Born and raised in Honolulu, Bonk attended Hilo High School on the Big Island of Hawaii from which she graduated in 1972. She then attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa where she obtained a bachelor of fine arts degree in 1976. Bonk went on to achieve a master of fine arts degree from Hunter College in New York City in 1982.
Bonk's first career was as a painter and musician in the East Village of New York City during the 1980s. Her role in what has been termed the "East Village Renaissance" mirrored the role she would latter take up as an elected official. She was known for bringing together many different musicians and painters around a variety of projects, including the largest rock-n-roll band in history, known as the East Village Orchestra, which had over 100 members. Bonk was known for hosting parties and events that brought together the best of her often alienated and disaffected generation of artists and musicians, many of whom went on to become major stars in the entertainment world. Keiko Bonk had two rock-n-roll bands during her time in New York, "His Masters Voice," and "Cosmic Oven," the latter of which recorded the album "Missionary." Even after returning to her home in Hawaii, and getting re-involved in electoral politics, Keiko Bonk continued to play original music and paint. Her first band after her return was "The Monkey Wrench Gang." She currently plays in "Keiko Bonk and Kazan (volcano)," and released a CD titled "Save the World" in 2007. Bonk's painting continues to show in occasional shows in Hawaii and around the world.
Bonk began her active political career as a child, and daughter of William and Fumie Bonk, early activists in Hawaii's Democratic Party and the emergence of Hawaii statehood. William Bonk, and anthropologist/archeologist for the University of Hawaii, Hilo, was a life long participant in the progressive wing of the Hawaii Democratic Party, and frequent critic of the control of the party by land owners and developers, until he publicly resigning his position as an adviser to the governor, and then finally his membership in the Hawaii Democratic Party to support his daughter's political career and the Hawaii Green Party.
Bonk made her national political reputation as an elected official by becoming the first person in North America elected to a partisan level office as a member of the Green Party. She is also one of the co-founders of the Green Party in Hawaii. She was elected to two terms on the Hawaii County Council. She served on the Hawaii County council from 1992 to 1996, and as chair of the council from 1995 to 1996. She built a voter base consisting of disaffected voters around the themes of fighting against corruption and the political control by real estate e developers, and fighting for government transparency, increased citizen participation, and "true-cost development" based on protection of the natural environment. In her second term she became the council chair on a council divided between four democrats and four republicans. In 1996 and 2000 she ran for mayor. In 1996 she was narrowly defeated by the Democrat incumbent, Steven Yamashiro with the backing of state Democratic party machine. In 2000 she was defeated by Harry Kim, a long time member of the Democratic party machine, who ran as a Republican. Bonk became nationally know for her work in building the Green Party and her introduction of Ralph Nader as the presidential nominee of the Green Party.
After leaving office Keiko Bonk taught art at the University of Hawaii, Hilo, until moving to Honolulu with her second husband Michael Christopher, when he returned to school to pursue a second doctoral degree. Christopher holds doctorates in sociology and clinical psychology, and has been her political partner even before they married in 1998. After moving to Honolulu, Keiko was chosen as Executive Director of the Japanese Cultural Center in Honolulu in 2003 to revitalize the organization and bring in new audience. Although, widely credited as very successful in this regard she was fired in February 2005 by its board of directors citing "philosophical differences," after she raised concerns about possible conflicts of interest by board members.  Keiko went on the become the campaign coordinator of the the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Network, playing a significant role in bringing together a diverse coalition of organizations to successfully accelerate the creation of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands Marine Momument, which is now the largest protected marine ecosystem in the world. In this capacity she also led the struggle to initiate congresses current investigation into corruption in WESPAC, the government advisory council responsible for management of the pacific fishery. Bonk currently works as the Executive Director of the Hawaii branch of the the Marine Conservation Biology Institute (MCBI). In this capacity she is working to build a national movement to save the Hawaiian Monk Seal from extinction. The Hawaiian Monk Seal has been one the endangered species list for 32 years, but has continued to steadily decline toward extinction. With only 1000 Hawaiian Monk Seals remaining she has declared the survival of the species, which is the state mammal of Hawaii, as the "canary in the coal mine" of Hawaii's marine ecosystem.
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