Maui Discussion

JFK’s Nephew & Mayor Discuss Maui Rehab Center

October 13, 2011, 4:10 PM HST
* Updated December 9, 2:32 PM
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By Madeline Ziecker

Old Maui High. Photo by Trevlyn Sparks.

Mayor Alan Arakawa is considering Old Maui High School on the north shore as a site for a new addiction rehabilitation center. He says he is, however, considerate of the historic value and permit limitations of the site, and if he decides to proceed, he will take this into account.

Two months ago, Mayor Arakawa said that one of his most favorable prospects while in office was to some day implement a rehabilitation center for several addictions ailing Maui’s population. At the time, Arakawa mentioned it as a broad idea which would eventually call for outside support. Now, the mayor has found his partner in this goal in Christopher Kennedy Lawford, nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy.

Lawford spent much of his youth battling drug and alcohol addiction and has since been in recovery for over 24 years.

Christopher Kennedy Lawford at his Kuau home. Photo by Madeline Ziecker.

He has actively morphed his experience as an addict into a vessel for positive change by aiding others suffering from addictive diseases through the United Nations, the Canadian Center on Substance Abuse, and the World Health Organization.


Lawford moved to Hawaii about a year ago, searching for quiet refuge on Maui’s north shore to focus on writing one of his upcoming books on fighting addiction. Though he constantly travels the globe publicly speaking about addiction and recovery, he has chosen residence in Maui.

Mayor Alan Arakawa in Paia. Photo by Madeline Ziecker.


“Maui is the first place I’ve lived that feels like a real community and I see enormous opportunity to help others in this type of environment. There’s a real need on the island for not only a treatment center for all types of addictions, but also for the after care that I believe is necessary for full recovery.”

Arakawa and Lawford held a meeting this month to follow up on both parties’ initial interest in the treatment center project. After the meeting, Lawford was optimistic “Mayor Arakawa has a strong commitment to health care for Maui’s people.” The mayor also believes that creating an addiction recovery center on Maui will promote Maui’s public health image.

Lawford sees the project as a continuum with only one goal in mind – getting those struggling with addiction on Maui to get sober and stay sober.

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