Monday, December 28, 2020















Koani Foundation Founder 

Butch was a valiant warrior for his people. He was a hero to the many whose lives he touched.

Being Kanaka Maoli piha, full blooded native Hawaiian, he helped lead the struggle for a Free Hawai`i on Kaua`i as well as throughout the islands.

Butch responded to the call of Queen Lili`uokalani, Hawai`i’s last reigning monarch over a century ago, when she called for Hawai`i Nationals to continue the quest for the recovery of the Hawaiian Kingdom, illegally taken over by the US in 1898.

Born in Hanapepe, Kaua`i in 1944 and raised by his parents, Rebecca Mikala Koani Kekahu and John Kekahu II, he spent part of his life in the Los Angeles area working as a musician and entertainer.

In 1971, after life-changing conversations with his uncles, Charles and Nathaniel Koani, Butch returned to Hawai`i.

From that point forward he became a native Hawaiian patriot, dedicated to fighting for native rights, homeland entitlements, equitable health care, and self-determination.

He was jailed in 1993 for his six-year occupation of Hawaiian Homelands in Anahola, Kaua`i.

Butch organized the 1998 and 2000 Aloha Marches in Washington, DC. 

On July 4, 2000, he also staged the Boston Ti Party, a modern day protest of taxation without representation.

These events highlighted native Hawaiian issues through broad national and international media coverage.


Despite his lack of formal education, Butch lectured on a Free Hawai`i at the US Congress, governmental agencies and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suffering the effects of advanced diabetes and heart disease, Butch’s determination carried him through numerous episodes of cardiac arrest. On numerous occasions he was rushed unconscious, by ambulance, to hospital emergency room resuscitation, only to return later to his home office to finish the days work.

He once survived cardiac death seven times in a single day, resuming Koani Foundation business in his hospital bed.

On December 27th, 2001 John “Butch” Kekahu III passed from this life.

Butch leaves a legacy as a strong leader for a Free Hawai`i as well as a beloved brother, friend and musician with a golden voice.

His tireless and courageous work, selfless attitude and most of all his huge heart will long be remembered.

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