofficial nickname was “Ramberiers”, according to the school website.

>> Through the 1940’s Kahuku had developed sufficiently and there was competing in sports events against other high schools on the North Shore and the Windward sections of the Island of Oahu, and it won its first football championship in 1947. This was the first in a long line of championships that began the development of many championship players as well.

Prior to Ramberiers, the mascot is believed by some to have been a mythical menehune.

In the 1990s, the Red Raiders mascot took on a Native American look, which continued for two decades as Kahuku’s prominence in football continued. Fan favorites like the tomahawk chant became prominent, particularly at home games and big postseason battles at Aloha Stadium where fans from the North Shore flooded the facility en masse. Kahuku’s tomahawk chant is arguably the most impressive example of fan-fueled support in the islands, perhaps the nation.

By the mid 2010s, the mascot took on a Polynesian adaptation with a tattoo and red ti leaves. The new art was created by the Kahuku Rugby Club, and adopted by the school, and remains today as a popular part of the athletic program.

“It wasn’t made for the school. Kahuku Rugby are not affiliated with the school in any way except for the town,” Seamus Fitzgerald wrote. “Not that it really matters now, but all the same it’s intriguing.”

Another Kahuku alum and cousin of T-Man Thompson, Tia Thompson, weighed the anti-Red Raider nickname petition against other community issues.

“With all the things going on such as the invasive turbines, Envision Laie, development of Malaekahana and COVID-19, this should be the least of our worries,” she wrote. “The mascot was changed to the Polynesian warrior with (red) ti leaf and tattoo. Pau, leave it alone! Tomahawk chop, good luck with that.”

There are well-known names on either side. T-Man Thompson, a Kamehameha school teacher once sang “Unchained Melody” to a packed house at BYU-Hawaii.

To see the Kester petition, click here.

To see the Te‘o-Tafiti petition, click here.


  1. Kawainui July 8, 2020 3:35 pm

    I don’t see this is a big issue as Kahuku never meant it that way. The mascot is a Polynesian warrior. While Red Raiders can refer to Native Americans, why should it matter when it’s used in a completely different context, culturally, historically, and geographically? This is nothing remotely close to how the Washington Redskins were named, nor the wording inappropriate. Should the University of Kyoto change their football team name from “Gangsters” because gang violence is a major problem in the Americas? While Hawaii is still part of U.S., this is an overreaction and missing the entire point of ending racism.

    I would be disappointed if the administration went by the name change solely because they wanted to avoid scrutiny, like how the Oregon-Oregon St. rivalry dropped the Civil War moniker.

  2. support kahukus current mascot July 8, 2020 4:22 pm

    Dear kiddos… who thought it would be cool to start a petition on Since you didn’t know now you know, Kahuku’s mascot represents a Polynesian Warrior. Mind blowing I know, don’t worry kids make mistakes and assumptions all the time. You can hang up the petition and move on there is no racism here.

  3. really July 8, 2020 4:28 pm

    This is no different from the public and big business putting pressure on the Washington Redskins to change their name.

    There will be Native American who support the name. There will be ones that want it to be changed. And there are ones who don’t care either way.

    There are former and current Washington Redskin players who bled and sweat and take pride in the name. And I am sure there are former and current players that prefer it be changed in these sensitive times.

    The fact that someone would name it “Petition Against a Dumb Petition” takes away some credibility.

    What makes it dumb? Is it dumb since it’s a different opinion?

    I would name the petition something like “Petition to Keep the Kahuku Red Name” or something similar. It’s not polarizing or offensive.

    Personally, I think it should be changed. Watching fans do the tomahawk which has nothing to do with being Polynesian clearly shows there is no understanding of being Native American which is where the motion originated from.

  4. In support of mascot. July 8, 2020 5:54 pm

    Are we reading the same story. The issue is against (in this persons mind) Kahuku’s use of a mascot.

    I think the petition is not necessary. They have already demonstrated that their mascot is a Polynesian warrior, and doesn’t infringe on any other group. There are many and this community represent Polynesia.

    If we do away with it as it is (Polynesian), your taking away from my ancestors. We were once warriors.

    What’s next we get rid of the Polynesian Statues on Kahuku’s campus as well? It’s unfortunate some think that Kahuku has infringed on other native groups when in fact we are the ones who are getting trampled over. I.e. overthrown kingdoms, windmills, with no consideration to the people of this community.

  5. Good Story July 8, 2020 6:57 pm

    It’s dumb because it claims that the term Red was in reference to the Native Indians. Once you take that argument out…there is no longer anything “smart” about it.

  6. TheJeckal July 8, 2020 7:42 pm

    The mascot has already been altered to be more distinguishable as Polynesian. Thanks boys for checking but this isn’t appropriation. Thank you, but no thank you please don’t start pulling down our statues either.

  7. Recruited not Rooted July 8, 2020 8:29 pm

    PLEASE keep the PC woke child mob mentality out of Hawaii. If you have a problem with the current name then look in the mirror cuz you’re they problem, not the solution. JEEZ get a life!

  8. Toopid July 8, 2020 9:44 pm

    HPW is blocking comments. Why have an article that talks about racism but then blocks commenters.

    Will these guys seek to remove the statues from Kahuku high school as well?

  9. really July 8, 2020 10:13 pm

    I am on reading up on comments made by people supporting the change. Here are some great points I saw.

    1 – When the fans are doing the tomahawk chop, they are mocking the Native Americans even if they don’t intend do to so.

    2 – One Kahuku alum who is married to a Native American Chief wrote that fans show up with feather headdresses. It’s offensive to Native Americans.

    3 – History shows that the name Red Raider derived from the hand me down jerseys Iolani gave them. not from the red dirt on the hills.

    There are over 500 people who already signed the petition. People are insulting and attacking the kid who started this. Some are saying he doesn’t have the right to start the petition.

    Well, 500 people seem to think what he is doing is correct. If you read what he wrote, it’s clear the kid is articulate and intelligent.

    Here is the link –

  10. Recruited not Rooted July 8, 2020 11:00 pm

    @ really Here are some great points not supporting the change from the silent majority.

    1. The tomahawk chop is the single most impressive/intimidating display of fanaticism that I’ve seen in my 60 years of sports, please name anything close. eg. Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians during there playoff runs in baseball, Florida State, Kansas City Chiefs and our own Kahuku “RED” Raiders in football. Youtube the “Penalty Haka” in the 2015 championship game against Saint Louis and tell me you don’t get chicken skin. Most Native Americans couldn’t care less about the tomahawk chop or in many cases really enjoy and have a sense of pride with it. If it offends you then change the channel or find something else to do but don’t ruin it for the majority.

    2 That’s only her opinion, she doesn’t speak for everybody else. Stay home if you’re offended.

    3. There are over 1000 people that signed the petition against the petition. “People are attacking and insulting the kid who started this.” Yes he has every right to start this petition, this is America. However, actions have consequences, suck it up buttercup!

    And oh by the way, I am part Native American, a lot more than Elizabeth Warren’s 1/1024th.

    I think “really’s” real name is Paul Honda lol.

  11. Good Story July 9, 2020 7:59 am

    As a Tongan, I’m offended by the Kalaheo Mustangs…it’s OBVIOUSLY a racial slur against my people. They should change their names…yes, I am being sarcastic cause we don’t give a RATS!!!

  12. really July 9, 2020 8:29 am

    Fair points. But this isn’t an issue of democracy or majority rules.

    The fact that over 500 people signed the petition means there is a real issue here.

    In today’s climate it isn’t about what the majority thinks.

    If some are offended, it should be changed. And it clear there are many people who aren’t comfortable.

    500 people who aren’t comfortable with the logo and/or nickname are a lot.

    If we weren’t with popular vote, then movements such as the BLM shouldn’t matter since there are probably more people that don’t care than do care since blacks are the minority.

  13. really July 9, 2020 8:33 am

    There should never be consequences of swearing, intimidating, or threatening.

    If your response to that is “suck it up” then I feel very sorry for you and that kind of thinking is why there is violence in communities.

    At no point has this young man attacked anyone or threatened.

    I’m not saying I agree with him, but I am impressed by the level of professionalism he has displayed.

    I wonder if you would be okay if your child wanted to change something and people attacked your child online.

    I’m sure you would say it’s okay to win a debate, but in real life, I’m sure you wouldn’t be.

  14. Paul Honda July 9, 2020 10:35 am

    WOW. Never knew that. Mahalo, Kawainui.

    >> Noun. kyodai (plural kyodai) A high-ranking member of the yakuza, accountable to the shatei gashira.,accountable%20to%20the%20shatei%20gashira.

  15. really July 9, 2020 10:39 am

    So anyone with a current name or an opinion that differs needs to look in the mirror? Such a sad and closed minded way to look at the world.

    I do not agree with changing the name. But I do applaud this young man for the method he took in trying to start change.

    Nothing wrong with what he did.

  16. Recruited not Rooted RRFL July 9, 2020 1:05 pm

    Please make up your mind @ really. In post #3 you think the name should be changed and in your last post you “do not agree with changing the name.” #12 “if some are offended it should be changed.” Please define some, 2, 5, 50, 500? Why not if just one is offended by your logic. I’m a gay man so I’m offended by the name “Packers”, do I have a right to demand Green Bay change it’s name? Hell NO! If I’m not a very attractive man with unpleasant hygiene and I can never find a woman to be with, can I demand that the New York “Yankees” change their name because “Yankees” is offensive to me? I’m a fish lover or marine biologist so I’m offended by the name Seahawks. When are we going to get rid of the name “Cowboys” Dallas? Remember I’m Native American so I’m offended. I’m sure Tigers and Lions are offensive to some also. See my point, you probably don’t, but where does this stop? Answer, it doesn’t, that’s why George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Jesus Christ are currently under attack by the PC woke child mob. Groupthink is a very dangerous thing, try being a leader instead of a follower. Hopefully Kahuku admin will show some leadership and stand up against this cancel culture mentality. If so you’ll have a new “RED” Raider for life fan. Gonna go out and buy some RRFL merch now before Amazon takes it down.

  17. Recruited not Rooted July 9, 2020 1:45 pm

    @ Really I do agree with you that “there should never be consequences of swearing, intimidating or threatening.” That’s actually funny coming from you since that is the first play in the playbook for the PC woke child mob cancel culture left. I for one believe in “true” free speech and opinion, not the one way monologue of liberals. #13 wondering if it were my children? It’s my job as a parent to teach my kids “how” to think for themselves, not “what” to think. And I continually remind them that actions have consequences, over and over and over. And the “suck it up” kind of thinking is why there is violence in communities? Lol, NO, there is violence in communities because people choose to break the law. You making excuses for those breaking the law, making them out to be victims instead of making an example of them, is the real problem. Life’s a B*tch, it’s hard for everybody, good luck getting ahead with your mentality. Must suck waking up with TDS everyday lol. Nobody lives in my head rent free, EVER.

  18. Recruited not Rooted July 9, 2020 2:14 pm

    Please make up your mind @ really. In post #3 you think the name should be changed and in your last post you “do not agree with changing the name.” #12 “if some are offended it should be changed.” Please define some, 2, 5, 50, 500? Why not if just one is offended by your logic, doesn’t that persons opinion matter too? I’m a gay man so I’m offended by the name “Packers”, do I have a right to demand Green Bay change it’s name? Hell NO! If I’m not a very attractive man with unpleasant hygiene and I can never find a woman to be with, can I demand that the New York “Yankees” change their name because “Yankees” is offensive to me? I’m a fish lover or marine biologist so I’m offended by the name Seahawks. When are we going to get rid of the name “Cowboys” Dallas? Remember, I’m Native American so I’m offended. I’m sure Tigers and Lions are offensive to some also. See my point, you probably don’t, but where does this stop? Answer, it doesn’t, that’s why George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Jesus Christ are currently under attack by the PC woke child mob. Groupthink is a very dangerous thing, try being a leader instead of a follower. Hopefully Kahuku admin will show some leadership and stand up against this cancel culture mentality. If so you’ll have a new “RED” Raider for life fan. Gonna go out and buy some RRFL merch now before Amazon takes it down.

  19. Good Natured July 9, 2020 2:56 pm

    The petitioner clearly is just trying to incite people to action claiming that Kahukus mascot is “just like” other pro teams and others that clearly got their names from indigenous people of north america. Ive seen those petitions and they are those who explicitly reference other native groups.

    This is completely different from reality. They disregard the actual documented story behind where Kahuku took on their name as Red Raiders. I consider it a humbling and proud badge of honor that we carry.

    To say that Kahuku’s Polynesian warrior mascot looks like the indigenous people of North America is in and of itself racist. We respect other groups, but just because we look similar doesn’t mean that we are the same.

  20. really July 9, 2020 4:01 pm


    I did more thinking and I changed my mind. Am I not allowed to do that?

    Also you say, “there should never be consequences of swearing, intimidating or threatening.” But earlier on you say, “suck it up” which gives the impressions you are okay with it? Which one it is? LOL.

    What does teaching your kids to think for themselves? My comment was is it okay for people to threaten this kid online? So if a kid doesn’t think for themselves as much, it’s okay to online abuse? Cmon.

    There are tons of reasons why there is violence. And there is no scientific method to identify why it happens. You can just use date to create a theory. What are you even talking about?

    I have made no excuse for anyone breaking the law. So don’t take anything I write out of context. Or maybe you can’t understand? Mmmm, that must be it, haha.

    As for getting ahead, I am fine, lol. You talk a big game, but you’re probably still living in your mommy’s basement using her internet, lol.

    Anyone can live behind a fake name and pretend to have a good life. Let me guess, you are the CEO of HECO? lol. You should change your screen name to Pinocchio.

  21. really July 9, 2020 4:03 pm

    You can demand anything to be changed. That is your right living in the US. You should try and be a leader. But you’re not, which is why you are on this blog using a fake name.

    A leader would identify themselves using their real name, don’t you think?

    Since I am a follower I use a fake name.



  22. David Lubin July 9, 2020 6:41 pm

    I want the Hawaiian warrior mascot kept.

  23. Recruited not Rooted July 9, 2020 9:18 pm

    From the looks of all the other comments on this blog it looks like everybody agrees with me, not a single one in support of getting rid of the nickname. And no I’m not the CEO of HECO, I’m CEO and CFO of my own business. And no I’m not running it out of my mommy’s basement, I’m running it out of your mommy’s basement lol.


  24. ILoveHawaii July 10, 2020 9:04 am

    Wait, dont you have a guy come out in war paint and feathers?
    Dont you guys do the “chop” like the FSU seminole fans do?

    Maybe change those things??

    This could be a great opportunity to get out from under “Iolani hand me downs” stories. Because they always share that story at least once a season when your games are televised.

    Maybe Kahuku Warriors? Kahuku Pride?

  25. ILoveHawaii July 10, 2020 9:11 am

    # 19- Sole, Fatu, is statue?? lol.

  26. 88 July 11, 2020 1:41 pm

    Mr. Kester is correct. We need to change the Kahuku Mascot & name. The Red has to go. Since 500 people on social media think it’s racist then something must be done right away. Let’s unite as one and petition against everything RED. RedRaider, RedLobster, RedRobbin, RedLights (RedLight district can be the exception) must go! The Polynesian Mascot needs to hit the road too. We need to be more sensitive during these sensitive times and more understanding to this sensitive generation and their sensitive way of thinking. May I suggest we change the Kahuku Mascot from a Polynesian warrior to a picture of TuTu. TuTu always made sure everyone felt wanted and special. I also suggest we drop the “RedRaider” and go with the “Kahuku Halau kalamaimaHoniHoniEveryone”…

  27. roots July 12, 2020 11:36 am

    Here is something that you might want to read from a very reputable person.

    It’s pretty sad and tragic that some of you mock this petition to change the name.

  28. roots July 12, 2020 11:39 am

    The research done by Stephanie Fryberg could be one of the reasons why students at Kahuku score so low on ELA, Math, and Science Standardize Tests.

    But that is not important. Mocking some people’s call for change is more important. This is very sad.

  29. 88 July 12, 2020 1:39 pm

    Too bad no one decided to do research on Kahukus Mascot & name. Because if any of you did none of this would even be a thing.

  30. roots July 13, 2020 8:21 am

    In 2018 the Washington Post did a non scientific poll to see if any Native Americans were offended by the Washington Redskins name and logo.

    90% of Native Americans said they were not.

    2 years later, after Cal did a scientific study and shared their findings, the Redskins announced they will change their name and logo.

    Now if you look at the origins of the team name, the intent wasn’t to offend or hurt.

    However there are many Native Americans who are uncomfortable or offended by the name and/or logo.

    So it’s being changed.

    Not very different from Kahuku’s logo and nickname.

    Regardless of the origins or the meaning, there is a large number of people who are offended or uncomfortable with the name.

    Studies provided (I put the link earlier) show that this “possibly” derogatory name and logo can emotionally hard children.

    It’s time for a change and I for one applaud Mr. Kester’s bravery and insight to attempt to change this archaic and offensive name to some.

  31. Falcon Future July 13, 2020 8:58 am

    Iolani has a reputation for being a smart school with plenty money. Iolani used to be the Red Raiders but they were smart enough to change their nickname to Raiders in the 1990s.

    Kahuku’s nickname of Red Raiders came from hand me down jerseys from Iolani. Maybe its time for Iolani to donate a bunch of used jerseys to Kahuku that have just Raiders on it.

    I think Iolani can afford to do that and it might be the only way for Kahuku to figure it out.

  32. ILoveHawaii July 14, 2020 12:36 pm

    Dang FF is a Savage.

  33. 96730to89 July 14, 2020 11:33 pm

    For those who thought our President was stubborn. You just wait to see how Red Raider Nation responds to this petition.

    Queue the haka

  34. roots July 16, 2020 10:37 am


    Many of the community members will continue to fight this. Lot of ignorance and double standards going around.

  35. ALWAY ASK WHY July 17, 2020 11:19 pm

    I believe that the Kahuku Red Raider name or logo is not racism, not toward Native Americans or Polynesians, and should be kept. The name is not derogatory. On the contrary, it brings the North Shore Community together; the name is a source of pride. Fr. Kenneth Bray, probably Hawaii’s premier high school sports motivator, and the Iolani Athletic Directory and Football Coach 90 years ago, used the Red Raiders name to motive his band of small-size Asian ball players to compete successfully against Punahou, McKinley, Kamehameha, and St. Louis. As for the logo, I visited the Winnebago and Santee Sioux Reservations years ago. Walking down their main street was like walking down Maunakea Street; they could easily pass for my uncles and aunties. Although being of Asia ancestry, one Sioux child asked me what tribe I was from. And so, what should a Red Raider logo look like. I think, as with many things in life, it is in eyes of the beholder. I dare say that one can not satisfy everyone, that anything that is respectful should be acceptable.

  36. ALLAN July 19, 2020 4:02 am


  37. July 2020 July 20, 2020 7:41 am

    Recruited Not Rooted: Your ill-informed and verbose rationale reflect a high degree of ignorance. Kahuku’s name and uniforms hail from Iolani/Father Bray’s charitable concerns for the NS School and community in the 40s and 50s but at least Iolani dropped the “Red” from its name decades ago. MAGA uncles like you fly in the face of progress and unity and offer no solutions… only continued oppression.

  38. Alex Torres August 28, 2020 4:05 am

    My family had lived in Kahuku from the 1920’s when the school had just one building across the sugar plantation. The original name of the school was the
    Ramblers, cause even then we used to ramble over our opponents. So if we need to go backwards in time, the Red Ramblers would be it.

  39. Paul Honda August 28, 2020 10:28 am

    Mahalo, Alex. I’ve heard from many folks who said it was Ramblers. On the school site, it says Ramberiers. Maybe Ramblers was easier to pronounce?

  40. 2020 November 16, 2020 2:37 pm

    the thing is, think about the students and how they will react. i know there is one or two that think to change the name, but that is because its “offensive to Native Americans” but the majority of the students grew up with the Kahuku Red Raiders. Yall want a riot?

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