Faculty & Staff

V. Lu‘ukia


Post-Juris Doctor Legal Fellow, Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law


JD, William S. Richardson School of Law, 2019
BA, Lewis and Clark College, 2013


Lu‘ukia Nakanelua was born and raised on Maui’s Northeast Shore between both Ha‘ikū and a small kalo farming village in Wailuanui, Maui. She is a 2019 graduate of William S. Richardson School of Law, where she earned Environmental and Native Hawaiian Law certificates. Prior to law school, she attended Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon where she earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies and participated in a study-abroad program through Victoria University in Wellington, Aotearoa where she focused her thesis research on Iwi, culture, and environmental conflict on the Whanganui River. Upon graduation, Nakanelua completed her AmeriCorps internship with the DLNR-DOFAW’s O‘ahu Offshore Island Restoration Program where she worked on habitat restoration, invasive species control, and regulating human activities in seabird nesting colonies off O‘ahu’s windward coast.  Soon after, Nakanelua worked as a legal assistant for Hosoda and Morikone (now Lyle S. Hosoda & Associates) and then for the family law Offices of William C. Darrah in Honolulu.

While in law school, she worked as a research assistant for the Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law a Reference Desk worker at the University of Hawai‘i Law Library, a summer clerk for Earthjustice, and a legislative assistant to the Chair of the Senate Committee of Water and Land, Senator Kaiali‘i Kahele during the 2019 Legislative Session. As a proud Ulu Lehua Scholar, she focused her studies on water law, traditional and customary Native Hawaiian rights, and Hawai‘i’s unique land management and tenure system.  In doing so, she also received the HSBA Real Property and Financial Services Section Writing Award for her Second Year Seminar Paper regarding the historical, cultural, and legal implications for the East Maui Water War in the legislative arena.  Subsequently, the University of Hawai‘i Law Review published her paper in their Winter 2018 issue.

After law school, Nakanelua clerked for the Honorable Chief Judge Richard T. Bissen, Jr. at the Second Circuit Court and later joined the Maui County Prosecuting Attorney Office where she practiced misdemeanor prosecution and environmental criminal law. 

As a Post-J.D. Legal Fellow, Nakanelua is working with the State of Hawai‘i Department of Hawaiian Homelands to implement its Water Policy Plan while also planning and facilitating community outreach initiatives such as water law and advocacy trainings. She currently has the pleasure of co-teaching the Emerging Water Law Issues course with Professor D. Kapua Sproat.


  • Lu‘ukia Nakanelua, Nā Mo’o O Ko‘olau: The Water Guardians of Ko‘olau Weaving and Wielding Collective Memory in the War for East Maui Water, 41 U. Haw. L. Rev. 189, 190 (2018).
portrait photo