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John D. Waihee III


John D. Waihee III

John Waihee
4th Governor of Hawaii
In office
December 2, 1986 – December 2, 1994
Lieutenant Ben Cayetano
Preceded by George Ariyoshi
Succeeded by Ben Cayetano
7th Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii
In office
December 2, 1982 – December 2, 1986
Governor George Ariyoshi
Preceded by Jean King
Succeeded by Ben Cayetano
Personal details
Born (1946-05-19) May 19, 1946
Honokaa, Hawaii
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lynne Kobashigawa
Children 2
Alma mater Andrews University
University of Hawaii, Manoa

John David Waiheʻe III (born May 19, 1946) served as the fourth Governor of Hawaii from 1986 to 1994. He was the first American of Native Hawaiian descent to be elected to the office from any state of the United States. After his tenure in the governor's office, Waiheʻe became a nationally prominent attorney and lobbyist.


  • Education 1
  • Politics 2
  • Governorship 3
  • Retirement 4
  • References 5


Waiheʻe was born in Honokaʻa on the Island of Hawaii. Upon graduating from Hawaiian Mission Academy, Waiheʻe attended classes at Andrews University in Michigan. There he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degrees in both business and history. He moved to Honolulu to attend the newly established William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. He obtained his Juris Doctor degree in 1976. Waiheʻe is an Eagle Scout and recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award.


Waiheʻe started his political career as a delegate to the

Political offices
Preceded by
Jean King
Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii
Succeeded by
Ben Cayetano
Preceded by
George Ariyoshi
Governor of Hawaii
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  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
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After leaving the governor's office, Waiheʻe worked for various national-scope law firms based in Washington, DC. He also opened a private law practice and lobbying firm. In two special elections held in November 2002 and January 2003, Waiheʻe considered running for the United States House of Representatives seat left open by the death of Patsy Mink on September 28, 2002.[4]Under Hawaiʻi election law, it was too late to remove the name of Patsy Mink from the November 2002 General Election ballot, and consequently Mink was re-elected, even after her death. Waiheʻe dropped out of both special election contests and endorsed the candidacy of Mink's widower.[5][6]


Waiheʻe successfully ran for the governor's office sharing a ticket with state senator Ben Cayetano. Cayetano became Waiheʻe's lieutenant governor for two terms; both were re-elected in 1990. During much of his term, Hawaiʻi experienced a boom in the tourism industry and increased foreign investment, especially from Japan. The issue of Hawaiian sovereignty also took on increased importance as the centennial anniversary of the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii when Queen Liliʻuokalani was deposed occurred. Waiheʻe left office in 1994, having served the maximum two terms in office as permitted by the Constitution of Hawaiʻi that he had helped to author. His lieutenant governor won the election to succeed Waiheʻe.


Commissioner Waiheʻe is featured in an 11-part series of Frequently Asked Questions videos about Kanaiolowalu (Kanaʻiolowalu).[3] The video footage was recorded on the campus of the William S. Richardson School of Law in the presence of a live audience composed primarily of law school students and faculty.

In 2011, Waiheʻe was appointed by Governor Neil Abercrombie to the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, established by Act 195. Waiheʻe sits as the only Commissioner At-Large. In the following year, the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission actively began working on fulfilling its mandate to bring the Native Hawaiian people together by enrolling with the Commission. This effort is now referred to as Kanaiolowalu (Kanaʻiolowalu).[2]

[1]e served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.ʻ

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