The Hawaiʻi Congressional Papers Collection is excited to announce the opening of the K. Mark Takai Papers. This collection, generously donated by Takaiʻs wife Sami, documents the late congressman’s work in the Hawaiʻi State Legislature, his time in Congress, as well as his tenure as president of the Associated Students of the University of Hawaiʻi and editor of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa student newspaper Ka Leo O Hawaiʻi.
K. Mark Takai, a Pearl City High School and UH Mānoa graduate, represented ʻAiea and Pearl City in the Hawai’i State Legislature for 20 years, were he was known as a dedicated, energetic, and well-liked public servant and a champion of education and of veterans issues. While in the legislature, he established the Hawaiʻi Medal of Honor to honor servicemembers with Hawaiʻi ties that had been killed in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Takai himself was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard and was activated in 2005, and again in 2009, when he deployed to Kuwait for 6 months.
Takai was elected to Congress in 2014 (representing Hawaiʻi’s First Congressional District), and was named to the House Committee on Armed Services and the House Committee on Natural Resources. Though he passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2016, his legislation to compensate military personnel exposed to radioactive debris in the Marshall Islands continued to be championed by his colleagues, as the Mark Takai Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act. The measure became part of the 117th Congressʻs PACT Act, which expanded benefits for veterans exposed to toxic substances. It was signed into law by President Biden on August 10, 2022.
Governor David Ige, who served with Takai in the state legislature, offered this remembrance: “In the often tumultuous world of politics, [Mark Takai] has been a shining example of what it means to be a public servant.”
Below are some highlights from the collection:
You can explore the collection and learn more about Rep. Takai via the collection’s online finding aid.
The Hawaiʻi Congressional Papers Collection is very grateful to Rep. Takai’s wife, Sami Takai, for this gift!