The Three Elements of Nationhood: Sovereignty, Self-Determination, & Self-Sufficiency


Source: November 2006 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column

`Ano`ai kakou…  In light of the Akaka bill’s mistreatment in the United States Senate, I’d like to set the record straight regarding the rampant misconceptions about Hawaiian sovereignty.  It should be said that the majority of the Hawaiian people do not aspire to secede from the U.S. or give up their American citizenship.  It should also be said that gaining federal recognition as a native people would allow Hawaiians to negotiate with the state and federal governments for the return of some of their ceded lands that the state holds in trust.  Despite the hysterical rhetoric being touted by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, recognition would not mean the taking of private lands, kicking the military out of Hawaii, secession from the U.S., or that Hawaiians would be exempt from paying state or federal taxes.

There is nothing scary or threatening about the process.  The three key elements of nationhood are sovereignty, self-determination and self-sufficiency. In order for Hawaiians to exercise control over their lands and lives, they must achieve self-determination by organizing a mechanism for self-governance. Hawaiians must create a government which provides for democratic representation before they can begin to interrelate with the State and the Federal governments who control their lands and trust assets. The ultimate goal of nationhood is to become self-sufficient and self-supporting.

REGISTERING ALL HAWAIIANS. Most people agree that the first step in this process should be to determine who will participate in the creation of the Hawaiian government. This would involve the establishment of a roster or “roll” of all (interested) Hawaiian adults.

CHOOSE OUR ‘ELELE (Representatives). Those on the roll will then have the opportunity to choose who will represent them in drafting governing documents. Everyone is encouraged to participate in this process so that those elected will best reflect the needs and will of the people.

CONVENE AN ‘AHA. Calling an ‘aha (constitutional convention) is critical in providing an open and democratic forum to develop the governing documents. This is where the ultimate form of the Hawaiian government will be debated, considered, and reflected.

APPROVE A CONSTITUTION. The governing documents drafted during the ‘aha must be voted on and approved by the Hawaiian people before they can be implemented. The Hawaiian people will have the opportunity to examine the documents before deciding whether to accept, reject, accept them in part, or reject them in part. The documents which are not accepted are returned to the ‘aha for reconsideration by the ‘elele (Representatives).

IMPLEMENTATION. Once the articles or provisions of the governing documents are ratified by the Hawaiian people, they can be implemented.

ELECTION OF OFFICIALS. Before the provisions of the governing documents can be fully implemented, the officers and legislative arm of the nation must be selected by the Hawaiian people again with a new election.

Many Native governments have been formed under the federal government through the US Department of the Interior. There are hundreds of recognized Native American nations within the territorial United States. Why should Hawaiians be excluded? Failure to do so would, in fact, be discrimination against Hawaiians.

We must not confuse the forms of government that Native Americans or Native Alaskans have with what Hawaiians will develop as their governing documents. Nor, can anyone assume that the relationship that Hawaiians will have with the Federal Government will be the same as that of the relationships between Native American Tribes and the Federal Government. Developing our governing documents to insure that our relationship with the United States is beneficial to us will be determined by the delegates in the ‘aha.

As indigenous people, Hawaiians are seeking recognition of their right to sovereignty and self-determination from the federal government. Hawaiians have no desire to be dependent on the state or federal government. If Hawaiians had control of their lands and trust resources, we could take care of our people without assistance from anyone.  Hawaiians have waited over 100 years to be compensated for the illegal taking of their lands.  Isn’t it time for our government to address this issue?  If not now, when?

How the state ripped the heart out of Waikiki:

DLNR values the dollar over Hawaiian-owned business, despite the fact that tourism is dependent on our unique Hawaiian Culture and Aloha spirit


Source: September 2006 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column

`Ano`ai kakou…  Barry Napoleon established Hawai’i’s first beach concession in 1952 on the sands of Waikiki Beach.  Although competitors moved in and the beach boys jockeyed for position, the tourists still saw the best O’ahu had to offer.  Surfing lessons, canoe rides, or just plain talking story, the Waikiki Beach Boys personified the spirit of aloha.  Then, Barry experienced first-hand how the state only gives lip service about our “aloha spirit.”

Barry said that from 1982 to 1984, he paid $400 a month to Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) for an 8 by 12-foot space in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village.  The DLNR took control of the beach concession stands after they saw the profits that could be made and began selling permits.

Problems for Barry began when he complained to the DLNR about alleged criminal activity out of his mainland competitor’s concession.  Three days later, the DLNR revoked his permit and confiscated his equipment, saying he had violated the conditions of his rental agreement by encroaching on several inches past his allotment of sand.

In 1985, he found a new home at the Waikiki Shores.  Barry was paying the owner $15,000 a month for ground-floor space fronting the beach.  The DLNR found out and evicted him.  Barry won a temporary restraining order so he could prove his permits were valid.  The DLNR ignored the court order and again confiscated his equipment.  Without his business, Barry could not earn enough money to press his case.  Earlier that same year, his two nephews tried to reopen a beach concession.  The state quickly tore it down.  Barry Napoleon was 65 years old at the time. He had spent the better part of his life on the beach at Waikiki and now the state took his livelihood in favor of mainlanders.

Eleven years later, it seems that DLNR is back at it again.  On July 26, 2006, Mary Vorsino of the Honolulu Advertiser wrote that after 29 years and thousands of students, Clyde Aikau closed his surfing school and concession stand at Duke Kahanamoku Beach in Waikiki and ended the only business he’s ever known.  Clyde, the brother of legendary surfer Eddie Aikau, was forced to let go of his 10 employees, which he hopes will find work as surf instructors with Hilton Hawaiian Village.  The Hilton is taking over the concession stand.  It is unbelievable to me that DLNR didn’t even give Aikau the courtesy of a break in the rent because of his expertise and tenure.

Vorsino quoted DLNR Chairman Peter Young as saying that Aikau has only himself to blame.  “We did not tell anybody what rent to suggest other than a minimum, and then it was competitive,” Young said. “We would hope they would evaluate their respective business plans and bid responsibly.”

I was shocked at the callousness and insensitivity of Young’s comments.  Where is his sympathy for struggling Hawaiian-owned businesses?  Like the tragedy with Barry Napoleon, DLNR seems to be once again putting the almighty dollar ahead of protecting the real reason people come to Hawaii – our unique Hawaiian culture and the Spirit of Aloha.  Marketing campaigns can’t sell what doesn’t exist.

I believe that OHA needs to investigate whether we should take control over the beach boy concessions at Waikiki Beach.  OHA could then ensure that the beach boys are culturally sensitive and that preferences are given to Hawaiian owned businesses.  After all, the beaches are considered submerged lands and are, therefore, ceded lands.

Tourists from around the world remembered Barry and other beach boys like him for one simple reason: they were genuine.  They were Hawaiian.  Let’s bring that authenticity back to Waikiki Beach.  Imua e Hawai’i nei…

Why we need to save Kuleana lands


Source: April 2006 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column

`Ano`ai kakou…  One issue that I have really pushed hard for at the state capitol is a bill to exempt Kuleana lands from property taxes.  Many Hawaiian families, who have been caring for their Kuleana lands for generations, are now facing sky-rocketing property taxes because of luxury resorts and shopping malls being built next-door.  The issue first came to my attention several years ago when a family came to OHA and asked that we take custody of their Kuleana land until they were able to save up enough money to pay off their back taxes.  If something isn’t done soon, more Kuleana Lands could fall out of Hawaiian hands.

A brief history of Kuleana Lands:  According to Kumu Pono Associates LLC’s website (, in 1848, as a result of the Mahele, all land in the Kingdom of Hawai‘i was placed in one of three categories:  Crown Lands (for the occupant of the throne); Government Lands; and Konohiki Lands (Kuleana Act, 1850). 

Ownership rights to all lands in the kingdom were “subject to the rights of the native tenants;” those individuals who lived on the land and worked it for their subsistence and the welfare of the chiefs (Kanawai Hoopai Karaima… {Penal Code} 1850:22).  The 1850 resolutions in “Kanawai Hoopai Karaima no ko Hawaii Pae Aina,” authorized the newly formed Land Commission to award fee-simple title to all native tenants who occupied and improved any portion of Crown, Government, or Konohiki lands.

After native Hawaiian commoners were granted the opportunity to acquire their own parcels of land through the Mahele, foreigners were also granted the right to own land in 1850, provided they had sworn an oath of loyalty to the Hawaiian Monarch.  In order to receive their awards from the Land Commission, the hoa‘aina (native tenants) were required to prove that they cultivated the land for a living.  They were not permitted to acquire “wastelands” (e.g. fishponds) or lands which they cultivated “with the seeming intention of enlarging their lots.”  Once a claim was confirmed, a survey was required before the Land Commission was authorized to issue any award.

The lands awarded to the hoa‘aina became known as “Kuleana Lands.” All of the claims and awards (the Land Commission Awards or L.C.A.) were numbered, and the L.C.A. numbers remain in use today to identify the original owners of lands in Hawai‘i.  By the time of its closure on March 31, 1855, the Land Commission issued only 8,421 kuleana claims, equaling only 28,658 acres of land to the native tenants (cf. Indices of Awards 1929).

According to the Overview of Hawaiian History by Diane Lee Rhodes, many of the kuleana lands were later lost.  The list of reasons include:  (1) Native tenants mostly received lands that lacked firewood or were too rocky and unsuitable for farming.  (2) A number of kuleana were sold by dishonest land agents before the farmers could get a survey.  (3) The land commissioners delayed getting notices to landholders.  (4) Prices were out of reach for commoners.  (5) Finally, foreigners evicted legitimate kuleana owners without due process.

Since most of the Kuleana lands were carved up and taken away or abandoned, the impact on tax revenues would be extremely minimal so there should be no reason why this legislation shouldn’t pass.  Unfortunately, both the House and Senate Kuleana land bills went nowhere this session.  The House refused to even hear the bill despite my pleas to the Committee on Hawaiian Affairs chairman, Representative Scott Saiki.

The bill got a hearing on the Senate side, thanks to the Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs committee chairman, Senator Colleen Hanabusa, but the bill came up one vote short of passing.  I met with Senator Donna Mercado Kim, who voted no on the bill, to try to convince her to support the bill, but she insisted that we should go to each county and ask for the exemption individually, which makes no sense.  Why should we go to each county when one bill passed by the legislature can make the exemption law for the entire state? 

I am currently working to get a city ordinance passed at the Honolulu City Council.  Bill #25 was introduced on March 15, 2006.  If you or someone you know is living on Kuleana lands and are descendent of the original owners, I implore you to consider testifying.

We must put an end to the injustices done to the caretakers of Kuleana lands for the past 150-years once and for all.  If something is not done soon, the very last Kuleana lands that have survived will finally fall out of Hawaiian hands.  Protecting what’s left of Kuleana Lands will help preserve Hawai’i’s rich history and culture.

OHA Trustees grant Lunalilo Home $300,000


Source: August 2005 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column

`Ano`ai kakou…  As an advocate for better health care for all Hawaiians, especially our kupuna, and as the Chair of the Native Hawaiian Health Task Force, I am very pleased to announce that on June 23, 2005, the Board of Trustees approved a grant of $300,000 to help fund the Kupuna Continuing Care Assurance Program which will be administered by Lunalilo Home over the next two years.  The program is designed to help make residential care, respite care, adult day care, and outreach nutritional services (hot meals delivered to a kupuna’s home) more affordable for Native Hawaiian kupuna.  

Lunalilo Home was established in 1883 by the will of High Chief William Charles Lunalilo to care for poor, destitute, and infirmed Hawaiians, with preference given to the elderly.  Lunalilo Home has been operating out of its present site at Maunalua since 1927.  Operations continued until 1997 when it temporarily suspended operations to undergo a major renovation to its aging two-story structure.  OHA helped fund major portions of this renovation work and operations resumed in August 2001.

The new Kupuna Continuing Care Assurance Program will allow Lunalilo Home to subsidize the residential care of kupuna in financial need.  The program is part of a long-term plan by Lunalilo Home to establish partnerships with other organizations so that they may expand their elder care services and assist more kupuna than it is currently able to serve.  An estimated 16,000 Hawaiian kupuna in the state may benefit from respite care alone. 

As most of you know, the cost of long-term care for the elderly has risen dramatically in recent years.  Families are finding that a kupuna’s Health Plan benefits (private or Medicare) are not enough to cover the cost of long-term care.  More and more families are forced to pay for costs out of their pockets or end up doing without long-term residential care for their kupuna.

Of the 38 current residents in Lunalilo Home, approximately 30 of them are only able to partially afford the cost of care or receive government assistance for health and financial needs.  Lunalilo Home partially subsidizes the cost of care for these residents through various fundraisers.  

The state’s older population is also increasing and aging at a rapid rate.  Between 1990 and 2000, the 60 years or older population increased by 19%, compared to about 9% nationally.  During the same period, the population of Hawaiians 85 years or older increased nearly twice as fast as the national average (68.9% vs. 37.6% U.S.).

An estimated 207,001 persons in Hawaii, or 17 percent of the state’s population, were 60 years or older in 2000, higher than the national average of 16.3%.  Hawaii ranks 20th nationally in the percentage of older persons (60+) residing in the state.  About 17,564 persons, or about 1% of the state’s population, were 85 years or older in 2000.

Roughly 5.5% of the state’s population over 60 years of age is Native Hawaiian.  About 75% of Hawaii’s total kupuna population (ages 60+) resides on Oahu.  An estimated 114,872 family caregivers reside in the state and provide about 107 million hours of care giving per year at an estimated value in 1997 of about $875 million.

Lunalilo Home estimates it could provide services to 167 Native Hawaiian kupuna per day for two years with the $300,000 grant it received from OHA.  The Home will also be able to expand their much needed adult day care services to assist working caregivers and hot meal services through “Meals-on-Wheels.”

After a lifetime of dignity, independence, and hard work, our kupuna deserve access to affordable elder care.  If not, we will run the risk of prematurely losing their wisdom at a time when the Hawaiian community needs it the most.  Thanks to the teamwork of OHA and Lunalilo Home, something substantial is being done to assist this vulnerable part of our population.  Imua e Hawai’i nei…

OHA needs a Land Konohiki

By: OHA Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA, April 2005

‘Ano’ai kakou… On August 19, 2004, The Honolulu Advertiser ran an article titled “OHA gets offer of free Puna land.” Six months later, the offer was withdrawn because OHA took too long to finalize the deal. Sound familiar? It should.

The same thing happened in late-2002 when a mainland company named PH Industries offered to donate 198 acres of land in Maili to OHA, 80 to 90 acres of which were developable. The company was leaving Hawaii and wanted to donate its land. OHA waited too long to respond and the company sold it to someone else for almost nothing. Trustee Oswald Stender, the budget chair at the time, said he did not see the urgency of the deal and failed to take it up in his committee in a timely manner.

There were so many possibilities for the Maili property. It was cleared of environmental hazards and zoned for agriculture and conservation use. At the very least, OHA could have sold it to a developer. The land was valued at $3,000,000 and it was sold for a measly $100,000. It was unconscionable to let such a huge opportunity slip through the cracks. Unfortunately, history tends to repeat itself.

On August 18, 2004, Joe Wedeman made an offer to donate 66.4 acres of Puna land to OHA on behalf of his wife, Harriet, who had inherited the land from her mother. About 35 acres contained no archaeological sites and could be developed. Trustee Boyd Mossman said the gift was a “tremendous opportunity” and could be an educational and cultural resource for students.

Trustee Carpenter and I immediately sent a memo to Trustee Stender after the offer was made, and asked him to bring it to the Board of Trustees for a vote as soon as possible. Trustee Carpenter wrote that “time is of the essence.” I specifically reminded Trustee Stender about the Maili debacle.

On September 1, 2004, Trustee Stender responded that he asked the OHA Administrator and his staff to ensure that a “due diligence” study is done before the issue could be presented to his committee. On September 29, 2004, the Administration reported to the Board that the consultants they hired, MN Capital Partners, LLC, needed three-weeks since they needed to visit the site.

Ten-weeks later, on December 17, 2004, my staff checked with the ARM committee to see whether the due diligence study was done or not. It was not. The Administration finally presented the due diligence study to the Board of Trustees on February 16, 2005. Unfortunately, it was too late. Mr. Wedeman had already sent a fax to OHA two days earlier, withdrawing the offer (the entire fax was just one sentence).

All this could have been avoided if OHA followed a May 2002 recommendation from the Land Committee’s (back when OHA had five subject-matter committees) to create an OHA Land Division to be headed by a “Land Konohiki,” an expert specializing in land acquisition, management, and investment and ceded land claims. The Land Konohiki could quickly look at and consider private lands for acquisition or even partner with other Hawaiian agencies to acquire land.

The first step in the Land Konohiki plan was to hire a land consultant to review prior land studies and make recommendations to the Board. The plan was passed by the Board on October 30, 2002.

Unfortunately, despite my numerous inquiries, nothing was done about the issue for months. On April 4, 2003, the Administration reported that they were still looking for a consultant. The Administration’s slow pace can only be blamed on the lack of direct Trustee oversight. When the current leadership took over in late-2002, they got rid of the Land Committee and there was no one to keep their feet to the fire.

It is sad to think of all the lost possibilities. If we had a Land Konohiki in place, our beneficiaries would now be in control of 264.4 acres of land. It is a supreme irony that OHA spends millions to lobby for federal recognition and yet continues to refuse free land. What good is a sovereign nation without a homeland?

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?

A Hawaiian Cultural Center


Source: August 2004 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column

`Ano`ai kakou…  It seems like almost every community in the state has its own cultural center except us.

The Okinawans have two of them.  The Maui Okinawa Cultural Center and the Hawaii Okinawa Center in Waipahu serve as a lively gathering place for the Okinawan community.

The Filipino Community Center in Waipahu was built to perpetuate and preserve Filipino culture.  The Japanese Cultural Center in Moiliili aspires to create a deeper knowledge of Japanese heritage.  The local Korean community is in the process of building a cultural center of their own where future generations can learn about their heritage and history.

So just why is every community so eager to build a community center? 

The Filipino community wanted a special place where they could feel comfortable participating in social and recreational activities.

The Japanese community wanted a place where future generations could look back and be fully conscious of their roots.  They also wanted a convenient and hospitable gathering place for the study, display, demonstration and interchange of such arts, culture, history, and language.

The Korean community wants a meeting place for the Korean community and a museum to preserve their history.

The Hawaii Okinawa Center provides meeting facilities, a library, an exhibit room and the office space.  They also have a 1,200-seat capacity auditorium and banquet hall, which provide a natural setting for cultural shows, performances, banquets, conferences, and receptions.

OHA’s constitutional mandate is to better the conditions of Native Hawaiians by protecting their entitlement rights, land, culture, language, and perpetuating their lifestyle and environmental resources.  An authentic Hawaiian Cultural Center should clearly be one of OHA’s top priorities.

So where is the Hawaiian Cultural Center?  The issue has been approached many times by many organizations but nothing has ever materialized.  Hawaiians have unique needs and concerns and yet we are simply lumped together with the general population and expected to assimilate.  This borders on the criminal.  We are the host culture, the same culture that is sold to the tourists. 

Shame on us for not creating a place of our own.  Other Polynesian cultures have already built focal points for their communities.

The Māori of Aotearoa/New Zealand have the Marae, a sacred open meeting area, and communal meeting house.  The Marae is a place with the greatest mana, the place of greatest spirituality; the place that heightens people’s dignity, and the place in which Māori customs are given ultimate expression.  It is the home of traditional Māori community life where official functions celebrations, weddings, christenings, tribal reunions, funerals take place.

Tahitians have open air sanctuaries also known as Marae.  All important events of a secular nature such as peace treaties, celebrations of war, or voyage preparations were held at the Marae.

So what would a Hawaiian Cultural Center look like?  In addition to serving to preserve, protect and perpetuate our unique traditions, customs, spiritual values and practices, the Center can also provide a place for: 

  • Large gatherings;
  • A market place where Hawaiian-made products and merchandise can be sold;
  • After school and weekend programs for our keiki and kupuna;
  • Learning Hawaiian history, language, cultural practices, music, crafts, the environment, seafaring, healing arts, martial arts; and
  • Archive Library and Genealogy Research Center.

OHA could be instrumental in getting the State to donate some land for a Center or negotiate a 99-year lease with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.  Perhaps even a private company could donate some land.  The Filipino Cultural Center is built on land donated by AMFAC.  The goal of the center should be to eventually become self-sustaining, perhaps by becoming a major world-class visitor destination where anyone can experience, study and practice our living Hawaiian culture.

Sounds like wishful thinking?  Think again.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way.  I mua e Hawai’i nei…

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…

Farewell To A Legend: Gladys Kamakakuokalani ‘Ainoa Brandt


February 2003 Ka Wai Ola Article

I dedicate this month’s column to pay tribute to a great lady, Gladys Kamakakuokalani ‘Ainoa Brandt.  To everyone who knew her she was “Aunty Gladys.”  I was one of those fortunate enough to know her and be a part of her life for a brief moment in time.  Her thoughts, her wit, and her great sense of humor made an important difference in my life.

In her lifetime, Aunty Gladys was raised with the children of the royal family and witnessed the end of the monarch era and Queen Lili’uokalani’s funeral.  Aunty Gladys was one of the precious few of our Kupuna who witnessed these events and lived to see the new millennium.  Most people will write about Aunty Gladys’ many achievements as an educator, but her contributions go beyond education and into the arts and public service.  She served on the boards of countless community organizations and was active in the cancer society until she passed away.  Most of all, Aunty Gladys should be noted for her inspiration, energy and tireless commitment to Hawaiian causes.

[In 1997,] at the age of 91, Aunty Gladys was appointed by Governor Ben Cayetano to finish out the term of OHA Trustee Billie Beamer.  Not only did she keep up with us, but she had the energy and productivity of board members half her age.  Her presence on our board table was felt by board members and administrative staff alike.  Aunty Gladys’ contributions to OHA included her leadership on OHA’s Education Foundation and the Kupuna Health Task Force.   She also served as OHA’s policy chair.  In 2000, she was appointed to the board once again by the Cayetano Administration as an interim Trustee and served for two months until the November elections.

Aunty Gladys was always there to do her part when called upon, especially when it came to Hawaiian issues.  I will always cherish the wonderful hours I spent with her as she shared her famous stories.  In October of 2002, I asked, “Aunty Gladys, why haven’t you ever written a book about all of your experiences?”  There was a pause, and then she said, “Others have tried to get me to do that but, if I did, I would have to tell the whole truth and name names for the book to be truthful and I think even though much time has passed, it would open old wounds and I feel it is best to let the past be the past.”  There was a sense of sadness in her voice.

On December 20, 2002, I called Aunty Gladys to wish her a happy holiday season and told her that I would be spending the holidays on the mainland.  She said, “Great, have a good time, but let me share this with you:  Recently I had dinner at a good friend’s home and they were all Republicans who proceeded to chide me about the commercial I had done for the Democratic candidate for Governor.  Well I said with a straight face to them, ‘Did you hear that there will be no nativity scene in Washington DC this year?’  And they responded, ‘Really?’  ‘Is it because of 9-11?’  No, I replied, ‘it’s because they have a whole stable of Jackasses but they can’t find three wise men!’”

This is the wonderful Gladys Brandt I will remember.  Someone who could laugh at herself.  Someone who had a wit that could match the best scholars.  Someone who loved her Hawaiian people and gave of herself without complaint or reward.  I will miss you Aunty Gladys.  I wish you God speed.

OHA Chair issues statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision

By: OHA Chair Rowena M.N. Akana
March 22, 1999

Source: Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Media Release

HONOLULU–As you all are surely aware, the United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal in the case of Rice vs. Cayetano. This comes as no surprise, however unpleasant. This case has been doggedly appealed to the highest court in the land, which I am hopeful will let stand the previous decisions by District Court Judge David Ezra and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals justices. It is especially worth noting that Senator Daniel K. Akaka has echoed this sentiment in an earlier statement today. As noted by our distinguished senator, The Ninth Circuit correctly determined that the OHA voting restriction “is not primarily racial, but legal and political.” I fully agree with Senator Akaka that the Supreme Court should without hesitation affirm that principle. Additionally, we share the view that this is a political question better left to Congress, the State of Hawai’i, and Native Hawaiians.

If there is a silver lining regarding the Supreme Court’s willingness to take this case to another level, it is that we once and for all will end the incessant challenges by Mr. Rice to the rights of the indigenous people of these lands. I am confident that our Attorney General will represent the interests of the Hawaiian people to the fullest extent. I will do what I can to assist our Attorney General to ensure that we never allow the clock to be turned back to a time when the rights of the minority, indigenous people, were trampled under foot of the majority.