By: Trustee Rowena Akana
Source: Letter to the Editor, February 2007
I write you in response to the resolution introduced by Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz regarding Waimea Valley and the Office of Hawaiian Affiars (OHA). I truly appreciate the efforts of Councilman Dela Cruz, who came forth early on to help save Waimea Valley.
I believe that what needs to be stressed about the Audubon’s departure from Waimea Valley is that it was not OHA who stopped the negotiations – it was the Audubon Society’s decision.
Make no mistake, the Audubon Society is without a doubt a national treasure itself because of all the good work that they do for the environment. However, in the case of Waimea Valley, OHA’s primary mission is to work towards bettering the conditions of Hawaiians and Native Hawaiians and to protect and preserve the valley for future generations and to protect the Native Hawaiian trust.
As trustees, we are held to a higher standard than other elected government officials. We must always be certain that our investments, whether it is in land or the stock market, are protected from litigation in order to keep the trust whole. That said, there were criteria that OHA had to follow and we were required by law to include them in the terms of the proposed lease. The Audubon Society, after their own careful consideration as a national organization, decided that perhaps the lease for Waimea with OHA may not be in their own best interests. It should be stressed that OHA will be eternally grateful to the Audubon, the City Council, and the community for their assistance and perseverance in helping us acquire Waimea valley.
OHA is currently conducting a worldwide search to find another entity to take on the task of managing the valley and we would be more than happy to accept suggestions from the community and professionals who would like to share their mana’o.
We ask for everyone’s patience as we and the Audubon Society work through this transitional period. Our goal is to successfully manage the beautiful valley and to work with the community to ensure that this occurs, no matter how long it takes. OHA is committed to seeing this project through for everyone’s benefit. I would like to personally thank the Audubon Society for its participation in preserving Waimea Valley for all of us.