My hope for change at OHA and the legislature

February 2011 KA WAI OLA COLUMN

`Ano`ai kakou…  Happy Year of the Rabbit!  I would like to wish newly-elected OHA Chairperson Colette Machado the best in 2011.  Colette has a strong community and grass-roots background and I am hopeful that she will take the Board of Trustees in this direction.

In this New Year, I continue to hope that there will be changes at OHA to make things better here for everyone.


I believe that being a trustee is not about simply showing up at a few monthly meetings.  OHA cannot afford to maintain a
system which encourages passive trustees, as we have experienced in the past.

Currently, there are only two subject-matter committees under the Board of Trustees: (1) Trustee Oswald Stender oversees all of OHA’s fiscal, policy, economic development, and administrative matters, and (2) Trustee John Waihe’e IV, for the first time in 9 years, has responsibility over all federal and state legislation, on-going programs in health, housing, education, land, and the
Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund.

The problem is that each committee is too broad in scope and can easily become overwhelmed.  I’m hopeful that Trustees Stender and Waihe’e will form “Ad Hoc” sub-committees to allow other Trustees to concentrate on more specific issues such as land, policy & planning, program management, legislative & government affairs, and budget & finance.  Creating sub-committees will get more Trustees actively involved and ensure less things “fall through the cracks.”


Today, OHA mostly operates like a charitable foundation that hands out grants.  Most of the successful OHA-run programs, like
Aha ‘Opio and Aha Kupuna, which took years of hard work by past trustees to develop, have been contracted out or quietly discontinued.  While farming work out to nonprofits is appropriate in some cases, I believe OHA has gone too far.

I believe that OHA should do much more for our beneficiaries in terms of programs and services.  Grants are ineffective in solving long-term problems since grant monies eventually run out.  Even successful services end up getting cut if they can’t raise any money.  That’s why we need on-going OHA programs that are closely monitored by the trustees.


Despite many requests, OHA meetings are not televised like the City Council or the State Legislature.  Cost has always been an issue, but with today’s technology, it shouldn’t cost that much – Olelo and YouTube are free!  Broadcasting our meetings would make Trustees more accessible and keep us honest.


Congratulations to newly–appointed Big Island State Senator Malama Solomon, who previously served as an OHA Trustee and State Senator.  Now, with Senator Clayton Hee, OHA has two former trustees it can count on in the Senate.

We will certainly need their help to finally resolve the claims relating to OHA’s portion of income from the public land trust between 11/7/1978 and 7/1/2009.  In the 2009, Senator Hee introduced Senate Bill 995, which offered OHA $251 million in cash and 20 percent of the 1.8 million acres of ceded lands.  The proposal died in the House and went nowhere in 2010.

Even a few of these properties could generate all of the revenue OHA needs to operate and would give our future nation the assets it needs to serve our beneficiaries.  Let us hope that we can successfully lobby the State House to have a change of heart.

Aloha Ke Akua.

OHA Trustees excluded


Source: July 2010 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Monthly Column

Chair Apoliona goes out of her way to exclude trustees from board discussions.  For example:


Back in April, the SEC brought a civil action against Goldman Sachs, one of OHA’s two money managers, because of “a single transaction in 2007 involving two professional institutional investors.”  Goldman assured us that they believe the SEC’s allegations were “completely unfounded both in law and fact,” and that they would vigorously defend themselves.  Every trustee had reason to be deeply concerned since, as of December 31, 2009, Goldman managed $171,649,375 of OHA’s Trust Fund.

On April 20, 2010, Goldman invited OHA to meet with them in New York on May 7, 2010 for an explanation.  Chairperson Apoliona, Trustees Machado and Stender, and CEO Namuo traveled to New York for the meeting.  I did not submit a request to travel so I don’t know if the Chair denied travel for anyone else.

On April 21, 2010, Goldman offered to provide Trustees that could not attend the New York meeting with a “live video conference feed” from their office to our boardroom.  This would allow all of us to at least listen in on the Goldman meeting.

Then suddenly, on April 23, 2010, the OHA Board Counsel cancelled the Goldman videoconference, most likely at the request of the Chairperson.  At the request of Trustee Heen, the Board Counsel wrote a legal opinion to explain his position.  The Board Counsel felt that, since Goldman refused to allow the video conference to be viewed by the public in an open meeting, OHA would end up breaking the Sunshine Law.  Since none of the trustees I have spoken to have actually seen any communication from Goldman Sachs objecting to an open meeting, I am not convinced that there was such a communication.

There were other ways to allow the trustees to listen in and still stay within the law.  For example, we could have gone into executive session during the “sensitive” portions of the broadcast.  While it wouldn’t have been the most ideal solution, Chair Apoliona has shown in the past that she has no problems taking things into executive session, even when it is not necessary except to keep the public from hearing what is going on.

It is clear to me that this was just a deliberate attempt to keep the majority of the board from hearing what Goldman had to say.  At the time of the writing of this article, there has been NO report to the Board of Trustees from Trustees Apoliona, Stender, or Machado regarding their New York meeting.


Another example of Chair Apoliona’s selective denial happened back in 2008, when, without even the proper authority, Apoliona denied my travel to South Dakota on official business as a board member of the Governors’ Interstate Indian Council (GIIC).  I am the only non-Indian member of this national organization representing Native Americans and Alaska Natives in all 50 states.  The GIIC has supported OHA’s efforts for federal recognition with five resolutions that have been sent to Congress on our behalf.


On May 4, 2010, the Board Counsel wrote another legal opinion about his decision to deny a Trustee from participating in a Board Workshop on April 22, 2010 by telephone.  The Trustee had been told by the Administration that it wouldn’t be a problem for him to participate over a speaker phone, but that decision was overruled by the Board Counsel, which went against OHA’s longstanding practice of allowing participation via telephone as long as the Trustee did not vote.


On April 26, 2010, each Trustee received an invitation letter from the Hawai`i State Society of Washington, D.C. to participate in the 2010 Kamehameha Lei draping ceremonies on June 6, 2010.  Trustees have supported and attended the ceremony since 2003; including the historic first ceremony in Emancipation Hall at the new Capitol Visitors Center in 2009.  Despite this, on May 3, 2010, the Chairperson denied travel for all Trustees except for herself and OHA staff members CEO Namuo, COO Stanton Enomoto, and Special Assistant to the CEO Martha Ross.

Meetings were scheduled by the Administration to meet with Federal Officials while in Washington, D.C. – meetings that the Trustees should have attended.  This has become a common practice with this Chair.  Despite this denial, I elected to pay my own way to Washington, D.C. as I had an important meeting scheduled at the White House.

Chairperson Apoliona must stop interfering with our right to represent the beneficiaries that elected us.  Sadly, this has been going on for the last eight years.


In a May 3rd e-mail to the Trustees, Chair Apoliona explained that she was denying travel for the 2010 Kamehameha Lei draping in D.C. on June 6th, because of economic reasons, not mentioning that there were also important meetings scheduled with Federal Officials that Trustees should have attended.  Chair Apoliona wrote:

“Since 2009 Trustees have been asked to limit requests for out of state travel due to our downturn in the economy and the impact on OHA resources.  Although there is demonstration of what appears to be an ‘improving’ economy, we all continue to be vigilant and cautious.”  “…even in 2010 we should remain cautious about out of state travel costs and continue to manage out-of-State travel requests prudently.” — OHA Chair Haunani Apoliona

However, the Chair failed to mention that while she was denying Trustees’ travel, three OHA staff members went instead of Trustees.  While in D.C., OHA paid for a reception for 200 people, including entertainment.  How much did this cost our beneficiaries?  What about the “downturn in the economy?”

While I understand her reasons for being “cautious” with our spending during this economic downturn, a quick review of OHA’s recent spending shows that she is at worse a hypocrite and, at best, full of baloney.  For example, at a time when our people are living homeless on beaches, OHA authorized spending the following on June 3, 2010:

  • $100,000 to sponsor a Native Hawaiian men’s health conference in June 2010; and
  • $100,000 to sponsor an International Indigenous Health Conference.  There was no mention of how many Hawaiians were going to be able to attend this Conference.

The Administration also proposed to transfer $421,300 in education grant money to fund a “Continent Community Education” program in Hi’ilei Aloha LLC, a nonprofit that currently manages Waimea Valley.  This program would have given OHA funds to an organization outside of the Trustee’s direct oversight.  Hi’ilei Aloha would then determine who gets to travel to the mainland to educate people about the Akaka bill.  My guess is that her relative, who now works with Hi’ilei Aloha, would be doing most of the traveling, since that was the case when she worked for OHA.  This highly questionable proposal was quickly scuttled after several trustees and I brought up serious concerns at the board table, specifically that this private organization would in fact end up doing the work that OHA Trustees are charged to do.


Just about five years ago, OHA’s budget was around $23 million.  Today, OHA’s budget has ballooned to $42,107,095.  A whopping $12,320,998 is spent on salaries and benefits.  Another $7,541,655 is spent on work that is contracted outside of OHA.  Only $1,410,130 is spent on OHA programs to assist our beneficiaries!  What’s up with that?


I have always said that OHA’s two committee system allows too many important issues to slip through the cracks.  The system was put into place by Chair Apoliona to consolidate her control over the Board of Trustees.  Since the two committee chairs have to oversee every function of the Board, there are just too many issues for each committee chair to consider and a lot of important issues fall through the cracks.  Things are so bad now that almost nothing is being done by the committees.

The Asset and Resource Management (ARM), chaired by Trustee Stender, meets only twice a month (if there are no sudden cancellations), despite the huge swings in the stock market and the volatile nature of the world economy.  Also, the ARM committee is responsible for evaluating OHA programs and deciding whether to continue, modify, or terminate their funding, but this has not occurred for the past several years.  The State Auditor’s recent report will back this up.

In the past year, the ARM committee has cancelled or rescheduled many meetings, reducing the number of meetings we have in a month.  For example:

  • The August 5, 2009 and September 2, 2009 ARM Committee Meetings were cancelled.
  • The September 23, 2009 meeting was rescheduled to September 22, 2009.  Since there was no quorum for the September 22, 2009 meeting, it was postponed.
  • The ARM Committee meeting scheduled for May 12, 2010 was cancelled.  There were no ARM meetings in all of May 2010.

Since Trustee Stender has chaired the ARM committee, OHA has not taken its budget out into the community as required by law.

The Beneficiary Advocacy and Empowerment (BAE) committee, Chaired by Trustee Colette Machado, is responsible for developing programs which focus on beneficiary health, human services, native rights and education and evaluate all OHA programs to ensure a positive impact on our beneficiaries.  Not only has the BAE Chair failed to develop any new programs, she is actually trying to eliminate them.  Just ask members of the Native Hawaiian Historic Preservation Council (NHHPC).  In fact, since Chairperson Apoliona has chaired the Board and Trustees Machado and Stender have chaired the two Committees, virtually all OHA programs have been discontinued.

Another byproduct of this system is that the active participation of the six other trustees has been cut-off.  The only thing that the other Trustees get to do is vote on whatever is being brought to the board or committee table.  In the past, the five committee system gave the majority of the trustees the responsibility of running a committee.  Today, I believe that the saddest result of the two committee system is that several of the trustees have become apathetic.  They aren’t as interested in board affairs since they are not consulted about any subject matters prior to a meeting.  Chair Apoliona has also acquiesced trustees’ power to the CEO, which further exacerbates the problem.

Chair Apoliona always likes to say that OHA has never been better.  There is no truth to that statement.  There was a time when Trustees were passionate about the issues near and dear to their hearts; worked tirelessly to improve the lives of our beneficiaries; and when the moral of our employees were at its best.  Let us look for change in the November elections.  Aloha pumehana.

Stender is a liar

By: Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: The Garden Island, October 15, 2008

Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Oswald Stender’s Saturday (“Election-year smears,” Letters, Oct. 11) letter against me just shows that he is living in complete denial about his friends Haunani Apoliona and Colette Machado and is terrified that when they lose this election, he will have to give up his Finance Committee where all of the excess spending has come from and will have to submit to a forensic audit. 

For the record:

• I have never used OHA money to take any personal trips and have never solicited invitations to take trips anywhere.

• All of my travel has been approved by the OHA administrator.

• I am the chair of the Native Hawaiian Health Task Force, which has never been dissolved by the board.

• It was Stender and Trustee Boyd Mossman who asked me to speak with the local representative of the Jack Abramoff firm. On a trip to Washington, D.C., trustees Machado, Apoliona, Dante Carpenter, John Waihee IV, myself and the administrator all interviewed three lobbyist firms. I never, at any time, insisted that OHA hire the Abramoff firm.

• Apoliona has, by far, outspent all current and past trustees with her travel expenses. On one trip to D.C. in 2007 alone, she spent nearly $9,000. She spent $56,000 from 2005-2006.

•  People who remember when Stender was with the Bishop Estate know that he created so much trouble from the inside of that institution that it finally collapsed and now the Princess’ will has been broken forever.

• As a Bishop Estate trustee, Stender formed a consortium with private investors to outbid his own board to buy a section of land from Maui Land & Pine. He even used a study done by Bishop Estate for his private use with his consortium. For this action, he should have been removed as a trustee for a breach of trust.

It is really sad to see someone so afraid of losing his power on the OHA board that he will do anything — even lie and twist the truth — to discredit his fellow trustee to maintain the status quo.

This is exactly why there needs to be changes on the OHA board. It’s time, folks, it’s time.

My Hope for Change


Source: October 2008 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column

My Hope for CHANGE and what voters should know about OHA Trustees running for re-election 

I can tell you all about the millions and millions of dollars being spent at OHA with no accountability.

I can tell you that since Apoliona has been OHA Chairperson, all of the programs that existed when she took the chairmanship are now gone. 

I can tell you that since she became the Chair, our annual budget went from $24 million to $52 million. This year, OHA’s budget is $36,664,847. Add to that the $11,358,014 being encumbered and $4,792,605 left over from last year’s budget making our current budget swell to a tidy sum of $52,815,466. Where is all that money going? Only six budget meetings were held this year, out of the 13 scheduled. Because of cancellations, and there was never any agenda that allowed Trustees to question budget spending.

I can tell you too that Apoliona continues to renew contract after contract for the same lobbyist in Washington, D.C., and other consultants, to the tune of $2.75 million, even though we have not achieved the outcome we sought.


I can tell you that for at least four years, Apoliona has traveled all over the continental U.S. with her sister, OHA’s Administrator and other staff members.  Apoliona has spent millions buying dinners, hosting parties, sponsoring events all across America and Washington, D.C., flying on unrestricted airline tickets and first-class, and spent almost $8,000 on one trip alone with still nothing to show for it. Grants have been given out to many organizations and individuals on the mainland that are not 501(c)3 to sign up Native Hawaiians for Kau Inoa. After awhile, you feel as though you are back in the time of the Wild West, where there were no laws and no one to hold you accountable for your actions.


I can tell you that nepotism lives here at OHA. With Apoliona’s sister flying first-class all over the U.S. and spending trust dollars like it was her own, and maxing out an OHA credit card at $10,000. Apoliona’s sister then used her own credit card to charge expenses and then sought reimbursements of up to almost $50,000.


I can tell you that the morale at OHA has never been lower. Eight employees this year alone either were fired or quit because of the oppressive “Big Brother” culture that has spread like a cancer within the OHA offices. Employees are fingerprinted for I.D. cards so they can be tracked as they access their offices, security cameras watch their every move, and they are constantly reminded that they are “at-will” employees and can be fired at anytime. They are also told that they do not work for the Trustees and must answer only to the Administrator.


I can tell you that harassment and smear campaigns against any Trustee or employee that criticizes the goings-on here is not beneath Apoliona. If you are a staffer, you are simply fired. If you are a Trustee, Apoliona threatens you with censorship and plants things in newspapers to discredit you and to draw attention away from HER. For instance, a recent article written by a Star-Bulletin reporter, who is a friend of our Public Information Officer, wrote about my travel expenses but didn’t print anything about Apoliona’s $8,000 trip to D.C.  Trustees’ articles are also read by the Administrator before being printed in the Ka Wai Ola and if there is criticism of the office, the administration will have their own article in the same paper to negate your article.

I can tell you that, two years ago, Colette Machado, who is running for re-election from Molokai-Lanai, misled the Board by asking us to approve a resolution supporting Molokai Ranch’s efforts to give the community thousands of acres of land in exchange for a development of high-end homes to be built on the ranch. Machado told us that the community supported this effort and we believed her and approved the resolution. One year later, we found out that this was not the case at all. Machado also failed to tell us at the time that she was involved with the land trust that was to control the donated lands and that she later became the chair of the land trust. Last year, a nonprofit group representing this land trust came to OHA for a grant and received $100,000 for operating costs.

While this kind of behavior may seem incredible of people who were elected to protect your trust assets, it pales in comparison to the behavior they display to beneficiaries when they come before us to testify at the Board table. For example, during a hearing held at the state Capitol when I was working on a Kupuna health initiative, many Kupuna came from all of the islands to testify before the Board in support of a proposed OHA supplemental drug plan. The Kupuna explained to the Trustees about how important this plan was to them, sharing stories about how they had to split their medication in half to stretch it because they couldn’t afford the medication. Both Machado and Apoliona voted against the plan. Not only did they vote against it, they were rude to the Kupuna who came to testify and even made some of them cry. 

Machado said to one Kupuna who had flown in from Hilo and was in a wheelchair, “Do you think that I am going to vote for this just because you came here in a wheelchair and your oxygen machine?”

In another incident, when Apoliona and Machado were elected in 1996, Apoliona immediately wanted to become Chair of the Board after just being elected. In an interview with me she asked, “Who would you support for the chairmanship?” I replied: “Moses Keale. He is the most senior Trustee, he has the most experience, he is fair, he is the longest-serving member, and he started most of the programs that we are continuing here. Not only that, this is his last term.” Apoliona’s response was a cold, “Moses is sick and he’s going to die.” I replied, “Everyone is going to die, only God knows when that will be.” At the time, Moses was on a dialysis machine twice a week. Needless to say, neither Apoliona nor Moses became the Chair that year. However, it didn’t stop her from telling him that he should retire and get off the Board. These comments were made to a man who had given 12 years of his life to OHA, without any compensation. I have served on the Board for 18 years and have met wonderful Trustees along the way, but I have never met two more “mean-spirited” people than Machado and Apoliona, who continue to display bad behavior that is unconscionable.

Our people deserve better. They deserve leaders who can lead by example and leaders who are able to work with everyone. Leaders who can inspire and bring hope to our younger generation of Hawaiians who will come after us. Leaders who can agree to disagree with those who do not share our views but who can respect them for their differences. We cannot treat people who do not agree with us as enemies, we will never be able to build a nation that way.

In this election year, voters can make the necessary changes and elect people who will be accountable and listen to other perspectives and views and most of all listen to our beneficiaries. This is my hope for CHANGE.  Mahalo Ke Akua.

Why Two OHA Trustees Should Not Return to OHA

By: Trustee Rowena Akana
Friday, September 26, 2008

Source: Letter sent to various newspaper editors

OHA has had no fiscal accountability under Haunani Apoliona’s chairmanship. Programs have been eliminated or outsourced while our annual budget has doubled from $24 million to $52 million. The contracts of underperforming vendors have been unlawfully extended multiple times.

Apoliona has spent millions flying first-class and hosting lavish parties on the mainland. Her sister also works for OHA and recently had nearly $50,000 on her personal charge card reimbursed by OHA.

Morale at OHA has never been lower. Ten employees were fired or quit this year. Employees are fingerprinted for I.D. cards, tracked by security cameras, and constantly reminded that they can be fired at anytime.

Apoliona’s friend, Trustee Colette Machado, misled the Board into approving a resolution supporting Molokai Ranch’s plan to donate thousands of acres of land to the community in exchange for a development of high-end homes on the ranch. Machado said the community supported this effort, which turned out to be false. Machado was also involved with the group that was to control the donated lands and she is now its chairperson. Machado’s group recently received a $100,000 OHA grant for “operating costs.”

In this election year, voters must make the necessary changes and elect people who will be accountable.

Too little, too late


Source: March 2008 Ka Wai Ola Column

‘Ano‘ai käkou… OHA is currently lobbying the Legislature to pass a bill that will settle our claims against the State from 1978 to the present. For those who do not remember, former Gov. Ben Cayetano’s second settlement offer in 1999 was a better deal than the current proposal.

The Board voted to reject Cayetano’s first offer, which was much less than the $251 million he later offered, for the past due amounts owed to OHA from 1980. We also discussed a prospective offer of 20 percent, or 365,000 acres of ceded lands, if OHA would settle on all land claims against the State in the future.  This offer would not have included any ocean resources, or any other resource, that we would be entitled to.

OHA couldn’t consider Cayetano’s second offer because five Trustees, including Trustees Haunani Apoliona and Colette Machado, suddenly voted to end all negotiations. OHA’s attorney at the time, James E. Duffy Jr., now a Hawai‘i Supreme Court justice, repeatedly advised the Trustees to continue the negotiations, but they rejected his advice.

The $251 million that Cayetano offered in 1999 would be worth more than double today and the 365,000 acres of ceded lands would have meant economic self-sufficiency and a better negotiating position for the Akaka Bill.

I believe that Apoliona and Machado wanted to end negotiations because they did not want any credit to go to our negotiating team (former Trustees Clayton Hee and Mililani Trask and myself). They thought they could negotiate their own deal, but nine years later all they could come up with is a watered-down version of our previous deal. Their short-sightedness caused OHA to pay dearly a year later when the U.S. Supreme Court came down with the Rice decision.

Later, the Hawai‘i Supreme Court threw out Act 304 and suggested that the remedy must now be sought at the Legislature. I believe this decision was due to OHA walking away from the negotiating table after the Hawai‘i Supreme Court had asked OHA and the state to negotiate a settlement.

Please note that all of my statements can be verified by Gov. Cayetano, his chief negotiator Sam Callejo, Sen. Clayton Hee, or Justice James Duffy. I also have documents that support my statements regarding OHA’s 1999 negotiations with the state.

In 1980, the state legislature amended HRS chapter 10 by adding HRS 10-13.5, which provided that “twenty percent of all funds derived from the public (ceded) land trust shall be expended by OHA…”  The Hawai‘i Supreme Court quoted HRS 10-13.5 verbatim when it recently issued an injunction preventing the state from any future sale or transfer of ceded lands until the claims of Native Hawaiians have been resolved.  In light of this, OHA should really consider whether deleting the twenty percent provision in HRS 10-13.5 would hurt OHA’s standing with the Hawaii Supreme Court.  We should also consider whether we could negotiate a better deal with the state now that we are in a much stronger negotiating position.

Kau Inoa updates

Also, in a memo dated Jan. 31, Administrator Nämu‘o submits that our leader for Kau Inoa registrations on the continent, Chairperson Apoliona’s sister Aulani, is “…sometimes slow in gathering paperwork and submitting documentation for P-card payments.” Because of this, her OHA credit card was taken away and given to another staff person to manage (right?). Is it any surprise that our Kau Inoa program on the continent is so ineffective and no one knows for sure how much OHA funds are being spent? The Administrator announced that as of Feb. 7, the total number of Kau Inoa registrations is 80,625. There were 67,684 in Hawai‘i (84 percent) and 12,941 on the continent. As of Oct. 22, 2007, there were 29,574 registrants who needed to be verified as Native Hawaiian through the Department of Health.

Too Little, Too Late

By: Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Letter sent to Star Bulletin Editor on February 8, 2008

I am writing to correct the errors that were made by the Chairperson of the Office of Hawaiian Affiars and other trustees in their Feb. 7th letter. 

First, the letter twists the facts by stating that I rejected former Governor Cayetano’s offer in 1999 while I was serving as the Chairperson of OHA. 

What really happened is that the full board voted to reject Cayetano’s first offer, which was much less than the $251 million he later offered, for the past due amounts owed to OHA from 1980.

OHA and the state were also discussing a prospective offer of 20% or 365,000 acres of ceded lands, if OHA would settle on all land claims against the state in the future.  This offer would not have included any ocean resources, or any other resource, that the Hawaiian people would be entitled to.

OHA was not able to consider Cayetano’s second offer because five trustees, who include currently serving trustees Haunani Apoliona and Colette Machado, voted to end all negotiations.  OHA’s attorney at the time, James E. Duffy, Jr., now a Hawaii Supreme Court Justice, repeatedly advised the trustees to continue the negotiations, but they rejected his advice.

The $251 million that Cayetano offered in 1999 would be worth more than double today if it were properly invested and the 365,000 acres of ceded lands would have meant economic self-sufficiency and a better negotiating position for the Akaka bill.

I believe that Apoliona and Machado wanted to end negotiations because they did not want any credit to go to our negotiating team, which was made up of myself and former trustees Clayton Hee and Mililani Trask.

Apoliona and Machado thought they could negotiate their own deal, one that would serve as their legacy, but nine years later all they could come up with is a watered-down version of our previous deal that we now see before the legislature.  Their short-sightedness caused OHA to pay dearly a year later when the U.S. Supreme Court came down with the Rice decision.

Later, the Hawaii Supreme Court threw out Act 304 and suggested that the remedy must now be sought at the legislature.  I believe this decision was made by the court because OHA walked away from the negotiating table after the Hawaii Supreme Court had asked OHA and the state to negotiate a settlement.

Also, in light of the Hawaii Supreme Court’s recent injunction preventing the state from any future sale or transfer of ceded lands until the claims of Native Hawaiians have been resolved, OHA should really consider whether a better settlement can be negotiated than the one we now have before the legislature.

I encourage anyone who would like to dispute my statements to speak directly to Governor Cayetano, his chief negotiator Sam Callejo, Senator Clayton Hee, or Hawaii Supreme Court Justice James Duffy.  I also have signed documents from the 1999 negotiations to back up what I have written.

Cayetano offered better ceded land deal

By: Trustee Rowena Akana
Monday, February 4, 2008

Source: Honolulu Star Bulletin

I am writing to confirm former Gov. Ben Cayetano’s statement in the Star-Bulletin’s Jan. 22 article that his ceded lands settlement offer to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, while he was in office, was a better deal for native Hawaiians than the proposal now before the Legislature. I was the chairwoman of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in 1999 when he offered OHA $251 million plus 20 percent of the ceded lands, which is estimated at 365,000 acres.

Following OHA’s victory in the Heely court case, the state of Hawaii appealed to the Hawaii Supreme Court, which then ordered the state and OHA to negotiate a settlement.

After only a few months, Haunani Apoliona, Colette Machado, Frenchy DeSoto, Louis Hao and Mililani Trask voted to halt the negotiations because they didn’t understand that the $251 million was for the past due revenues to OHA and the 20 percent of the ceded lands was to settle future claims.

While it would have been a final settlement, imagine how great that would have been for our people if we had received the 20 percent of all of the ceded lands back then. Not only that, Gov. Cayetano was willing to consider many of the lands that OHA wanted. Our intention was to take the offer out into the community for input, but we never had the chance because of the shortsightedness of those trustees. As a result of OHA walking away from the table, the Supreme Court ruled the Heely act void, and told OHA to go back to the Legislature for a remedy.

La’au Point

By: Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Letter to the Editor, Molokai Dispatch, November 2007

I am writing to clarify a few issues that Bridget Mowat brought up in her October 25, 2007 letter to the editor.

First, Office of Hawaiian Affiars (OHA) Chairperson Haunani Apoliona should have informed those who attended OHA’s October 17, 2007 Molokai meeting that both Trustee Mossman and I were in New York on official board business dealing with the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund.  Let me assure the Molokai community that, as a statewide at-large trustee, I am deeply concerned with La’au Point and would have made every effort to attend the meeting if it were not for the scheduling conflict.  Chair Apoliona should have also made sure whether the remaining trustees could attend or not and rescheduled the meeting if she didn’t have quorum.

Second, Trustee Dante Carpenter and I personally urged Chairperson Apoliona during last year’s Molokai meeting to consider rescinding OHA’s resolution supporting Molokai Ranch’s Master Plan, which includes the development of luxury homes at La`au Point.  Chair Apoliona flatly refused.

Third, the $100,000 that was awarded to the Molokai Land Trust, which is led by Trustee Machado, is indeed a cause for concern.  I was unable to attend the September 13th committee meeting that approved the grant due to a scheduling conflict.  However, I have learned that the $100,000 grant Mowat discusses was actually given to the nonprofit Ke Aupuni Lokahi, Inc. to administer in support of the Molokai Land Trust.  It is possible that the trustees did not understand that the grant would actually benefit the Moloka’i Land Trust.  Also, I do not know whether Trustee Colette Machado clearly explained to the Trustees that she would directly benefit from the grant.  In any case, she abstained from voting for it.

Finally, Trustee Machado assured us when we first approved the resolution supporting Molokai Ranch’s Master Plan that the Molokai community fully supported it.  As the Trustee from Molokai, we believed her and supported the resolution.  In the future, I will not make the mistake of believing Trustee Machado, or any trustee regarding a project they support, without first checking the facts for myself.

Mu’olea Point

By Trustee Rowena Akana
July 2004

Source Honolulu Advertiser Letter to the Editor

I appreciated Vicky Viotti’s July 29th article regarding the Trust for Public Land’s (TPL) $342,000 grant request to OHA for the purchase of a 70-acre parcel at Mu’olea Point on Maui. While she did an excellent job of summarizing the discussion, I would like to add a few points.

It is outrageous that TPL would request money from OHA, monies that are to be spent for the betterment of Hawaiians, so that they can purchase land and hand it over to the County of Maui. Why should OHA help pay for land that Hawaiians will never own?

The State of Hawaii and the County of Maui are derelict in their responsibility to protect and preserve the lands at Mu’olea Point. If the Hana community truly feels that the site is so important, why doesn’t the County of Maui condemn the land using their power of eminent domain?

The County of Maui has the power to seize the property for public use if they can prove that doing so will serve the public good. Cities across the country have been using eminent domain to buy private property at a fair market value so that they can build roads, schools, and even courthouses. That’s what the City & County of Honolulu did when it purchased Waimea Falls Park.

I believe OHA trustee Linda Dela Cruz made an excellent point at the Board table that in the past, many organizations have used a connection to Hawaiians to push various proposals and developments through but, after the dust settled, how many Hawaiians really benefited?

TPL has argued that there are many culturally significant Hawaiian sites on the property but, in the end, it is only the County of Maui that will truly benefit by acquiring the land. OHA has a fiduciary responsibility to all Hawaiians. I still don’t see how OHA giving $342,000 to TPL will truly benefit the Hawaiian community at large.

And let’s not forget that Hawaiians only receive 20% of the revenues from ceded lands. The State should think about using the 80% of ceded land revenues it takes to purchase and preserve the property. After all, it’s part of the State’s mandate.

There are many ways to save the Mu’olea Point property besides asking OHA for a bailout. The State needs to step up to the plate and the County of Maui needs to get more creative.

Also, our beneficiaries should know that the following trustees support giving $342,000 to TPL: Haunani Apoliona, Oswald Stender, Boyd Mossman, Dante Carpenter, and Colette Machado.