Pono Pledge Video Wins Silver Telly Award

From left, Tracey Niimi, Mayor Mitch Roth, Bruce Torres Fischer and Lito Arkangel pose for a photo after their Telly Award presentation Monday at the Hilo Mayor’s office. (Photos by Nathan Christopher)

Mayor Mitch Roth and other officials honored three East Hawai’i residents on Monday, August 22, who created and produced a video to share and promote in ‘ōlelo Hawai’i and English a commitment that demands visitors to be considerate, safe and pono while on the island of Hawai’i.

“Island of Hawai’i Pono Pledge,” directed and produced by Hilo’s Lito Arkangel, who was assisted in the video’s creative direction and videography by Hilo-born Tracey Niimi of TN Photography, received a Silver Telly Award 2022 in the Online General, Public Interest/Awareness category earlier this year.

Director and producer of the “Island of Hawai’i Pono Pledge” video, Lito Arkangel, right, speaks during Monday’s presentation.

Roth on Monday honored Arkangel and Niimi as well as Bruce Torres Fischer, a master’s student in Hawaiian language and literature at Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke’elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai’i in Hilo who translated the engagement and its Hawaiian website, and introduced them to their Telly statues.

The Telly Awards, created in 1979, reward video and television on all screens. Niimi said on Monday that the Telly Awards are given to television segments, everything outside of movies and TV shows. This includes documentaries and commercials. Other money earners this year came from companies such as Al Jazeera, Comcast, NBC News and CBS News.

Arkangel on Monday compared the award to the equivalent of a Grammy, just for the ads. Niimi said he never expected a video he literally produced from his home in Hilo to have a chance to go up against some of the other names bestowed.


“It’s pretty amazing and such an honor,” he said of winning the award, adding that the most important thing, though, is being able to get the message of the Pono Pledge that much more.


To have the video honored and standing alongside some of the other great companies and organizations that have won is exciting, Niimi said.

The Pono Pledge was created in 2018 as a partnership between the county and the Hawaii Island Visitors Bureau. It asks visitors to pledge not only to travel the island with respect and safety, but also to go the extra mile and give back to protect its natural resources and wildlife. Hawaii Island Visitors Bureau Executive Director Ross Birch said in a press release that the Big Island is a special place and its community comes first.

“The Pono Pledge is a direct request to our visitors to the island of Hawaii about the behaviors and actions we expect of them while they enjoy the splendor of the island,” he said. in the press release.


The Pono Pledge is also identified in the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s Island of Hawai’i Destination Management Action Plan and the County’s Tourism Strategic Plan as a means of communicating with visitors and educate them on pono practices.

The video was a collaborative effort to accurately portray the people and place the pledge aims to protect. The Telly Prize is the culmination of these efforts.

“We’ve worked with some great partners who have taken the original message we created and taken it to a whole new level,” Birch said Monday. “That’s what this video did.”

Frecia Cevallos, tourism and culture specialist with the county’s Department of Research and Development, said the entire effort was community-led and supported.

“That’s the whole point of spreading the Pono Pledge message,” Cevallos said Monday. “We really want to make the voice of the community heard and connect the community with visitors.”

Mayor Mitch Roth speaks on Monday before presenting the Telly statues to Niimi, Torres Fischer and Arkangel.

Arkangel said engagement and video really comes down to authenticity. During Monday’s presentation, he said he believes that wherever people go in the world, they want to see everything in its authenticity – they want to live, at least for a little while, like the people of the place. they visit, feel the culture and absorb it.

This, he said, is the foundation of what the pledge is trying to accomplish. Roth echoed those comments.

“We’re really excited about the Pono Pledge and the publicity,” the mayor said Monday. “Really for us what we’re looking at is that we’ve started to reinvent tourism, and regenerative tourism in particular, we’re looking to make sure that we have the right type of tourists. So the commitment goes really out there, trying to get these right kinds of people. People who look at our culture, who come here to get to know us as a people…”

Arkangel said in the press release that it doesn’t matter if anyone is visiting the island or residing here – everyone must be pono.

“Whether you are a visitor or a resident, you must understand that not being pono is detrimental to the well-being and safety of not only yourself and your ‘ohana, but also the ‘āina and all ‘ ohana here at home.” he said. “Please help by sharing the Pono Pledge with friends and family near and far. Together we can make a difference and protect the island of Hawai’i and all that makes it special.

Arkangel and Niimi felt it was important to involve the community in the video project and to have representation from residents of diverse backgrounds, educations, and ethnicities. Torres Fischer said a big part of that for him was to re-normalize the use of ‘ōlelo Hawai’i in the community. As far as he knows, this is one of the first videos with at least half in Hawaiian. He said it was an honor for him to serve as a translator.

Niimi added that the most exciting part of the project for them was raising awareness about engagement. He appreciates the help of everyone involved with the project and said it was definitely one of the most rewarding projects for him.

“Mahalo hurt all of you who contributed to an awesome expression of who we are as residents and what it means to be pono on the island of Hawaii,” Arkangel said in the statement. “We wholeheartedly believe in the Pono Pledge and its teachings and are honored to be able to work on this project and accept this award on behalf of the Hawaii Island Visitors Bureau and Hawaii County ‘i.”

Roth congratulated the three men on Monday for the awards and their work. He is proud of the product, which is now seen around the world.

“If all of our visitors can come on board and take the pledge, our residents and visitors will benefit greatly,” the mayor said in the press release.

For more information, to make the pledge, and to view the award-winning video, visit the Pono Pledge website and follow Pono Pledge on Facebook @PonoPledgeHawaii and Instagram @PonoPledge.

From left to right, Frecia Cevallos, Tourism and Culture Specialist with the County Research and Development Department; Ross Birch, executive director of the Hawaii Island Visitors Bureau; Niimi; Roth; Torres Fischer; and Arkangel pose for a photo after Monday’s presentation.

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