O'ahu Waterkeeper


Rhiannon Tereari'i Chandler-‘Iao
[email protected]
(808) 347-1057

The Hawaiian Islands consist of eight main islands—Hawai‘i, O‘ahu, Maui, Kaua‘i, Moloka‘i, Lānai, Kaho‘olawe and Ni‘ihau—and several surrounding uninhabited islands. The islands are a volcanic chain and are extremely mountainous. As a result, each island has steep ma uka to ma kai (mountain-to-sea) topography. In many areas, the mountains rise several thousand feet and drop abruptly to the ocean.As a result of this steep topography and a subtropical climate, there are intense periods of rain that create substantial stormwater events. Rainfall varies vastly by location, with some places getting fewer than 20 inches per year and others more than 400 inches per year. Within the 597 square miles of O‘ahu there are many unique and distinct micro-climates.The Hawaiian Islands consist of a total land area of 6,423 square miles, and are the most isolated island chain in the world. The islands’ isolation, combined with its tropical climate and fertile soil, provides for abundant biodiversity. The islands are home to over 10,000 species of plants and animals, 25% of which are found nowhere else on earth. Sadly, development and habitat destruction, combined with the fragile and unique ecosystems of the islands, have bestowed upon Hawai‘i the unfortunate title of endangered species capital of the world. Hawai‘i is home to over 500 listed species, including the majestic humpback whale, the iconic green sea turtle and the Hawaiian Monk seal.The east sides of all the islands, known as the windward sides, receive the majority of the moisture-carrying winds, creating lush vegetation and flowing streams.The west sides and central parts of the islands, by contrast, are naturally dry and arid. As the clouds move over the centers of the islands by the winds, they drop their moisture in the mountains and continue westward.

Rhiannon “Rae” Renee Tereari'i Chandler-‘Īao earned a B.A. in Ethnic Studies from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in 2004 and graduated from the William S. Richardson School of Law in 2016 with certificates in both Native Hawaiian Rights Law and Environmental Law. After graduating, she worked as a Post-JD Research & Teaching Fellow at Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law.  Prior to attending law school, Rhiannon served as the Executive Director of the environmental non-profit organization Community Work Day Program, d.b.a. Mālama Maui Nui.  While on Maui, Rhiannon served as a member of the Maui Nui Marine Resource Council, Maui County Cultural Resources Commission, a board member of the Maui Non-Profit Directors Association and a Steering Committee member of Ka Ipu Kukui Fellows Leadership Program.  She is passionate about preserving natural and cultural resources and supports a return to traditional Polynesian systems of natural resources management.  


P.O. Box 283120
Honolulu, Hawaii 96828