Support Senate’s OHA Settlement Bill

By: Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Letter-to-the-Editor, Star-Bulletin, April 19, 2009

I strongly support Senate Bill 995, which attempts to resolve claims and disputes relating to the portion of income and proceeds from the lands of the public land trust for use by OHA between Nov. 7, 1978, and July 1, 2009.

This bill proposes to convey Mauna Kea to OHA, along with several other parcels of land. The bill would allow OHA and the state to reach a “global settlement” of the past and future obligations of the state to native Hawaiians.

The committee felt that the proposal made by Gov. Ben Cayetano back in March 31, 1999, is a sensible and appropriate approach toward a “global settlement” and that it should be re-offered to OHA.

It should be noted that a global settlement does not include natural resources, water and gathering rights or any other rights.

The Senate’s “global settlement” offer includes monetary payment to OHA of $251 million; conveyance of public lands from the state to OHA equal to 20 percent of the 1.8 million acres of ceded lands already inventoried, and the suspension of the $15.1 million in annual payments to OHA effective a date to be agreed upon in good faith.

In my view, SB 995 provides a great opportunity for all native Hawaiians to finally have the resources to build a strong nation.