For OHA Trustee Rowena Akana
1. WHY DO YOU WANT TO BE A TRUSTEE?
Few people understand the complex responsibilities of an OHA trustee. Not only do they serve as elected officials, but more importantly, you must also manage all of the assets, both monetary and tangible, in the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund. Further, OHA trustees must follow the Trust Laws of Hawaii and may be held personally accountable under state law for any misguided decision that they make. Being a steward of this Trust demands that you understand all that the law requires of you under Hawaii Revised Statues 554-A.
2. WHAT EXPERIENCE OR PERSONAL QUALITIES WOULD YOU BRING TO THE POSITION?
Elected to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in 1990, I am the most senior member of the Board of Trustees. In 1990, OHA’s trust assets were $11 million. In 1993, the board negotiated a settlement worth about $129 million with the State for the past due revenues owed to OHA from 1980. By 1996, through prudent investing, OHA’s net worth had grown to almost $400 million. This was done by carefully selecting Money Managers who understood our mission and diligently monitoring their performance in the stock market. At present, I am the only remaining OHA Trustee who was part of the team that originally built the OHA portfolio. OHA would not be able to provide all of its current services without sufficient funds.
3. WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES CONFRONTING OHA OR THE HAWAIIAN PEOPLE?
Hawaiians face a combination of issues that we must address simultaneously. For example:
1. How to strategically plan to deal with impending lawsuits against our Trust;
2. Developing a 10-year plan that will include a timetable to achieve the goals set forth in the plan. The plan can be visited again in five years for updates and amending or deleting sections that we find unnecessary. The plan should include the development of an economic base to sustain OHA and prepare for a transition to Nationhood. We must develop an economic base through strategies such as partnering with developers, banks, and other private companies to increase our revenue streams and to provide services to our people i.e., land & housing, healthcare, schools and other needs;
3. Looking at the resources that surround us and finding ways to tap into them;
4. Carefully looking at an inclusive plan to bring all Hawaiians together to discuss our future and to develop ways for us to work together on the things that we can all agree to;
Clearly, for me, we have two pressing issues. First is the passage a formal document from Congress that assures Hawaiians of self-determination and the right to negotiate for reparations. Second, determining the process to be used to define and identify Hawaiians who will be eligible to participate in the self-governance process. I believe that a comprehensive education campaign on this process is crucial. Unless Hawaiians can clearly understand what is being done on their behalf they will not support it. BRINGING HAWAIIANS TOGETHER TO DISCUSS ISSUES THAT ARE CLOSE TO THEIR HEART IS A START IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION…
4. AS AN OHA TRUSTEE, HOW WOULD YOU ADDRESS THOSE ISSUES?
To address these issues, we need to start at the beginning and with Trust. Listen to the different ideas of our beneficiaries and then ask them to listen to ours. Find some common ground. Work towards finding ideas that we can all accept. If the differences end up being too great and we are not going anywhere in the process, we could suggest a multi-party system. The Queen had two independent parties. IT IS NOT INCONCEIVABLE FOR OUR SELF-DETERMINATION DOCUMENT TO HAVE MORE THAN ONE PARTY IN IT.
5. IF YOU COULD ONLY ACCOMPLISH ONE GOAL AS TRUSTEE, WHAT WOULD THAT BE?
If I could only accomplish one goal at OHA, it would be to see a Hawaiian government once again flying its Hawaiian Flag.