By: TRUSTEE ROWENA AKANA
Source: July 2004 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column
`Ano`ai kakou… For about a year now, Board Chairman Haunani Apoliona has been heavily promoting a particular chant, the Na Oiwi Olino, to start off our Board meetings.
Could there be an ulterior motive behind her vigorous efforts to push this chant? Has it conveniently become her campaign slogan? Let’s look at the facts.
The chant was composed by OHA staff for the Na Wai Olino rally (sponsored by OHA) at Iolani Palace back on January 15, 2003.
In early spring of 2003, OHA produced a CD recording of the chant as an “instructional tool” for our beneficiaries and the community.
Flip the CD cover over and you will see that “Track 1” of the 4-track CD features an introduction by “OHA Chairperson Haunani Apoliona.” “Track 3” of the CD features the chant performed by “Haunani Apoliona.”
OHA staff asked Apoliona to give the introduction in her capacity as Chairman of the Board. While she was in the studio recording the introduction, she was also asked to help with the audio recording of the chant.
Hundreds of CD’s were then individually packaged and distributed at OHA sponsored halawai and other events.
So the bottom line is this: (1) OHA produced a CD featuring Apoliona; (2) She was the only Trustee asked to participate; and (3) She is heavily promoting the chant to the point where it’s difficult to separate her from it.
So is the CD campaign-related? I feel that Apoliona is skating on “thin ice” ethically and should have known better, especially since she is up for re-election this year. Everyone knows that you cannot use state tax dollars or resources for campaign-related items.
It’s just too convenient that Apoliona has this wonderfully packaged CD to hand out to the public in the year leading up to her election. It is definitely a huge and unfair advantage over the candidates who are running against her. I’m sure her opponents would love to have a similar CD, paid for by OHA, to hand out when they campaign.
In any case, Apoliona should really consider ceasing all distribution of the CD until she can get an opinion from the state ethics commission that it is not campaign related. She should also think about not using it to start off every official Board meeting.
Finally, OHA’s new Office of Board Services has recently compiled a list of all 2004 Board accomplishments. If the past is any indication, I’m sure Apoliona will use the report as her laundry list of personal accomplishments, taking credit for everything OHA has done, even though she may have had nothing directly to do with them.
In the six years Apoliona has served on the Board, she can hardly lay claim to even one program that she has put into place for our people. Instead of taking credit for how well OHA is doing, she should take some responsibility for the sorry state of OHA’s beneficiary programs. During the last two years, OHA programs in education, health, and housing have suffered from gross neglect. Even the Aha Kupuna Conference was cancelled last year.
For the last two years, Apoliona has only focused on Federal Recognition. While Federal Recognition is very important, OHA cannot and must not forget the immediate needs of our people. After all, how can you build a nation when a significant segment of our Hawaiian Community is unhealthy, uneducated, and unhappy?” Let us build a nation for all our people. I mua e Hawai’i nei…