Stop Harassing OHA

By Trustee Rowena Akana
March 2005

Source Submitted to various Letters to the Editor

Earl Arakaki should have disclosed his past conflicts with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in his March 10, 2005 letter to The Honolulu Advertiser.

It would have certainly made his negative spin on OHA’s efforts at the state legislature more understandable to your readers if they knew that Mr. Arakaki has repeatedly filed lawsuits (Arakaki v. Cayetano & Arakaki v. Lingle) challenging the constitutionality of both OHA and the Department of Hawaiian Homelands.

Aside from this omission, Mr. Arakaki also failed to mention some other key facts in his attempt to confuse the public.

First, Mr. Arakaki questioned OHA’s request to the legislature for a more permanent office building. OHA is a state agency. Who else is more appropriate to fund a state building, for a state agency, than the state?

Second, Arakaki questioned the supposedly large amount of legislative requests for funds that OHA is supporting on behalf of its beneficiaries. He, of all people, should know that OHA has been constitutionally mandated to better the conditions of both Native Hawaiians and the Hawaiian community in general since 1978. OHA exists to advocate for Hawaiians in all levels of government, especially the state.

OHA lobbies the legislature on behalf of its constituents just like any other advocate organization. If Mr. Arakaki has a problem with the way state legislators are allocating state funds, he should take it up with them. Do not bad-mouth OHA just because it is better at lobbying the legislature than you and your cohorts.

Finally, I’d like to say to Mr. Arakaki that we get it already – you really, really don’t like OHA and you really, really wish that we would go away forever. But you and I both know that we’re not going anywhere. Even if OHA were to disappear tomorrow, each and every one of us, from Trustees to staff, would continue their efforts to assist the Hawaiian Community. Why not try and help us out instead of being a perpetual part of the problem?