Office of the Governor – News Release – Governor Green Nominates New DLNR First Deputy

Posted on Jan 12, 2024 in Latest Department News, Newsroom, Office of the Governor Press Releases







January 12, 2024

HONOLULU  ̶  Governor Josh Green, M.D., has nominated veteran government attorney Ryan Kanaka‘ole as Department of Land and Natural Resources first deputy, effective Tuesday, Jan. 16 and is subject to confirmation by the Hawai‘i State Senate. 

Kanaka‘ole is currently a Deputy Attorney General with the Dept. of the Attorney General, most recently serving as an attorney for the Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC) and the Mauna Kea Stewardship Oversight Authority. From 2017-2023 he served as the deputy AG for the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL).

He was appointed to the Public Land Trust Working Group due to his expertise on issues related to public land trust. 

“We are so fortunate to have someone with Ryan’s deep understanding of state government operations, including those of the DLNR,” Chair Dawn Chang said. “He will be instrumental in continuing to build relationships with stakeholders, lawmakers, and communities and fostering DLNR’s conservation mission.”

He also was involved in audits of DLNR, the University of Hawai‘i, the State Foundation of Culture and the Arts, the Department of Transportation, Department of the Attorney General, the Hawai‘i Energy Office, and the Department of Human Services (DHS).

Kanaka‘ole commented, “I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity from Governor Green and Chair Chang to continue serving Hawaiʻi by upholding the responsibilities entrusted to DLNR in safeguarding and nurturing our lands, waters, and culture for future generations.”

Kanaka‘ole succeeds Laura Kaakua, who has accepted a new role working on Native Hawaiian Issues for the Dept. of Transportation. Reflecting on Kaakua’s service to DLNR, Chang said, “Laura has served the department and the people of Hawai‘i with passion and humility, especially in ‘āina based communities. I am confident she will continue to build bridges, with her dedication and commitment, leading to better government and a more sustainable future.”

Photographs attached – Ryan Kanaka‘ole

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Media Contacts:   

Erika Engle
Press Secretary
Office of the Governor, State of Hawai‘i
Office: 808-586-0120
Email: [email protected] 

Makana McClellan
Director of Communications
Office of the Governor, State of Hawaiʻi
Cell: 808-265-0083
Email: [email protected]    

Dan Dennison
Communications Director
Office: 808-587-0396
Email: [email protected]