Mahalo nui to all

December 2014 Ka Wai Ola Column

`Ano`ai kakou…  Let me begin by expressing my warmest Mahalo to all those who supported me in the General Election.  Your kokua has allowed me to return to OHA to serve you for another four-year term.  A very special Mahalo nui to Ke Akua for his divine guidance and love that he has bestowed upon me and my family.

I would like to offer my warmest Aloha to Trustee Oswald Stender who is retiring from OHA after 14-years of service to our beneficiaries.  I would also like to congratulate newly elected OHA Trustee Lei Ahu Isa and welcome her to the Board of Trustees.  I look forward to working with her to fulfill OHA’s mission to better the conditions of Native Hawaiians.

Campaigning can be a grueling process, but now the real work shall begin.  The time has come for all us to come together in spirit and put some meaningful effort into re-establishing the political relationship between Native Hawaiians and the Federal government to re-organize our Native Hawaiian Governing Entity.  Once done, we will be able to protect all of our Hawaiian trust assets from the constant threat of lawsuits.  This is why I have always supported state and federal recognition.

As I traveled around the state, I spoke to many people who were confused about the process towards nationhood.  I can only conclude that OHA has not done enough to educate the public.  This situation has to change.  Trustees are going to have to speak up about the many positive results that Hawaiian Nationhood would bring for both Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians.  I assure all of you that, after listening to your mana’o, I will do everything that is humanly possible to address your concerns.

What is also needed is your participation.  You must challenge EACH Trustee to be accountable to you.  It is unfortunate that you cannot assume that Trustees will do this on their own.  Like any organization, from time to time, especially when one faction has been in power for too long like it has been at OHA, “the people” need to become actively involved.  Otherwise we will risk having to deal with complacency and the abuse of power.

What we face today as Hawaiians is no different than what has occurred over the past 100 years.  We are still fighting off assaults on our culture, the deterioration of our rights to our lands, and attacks from racist organizations.

Let us begin to work together for the cause of recognition.  Let us begin to agree on the things that we can agree to and set aside the things we differ on and move forward together for the future generations of Hawaiians yet to come.

As we close out the year of 2014, I would like to wish each of you a very safe and happy holiday season, and may the Lord in his grace bless each of you and your families and take you safely into 2015.  Have a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

Aloha pumehana.

State Ethics Commission Bungled Investigation

`Ano`ai kakou… On July 17, 2012, I asked the State Ethics Commission’s Executive Director to investigate whether a trustee’s vote to approve OHA’s purchase of a property being financed by Bank of Hawaii, for which she also serves as a Director on their board, was a violation of HRS §84-14 – Conflicts of interests, which states that no employee may take any official action directly affecting a business in which the employee has a substantial financial interest. This includes elected state board members, such as OHA trustees.

Despite my numerous attempts to follow-up, nothing happened for ten months. Then, on April 13, 2013, the trustee being investigated announced that she received letter from the Commission stating she did nothing wrong. I never received a response to my original complaint.

Just when I thought this was all going to be brushed under the rug, the Auditor of the State of Hawaii came out with her September 2013 Report No. 13-07 (to see a copy of the report visit the Auditor’s Website at: and harshly criticized the trustees’ vote to authorize the purchase of the Gentry building.

On pages 20-21 of Report No. 13-07, the State Auditor wrote:

“Trustees’ vote in favor of Gentry acquisition violated OHA investment policy

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Native Hawaiian Trust Fund Investment Policy provides that if a trustee has a personal involvement with any direct investment transaction, or even any perceived conflict of interest, the trustee must disclose the involvement immediately and be recused from both discussions and votes on the transaction.

Contrary to this policy, we found that the board’s decision to purchase the Gentry Pacific Design Center building, a $21.4 million property in Iwilei, hinged on the vote of a trustee who is also a member of the board of directors of the bank that offered the best financing for that acquisition.”

The Auditor concluded that:

“… the trustee’s actions may damage OHA’s reputation and undermine the agency’s credibility with beneficiaries and the public.”

The action also had serious consequences for OHA operations. We were surprised to learn on April 12, 2013 that the loan we got from Bank of Hawaii was not a “secured” loan and that it had to be backed by OHA Trust dollars. OHA’s Hawaii Direct Investment Policy requires that any “recourse” in connection with a loan be counted towards the $25 million maximum allocation. As a result, we can’t make any more investments in Hawaii until the acquisition of OHA’s corporate headquarters is complete.

While I will not comment on the competency of the State Ethics Commission’s investigative staff members, it boggles my mind that after a ten month investigation, they couldn’t find anything wrong with the trustees’ vote to purchase the Gentry building.

I believe the State Ethics Commission’s mishandling of the investigation sends the wrong message to other elected officials who think they can blatantly flout Hawaii’s conflict of interest laws. It also gives the negative perception that the Commission is simply there to protect the status quo instead of aggressively assuring clean ethics in the State of Hawaii.

Kakaako Makai properties sidelined by Gentry Pacific Design Center purchase

NOTE: This column that was censored from OHA’s August 2012 Ka Wai Ola Newspaper but later printed in the October 2012 issue.

`Ano`ai kakou…  As reported in the Pacific Business News (PBN) on July 11, 2012, the Gentry Pacific Design Center is being sold to the OHA.  The sale of the 185,787-square-foot center at 560 N. Nimitz Highway is scheduled to close in August.  The article did not disclose the sales price, but it reported that the building and its three parcels were assessed for about $28.8 million. [See “Office of Hawaiian Affairs to buy Gentry Pacific Design Center,” by Duane Shimogawa in the July 11, 2012 issue of Pacific Business News]

I am dismayed at the Trustees who authorized OHA to make this purchase.  Trustee Oswald Stender first brought the proposal before the board almost a year ago and it was quickly dropped because OHA had to move into the building for it to make financial sense.  None of the other Trustees wanted to move our headquarters there.  I thought the deal was dead, but it came back before the board on May 17, 2012.  The proposal failed again because Trustee Haunani Apoliona cited a conflict of interest because she was on the Board of Directors of the bank being considered to finance the purchase.  OHA’s Board Counsel agreed and recommended that she not vote.

Then, on June 7, 2012, the Board Counsel opined that Trustee Apoliona, miraculously, no longer had a conflict of interest because the Fiscal Committee Chairman took out any references to Trustee Apoliona’s bank within the proposal.  She was allowed to vote and together with Trustees Apo, Machado, Stender, and Waihee, authorized the CEO to make an offer to Gentry Pacific.

Trustees Hulu Lindsey, Robert Lindsey, and I voted against.  Trustee Cataluna abstained.  The four of us had serious concerns about the conditions under which OHA was required to make the purchase.  They include:

(1) The Trustees has less than one week to review the preliminary due diligence and never got to see the final due diligence report until after the purchase was made.

(2) The Gentry Center is 80-years-old and could have problematic lead paint and asbestos.

(3) There are several areas that need to be made ADA accessible.

(4) The electrical system needs to be updated.

(5) The cost and resulting disruption of relocating OHA to the Gentry Design Center.

(6) The cost of retrofitting the Gentry Design Center as an office building.

Given these unknowns, I personally felt very uncomfortable with the purchase.  During the community meetings regarding OHA’s Kakaako Makai settlement properties, we explained to the community that Kakaako would be a good place for economic development and a permanent home for OHA’s headquarters.

Now OHA is spending a great deal of money to renovate an 80-year-old building instead of using the same amount of money to build a brand new one.  It makes absolutely no sense.

Even though the purchase seems to be a done deal, at least four Trustees continue to have serious concerns about how the building was purchased.  I personally believe that purchasing the Gentry Design Center was not a fiscally prudent investment under trust law.

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.

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.

Which is it? Build the Trust for the New Nation or Spend it All?

By: OHA Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA, June 2004

‘Ano’ai kakou… I hate to admit it, but the current leadership of OHA has me a bit confused. I’m sure you have heard Chairman Apoliona say on many occasions that OHA is a “temporary” organization that will someday be dissolved and its assets transferred over to the new Hawaiian Nation. So her position is clear – OHA is temporary and its money will go to fund the new Hawaiian nation.

Here’s where everything turns as clear as mud. In April Trustee Stender, the chair of her money committee, informed the Trustees that he has asked for a legal opinion that will allow OHA to spend more of the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund. OHA currently has a spending limit that prevents any group of Trustees from spending the Trust like drunken sailors.

I’m sure that handing out a check to every one of the hundreds of organizations that are asking for grants would certainly make OHA very popular, but what about the long-term health of the Trust? We have carefully rebuilt the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund to over $300 million. I would hate to see it evaporate again in a shortsighted spending spree.

And as for how the Trust funds are spent, let’s not forget that four years ago OHA conducted a survey that clearly stated the beneficiaries wanted the Trustees to focus on four priorities – (1) Return of the land; (2) Education; (3) Housing; and (4) Health. The Board has not taken any action to change our focus on these areas and Trustee Stender should keep that in mind before making any decisions on his own.

I also question why the present administration can’t just follow established procedures and take the matter up in an open Board meeting. Unilateral decisions made by the Chairman and the Budget Chair must stop! All that’s needed to change the spending limit is six votes. If OHA’s leadership is too afraid to take the matter up in public at an open Board meeting, maybe that should tell you something.

I wrote several letters to the law firm that is drafting the legal opinion for Stender and shared my strong concerns about breaking the Board’s spending limit. They responded that Trustee Stender has every right to request such an opinion. I wasn’t surprised by their reply since they want to get paid for it. What is shocking is that the spending policy is not the only thing they are looking at. Trustee Stender also wants to know whether it’s even appropriate to build the Trust at all!

To even question whether we should grow the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund is just ludicrous. People like Thurston Twigg-Smith would like nothing better than to see the Trust disappear. And it’s not just the anti-OHA people either. Even our “friends” in state government are trying to cut the money coming into OHA. Governor Cayetano already cut OHA’s airport revenues and if the current state legislature had its way, OHA would probably get a lot less than it does now.

So which path will OHA’s leadership take? Will it be Chairman Apoliona’s “temporary” OHA that will turn over its assets to a new Hawaiian Nation or Trustee Stender’s OHA, which spends freely and shrink the Trust? I hope they realize that it will be difficult to do both.

My prediction is that Chairman Apoliona will flip-flop on her position and go along with Trustee Stender, unless of course, she gets enough calls telling her to do otherwise. I encourage all of you who share my concerns to call her and ask where she’s leading us.

I will continue to fight, by every means necessary, any attempt to allow the shortsightedness of OHA’s current leadership to endanger the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund or shortchange the coming Hawaiian Nation.

Imua Hawaii Nei…

Reaching out to Hawaiians on the mainland

By: OHA Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA, April 2004

‘Ano’ai kakou… On March 6-7, 2004, OHA sponsored a successful Hawaiian governance event in Las Vegas. The affair featured OHA’s Hawaiian Registry Program; workshops on Hawaiian culture, genealogy, and history; and a “Kau Inoa” registration drive. Kau Inoa is a separate program from OHA, and is the first step in identifying indigenous Hawaiians who want to be a part of the formation of a Hawaiian governing entity.

We have now established many valuable contacts within Nevada’s Hawaiian community, estimated to be 80,000 strong, and have made an important contribution to our goal of registering 100,000 Hawaiians nationwide.

This event would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the following OHA staff and volunteers:

* Administrator Clyde Namu’o who strongly supported the event from the beginning. I commend the Administrator for the latitude he afforded staff to explore new territories and gain new skills. His consistent positive attitude and encouragement of staff made the event a true pleasure.

* Public Information Officer Manu Boyd, who conducted workshops on hula, ka’ao, genealogy, and Hawaiian history. His command of the Hawaiian language and his musical talent are an invaluable resource to OHA.

* Luci Meyer, who conducted workshops on mo’oku’auhau (genealogy). I was impressed by the quality, depth, and insight of her presentations.

* Staff members Jennifer Chiwa, Lani Hoomana, Ruby McDonald, Gladys Rodenhurst, and Francine Murray.

* Las Vegas Volunteers Jeannie Wong, Ransen & Lehua Borges, Ladd Haleloa, Bruce Willingham, Lucille Calario, Lorna Andrade, and Paul Meyer.

* Special thanks to the Makaha Sons, Moon, John and Jerome who performed in concert and virtually assured a huge turnout.

This experience has left me very encouraged about coordinating future events and activities. I also appreciate Trustees Waihe’e, Dela Cruz, and Apoliona for making the trip and sharing their mana’o.

On another note regarding the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund…

Trustee Mossman wrote in his article last month that he did not believe OHA has ever been in a better financial position and that it was all thanks to Trustee Stender. Before we begin to sing the praises of someone, perhaps we should first put things in their proper context.

OHA’s portfolio was over $400 million in 2000 and then took a nosedive in the following year to $250 million. Who was the chair of the Budget & Finance committee for most of that time? You guessed it, Trustee Stender. I pleaded with Trustee Stender for months to stop the bleeding, but nothing happened. OHA’s Chief Financial Officer finally came up with the idea of hiring “managers-of-managers” to do our investing. This was finalized by February 2003, but and by then, the damage to the Trust had long since been done.

The new managers-of-managers, Goldman Sachs and Frank Russell, make all of our day-to-day investment decisions and choose which money managers to hire. The Board’s role now is to simply set the investment policy and listen to quarterly report presentations.

There is no doubt that the growth of the Trust has more to do with our two manager-of-managers than any particular Trustee. The problem now is that OHA is forced to pay higher fees for Goldman Sach’s services even though they have consistently underperformed the Frank Russell Group.

While the total Native Hawaiian Trust Fund is still far shy of the $400 million OHA once enjoyed in its heyday, at least it is growing again.

Imua Hawaii Nei…

Know Your Elected Officials, Demand Accountability

By Trustee Rowena Akana
January 2003

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA


Last month’s article focused on the hope that we would see significant changes on the OHA Board that would be beneficial to our beneficiaries. Well… all I can say is we all have to pray hard, very hard.

First of all, there were no changes in terms of the Chairmanship of the Board or the Financial Chairman. Let me re-cap what occurred with regard to our financial management under this present budget chair. We lost almost $100 million of trust dollars by not paying attention to business. If that was not devastating enough, in July and August of 2002, the Committee on Land accepted an offer from a developer to receive 200 acres of free land in Maili worth $2, 881,500.00. This action item was then forwarded to the Budget & Finance Committee in September where it sat with no activity for three months. As a result of this negligence, the Developer sold the land in December 2002. These kinds of mis-opportunities are beginning to be common place under this leadership team. Can we as Hawaiians in this time of crises afford to miss opportunities such as these.

In January the Board must concern itself with choosing a new Money Management Team. The Budget Chairman is pushing one candidate with great zeal. What is disconcerting is that he wants to close the door to other possible applicants. What’s up with that???  How can beneficiaries expect accountability from those who they elect?

May I offer some suggestions:

*Know the candidates, find out as much as you can about them, who they are aligned with, etc.
* What has been their contribution to the community?
* Do they work in non-profit organizations for profit?
* Are they friendly with or in business with any of the present Board members?
* Do they have any other connections to seated Board members which would constitute a conflict and cause their block voting to be NOT in the best interest of the people, or the Trust.

While this process may appear to be a lengthy one, it is important when selecting candidates for any public office. The good thing about electing officials is that the voters can remove them in the next election. What you don’t want is a process that excludes the people, such as appointing trustees rather than electing. Although the election process is not perfect it still remains the most fair and just way to select our leaders. The solution to elect responsible leadership is to be educated as best as we can be about the candidates, what they stand for and their past experience in working with the community that they hope to represent. As a voter you too have a responsibility to get involved and to demand accountability of those whom you have elected.

In 2003 our goal must be to work with the new administration on settling ceded land claims and to also pursue a recognition process. I look forward to working with all of you in the coming year.  HAVE A HAPPY AND SAFE NEW YEAR!

Betrayal and the Grab for Power

By: Rowena Akana
March 2002

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA

For a brief moment in time I could imagine how 109 years ago our Queen must have felt, surrounded by members of her own cabinet who had betrayed her. Most painful must have been to see those Hawaiians in whom she placed her trust betray that trust. As I sat in a Hawiian Affairs hearing at the Legislature on February 5, listening to testimonies being given by Hawaiians for and against OHA, I saw before me the very reasons why it has taken us so long, as a people, to unite.

Some people testified with no real purpose except to be heard and noticed, while others had very selfish and personal reasons. Most disturbing were those Hawaiians who testified that the native Hawaiian Trust was only for them, the 50% or more blood who resided on Hawaiian homestead lands. A position taken by the SCHHA, a private organization created to represent the Hawaiian homesteaders. These people fail to recognize that there are more native Hawaiians living off of the homelands than there are who reside on the homesteads. This attitude is divisive and will only create a greater distance between all Hawaiians and those who feel that they have special rights to any entitlements because of their blood quantum. If these kinds of attitudes prevail, it will be impossible for all Hawaiians to come together to form a nation.

One only need look at history to know that a divided nation cannot stand. It is disheartening to see that within OHA, some of us are willing to work no matter who is in the leadership, while others who are not, have refused to work by serving on committees.

For the past four and a half months this has been the case at OHA. While some of us use our columns in the OHA newspaper to discuss positive programs and issues, we have at least two trustees who continue to focus on negative things. These same trustees now want to overturn the board leadership again after refusing to work for the past four and a half months while collecting a paycheck. These trustees are Haunani Apoliona, Colette Machado, and Oswald Stender. In early January the board of trustees passed OHA’s package of bills to be submitted to the legislature. In the February 5th hearing we had one trustee, Oswald Stender, support the Hemmings bill that would destroy the OHA public trust and create a private trust with OHA’s assets to be put in a trust account. This position was contrary to the positions taken by the full board in January 2002.

How can these actions be explained to our beneficiaries? Is the community right about the grab for power being more important than providing services for our beneficiaries? Are they right about some trustees trying to destroy the very fabric of OHA from within?

Somewhere in the middle of this very important legislative meeting, Trustee Apoliona is seen passing a note to the committee clerk and seconds later Senator Hemmings is heard to proclaim that according to a press release that he waves in the air which he just received, the OHA board will reorganize itself on February 13, 2002 and maybe the OHA bills being heard today need no further action. Amazingly, no one notices as Apoliona slips quietly out of the room Stunned by the announcement after sitting for almost five hours trying to explain and defend OHA’s position on various bills that were bing discussed, I am immediately descended upon by the media for comment based on Hemmings’ announcement. A sick feeling hovers over me as I try to appear composed to answer the questions being asked when all the while my mind is reeling thinking about how this folly will be perceived by the general public, our beneficiaries and the legislature. Does this move make our whole organization look foolish? Yes. Is the timing bad because of the legislative session ahead of us and the importance of unity is imperative? Yes. Is there a good reason for the change in leadership, and if so, what is that reason? Did these five members of the board think about the public reaction to this action and the possible repercussions of their actions? It is obvious to me that these questions are of no importance to them.

We need not worry about the Twigg-Smiths, Conklins, Baretts, and Burgesses. We need only to look among ourselves to see the traitorous dogs who lay in wait for just the right moment to deliver us up to our enemies.

And so it is that I wonder what is to be the fate of our people with this kind of leadership, and will it take another hundred years before any nation is formalized and, in the meantime, what will become of Hawaiian entitlements as we know them, but more importantly, will there be anything left of the spoils in a hundred years after the Hawaiians have picked each other’s bones clean.